A crawl between the dense jungle of Keelung City
Nuandong Valley is located in the Nuannuan District (yeah, that funny name…even funnier if you repeat it a few times) of Keelung City. It offers many hiking routes, all of them having one thing in common: rough terrain across thick tropical jungle. Access by car to the starting point of the hike is definitely preferred since the region is not exactly a popular destination with bus and train options available. My guess is that this lack of popularity could be due to its lack of panoramic views. At least any that is remarkable.
The resting point of the hike, where one usually expects a panoramic view to admire, was nearly 600 m above sea level, surrounded by trees. The rest of the route was not so different either, with no distant landscape to admire, but a route closed by dense vegetation on all sides. It was far from a beginner’s route as well, with some parts of the trail even missing, and some falling to pieces while moving upwards, and ropes to assist the movement up and down the slopes. Instead of hiking, our group was constantly crawling to move forward. A leg and core body training from beginning to end, with wet boots included due to the frequent river crossings necessary to complete a route loop, and get back to the entrance.
Despite this expectation for a bright landscape to portrait, after 5 to 6 hours of hiking I realized that the charm of this place could well be somewhere else, so I kept framing and pressing the shutter. In the end, I collected a series of images of the flora dressed in vibrant green wherever I pointed my camera, from low on the ground to high above on the tree canopies, like a carpet of green. A proof that a hiking route can be rewarding even without a popular landmark or featuring an outstanding natural wonder.
About this selection and the editing process
After the hike was over, I knew I had some good images I could curate and edit, but little did I know that they could make a whole gallery by themselves. Thus, the selection criteria for this gallery has not been based on that rewarding sight at the highest point of the hike, or a “hero shot”, but about the beauty of the common things one can see in any hike within the jungle: tree trunks, trails, flowers and anything in between.
For the editing process, I focused on creating a base preset that could enhance the rich, saturated greens of the deep tropical jungle that usually lean towards a colder, bluish tone. Then, bring focus to the subjects by raising up the highlights on one side, and take advantage of the shadows with a slight vignetting effect.
Wherever there was an opening where the sun could reach any surface, I enhanced the warm, golden tones towards which this light leans to.
Thus, the final result is (hopefully for the viewer) a balance between coldness and warmth in some frames, while an emphasis in the gloomy vibes of a jungle hike after abundant rains in others.
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