I haven’t done many thermal infrared posts lately…lets correct that.
I’m using my Seek Reveal thermal camera here- 206×156 pixels. In other words the camera resolution is very slightly on the low side. I’m not complaining, as it is a rugged thermal camera at a decent price range. For my posts, I have increased the resolution so that the widest side is 1300 pixels, just to make it a better comparison to the visible photos.
I’ve used three ‘filters’ for these photos:
Iron- The default option for the camera- a full colour thermal image. blue/black is coldest and yellow/white is hottest.
White- My usual filter setting, as I find the monochrome easier to read. Black is coldest and white is hottest.
Glory- I don’t usually use this, as it is hard to read the middle temperature ranges. It is good for finding the hottest and lowest temperatures, however. The temeratures are recorded in red, white, and blue(get it?!!!). Red is hottest, blue is coldest.
I’m still learning how to take the best scenery photos with my Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park is in the far northeast of British Columbia, along the Alaska Highway. It is far away from anything- there is a small motel just outside the park boundary, which is good for a and that’s about it. It’s a half-hour drive to a gas station, but it is probably best to fill up in the nearest towns, either Watson Lake, 200 km north, or Fort Nelson, 300 km south. IT might be my favourite hot spring, even if I’ve only been there a few times(a 1200 km drive each way makes it a little difficult to visit). For the record, these photos were all taken at the end of August 2016. When comparing the photos, I took the visible and the thermal images on the same day, but not necessarily the same time. There is no way I’m going to go into the water holding two cameras- I’m already on edge holding one and trying to keep it dry.
Liard park campground is beside the highway, but to get to the springs, it’s a relatively long walk. There is a boardwalk that takes you to the springs, about 800 m long. The boardwalk is to protect an ecologically sensitive area, as the springs’ heat allow animals to thrive which could not otherwise survive the winter. This all sounds great and unique, but what it boils down to is you’re on a boardwalk over a swamp. I’ve always visited in late summer; I have a feeling that the spring insects would probably be large enough to tear a hole in the tents and carry the tourists away. There’s a good view, though.
The water under the boardwalk isn’t actually that warm. I’m sure that there are small hot water springs through the marsh, but not enough to significantly warm the entire marsh.
The sun shining on the edge of the boardwalk makes that the hottest, while the shadows in the gaps and the thicker grains of wood are colder. Being so far north, the railing’s shadows also have a significant effect on the temperature of the wood:
The hot springs themselves are partially developed- there are sheltered change rooms and storage spaces for clothing and towels, and there is a nearby outhouse, but there is no electricity.
The pool is leveled and has a gravel base, and there are a few submerged benches. I took the visible photo in early morning, by the time I took the thermal one, more visitors had arrived. The water is about waist deep.
The main source of the springs is at the bottom right- hot water comes out of a small rock pool. This water is too hot to bathe in, and is blocked off from the pool by a rocky shelf.
In my first swim, one thing surprised me- the water temperature is very uneven. All the hot springs I had been in before this were fully developed pools, with machine-circulated water. In Liard springs, it tends to be hotter the closer you get to the source, but one step could be noticeably colder or warmer(not freezing cold, but maybe 1-2° C different than the rest of the water) than the next step. This is apparent in all three dimensions- parts of your submerged body feel like they’e in colder water than other parts. This changes with the water currents, so a brush-up against colder water might only last a few seconds.
Lets look closer at the source. These photos don’t match one another, as I took a visible photo when I was putting my other camera away by the change room.
Small tufa mounds are visible behind the water source. I didn’t get a worthwhile photo of them with the thermal camera. Instead, here’s some photos of the rock ledge, with the white and iron filters.
I’m pretty sure that’s lava. Some of the hot water appears to seep from the ledge itself, not the small pool behind it.
One of the things I enjoyed doing was comparing my hand temperature to the temperature in the pools.
Because the Reveal automatically adjusts the colour in the photo to best represent the average temperature variation, my hand appears to be getting colder. In truth, it is almost exactly the same temperature, but the rest of the objects in the image are getting warmer. In the end, the only way to warm my hand to the temperature of the water is to submerge it as well.
As I mentioned, there is more than one pool. One pool, called the Beta Pool, has never been open when I’ve visited, and might be permanently closed. The soaking pool(ie the Alpha Pool) is more like two pools. There is the warmer section, closer to the source of the springs, and a cooler section below, better for children. Dividing the two is a wooden ‘dam’.
The dam is a great place to sit and enjoy the sun, but it also keeps the water contained in the upper pool level, and drops the water temperature in the lower pool by about 10° C.
The higher pool is great to sit and soak, but the lower pool is more fun to explore.
The water drains out into the marsh from this pool, but also several small trickles of water flow into it. A guest can follow the pool out of sight of the change rooms:
The lower pool has less gravel, and farther down, is not maintained. As the pool narrows, the water cools off even more, and vegetation encroaches on the water.
Finally, the pool ends at a small trickle of cool water flowing in from above.
The falling water isn’t clearly visible in the visible spectrum photo, but the temperature differential makes it stand out in the thermal photo.
The best part of visiting the park is reserved for campers, not day visitors. The gates into the park close at night, but the springs remain open for people who are staying at a campsite. Far away from artificial light, they can float in the pool and stargaze through the night…
… before taking the long, cold, walk back to their tents.
The visible spectrum photos were taken with an Olympus TG-610 camera