I’m a big fan of backpacking, but over the last couple of years I’ve found myself doing less backpacking and more camping. The one nice thing about simple camping over backpacking is that there is a much larger pool of people that are willing to accompany me into the woods. One of my favorite sites are some canoe campsites on the St. Croix river.

I of course always bring my camera camping, and while the campsites on the St. Croix are nice and secluded, a good 100 feet from the road and nestled snugly in the woods out of site of any other site… there isn’t much photogenic in the area. For all my efforts the only really decent pictures I ever get are of the river itself.

I was just looking through these and realized I now have a small collection of photos of the river, all from just about the same place (some looking up river, some down) — and all of these photos are incredibly different from each other. It’s a really good illustration of the difference that time makes — different times and different days result in radically different photos. Here’s the St. Croix River photos from the past half dozen or so camping trips.

St. Croix River foggy night

This shot, which I’ve posted before, was taken at 2am by moonlight. The river was still as glass and the fog was just starting to roll in when I set up the tripod for this shot. Within about 15 minutes the fog had gotten so thick that it was nothing but pure white — I got this shot at just the right time.

This shot was taken around midnight on a different night. I’m not sure what I was trying to do with this shot — possibly just passing time — but I clearly screwed something up because the shot is pretty grainy. I left the ISO at 400, but that shouldn’t account for this level of grain — it looks like I underexposed it (everything is manual with these night shots — this was likely around a half hour exposure — so it’s a lot of guesswork). My hunch is I was shooting at ISO 400 just so that the exposure didn’t have to take an hour.

St. Croix River with morning fog

Here’s looking downriver at around 5 or 6 in the morning. I woke up and realized that it was foggy, so I forced myself to leave the tent and get some shots as the fog was burning off in the sun. My big regret on this shot is that corner of blue sky on the upper left — it distracts from the rest of the shot, which is pretty cool. I particularly like the really sharp trees on the right, contrasting the fog-covered ones on the left.

St. Croix River sunset

Sunset on the river. I recall I was experimenting with trying to get the streaks of light effect from the setting sun, which clearly failed. Also you can see that there was some wind and a decent current, blurring the trees (this was around a 20-second exposure).

St. Croix River sunset

Another shot of the river at sunset, on a different day. This time the water was much calmer, and the shot was taken longer after the sun had set. I really like the way there’s almost no distinction between sky and water in this shot. Despite my philosophical opposition to sunset shots this is evidence that I do take them from time to time — and even occasionally like them.

Another late night shot of the river. The sky was perfectly clear with no moon so I was trying to get a picture of the star trails across the sky — I thought it would work particularly well with the glass-like calm water showing reflections of the streaks. Alas it turns out that after a one-hour exposure the little town some fifteen miles a way leaked enough light to blast out most of the sky. You can still see some faint streaks of the brightest stars, at least.