• Andy’s E-BOOK — Photography Travel Guides

  • PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS!!

    All Images and writing on this blog are copyrighted by Andy Richards. All rights are reserved. You may not, without my express, written permission, download, right click, or otherwise copy my images for any reason. Copying an image and putting it on your blog, website, or even as a screensaver on your computer is a breach of copyright, EVEN IF YOU ATTRIBUTE THE SOURCE! Please do not do so.
  • On This Blog:

  • Categories

  • Andy’s Photography Galleries

    Click Here To See My Gallery of Photographic Images

    LightCentric Photography

  • Andy's Flickr Photos

  • Prior Posts

  • Posts By Date

    November 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Oct    
     12345
    6789101112
    13141516171819
    20212223242526
    27282930  

Oh, the Places I’ve Been!

D.H. Day Barn, Glen Haven, Michigan Copyright Andy Richards 2014

D.H. Day Barn, Glen Haven, Michigan
Copyright Andy Richards 2014

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

Farm in Saginaw County, Michigan Copyright Andy Richards 2004

Farm in Saginaw County, Michigan
Copyright Andy Richards 2004

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

Nelson Road Old Mission Peninsula; Traverse City, Michigan Copyright Andy Richards 2014

Nelson Road Old Mission Peninsula; Traverse City, Michigan
Copyright Andy Richards 2014

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.

Shiawassee River_2

Shiawassee River, Owosso, Michigan
Copyright Andy Richards 2009

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. :-).

Cadillace Mountain, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine Copyright Andy Richards 2009

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine
Copyright Andy Richards 2009

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.

Jordan Brook, Acadia National Park, Maine Copyright Andy Richards 2009

Jordan Brook, Acadia National Park, Maine
Copyright Andy Richards 2009

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.

Southwest Harbor, Maine Copyright Andy Richards 2009

Southwest Harbor, Maine
Copyright Andy Richards 2009

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.

Blueberry Bushes Acadia National Park, Maine Copyright Andy Richards 2009

Blueberry Bushes
Acadia National Park, Maine
Copyright Andy Richards 2009

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.

Somesville Town Hall and Bridge Somesville, Maine Copyright Andy Richards 2009

Somesville Town Hall and Bridge
Somesville, Maine
Copyright Andy Richards 2009

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.

Little Stony Man Outlook Shenandoah National Park, Virginia Copyright Andy Richards 2007

Little Stony Man Outlook
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Copyright Andy Richards 2007

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.

Santa Fe National Forest New Mexico Copyright Andy Richards 2008

Santa Fe National Forest
New Mexico
Copyright Andy Richards 2008

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.

Santa Fe Ski Basin Santa Fe, New Mexico Copyright Andy Richards 2008

Santa Fe Ski Basin
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Copyright Andy Richards 2008

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.

Santa Fe Ski Basin Santa Fe, New Mexico Copyright Andy Richards 2008

Santa Fe Ski Basin
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Copyright Andy Richards 2008

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.

Glade Creek Gristmill Babcock State Park West Virginia Copyright Andy Richards 2011

Glade Creek Gristmill
Babcock State Park
West Virginia
Copyright Andy Richards 2011

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.

Boley Lake; Babcock State Park, West Virginia Copyright Andy Richards 2011

Boley Lake; Babcock State Park, West Virginia
Copyright Andy Richards 2011

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.

Boley Lake, Babcock State Park; West Virginia Copyright Andy Richards 2011

Boley Lake, Babcock State Park; West Virginia
Copyright Andy Richards 2011

Advertisements

Don’t Be Late!

Sunrise, Otter Beach, Acadia NP, Bar Harbor, ME copyright 2009 Andy Richards

I set out early one morning recently to shoot a scene I have passed by daily on my way to work lately. I had observed the time schedules and knew what time to be there. But as I was driving to the location, sunrise broke and for about 8 minutes, produced the most beautiful, orange hue, lighting the surroundings with warm, low-angled light that photographers wait for. 8 minutes!

My shot would not have been lit, by this beautiful light, as it was a downtown building scene that would have been blocked until about 20 minutes later. I arrived at my scene on time and captured the best light I was going to get for the scene. But oh, to have been bathed in that wonderful, warm, soft orange light!

You must be on site and ready, before the light happens!

The point is this. If my scene had been subject to that wonderful lighting, I would not have been there!I would have been racing to get there—and I would simply have missed it (instead, I lamented that I didn’t have a scene nearby for that light). Even if I had made it to the scene before the light changed, I would have been fumbling around with gear–not the way we want to remember and capture that scene.

Dawn, Horseshoe Lake, Huron NF, MI copyright Andy Richards

There is an old, cliche that photographers like to cleverly repeat: “F8 and be there.” But there is a key to “being there.” You must be there before the image happens. For landscape images, that usually means before the light happens. While it may not always be possible, in the best of all worlds, you will have done your homework and thoroughly planned your shoot. If possible, that means you will already have been to the scene (especially if it is a scene you have not been to before). There is only one thing more frustrating than fumbling around, trying to find a spot to park, or the trail to the shooting location, often in the twilight or even dark, while knowing that you are losing time. That one more frustrating thing is knowing all of the above, and that you are not going to be there on time! Study maps, but then, make a trial run to the scene.

In mid-October, my buddy, Rich and I have a planned trip to Babcock State Park in West Virginia to photograph the iconic Grist Mill that is the central feature of the park. While we have been assured that the “right light” for this image is early morning, we will arrive in the park on the afternoon before our planned shoot. While we will try to find some subject to shoot that afternoon, if necessary, we will gladly forego the afternoon/evening shot in order to plan how to arrive and where our best “setup” perspective will be. We also want to know where to park and how far we need to walk to get to that setup position. This is not something we will want to be doing in the dark for the first time the following morning.

You must meticulously plan your shot in advance.

Another part of the homework is knowing what lens we want to shoot with, and where the light will be coming from. These are all things that we can – and will – plan in advance of the shoot. By arriving the afternoon before, we can explore perspectives and composition, even though we are not there in the best light. One of the great advantages of digital capture is that we can shoot specimen images for review later that evening. We should be able to go into the park the following morning knowing what lens or different lens combinations we will need and the best perspectives for the shot.

This doesn’t mean we won’t deviate from those things, or try different combinations when on site. But if we have a very short window of “good light” we need to have made those fundamental decisions prior to arriving.

Sunrise Over Pond, Barton, VT copyright Andy Richards 2010

What about light angles? If you have never been to a scene before, you may have to make your best calculated guess, knowing where the sun rises at that time of year, and what time to expect that. There are some great tools out there on the internet. Sunrise/sunset calculators are easily found. A friend and participant on the SOV forums, professional photographer, Brandt Bolding, pointed out “The Photographer’s Ephemeris” (TPE), which is a free website designed for photographers. The site allows you to save “favorite places” and gives gps coordinates. It interfaces with what looks like Google Maps, including the hybrid mapping functions, and shows sunrise, sunset times, as well as the angle of the sun at different times of the day and the angle of the moon, also at different times of the day. TPE is an incredible tool that really is worth paying $$ for. Thank you, TPE author, for your generosity! Take a look at it and try it! I have used it to great advantage.

These are all controllable issues. What you cannot control is weather, and changes in conditions. In 2005, armed with the pamphlet prepared by 90 + year old pro photographer (and, I am proud to call friend), Arnold Jon Kaplan, I excitedly traveled to numerous destinations in Vermont, only to find that a number of them had incurred significant tree growth in the ensuing years, obscuring the views that Kaplan had making his iconic images. This is another reason why pre-scouting is so important!

Sunrise, Hateras National Seashore, Hateras, NC copyright Andy Richards

In the final analysis, though, those heart-stopping images you often seen in magazines, calendars, and occasionally on line, usually derive their pzazz from being there in the right light! The only way that can happen – especially in the morning (and in my view, that is when the most dramatic light usually happens), is to get out of bed early and be there before twilight and before the light happens!