I am pretty sure Dr. Seuss wasn’t talking about my photography when he penned his inspirational book (presumably for kids), “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” which was clearly intended for a higher calling than this blog. But it seemed like maybe a good jumping off point for this title, so thanks for the inspiration Dr. Seuss. :-).
This is about my favorite subject: Fall Foliage photography
While I am sure my travels pale compared to many readers and acquaintances, I have been blessed to visit many places (near and far) during my lifetime. I aspire to go to even more new places before I am done here, but in spite of the rambling lead-in this blog is actually about what I normally write about this time of year: fall color photography.
The previous couple blogs have plugged my 2 eBooks, “Photographing Vermont’s Fall Foliage,” and “Photographing Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
The previous couple blogs have plugged my 2 eBooks, “Photographing Vermont’s Fall Foliage,” and “Photographing Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.” I will believe (and argue :-)) to the grave, that these two locations are the absolute acme of fall color photography. But I have been to other places which approach their beauty, some in similar ways (like Maine, Minnesota’s North Shore and West Virginia’s Mountains), and some in very different ways (like the West). While I have not visited them yet, I understand that the Great Smoky Mountains have their own brand of spectacular foliage in the fall.
Readers might be surprised to find that I have found some images right in my own backyard!
Just for inspiration for those who have not already planned their 2016 Fall Foliage trips, I thought I would demonstrate the potential with a few images from around the U.S. And, based on my travels and commentary about every place away, the reader might be surprised to find that I have found some images right in my own backyard! The top image is near my hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, just east of Lake Michigan,in Leelanau County. The round hay bales are even closer to home, just a few miles from my office in Saginaw County, Michigan. The Old Mission Peninsula juts north into Lake Michigan, from Traverse City, in Grand Traverse County. The Nelson Road vineyard image is near a point on the peninsula where you can stand and see both of the bays formed by the Peninsula. The Shiawassee River is one of several rivers that all come together in Saginaw County to ultimately form the Saginaw River, which eventually empties into Lake Huron. The image above was taken in Shiawassee County, just west of Saginaw County. Perhaps the moral of the story here, is that (at least in certain parts of the country) you don’t have to travel far to find foliage images.
But I have traveled far. :-).
In 2009, my friend, Rich Pomeroy and I spent a week in Maine, mostly in Acadia National Park, shooting. Because of our scheduling, we arrived late in the season. There were some pros and cons to our scheduling. We were (as the images illustrate), mostly late for color. But the later turning birch and beach trees were still in full foliage and were cooperative, if somewhat monotone.
We were also late for the lobster pounds and many of the restaurants which serve the seasonal tourists. I had looked forward to a lobster roll at one of the pounds, but that was not to be. But the lack of tourists did not stop the lobstermen from their daily activities. We had a great time photographing the boats and tools of the trade in several of the harbors in and around Acadia. The Southwest Harbor shot shows the potential for great foliage shooting with wonderful foregrounds.
We also found a different kind of color which we had been anticipating. We had read about the colorful wild blueberry bushes that turn color this same time of year. Again, we mostly missed that and never found the vast fields of them we were looking for. We did fin this image, though, which at least gave us a taste of what we sought.
There are a number of iconic images in the Park. One (not technically in the park) is the Somesville Town Hall, with its distinctive white bridge. As you can see, if timing is right, there is some serious foliage-image potential here. We made the best of what we had. Will have to go back someday.
My wife and I spent a weekend in October in 2007, in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. As serious foliage shooters know, timing is critical and also unpredictable. But as a general rule, this is far enough south that we were probably early in the best of times. 2007 produced an unseasonably warm and dry fall and this weekend was no exception. On of the images I was looking for was the layered sunset image with the mountains in the background. It mostly eluded me. But the image here illustrates that in a few weeks, the color in those mountains might be pretty spectacular.
In October of 2008, we had better luck, traveling to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to spend a week with my sister and brother in law, who acted as guides during our visit. In addition to being on the grounds and photographing the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta (a color of a whole different kind), we traveled around other parts of the state.
Western foliage is very different from what I had experienced in the northeastern United States. With a much higher percentage of Aspen Trees, mixed in with conifers, the foliage is golden yellow and orange, with only an occasional splash of redder color. It is “Western Foliage.” 🙂 I shot these Aspens, somewhere in the Santa Fe National Forest north of Sante Fe.
My favorite foliage spot was the Santa Fe Ski Basin. We had gone to Taos and stayed overnight and it rained overnight. In the higher elevations, that translated into snow! I was elated. We headed back to the ski basin, which tops at an elevation of 10,350 feet, and we were able to drive up the ski basin road and stop for several views with colorful (western) foliage in the foreground and snow up top.
My trip in 2011 to West Virginia, to photograph the famous Glade Creek Grist Mill in Babcock State Park, also yielded very good results, even though we again arrived at the tail end of the season. You can see a substantial amount of leaf drop (due largely to torrential rains over a period of 2 days just prior to our arrival.
There are some pretty great shooting opportunities in West Virginia. My friend and mentor, James ____, believes West Virginia (and not Vermont or Michigan’s U.P. – though he was thoroughly impressed with the U.P.) is “god’s country” where fall foliage is concerned. He might be right (but I will argue that he is not 🙂 ). I will, however, let you judge for yourselves, based on a very small sampling here.
There are many more shooting options for fall foliage. I have friends who have been to Alaska in September and the colors there tend to be along the ground – but are spectacular. I have been to Yellowstone and and Jackson Hole in Wyoming, but not in the fall. I have to believe the colors there are also spectacular in their own right. Idaho and Utah also hold great interest for me. And, I still want to get to Northern California when the grapevines turn sometime later in the fall. I have my work cut out for me. :-).
The foregoing was a smattering of places I have been and have photographed; all places I can highly recommend, in addition to Vermont and Upper Michigan. So get out there and shoot. Somewhere.
Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY, TRAVEL | Tagged: Acadia National Park, Babcock State Park, Bar Harbor, blueberries, Boley Lake, Cadillac Mountain, D.H. Day Barn, Fall Foliage, Glade Creek Grist Mill, Glen Haven Michigan, Jordan Brook, Little Stony Man, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Old Michigan Peninsula, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Ski Basin, Shenadoah National Park, Shiawassee River, Somesville Maine, Southwest Harbor, Upper Peninsula, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia |