I did more than just shoot the stars at Lost Maples. I also did a bit of hiking on some trails that I had not previously been on. One of the trails passes by a feature called “Monkey Rock”. I have a photo of it below and you can see if you can figure out why it is called this.
I also climbed up to the top of the ridge, mainly because that is the only place with phone service out there (on AT&T anyway). While up there I saw a lizard scurry, but didn’t see where it went. After staring for about 15 seconds, I finally saw the guy sitting there looking at me. He was very calm while I shot some photos of him. This is taken at 200mm and a crop of the final image and I wasn’t this close to the lizard. He was actually very hard to see amid the stones from where I stood. Effective camouflage.
Anyway, I hiked and camped and got up and shot the stars early in the morning. You can read about that here.
After shooting the stars, I planned on hiking in the dark to a pond to see about some photos just after dawn. From the top of the ridge on the previous afternoon I could see that the pond was full and thought that it might be scenic with the early morning sunlight on the distant hillside. The pond is a day-use area I and I figured that I would have the place all to myself at dawn and I was right. I didn’t see another person, only some animal eyes reflecting my head lamp in the dark; probably a wild hog judging by the way it moved.
I sat on a park bench waiting for some light and I could see that a lot of clouds had begun to move in. This threatened to block any light I was going to get from the rising sun that I wanted across the landscape. So, I decided to make the best of it by shooting some long exposures of the wind swept clouds over the pond. The view below looks west and I was hoping for first light on this hillside in the distance.
It wasn’t terribly windy on the ground, but the clouds were racing across the sky and giving me a lot of motion blur (25 second exposure). You can see that the pond is mostly calm. You can also see a toilet shack in the distance through the trees if you care to look.
The sun began to rise somewhere beyond the ridge to my back and occasionally some light would hit the rapidly moving clouds giving my long exposure some color. The photo below is my favorite of the morning with the orange tinge to the blurred clouds.
I began to take an interest in the bare white tree across the water. I wanted a reflection but the pond was sometimes disturbed by the wind as seen in the image above. I waited until it calmed down a little and took a closeup of the tree with the reflection in the pond. This is only a 0.5 second exposure as I don’t have a filter for this lens, but I think it turned out well.
I waited around for the sun to peek through, paced back-and-forth, listened to a lot of birds singing and eventually I saw a ray of light crossing the valley toward the pond. It was there for a few seconds and then it was gone. I had the idea of the warmly lit hillside in morning light reflecting in the pond, but that is not quite what I got. The sunlight came and went in a hurry. The photo I got below was taken a little over half an hour after sunrise; it is OK, but not great.
The clouds moved in again and I decided to hike back and pack up the tent. I was surprised that such a clear morning before dawn turned mostly overcast so quickly. I enjoyed the early morning solitude with the pond and the birds and I like my cloud blur images, so I didn’t go away disappointed.
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