Saturday, January 7, 2012

We Were Strollin' Along . . .

 . . . On a moonlit lake, and what a marvelous night for a moonwalk it was.  Moreau Lake State Park offers  full-moon hikes every month, and there are plenty of months when no moon can be seen, but tonight that silvery orb was in her glory.  The sky cleared just in time for her to light our path through the woods and around the lake.

There were about 30 of us (including a number of children and dogs) making our way along moon-dappled trails where we hardly needed any flashlight to show the way, especially with park naturalist Gary Hill leading the group and stopping us from time to time to give a brief nature lesson.   I volunteered to bring up the rear to help keep us all together, which required that I resist the temptation to slip off by myself to experience the magic of sitting quietly in silence and moonlight.

Gary keeps up a pretty brisk pace, which helps to keep folks warm on winter nights (although tonight was barely below freezing),  but it also kept me from spending a lot of time trying to get good photos of the night sky.  No time to stop and set up a tripod, so these shots are pretty much point and shoot on the run, resulting in grainy but rather lovely images of the kind of darkened landscape few of us ever get to see any more.  Both Venus and Jupiter hung in the sky like bright lamps tonight.  I believe the shining planet in this photograph is Venus.

The ice-covered lake shone with a silvery glow as the moon climbed higher and higher, accompanied here by the winter constellation Orion, with the bright Betelgeuse marking Orion's right shoulder.  (If you click on this photo, you may also see part of Orion's belt as well as his left foot.)

There were a few clouds, but they only served to amplify the beauty of the moonlight.

After making our way around the lake, the group stopped off at the warming hut for hot cocoa and hot dogs while enjoying a roaring fire in the fireplace inside.  Now that I no longer had to watch out for stragglers, I went outside to try to get better photographs of the moon, but all my shots turned out super-grainy, the moon consistently blurred by a purple halo.  To the naked eye, the moon's edge was as sharp as if carved with a scalpel.

Since I couldn't get any perfect photos of the moon, I went ahead and had fun distorting the photos with various editing options, altering the exposure and the gamma and saturation and even changing the colors outright, coming up with some amazing abstractions of the moon shining through trees.  This is one that pleased me even more than a perfect image would have.


Anonymous said...

The moon was indeed spectacular! I thought as I headed out for an engagement how lovely it would be to be on a moonlight hike!

How much we've lost, that with so much urbanization, we cannot simply go out of our own door and feel that oneness with nature - to sit quietly on our own 'patch' in quiet contemplation of the beauty of the night.

Thanks for taking us along!

swamp4me said...

That was fun! I have been toying with the thought of leading a full moon hike in the swamp. You have given me the inspiration to see that thought through.

The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

Wow, how beautiful, any bats?

catharus said...

Yeh, I love night walks under full moon (or at least close to full moon -- gotta take it when you can), especially in winter when the landscape is white with snow cover!
'Some neat shots.

laurak/ForestWalkArt :) said...

now... "what a marvelous night for a moondance' van playing in my head.

NICE pictures!!!!! i love the moon.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thank you, dear friends, for stopping by with your kind comments. I wish I could bring you all along on my walks with me. Regarding bats, Cranky, they would all be holed up in caves for the winter by now, if we had any left alive. Our northeastern bat population has been devastated by an infection called White Nose Syndrome that may very well cause the extinction of several species.