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It’s Almost “That Time Again”

Shameless Plug: If you are thinking about shooting in New England this fall, please look at my eBook, “Photographing Vermont’s Fall Foliage” for detailed directions and illustrations of some of my favorite “iconic” places in Vermont to shoot. If you click on the “SCENIC VERMONT” Link in the upper left corner here, it will take you to a series of link for your preferred e-reader format. Thank You!

Pete's Lake Sunrise Hiawatha NF, Michigan UP Copyright Andy Richards  2012

Pete’s Lake Sunrise
Hiawatha NF, Michigan UP
Copyright Andy Richards 2012

I know. I am a “broken” record (for those of you old enough to even “get” that reference :-)). Every year about this time, I start to get restless and excited. And every year about this time, it seems that I am compelled to write once again about my personal favorite time of the year for photography. I doubt that I am alone. I suspect that the vast majority of photographers – enthusiast and working pro alike – would agree with this sentiment.

Fall is my personal favorite time of the year for photography

Color

Fall color presents itself in many ways, but in each of them, photographic subjects are in their “best dress.” My focus (pun definitely intended) has always been on landscape photography, so the fact that the flora turns to magnificent colors creates a wonderful and aesthetic background for any subject (when it is not, itself, the subject).

Warning – These are not “Stuffed Animals,” Cartoons, or “Disney” Characters!

For those less inclined toward landscape, the wildlife is also often at its best at this time of the year. Many of the large mammals mate in the fall, and they are in their proverbial “rut.” This means antlers and winter coats, and generally more magnificent looking animals. Because of the combination of the rut and the quest for food and shelter for winter, they are often less reclusive and less more likely to show themselves closer to the photographer (for those with an ounce of common sense – and for the rest of you, too J, there should be a significant warning in that statement) – these are not stuffed animals and they are not cartoon or “Disney” characters. They are wild animals who, if provoked, can be frightfully violent – indeed fatally so).

Bison in Grand Teton NP are relatively acclimated to human presence (but very dangerous nonetheless) Copyright 2011 Andy Richards Copyright Andy Richards  2012

Bison in Grand Teton NP are relatively acclimated to human presence (but very dangerous nonetheless)
Copyright 2011 Andy Richards

And for some, there are other colors, which show themselves in jerseys, helmets, black and white balls, and such. 🙂

There is something “special” about the light in September and October

Light

The sun moves to a more oblique position on the horizon, and the days get shorter. Ironically, for serious landscape and wildlife photographers, shorter days are actually a boon! This means we do not have to drag ourselves out of bed quite as early to get that golden morning light. It also means we are less inclined to burn the proverbial candle at both ends, and often actually get to bed at a “reasonable” time each night, even when shooting. There is something special about the light in September and October. It is warmer and more inviting and “good light” is a critical ingredient to “good imagery.”

There is a foreign hosted site that has this one up on a promotional page

Craftsbury Common, Vermont
copyright 2010 Andy Richards

Conditions

While fall has certainly become a popular travel time of the year, it is still generally less crowded (particularly on week days) than summer, as children (in the U.S., anyway) are generally back in school and families back to the “work routine.” This often means that locations are more accessible to the photographer.

One of the things I marvel at is the variable conditions right here in the North American Continent. I know I haven’t begun to scratch the surface, and that there are places in the world that rival anything we have here, for Fall Color. But here in North America, I have had the pleasure to be as far west as California in October (though I have a lot of work to do to capture even a small percentage of its fall color – yet). I have been in New Mexico, where the intense reds of the rock formations set off against the yellows of the aspen and other variety of fall foliage is magnificent. I have been to Virginia, West Virginia, Vermont, Maine, Canada, and of course, my own Michigan U.P. I have not been to Minnesota yet for fall foliage, but I know it has some scenes that will compare well to the Michigan U.P., especially along its Lake Superior North Shore.

Kit Carson National Forest Copyright 2008 Andy Richards

Kit Carson National Forest
Copyright 2008 Andy Richards

Edit:  My friend, mentor and talented professional photographer, Ray Laskowitz makes a very important observation.  Because of the relative times of “peak” color change during the fall months, if you have the time and inclination (believe me, it is on my “bucket list”), you could chase color all over the continent for almost a two month-period from sometime beginning in September to sometime ending in November!FallFoliageMap2

Emotion

The season is a bit of an emotional roller-coaster for me. I don’t mean to say that I am losing sleep, or that I am a basket case or anything :-). But it is always bittersweet, knowing that—at least where I live—it is a wonderful and exciting time of the year—but it is also the harbinger of things to come. The all too short fall display is really a signal for the end of nice weather, outdoor activities (except for the more hardy snow lovers among us) and warm weather. So I always want to try to schedule some time to soak it in and enjoy it during this time of the year. There are, of course, some “warm-weather solutions” to this “problem.” Some of you probably think that rather than whine every year about the coming of the apocalypse (o.k.; that is a bit dramatic – “winter”), I should do something about it (I have, but that’s for another time).

Glade Creek Gristmill; Babcock SP, West Virginia  copyright 2011  Andy Richards

Glade Creek Gristmill; Babcock SP, West Virginia copyright 2011 Andy Richards

This year, it is even more bittersweet, because I am pretty likely to miss most of the show that I am so accustomed to. I will be in the Mediterranean during most of the end of September and probably not “free” to spend more time outside my “real job” this year. So I will be trying to live vicariously through my many photographer friends who will be shooting in those parts of the country that I normally would try to visit. It is, of course, a good news/bad news (overwhelmingly mostly good – as the upcoming trip is one of those “few-in-a-lifetime” events that my wife and I have been looking forward to for upwards of 2 years now). But part of my heart will be with the fall foliage shooters and I will be wondering what they are finding.

Reflection of Fall Color; Shiawassee River, Owosso, MI

Reflection of Fall Color; Shiawassee River, Owosso, MI
copyright 2009 Andy Richards

Good luck this season to all my friends (and all you shooters out there) and here’s to a grand, colorful, and meteorologically pleasant shooting season!

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4 Responses

  1. great post Andy and for those traveling to VT, DO BUY Andy’s book. It’s a super reference for photogs AND leaf peepers!! Andy, I’ll try and capture some VT glorious color for you 🙂 Travel safely and enjoy the time away with your wife!

    • Margy: Thanks a bunch. Will be looking forward to seeing what you, Carol, MMVT, Charles, and others capture this year. Don’t know if it will be before 2015, but still looking forward to finally having the face-to-face meeting! Best regards, and thanks for reading and posting here!

  2. Hi Andy,
    Can’t believe a year has almost flown past since shooting with you in the glorious and beautiful U.P. Those fall images are some of my favorites. I’ll be sticking to a couple hour radius of Pittsburgh this fall because I’ll also be visiting Europe, only in the Spring because I am partial to wisteria. Have a wonderful time – it is difficult not to. I can’t wait to hear what you thought of traveling with the Sony since I prefer light travels too and would appreciate your opinion.
    Enjoy the wine!
    Kathy

  3. Safe travels, Andy, re your time in Europe. As you know, I’ll be in the UP for the first time in five years early this October and I’ll be sure to say “howdy” to the Hiawatha NF for you.

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