All Nighter: Douthat State Park

So, I decided to do another road trip. This time, I headed West. I wanted it to be spontaneous, just like my last trip, but I was more prepared for it. This time I searched for places near Maryland that seemed suitable for a nice get away. After a few minutes of looking through Google Maps, I noticed that Virginia had this great forest area and so I headed there.

To continue the tradition. I left my house around 2am, I packed what I thought was essential, cameras, tripod, film, batteries – or so I thought as I left the backup battery charging, snacks, drinks, extra clothes, a knife – ’cuz you know, I may have to fight a bear and obviously, a 3 in. blade will save my life, etc. After a couple stops, a red bull, lots of rock from the local stations, I arrived there around 6 a.m., right on time for the sunrise. I looked around and found Douthat State Park, in Williamsville, which happened to have a nice open area in front of a lake.

Now, I recently had become interested in time lapse photography and I wanted it to try it out. At home, I was able to take pictures in succession thanks to a software I found. But for the trip I needed an intervalometer. I tried to build one out of a TI-84+ calculator, unfortunately the instructions I found were not compatible with it, so I had almost given up on doing a time lapse. However, when I got there, I decided to do it even if I had to take the pictures manually. And... I kinda did. I made the mistake of changing the time exposure often, which resulted in inconsistency between pictures. Some were too dark, others too bright, etc. Thus, lots of frames had to be trashed and I had to do a lot of color correction to achieve somewhat smooth transitions. I started by taking pictures with long exposures, using the camera in continuous shooting mode, which allowed me to leave it unattended for a while. As the day got clearer, I had to reduce the exposure time, until it became too fast to have it on all the time. So I started doing it manually...

Unfortunately... it was November. I was freezing. And although I took some extra clothes with me, I packed really fast and not enough. This, in combination with the lack of my backup battery, made me cut the trip short. Which, in a way, was good as I was able to get back home right on time for Thanksgiving dinner.

I started heading back around 9 a.m. but very quickly I started feeling the effects of the all nighter. After drifting slightly to the side of the road I decided to take a nap for a bit. I had no idea where I had just stopped, I saw a restaurant with a parking lot and lot of people around so that was good enough. Then I woke up, walked in the first place with food, and kept on driving.

The music on the radio was just as good as the night before, Rage Against The Machine, Marilyn Manson, Alice In Chains, Nirvana, an electronic version of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker... It was surprisingly good. I continued my journey enjoying the music, the open road, and the smell of nature, or possibly skunk – on a side note, I discovered that my car's speed limit is 115MPH. I was a bit disappointed and excited at the same time. Eventually I got home. Right on time to take a shower before seeing my family and having a great Thanksgiving dinner/lunch/next day's breakfast.