When the day brings mist, it is an opportunity to look within and below the forest
Right at the end of the summer, and when the autumn starts to kick in, I traveled to Miaoli County, a bit more than one hour south of Taipei City for a casual hike to the “Bird Beak Mountain” (鳥嘴山). The weather that day was promising in the morning with clear skies and white clouds. Thus, right after breakfast, it was time to start a hike that would take at least 5 hours to complete, from the foot of the mountain to the top, and back.
Like most other hiking trails in Taiwan, the reward at the top is a majestic view of the landscape, either a valley, the sea or a city below. In the case of Niaozui Mountain, the reward is a beautiful look of the neighboring Tiger Mountain.
As the hours passed, and we moved upwards to the end of the trail, the weather took an unexpected turn, bringing mist into the forest. So much so, that the reward at the top of the hike was nowhere to be seen. According to my experience with hiking mountains, though, this does not necessarily mean disappointment. It meant that instead of looking forward and upwards to take photos of the scene, I had to look elsewhere in my attempt to capture the charm of a jungle that eventually turned into a misty forest. The ground, the tree branches extending to make stairs, a maze of trees and mist, sprouts and the tiny inhabitants of the mountain made this occasion truly worthy of the time and effort.
Editing misty scenes and tidy up the vivid earthly colors of Niaozui Mountain
Although there was no view of Tiger Mountain from the top, I managed to get fairly crisp images of this peak both during the morning hours and in the late afternoon, after the hike (and the mist) was over.
I particularly had a great time with my 22 mm lens (35 mm on a full-frame camera) to capture a “natural field of view” of the hiking route. This focal length was also useful to achieve as best as possible the right three-dimensional feeling of the busy scenes of a forest. Additionally, a 56 mm (roughly 85 mm on a full-frame body) was vital to get close enough to bugs and small subjects that are a bit further away from the trail without altering their natural disposition.
For all the shots, a neutral density filter always comes in handy to take most of the white reflection of the surfaces out of the images. All this resulted in images with less clipped highlights, and richer earthly tones with more contrast overall.
Thus, here is my curation of images for Niaozui Mountain:
Additionally, here is a video summary of the hike to Niaozui Mountain: