Original post here
This is going to be a long entry, so sit back and relax while you read the story of a man who met adverse fate and challenged it, ultimately managing to prevail in the eternal struggle between good and evil.
Let’s start with the location first. The name of that park in Chinese is 林業文化園區, and I’ll be damned if I could find an official translation for that. Even if you type that on Google and look for the English version of some local websites you’ll find several different translations. I decided to go with “FOREST INDUSTRY CULTURAL PARK”, but you may also find “FORESTRY CULTURE GARDEN PARK” and many other variations of that theme. What you need to know is that it’s a park with a lake, trees and some more stuff.
This is an artificial lake that was used in the past to store logs. The area around Taiping mountain had been used extensively as a source of wood. After cutting the trees they would be loaded on a truck, travel all the way down from the mountain to this lake, and then they’d be stored in the water or around the lake waiting to be dispatched. There’s still the old railway that used to run all across the eastern side of Taiwan to deliver wood.
Taiping mountain is now a national park and trees can enjoy their life properly (luckily), so the Forestry Garden Recreational whatever-you-want-to-call-it has been turned into a park.
It’s incredibly close to the train station and there’s no entry fee. On the opposite side of the road there are many small restaurants, so don’t worry about carrying food or drinks with you. Around the lake you’ll find many stores and exhibitions that will show you the story of that park and you’ll get the chance to buy some handmade products made from wood. A couple of weeks ago I went there and one of the workshops prepared a small car for a kid. When he received it he was in emotional override, somewhere along the lines of “50% shocked + 50% happy + 20% this is the best day ever”.
Especially on sunny days the park is really nice and quiet.
Yesterday I went there in order to enjoy the first ray of lights. Needless to say, as soon as I arrived at the park the sun disappeared. I often rant about the weather and I’m starting to sound like a bitter old man. Personally, the problem that I have with the weather is not the gloomy, grey, dull sky that has become my faithful companion during most of my trips. I simply hate when the sun shows up giving me hope for some different colors in my pictures, and then he leaves at the worst moment possible. Let’s put it this way: you have a pizza craving and you call your favorite pusher. You order a massive pizza with all the toppings you love. You wait patiently on your couch, you can almost feel the flavor of that soft melted cheese in your mouth, mixed with capsicum, anchovies or whatever you like. Someone rings at the door, the time has come: you open the door, the delivery guy opens the mighty bag and he suddenly tells you:”Sorry, we run out of pizza dough, we prepared some chicken nuggets instead, that will be 9,95$, thanks”. That’s not nice, bro.
Let’s get back in topic. With my hopes of colors and sunlight vanished like a pizza I decided to settle for a black and white, and I thought that it would have been nice to go back to a spot that I already used in the past. This is a picture that I took some time ago:
That day the weather was pretty good for photography and trees still had a lot of colorful leaves on them. I’ve really enjoyed working on this shot, but since I took it with the cra…ehm…cheap kit lens I had already planned to try it again with a better lens.
Unfortunately when I got to the park I was not only facing the overcast sky, but also the fact that most trees had lost all their leaves. I tried to take a shot from the same position as the above and it was absolutely horrible. I tried to think about a different composition, and with a wide angle lens it often works very well to include some of the ground in front of you in the picture as it gives a great sense of depth.
The final result was the following:
Three weeks of winter had a huge impact on those trees. But here comes the tricky part. I was standing on a small platform and with my tripod set in its lowest position I was not able to get the composition I was looking for, I had to go lower. I’ve had a look around me for rocks, pieces of wood or anything that could lift the camera just a few centimeters over the platform. If I placed the camera straight on it I would have missed the wooden path almost completely because they were at the same height.
And that’s when all those episodes of Man vs Wild turned out to be useful.
WITNESS THE MIGHT OF THE SHOEPOD ©.
It worked so perfectly that I’ll probably open a franchising. The soft part of the shoe allowed me to find a nice horizontal position for the camera, and the firmer area that’s usually behind the heel kept it nicely balanced for the five shots that I needed for my picture.
A little note about the composition: a lot of people would have cropped the bottom of the picture to get rid of the piece of wood at the bottom right corner. It’s something I’ve considered, but by doing so I’d have lost a lot of the foliage (which i like), so i decided to keep it “as shot” with no cropping.
This time I went for a slightly more aggressive HDR with 5 exposures at -2/-1/0+1/+2.