Greetings from Virgin Timber Landing
Hello, and welcome to my second blog post! I recently went on my annual canoe trip with my father to a place called Lows Lake up in the Adirondacks. Here's a map of the lake:
You park at the Lower Dam (on the right side of the image), and put your canoe in the water there. It's about one hour to the Upper Dam, where you need to portage your gear to the top of the dam - this also takes about an hour. There are some cool sights during the portage, for example:
The previous two trips we were able to stay at Boones Landing, a great campsite that has a little beach which faces northwest and looks out over the lake, making it an ideal sunset/happy hour spot. Unfortunately, it was taken this year, so we kept moving westward. Eventually, four and a half hours in or so to our paddle, we got to an unoccupied Virgin Timber Landing, way out on the west side, and made camp.
Luckily, our campsite also had a nice beach, except that it faced south and was open to the east, so it was more of a sunrise/daytime beach, which was nice as the nights were quite cold (in the twenties, days were high forties/low fifties, if you're interested).
In the morning I discovered something awesome - there were a bunch of frogs living in a little paradise created by the log against the shoreline.
Later that evening, after dinner, I walked around the campsite snapping some random photos of plant life.
It was then that I discovered something as awesome as the frogs, maybe even cooler. I was back on the beach, using my headlamp to look at all these little bugs on the surface of the water, when BAM - something swooped down, grabbed a bug, and flew away. It happened so quickly I didn't get a chance to see what it was, until I got a picture of one (sort of).
That's right - they were bats! Two or three I'd say, using the light from my headlamp to scoop up bugs on the lake. And let me tell you, these guys are hard to capture. They're so quick, and it's pitch black out so it's very hard to autofocus on them. I had my headlight on, and when they flew into the light I'd try to snag a picture, but the autofocus often wouldn't find them, or focused on something else in frame, like a tree stump. Eventually, I put it on manual focus and focused on a certain distance from me, hoping to lure them into my focus area and get a clear photo. Here are some photos of BATS - SCOURGE OF THE NIGHT:
Another surprise was waiting for me that evening - a beautiful glimpse of our Milky Way galaxy. I've taken a few pictures of stars and the Moon before, but I've never really tried my hand at astrophotography proper. Let's take a look at some early attempts from this evening.
The first one is quite grainy and has a big ol' green color cast across the image. The second image was part of a series where I was trying to get the foreground of the beach in the shot, but nothing really looked good. The sky looked better. In the third, I got closer to the sky and composition I was looking for. You can see I significantly extended the time the shutter was open, and thus was able to lower the ISO, resulting in less grain. Here's the image I settled on:
And the image I finished with:
This was definitely the image I spent the most time on. I started by raising exposure and a few other small adjustments to see what I was working with (as you can see, the original image was quite dark).
Here's the image before I moved it over to Topaz AI's Denoise tool.
After moving back to Lightroom from Topaz Denoise, I did a bunch of trial and error editing, shifting sliders all over the place, trying to get a look I liked. The settings I ended up with (after re-importing from Topaz, the settings are lost from the original copy - not from the image, but from the sliders in Lightroom) are as follows: Texture +65, Clarity +44, Dehaze +79, Saturation +28. Within the tone curve, Lights +26, Shadows +32. HSL (Hue, Saturation, Luminance) sliders are: Yellow Hue -100 (bringing it closer to orange than green), Yellow Luminance -40 (yellow, get out of my picture!). I also put a bit of purple in the shadows using split toning, +21. I also put a gradual filter on the sky: Exposure -0.17, Whites +69, Texture +23, Clarity +33, Dehaze -6. Gradual filters are used so you can affect certain parts of the image, in this case I did not want these changes to affect the trees and water, so instead of global adjustments I used the filter.
The next day we took a trip up to Grassy Pond, which, if you'll refer back to your map at the top of the page, is north of our campsite. Before we left, I, being the responsible adult I am, went to the bathroom, and also took a couple pictures of a really cute school of fish at the beach.
I didn't take many pictures I think are worth sharing on that day's trip, except this one:
I did get some pictures I like later in the evening, while my dad and I were on the beach.
That was the last night of the trip, so I'll leave you with a few images of the wonderful loons that are, while not as hard as a bat, still tough to get a picture of. They don't really come close to shore, and the two times they appeared right by our canoe I had my camera away in my waterproof bag. It's a tough call between risking your gear and getting the good shots. I'll also leave you with the sound of a loon's call, as it is quite something, and not altogether unpleasant to fall asleep and wake up to (the first loon of the video, anyway, the others sound insane).
Thanks for reading!