Posted by: kerryl29 | November 29, 2016

New England Day 5: Northward

With an all-day forecast of mostly sunny conditions following chilly temperatures overnight, I decided to return to Sandy River Pond for sunrise.  This would be my third visit to this location, having previously been there on Day 2 and Day 4.  The trees surrounding the pond were approaching peak and I had determined that the public access area–on the west side of the pond, adjacent to ME-4–would provide a potentially good spot for sunrise.  Mist off the water was likely, given the overnight temperatures; now if I could just get some clouds in the eastern sky, I’d be all set.  I wasn’t disappointed.

It was about a 45-minute ride to the pond so I had to get up extra early to be on site for the start of civil twilight.  But it was worth it.

Sunrise, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Sunrise, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

This turned out to be one of those dawn settings where, for a few minutes, everything turns pink–the sky, the clouds, the light itself.

Sunrise, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Sunrise, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

There was no wind at dawn so the reflections on the pond were glass-like.

Sunrise, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Sunrise, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

The public access to Sandy River Pond is limited to a concrete boat launch, perhaps 20 feet in width, surrounded on both sides by dense stands of trees and shrubs and bordered on either end by private property.  As a result, perspectives are extremely limited.  But that doesn’t mean that compositional options aren’t available.  As you can see from the above photos, the area across the pond to the right had the largest amount of mist.  Once the pink light disappeared, as the sun began to rise, I pulled out the telephoto lens to play with the elements.

Misty Morning, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Misty Morning, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Misty Morning, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Misty Morning, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Misty Morning, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Misty Morning, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

When I finished at the pond, I moved a bit north on ME-4 and spent a few moments photographing from the eastern Rangeley Lake Overlook.  Though this was after sunrise, I really liked the combination of elements.

Rangeley Lake, East Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake, East Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake, East Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake, East Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake, East Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake, East Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Given the forecast, and the fact that I’d thoroughly scouted and photographed the area around both sides of Rangeley Lake in the previous few days, I decided to spend the better part of Day 5 looking over a new area:  the Kennebec River Valley, located well to the northeast of where I’d been thus far.

Northwest Maine (Scale: 1 in. = 10 mi.)

Northwest Maine (Scale: 1 in. = 10 mi.)

For context, my base of operations was about five miles west of Rumford (in the bottom left of the above map) on US-2.  My sunrise destination was about 10 miles southeast of the town of Rangeley.

The Kennebec River Valley runs north from the spot on the map demarcated by the town of Moscow, and runs alongside US-201.  Before the day was over, I followed the road all the way north to Jackman and then took ME-6 east for about 25 miles before turning around.

This was pretty, empty country.  While the foliage wasn’t really any further along than in the Rangeley Lakes area and the light wasn’t great, I’m still glad I made the drive.  About 10 miles south of Jackman I saw a huge bull moose on the west side of the road.  I pulled off the highway on the east side and while I was pondering whether to get my camera out of the trunk a noisy semi, coming from the other direction, kind of spooked the moose (who had been content to nibble on some foliage on one of the trees) and he meandered off into the forest.

Despite the light, I did take some pictures at a few spots along the way, beginning with a small wetland just north of the town of Bingham, not far from Moscow.

Wetland, Kennebec River Valley, Somerset County, Maine

Wetland, Kennebec River Valley, Somerset County, Maine

My next stop was at a pull-off on the west side of the road that was lined with birch trees.  The wide Kennebec River lay below.

Birches Black & White, Kennebec River Valley, Somerset County, Maine

Birches Black & White, Kennebec River Valley, Somerset County, Maine

At a rest area another 10 miles or so north, I made another stop.  It was a bit windy at this spot, but I was able to gain a shutter speed sufficient to freeze the action.

Kennebec River, Somerset County, Maine

Kennebec River, Somerset County, Maine

It was much calmer by the time I reached The Forks and stopped at another rest area.  I crossed the highway at this point and photographed the river from the shoulder of a bridge.

Kennebec River, Somerset County, Maine

Kennebec River, Somerset County, Maine

The most intriguing view, I think, was of Attean Pond, near where I saw the moose and not very far to the south of Jackman.  The overlook–the final rest stop on US 201 before reaching the border with Quebec–provides a distant view of the pond, which is dotted with tree-covered islands, has a foreground of hardwoods and coniferous trees and a background of low mountains.  I produced a panorama and a conventional horizontal image from this spot.

Attean Pond Panorama, Somerset County, Maine

Attean Pond Panorama, Somerset County, Maine

Attean Pond, Somerset County, Maine

Attean Pond, Somerset County, Maine

After scouting east of Jackman on ME-6 I drove all the way back to Rumford Center and then west to ME-113 into Evans Notch.  I arrived there about two hours before sunset.  My first stop was at the trailhead for “The Roost” trail, a steep one-mile one-way climb to an overlook of the notch.  I discovered, after making the climb, that while the view was terrific, this wasn’t a place to go on a sunny afternoon, as the view was looking almost straight into the sun.  I chalked the experience up to scouting and indeed I would return to this spot later in the trip, but in the morning.

After descending back to the car, I drove the length of the notch on ME-113, all the way to Basin Pond at the very southern end, just across the state line in New Hampshire.  Most of the locations in the notch, which is a mix of deciduous trees and conifers, with an emphasis on the former, were still almost entirely green.  But I did stop at one or two spots that had some color.

Bull Brook, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Bull Brook, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

There aren’t many places in the notch from which to effectively photograph sunset.  There are some spots you can hike to, but doing so would require some pretty gnarly descents in the pitch dark–like the Roost, for instance.  The thought of descending that steep, rock-and-root-strewn trail in the dark, even with a headlamp or flashlight, struck me as something other than a good idea.  Besides, there were few clouds in the sky by the time sunset rolled around.  I drove to the Cold River Overlook–a small pull-out with an essentially southern view through the notch which I’d scouted on the drive to Basin Pond.  It was a bit overgrown and the perspective wasn’t the greatest, but I made a couple of images anyway.

Evans Notch from Cold River Overlook, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Evans Notch from Cold River Overlook, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Sunset, Cold River Overlook, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Sunset, Cold River Overlook, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

And with that, my last full day based in Maine would come to an end.  I still had another morning.  I’d shoot sunrise along the Androscoggin River and make a few more images in the immediate area the following morning before decamping for the Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire en route to my new base in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Posted by: kerryl29 | November 22, 2016

Thematic Interruption: Just Point and Click…or Don’t

A number of years ago, I was given a scouting report on the progress of fall color development in the Hiawatha National Forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  “It’s so beautiful here right now,” I was told, “that you can point your camera just about anywhere and take a great picture.”  The statement was intentionally hyperbolic, meant to convey that the forest was at peak, but the words chosen to express that point have stuck with me.

I’ve often had the sense that many photographers, when presented with truly exceptional beauty or awe-inspiring scenery of any kind have a tendency to–for lack of a better way of putting it–kind of flip out and effectively take the above-quoted line literally.  Be it peak fall color in the North Woods or the jaw-dropping immensity of the Grand Canyon or the incomparable beauty of the Canadian Rockies or the Oregon coast–or any scene that produces an “oh, wow” reaction for that matter–there’s a natural inclination, I think, to be mesmerized and lose track of the process of effective image-making.

Cape Royal, Grand Canyon National Park - North Rim, Arizona

Cape Royal, Grand Canyon National Park – North Rim, Arizona

I’ve been a victim of this syndrome myself.  I remember my reaction when I first visited White Sands National Monument in New Mexico about ten years ago.  I was virtually awestruck and had to “snap out of it” to regain my senses and return to image making.

Earthshadow, White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Earthshadow, White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Avoiding–or at least swiftly recovering from–the “Oh Wow” Syndrome is easier said than done, of course, and is probably best accomplished by some sort of wary cognizance of the very fact that the syndrome exists.  Awareness and recognition can mitigate the effects.  And mitigation is necessary because, I’m here to tell you–in the unlikely event that you don’t already know–that it’s quite possible to point your camera at something indescribably beautiful and come away with an image that’s suited for nothing but the round file.  It may indeed be a lesson that we all need to learn through direct experience.

Elliott Peak from White Goat Lakes at Dawn, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Elliott Peak from White Goat Lakes at Dawn, David Thompson Country, Alberta

The key, of course, is to avoid repeating the mistake.  And that’s where awareness of the syndrome comes in to play.

Sunset, Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint, Oregon

Sunset, Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint, Oregon

One of the reasons that I always try to give myself ample amount of time at a given location is so that I can “adapt” to my surroundings.  I may never quite overcome a sense of awe that stems from viewing a beautiful scene; indeed, I wouldn’t want to do so.  But once I acclimate myself somewhere–as I ultimately did at White Sands, for instance, after spending several days in southern New Mexico–I’m better able to home in on the image making process.

Fall Splendor, Little Indian Road, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Fall Splendor, Little Indian Road, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

This happened again during peak fall color in New England this autumn.  The reds, in particular, were deeper and more numerous than anything I’ve ever seen before and I’m pretty sure that a brief bout of “Oh Wow” Syndrome set in before I regained my bearings.

Easton Road Color, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Easton Road Color, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Recognition of the syndrome, and its symptoms, surely helped me recover more quickly than otherwise would have been the case.  Awareness is the best antidote; it can work for you, too.

Forest Kaleidoscope, May Pond Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Forest Kaleidoscope, May Pond Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Posted by: kerryl29 | November 14, 2016

New England Day 4: Mostly Cloudy

What have I said repeatedly on this blog?  Let the quality of light and weather conditions dictate your photographic subject/location choices.  This is something I always do.  And I’ve pointed out that overcast conditions–so-called “flat light”–are perfect for certain types of subjects:  intimate forest scenes, waterfall, creeks and so forth.

All of that foreshadows most of my fourth day in New England.  The day’s forecast was for cloudy skies to dominate until well into the afternoon.  There was no chance of a sunrise.  I made my plans–based on the scouting that I did on Day 2–to take advantage of the soft light.

My first planned stop was for Smalls Falls–which I visited briefly on that second day–but I made one brief stop in the early morning light at Webb River, along ME-4.

Webb River, Franklin County, Maine

Webb River, Franklin County, Maine

From there it was a relatively short drive to Smalls Falls.  It was raining lightly when I arrived at the deserted parking lot.  The first thing I spotted after making the very short walk from the lot to the area below the falls was a pair of Merganser ducks floating around in the splash pool below the waterfall.

Mergansers, Small Falls, Franklin County, Maine

Mergansers, Small Falls, Franklin County, Maine

Mergansers, Small Falls, Franklin County, Maine

Mergansers, Small Falls, Franklin County, Maine

I then set about photographing the waterfall itself.  The lower falls area, which had been in full sun on my earlier visit, was now evenly lit, of course.  The rain seemed like 0a modest impediment, though all of the surface areas were now wet and slippery, making it necessary to take care.  The spot was still a long way from peak color, as you can plainly see.

Smalls Falls, Franklin County, Maine

Smalls Falls, Franklin County, Maine

Smalls Falls, Franklin County, Maine

Smalls Falls, Franklin County, Maine

Smalls Falls, Franklin County, Maine

Smalls Falls, Franklin County, Maine

I continued north on ME-4 from Smalls Falls, which placed me on a route to pass the ponds I had discovered and scouted on Day 2.  Sandy River Pond had revealed the greatest color development and, knowing that another couple of days would do nothing but potentially improve the situation, I decided to stop there on this morning.

As I closed in on the pond’s public access area I drove into heavy fog.  The area around the pond was thick with morning mist, and I tried to use that to my advantage.  I’ve blogged on the topic of fog as a landscape photography aid before and I endeavored to utilize the principles illustrated in the linked piece.

At first, the fog was so heavy that–given the distance across the pond from the access area, the fall color was all but completely obscured.

Morning Fog, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Morning Fog, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

But–slowly–the fog lifted a bit.

Autumn Trees in Morning Fog, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Autumn Trees in Morning Fog, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Autumn Trees in Morning Fog, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Autumn Trees in Morning Fog, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

It was a waiting game.  Given time, more and more of the pond’s far shore came into view as the mist gradually thinned.  The conditions reminded me of a morning I spent at Halfmoon Lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula a few years ago.

Autumn Trees in Morning Fog, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Autumn Trees in Morning Fog, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Autumn Trees in Morning Fog, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Autumn Trees in Morning Fog, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Autumn Trees in Morning Fog, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Autumn Trees in Morning Fog, Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Eventually things reached a point where reflections were revealed in the relatively calm water of Sandy River Pond.

Sandy River Pond in Morning Fog, Franklin County, Maine

Sandy River Pond in Morning Fog, Franklin County, Maine

It was late morning by the time I wrapped up at Sandy River Pond.  I continued north on ME-4, in the direction of the town of Rangeley, but on my way I stopped at another tiny pond that I’d taken note of on Day 2.  I’m not sure if this pond has an official name but, as best I could tell from my sources, it’s connected to Mill Brook so I began referring to it as Mill Brook Pond.  What initially caught my eye about this spot–visible from the road–was the set of red-leafed maples on the far side.  But when I had scouted this spot–in the harsh sunlight two days earlier–I had found a very nice set of lily pads as well (which were not visible from the road).

The fog wasn’t a factor at this spot, so I parked in a pull-out across the highway and made my way around a guard rail.  There was no way to get quite to water level here without some serious bushwhacking, and I was concerned that doing so would require trespassing on private property, so I remained up at the roadside and made do.  The number of available perspectives was limited, given the amount of foreground clutter and I spent a lot of time trying to pick out workable compositions, with relatively limited success, I’m afraid.

Mill Brook Pond Reflections, Franklin County, Maine

Mill Brook Pond Reflections, Franklin County, Maine

Mill Brook Pond Trees, Franklin County, Maine

Mill Brook Pond Trees, Franklin County, Maine

But the lily pads were another story.  I had a little bit more freedom given how tight I wanted to shoot this subject but, again, it took quite a bit of finagling–and just about all 400 mm of focal length–to come up with a pleasing composition.

Lily Pads and Reflections, Mill Brook Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Lily Pads and Reflections, Mill Brook Pond, Franklin County, Maine

When I was done, I headed back across the road and upon doing so, looked back in the direction of the pond and discovered a serendipitous composition that was only visible from my spot:  a prominent isolated white birch snag, in the foreground, with the arching hillside of color in the rear.  A telephoto lens was necessary to compress the scene the way I wanted, but doing so produced a depth of field problem; the birch snag was much closer to my shooting position than the background trees.  Had the distance been greater, and the background been displayed as a colorful blur, that would have been great.  But the background wasn’t nearly far enough away for that; at best, a single shot left the background just out of focus enough to be annoying.  But rendering everything sharp in a single image was impossible as well.  So, during a moment of dead calm, I quickly produced two shots–one with the foreground sharp and one with the background sharp and then I stacked the two in post-processing.  I actually did this twice, once as a horizontal and once as a vertical, but I don’t know why I bothered with the horizontal shot; given the shape of the snag, this was a vertical shot all the way.

Autumn Trees, Mill Brook Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Autumn Trees, Mill Brook Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Just steps from where I parked the car while photographing at Mill Brook Pond was direct access to a small cove that’s part of the east end of Rangeley Lake.  It appeared that the spot had potential, so I wandered down to the water’s edge.

Rangeley Lake, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake, Franklin County, Maine

It was early afternoon by now and I made my way to the Cascade Streams trailhead, just south of the town of Rangeley.  I had scouted this location extensively on a sunny part of  Day 2.  I’d been impressed and it was on my list of places to go if the weather was cloudy…like this day.  As I expected, there was no one in the small parking area when I arrived and I quickly made my way up the trail.

Cascade Stream Trail, Franklin County, Maine

Cascade Stream Trail, Franklin County, Maine

There are a number of interesting waterfalls along Cascade Stream and I spent several hours working the sites along the trail.  One of the problems with this location is that accessing the best spots from which to photograph many of the most photogenic features is difficult.  The trail itself runs along a bluff to the left of the water (as you hike upstream).  Getting in position to photograph the waterfalls almost invariably involves climbing down closer to water level.  The rocks were very slippery, so footing was a constant issue and accessing many spots required a near scramble, descending over boulders and over or around large fallen trees.  But I felt it was worth the effort.

Cascade Stream Trail, Franklin County, Maine

Cascade Stream Trail, Franklin County, Maine

Part of the trail wound its way through a thick pine forest.

Cascade Stream Trail, Franklin County, Maine

Cascade Stream Trail, Franklin County, Maine

The waterfall farthest up the trail allowed–with great care–a descent all the way to stream level.

Cascade Stream Trail, Franklin County, Maine

Cascade Stream Trail, Franklin County, Maine

Cascade Stream Trail, Franklin County, Maine

Cascade Stream Trail, Franklin County, Maine

I also found this waterfall to be photogenic from a higher perspective as well.

Cascade Stream Black & White, Franklin County, Maine

Cascade Stream Black & White, Franklin County, Maine

Cascade Stream, Franklin County, Maine

Cascade Stream, Franklin County, Maine

By the time I hiked out and returned to the parking area it was late afternoon and the sun was beginning to make its presence felt.  I made the relatively short drive back to Sandy River Pond because I knew that the sinking sun in the southwest sky would light up the trees on the far bank.  I’d hoped that there would be some nice reflections but there was too much wind for anything particularly impressive.  It was remarkable how quickly the thick cloud layer, which had been present all day, disappeared.  The clouds in the eastern sky–visible in the image below–were the only clouds in the sky at this point.

Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Sandy River Pond, Franklin County, Maine

I made a run back to Height of Land for sunset–the third straight day I visited this spot at last light–but the sky was entirely cloudless by the time I got there and I decided not to make any images.  I simply made the hour-long drive back to Rumford Center to check the weather forecast for the next day and prepare an appropriate travel/photographic itinerary.

Posted by: kerryl29 | November 7, 2016

New England Day 3: Grafton Notch and Beyond

My third day (second full day) in New England dawned cloudy…and drizzly…no sunrise…no sun at all.  So at first light I decided to check out Sunday River Covered Bridge, near Newry, Maine, about 10 miles from where I was staying.  I had been told in advance that this covered bridge was no longer “in service,” having been replaced by a modern bridge to allow traffic to cross the Sunday River.  But the covered bridge itself is still quite photogenic.  When I got there it was still raining, so I didn’t photograph the bridge; I put in on my list of places to return to as I determined that it would make a good subject from river level.  But, while standing on the bridge itself, protected from the rain, I saw some trees along the river bank to the south that had started to turn.

Sunday River Color, Oxford County, Maine

Sunday River Color, Oxford County, Maine

Sunday River Color, Oxford County, Maine

Sunday River Color, Oxford County, Maine

When I determined, the night before, that it would be a cloudy morning, I decided to spend at least part of the day in Grafton Notch State Park.  I worked out a driving circuit, heading north toward the notch on ME-5.  On the way, under cloudy skies (but the rain having stopped), I passed a farm.  Intrigued by what I saw, I stopped to check it out.

Cloudy Morning Farm, Oxford County, Maine

Cloudy Morning Farm, Oxford County, Maine

The morning mist hadn’t cleared from the mountains to the west; given the relative lack of color in the scene, I decided to convert this image to black and white.

Cloudy Morning Farm Black & White, Oxford County, Maine

Cloudy Morning Farm Black & White, Oxford County, Maine

Having captured the wider scene, I pulled out the telephoto rig to isolate the areas that really appealed to me–the tree-lined ridges and fog.

Morning Fog, Oxford County, Maine

Morning Fog, Oxford County, Maine

Morning Fog, Oxford County, Maine

Morning Fog, Oxford County, Maine

My next stop was Step Falls, a Nature Conservancy property just south of Grafton Notch.  I arrived at mid-morning and had the place to myself.

Step Falls, Oxford County, Maine

Step Falls, Oxford County, Maine

Step Falls, Oxford County, Maine

Step Falls, Oxford County, Maine

While I was at Step Falls, the sun began to pierce the clouds.  This was a portent of things to come as the clouds would, in short order, move off to the east for the rest of the day.  Shortly before this happened, I stopped at Grafton Notch State Park to photograph the impressive Screw Auger Falls.

Before I got to the waterfall, I produced a quick shot of rapids along the Bear River.

Bear River Cascade Black & White, Grafton Notch State Park, Maine

Bear River Cascade Black & White, Grafton Notch State Park, Maine

Screw Auger Falls is a sectional waterfall that flows through a narrow gorge, not far from a marked parking area.  After considerable investigation I found only one spot that I liked from which to photograph the falls.  Reaching this location required a brief scramble up a boulder.  From this position I produced several images.

Screw Auger Falls, Grafton Notch State Park, Maine

Screw Auger Falls, Grafton Notch State Park, Maine

Screw Auger Falls, Grafton Notch State Park, Maine

Screw Auger Falls, Grafton Notch State Park, Maine

Screw Auger Falls Black & White, Grafton Notch State Park, Maine

Screw Auger Falls Black & White, Grafton Notch State Park, Maine

As you can see, the color in this area wasn’t very far along.  So while I drove through the rest of Grafton Notch, I didn’t make any more images.  (The by-now relatively harsh light had something to do with this as well.)  I spent the rest of the morning scouting locations–all of the cascade or waterfall variety–located along East B Hill Road, west of Andover in Oxford County.  This lonely road runs along a ridge and then, after a hasty decent, through a heavily wooded area.  Before I descended the ridge I stopped to take one shot from the road, despite the light, just to demonstrate the view.

East B Hill Road, Oxford County, Maine

East B Hill Road, Oxford County, Maine

Most of my scouting time was spent traversing (without camera gear) a rather difficult trail to and from both tiers of Dunn Falls.  Doing so required crossing a creek multiple times as part of a 3 1/2 mile loop.  I determined it to be a waste of time.  Lower Dunn Falls was impressive but, due to a huge log that had lodged in the splash area, unphotographable.  Upper Dunn Falls could be photographed, but the limited water flow when I visited made it a pointless exercise in my estimation.  I was glad that I hadn’t bothered to haul my gear on the fruitless trip.

It was mid-afternoon by the time I finished the scouting session and I decided to visit the nearby Lovejoy Covered Bridge–a spot I had located (after dark) on my first day in Maine.  The bridge, located in South Andover, remains in service (i.e. it carries traffic).  I checked the site carefully from both the road as well as at river level.

Lovejoy Covered Bridge, Oxford County, Maine

Lovejoy Covered Bridge, Oxford County, Maine

Lovejoy Covered Bridge, Oxford County, Maine

Lovejoy Covered Bridge, Oxford County, Maine

Next on the agenda I decided to climb up Bald Mountain, about thirty miles to the north, just west of Oquossoc, to investigate the view from the watch tower at the summit.

En route to Bald Mountain, heading north on ME-17, I spotted an intimate scene that caused me to stop and pull out my gear.

Autumn Intimate, Franklin County, Maine

Autumn Intimate, Franklin County, Maine

Bald Mountain is located between Rangeley Lake (to the east) and Mooselookmeguntic Lake (to the west).  I had been told that the 360-degree view was impressive…and that was true.  The trail, however, was miserable.  It’s steep (gaining 1200-odd feet of elevation to the summit in a bit more than a mile), but that didn’t bother me all that much.  What did bother me was the nature of the trail.  It was wall-to-wall roots and rocks over the first half-mile or so, but the remainder of the trail involved several locations that virtually required a scramble.  That was annoying on the way up and damn near dangerous on the way down, given how slippery some of these spots were.  Still, I made it up and back in one piece.  And I did have the opportunity to enjoy the impressive view from the 30-foot high tower, which rises above the numerous mature spruce trees at the summit.  There are no views at all from anywhere on the summit other than the tower.  (The entire experience took about 90 minutes.)

Rangeley Lake from Bald Mountain, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake from Bald Mountain, Franklin County, Maine

By the time I descended the Bald Mountain Trail, it was less than an hour until sunset.  I decided to head back to Height of Land Overlook, which was only about 15 minutes away and on the way back to Rumford.  Once again, I was hoping for a great sunset.  It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either.  Not by a longshot.

The light, just before the sun went down, was exquisite.

Mooselookmeguntic Lake from Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Mooselookmeguntic Lake from Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

After the sun sank below the horizon, the color in the sky improved just a bit.

Mooselookmeguntic Lake from Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Mooselookmeguntic Lake from Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

The shots that I found most graphic were those that I took with my telephoto lens.

Mooselookmeguntic Lake at Sunset from Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Mooselookmeguntic Lake at Sunset from Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Mooselookmeguntic Lake at Sunset from Height of Land Overlook Panorama, Franklin County, Maine

Mooselookmeguntic Lake at Sunset from Height of Land Overlook Panorama, Franklin County, Maine

And with that, a day that had started with clouds and rain ended with a mostly clear sky.  Those conditions would change substantially overnight.

Posted by: kerryl29 | November 3, 2016

Celebrating the Centenary of Turkey Run State Park

Turkey Run State Park, located in west-central Indiana, was dedicated in 1916.  I recently received a book celebrating Turkey Run’s 100th birthday as the state’s second oldest state park.  (McCormick’s Creek State Park is the oldest, having been founded earlier the same year.)  A Place Called Turkey Run:  A Celebration of Indiana’s Second State Park in Pictures and Words by Daniel P. Shepardson is exactly what the title states:  a celebration of Turkey Run State Park.

Shepardson, a professor of geoenvironmental and science education at Purdue University (located in West Lafayette, Indiana, a relatively short distance from Turkey Run) has produced a 200-page hard back book that is a paean to Turkey Run; it’s clear that this is place that Professor Shepardson loves.  The book’s introduction notes that Shepardson has been visiting the park on a regular basis for more than 25 years and his experience shows, in the book’s prose as well as its images.

Bridle Path, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Bridle Path, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

The book includes more than 250 photographs that thoroughly document the park’s natural features, in all four seasons.  I have photographed, on a number of occasions, at Turkey Run myself–most recently in April of this year–and I can tell you that it’s an extremely challenging place to shoot.  (Note:  All of the images accompanying this post are mine, not from the book.)  The majority of the park’s landscape is in the form of either dense woodland or deep canyons and ravines…or both.  Mixed lighting is essentially endemic to the locale and can be quite difficult to tame.  Most spots in the park can be quite chaotic, compositionally speaking.  But the book’s photographs do a nice job of showing the beauty, and the variety of subjects, to be found in the park, in a variety of climatic conditions.

Bluebells, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Bluebells, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

The book is divided into six chapters:  Sandstone; Bluffs and Canyons; Flowing Water; Snow and Ice; Tall Trees; and Flowers, Ferns and Fungi.  Each chapter opens with extended introductory comments about the category.  The focus of the text is to put the subjects in a geological context–and an earth sciences context more broadly– with discussions of minerals in the Sandstone and Bluffs and Canyons chapters; discussion of sediments and alluvial flow in the Flowing Water and Snow and Ice chapters; and organisms and natural science broadly in the Tall Trees and Flowers, Ferns and Fungi chapters.

Rocky Hollow, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Rocky Hollow, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

If you’re wondering if the scientific tenor of the book’s text is helpful to a photographic interest in the park, the answer is yes.  Understanding your subject matter with a naturalist’s sensibility can assist your nature photography by helping you anticipate events, scenes and subjects.  A comprehension of the impact of glacial activity during the last Ice Age on the formation of the park’s canyons, for instance, can be of help in seeking out different rock strata for the creation of abstract imagery.  Knowing a thing or two about the critical role of the movement of water in sculpting the Turkey Run landscape can be of immense assistance in creating compelling intimate compositions.  Knowledge of how the density of the leaf canopy impacts the amount of light conveyed to the forest floor not only provides important technical information for photographers, it’s also of undeniable benefit in predicting the presence–or absence–of certain subject matter at different times of the year.

And don’t misunderstand; while the nature of the book’s prose is occasionally quasi-scientific, it remains entirely approachable to the layman.  You won’t be bogged down with excessive jargon or concepts that are opaque.

Punch Bowl, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Punch Bowl, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana-

The book’s images provide a thorough look at the park’s natural features and, as I mentioned earlier, does so in all four seasons.  I’ve been to the park numerous times over the past dozen or so years, but all of my visits have come in either the spring or fall.  It was fascinating to obtain an extensive look at how the park appears in winter.

Turkey Run is a singular place.  I’ve heard photographers compare it to Starved Rock State Park in Illinois and Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio.  I’ve visited both places and photographed them extensively.  While there are some similarities, I think they’re more superficial than substantive.  Turkey Run is unique unto itself.  And the images in this book do a better job of capturing the park’s individuality than anything I’ve seen before or expect to see in the future.

The book is available from Purdue University Press and I recommend it to anyone with any interest at all in Indiana’s second oldest state park.

Posted by: kerryl29 | October 31, 2016

Day 2: An Introduction to the Rangeley Lakes Region of Maine

Prior to this trip, I knew very little about the region of Maine that I was visiting.  I didn’t know anyone who had ever been there, let alone photographed there.  I’d read a bit about it and had some direction about where to go once I was in the area, but there’s reading/hearing about a place and there’s seeing it with your own eyes.  I knew that there would be a premium on scouting sites during the first day or two that I was on the ground in the region.

As I mentioned in the previous post, my plan was to photograph sunrise right from the grounds of my motel, which was situated on the north bank of the Androscoggin River.  The overnight temperature was forecast to dip to the freezing mark and I figured that there would be copious fog coming off the river at daybreak.  I wasn’t disappointed.

It was 31 degrees when I headed outside a bit before 6 AM (about 35 minutes before sunrise).  There was just enough light at that point for me to be able to find my way around without a headlamp and I moved on to the back lawn of the property–the grass was covered with frost–and made my way the short distance to the edge of the river.  As expected, fog was everywhere.  I investigated my surroundings as best I could.  The river was extremely slow-moving at this spot, which made for some workable reflections.  There was a clear view spot along the bank that was surrounded by tall grass and a number of trees–mostly oaks–which were just beginning to turn.  I worked out approximately where the sun would come up–assuming it would be visible through the fog–set up and waited for the light.  It didn’t take all that long.

Androscoggin River Sunrise, Oxford County, Maine

Androscoggin River Sunrise, Oxford County, Maine

Once the sun started to have an impact on the setting I moved around a bit, to use some of the trees and grasses as foreground elements.  There was essentially no wind at all.

Androscoggin River Sunrise, Oxford County, Maine

Androscoggin River Sunrise, Oxford County, Maine

Eventually, the sun rose high enough to burn off some of the fog–at least for a period of time–revealing part of the village of Rumford Center on the bank around a bend in the river.

Androscoggin River Morning, Oxford County, Maine

Androscoggin River Morning, Oxford County, Maine

The fog actually thickened again, significantly, for a period of time.

Androscoggin River Morning, Oxford County, Maine

Androscoggin River Morning, Oxford County, Maine

But eventually, the sun did it’s thing with authority.

Androscoggin River Morning, Oxford County, Maine

Androscoggin River Morning, Oxford County, Maine

Before I left the spot, I took the time to work out a composition including one of the trees that had been behind my shooting position all this time.

Androscoggin River Trees, Oxford County, Maine

Androscoggin River Trees, Oxford County, Maine

And when all of the fog had lifted in the direction of Rumford Center, I produced one shot of the trees, in full sunlight, on the hillside behind the town.

Emerging Color, Oxford County, Maine

Emerging Color, Oxford County, Maine

After a bit more than an hour, I called it quits.  I was more or less a popsicle at this point anyway.  But I got in the car and headed in the same direction I’d gone the previous day when I visited Coos Canyon.  The rest of the day was spent in the field, far from my sunrise shooting spot.  There are no towns of any size where I was going.  There are no gas stations between the twin towns of Rumford and Mexico (combined population:  about 7500) at the northern end of my excursion, and Oquossoc (population about 160), roughly 50 miles to the north.  Rangeley (pop. 1100) is another ten miles or so east.  This is what it’s like in this part of Maine.  There are very few towns or villages and what there is is mostly tiny (in terms of people and services).

I was headed in the direction of Rangeley Lake, about 50 miles to the north, but I made a number of stops along the way.  One of the first of those stops was at Beaver Pond, which was situated right along the highway.  The light was still pretty good when I was there, and it was just about dead calm, so I hauled out my gear and produced a few images.

Beaver Pond Morning, Franklin County, Maine

Beaver Pond Morning, Franklin County, Maine

The color was just starting to pop at this location.  I figured with two consecutive cold nights–and one more to come–I’d see considerably more color in the next few days.

Beaver Pond Morning, Franklin County, Maine

Beaver Pond Morning, Franklin County, Maine

After Beaver Pond I checked out another pond which required about a two-mile round trip hike–Spencer Pond.  There wasn’t much color there–partly because there wasn’t much change to the deciduous trees and partly because there were a lot of conifers surrounding the lake.  This was the first of a number of scouting checks that more or less led nowhere during this day as I spent time investing places like Ellis Pond and Loon Lake, only to be disappointed with the lack of access, lack of color, lack of shooting options or some combination of all of these factors.

But I did stop and photograph at the Height of Land Overlook, about 10 miles south of the small town of Oquossoc, which is on the northwest edge of Rangeley Lake.  Height of Land is a beautiful spot, overlooking Mooselookmeguntic Lake (no, that’s not a typo) to the west.  Even though the light wasn’t all that great, I did make a couple of images from the overlook.

Mooselookmeguntic Lake from Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Mooselookmeguntic Lake from Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

I spent a lot of time at this spot–the overlook runs for a couple of hundred yards–investigating different perspectives and determined to return at sunset.  Then I moved a few miles down the road to the Rangeley Lake Overlook which provides views of–you guessed it–Rangeley Lake to the east.

Rangeley Lake from Rangeley Lake Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake from Rangeley Lake Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

I found this spot less enticing than Height of Land, partly because it’s not as high relative to the valley it’s overlooking and partly because the viewpoint isn’t anywhere near as close to the body of water at its base.

I continued north on ME-17 to Oquossoc and then east on ME-4 to the town of Rangeley.  I poked around in a small park, which included a marina, right on the edge of Rangeley Lake, but almost all the boats were gone and I couldn’t make much of the spot.  So, on this sunny day, I checked out a couple of nearby locations, including the Cascade Stream Trail, which included a number of waterfalls.  I was impressed with what I found during my extended scouting session so  I marked the spot and planned to return if I had a cloudy day.  Then I found another overlook of Rangeley Lake, this one on the east side of the water, and I marked that as well for possible future reference and did the same with another Rangeley Lake vantage point that I discovered, this one at water level.

I also examined several ponds that were right off the road.  By now it was well into the afternoon.  I’d spent a lot of my time checking out dead ends, but I found both ponds to be worthwhile.  The first was Harvey Pond.  There was very little color here at this stage, less than I’d seen just about anywhere else in the Rangeley Lakes region, for some reason, but I liked the setting and the light.  The lack of wind was a real bonus.

Harvey Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Harvey Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Harvey Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Harvey Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Harvey Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Harvey Pond, Franklin County, Maine

The other pond–Sandy River Pond–had much better color but limited access.  But the color was so good–the best I’d seen up to that point, and, I judged, just a few days away from peak–that I plotted a return to this spot at the next available opportunity.

I then made my way south on ME-4 to Smalls Falls, which is located at a roadside rest stop.  Most of the waterfall was still in open sun, but the upper tier was shaded, so I climbed up there and produced one image.

Smalls Falls, Franklin County, Maine

Smalls Falls, Franklin County, Maine

I then continued south to Mt. Blue State Park which contains, among other places, Webb Lake.  It took me a bit of time to find it and by the time I did it was starting to cloud up for the first time this day.  Eventually I did find the public access area of the lake and took some time to investigate the shoreline and photograph a bit.

Webb Lake, Mt. Blue State Park, Maine

Webb Lake, Mt. Blue State Park, Maine

Webb Lake, Mt. Blue State Park, Maine

Webb Lake, Mt. Blue State Park, Maine

Webb Lake, Mt. Blue State Park, Maine

Webb Lake, Mt. Blue State Park, Maine

There wasn’t much color at this spot, but I liked the compositional elements and decided to convert some of the images to monochrome.

Webb Lake Black & White, Mt. Blue State Park, Maine

Webb Lake Black & White, Mt. Blue State Park, Maine

Webb Lake Black & White, Mt. Blue State Park, Maine

Webb Lake Black & White, Mt. Blue State Park, Maine

It was less than an hour before sunset at this point and I had to determine whether, given the apparent increasing cloudiness, if it was worth trying to get back to Height of Land–which was probably 45 minutes away–or punt on sunset and perhaps go back to Smalls Falls and photograph in even light.  (Staying at Webb Lake didn’t make much sense because my access point was east-facing.)  I decided to make a run at Height of Land, on the theory that, if a sunset did materialize and I wasn’t in a position to take advantage of it, I’d kick myself.  I could always go back to Smalls Falls in even light at a later time.

The shortest route back to Height of Land was over a series of unfamiliar (at least to me) roads.  I hoped they weren’t unpaved…but they were.  They were, however, well-graded, so with care I made my way back to the overlook about 10 minutes before the sun set.  It was mostly cloudy, but there was a crack of clear sky near the horizon, so I hoped I’d get something appealing.  I did, though it was by no means epic.

Mooselookmeguntic Lake at Sunset from Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Mooselookmeguntic Lake at Sunset from Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Mooselookmeguntic Lake at Sunset from Height of Land Overlook Panorama, Franklin County, Maine

Mooselookmeguntic Lake at Sunset from Height of Land Overlook Panorama, Franklin County, Maine

At one point, I whipped out the telephoto lens and tightened up on the area of sky with the greatest amount of color.

Sunset, Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Sunset, Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Sunset Panorama, Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Sunset Panorama, Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

I hoped that some more of the clouds might light up after the sun was completely down, but it wasn’t to be.  What you see above was as vibrant as anything I saw, and after that the sky just faded into gray.  And with that, the photography day was over and I made the roughly hour-long drive south on ME-17 back to where I was staying.

There was one more piece of excitement, however.  This is moose country; there are warning signs all over the place and I was on high moose alert while driving.  I had my high beams on whenever possible, but, about 25 minutes after the sun went down, I was rounding a curve in the road and saw something in the gloaming ahead of me, off to the right side of the road.  I couldn’t tell what it was until I was just about on top of it; it was a huge bull moose.  Fortunately he stayed off the road and I stayed in one piece.  Phew.

Posted by: kerryl29 | October 26, 2016

Day 1: New England Revealed

On September 24, I drove from Indianapolis to eastern New York State, just west of Albany, a trip of about 750 miles.  That left me with 350 or so miles on September 25 to reach Rumford Center, Maine, the first place I was based in New England.  I elected to make the trip on the 25th mostly via a series of state and U.S. highways across southern Vermont, then north via I-91 to the northern part of the state, then across northern New Hampshire on U.S.-2 all the way to Rumford Center.  I hoped to arrive in Maine by early to mid-afternoon, but I thought it would be an interesting drive to get there.

I didn’t really plan to stop along the way, but when I reached Hogback Mountain, near Marlboro, Vermont, at mid-morning, I did pause at the overlook.  The light wasn’t the best and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky at the time, but I made the image you see below.  As you can see, the color was just starting to emerge in southern Vermont, at least at this high altitude.

Hogback Mountain, Windham County, Vermont

Hogback Mountain, Windham County, Vermont

The drive through New England revealed a tremendous amount of beauty, even if the color wasn’t particularly well-developed anywhere I went.  September was a very, very warm month throughout the entire region…until the day I left Indianapolis.  That day was the first of three consecutive cold nights across northern New England.  It was that sequence that led to the beginning of a significant color change.  Even with those very cold nights, it takes a while to reach peak, so I was still early for the very best color during my stay in Maine (which lasted until the morning of September 30).

On the very final leg of my drive through New Hampshire, I took a back road that paralleled US-2, between Gorham, New Hampshire and Bethel, Maine, a distance of about 15 miles.  Most of the trees in this area were still completely green, but I did find a few subjects that I thought were worth a photo stop.

North Road Barn, Coos County, New Hampshire

North Road Barn, Coos County, New Hampshire

North Road Barn, Coos County, New Hampshire

North Road Barn, Coos County, New Hampshire

Old Barn, Coos County, New Hampshire

Old Barn, Coos County, New Hampshire

It was mid-afternoon–about 3 1/2 hours before sunset–when I arrived at the place I would be staying.  After dropping off my belongings, I immediately headed east, to the town of Rumford, and then north on state route 17.  I noted a few potential photo opportunities along the way, but I finally made a stop when I reached Coos Canyon, near the tiny hamlet of Byron, about 20 miles north of Rumford.

Coos Canyon is a small rocky gorge cut by the Swift River, located right next to the highway.  There’s a rest stop, with a couple of picnic tables here.  Most visitors–and there aren’t typically many on this lonely stretch of road–take a quick break and, perhaps, snap a shot from the rim.  I examined the canyon from topside and immediately looked around to see how I could negotiate my way into the gorge itself.  It’s not difficult, and–given my tendency to lose myself in locations like this–I spent the rest of the daylight hours, under what ultimately became completely cloudy skies, in the canyon.

Coos Canyon, Oxford County, Maine

Coos Canyon, Oxford County, Maine

I love places like this, that have all kinds of elements (rocks, potholes, tree roots, etc.) that can be used to complement the broader canyon to create varying compositions.  The color was just starting to become nice at this spot and my guess is that a week later, when the area would have been at peak and copious leaves would have littered the rocks, it would have been absolutely magnificent.  As it was, I still found it entirely captivating.

Coos Canyon Intimate, Oxford County, Maine

Coos Canyon Intimate, Oxford County, Maine

I ran out of daylight long before I ran out of subject matter.  The overcast, low-wind conditions were my friends on this afternoon.

Coos Canyon, Oxford County, Maine

Coos Canyon, Oxford County, Maine

Coos Canyon Black & White, Oxford County, Maine

Coos Canyon Black & White, Oxford County, Maine

My last frame was a six-second exposure; it was that dark by the time I finally wrapped up, rock hopped back to the river bank, and made my way through a bank of trees back to my car.

Coos Canyon, Oxford County, Maine

Coos Canyon, Oxford County, Maine

Sunset in northern Maine in late September is around 6:30 PM; sunrise would be in another 12 hours or so.  I hadn’t had time to really scout out a sunrise spot so, on the recommendation of the owners of the motel I was staying at, I decided to spend first light right on the property, adjacent to the Androscoggin River.  It was a decision I wouldn’t regret.

Posted by: kerryl29 | October 20, 2016

A Taste of New England: An Appetizer

For as long as I’ve been photographing, I’ve wanted to take a trip to New England in the fall.  For a variety of reasons, it hadn’t happened prior to this year…and it wasn’t supposed to happen in 2016 either.  My original plan was to take an autumn trip to southern Utah, but that fell through due to some unavoidable timing conflicts.  In the spring, when it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to get away in late October–the proposed timing for Utah–I started considering alternatives and quickly settled on New England

Arethusa Falls, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Arethusa Falls, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

And by New England I specifically meant northern New England.  (Not that I don’t want to photograph in southern New England, because I do, but my top priority was the area covering parts of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.)  And then I had to settle upon more specific destinations within that region.

The Road Less-Traveled, Orleans County, Vermont

The Road Less-Traveled, Orleans County, Vermont

That wasn’t easy.  At one point I had it my head to spend time in three different parts of Maine, for instance, but I knew instinctively–and based on experience–that would mean spreading myself too thin (i.e. too much time moving from place to place and too few days on the ground in each locale).

Red Maple, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Red Maple, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

So I decided that I’d break up approximately two weeks more or less evenly, basing myself in one location in Maine, one in Vermont and one in New Hampshire, spending five nights in each spot.  That would, I figured, be a hedge against both bad weather and less than ideal foliage conditions.  I figured that this would give me a pretty good chance of catching peak color in at least one location.

Rangeley Lake from Bald Mountain, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake from Bald Mountain, Franklin County, Maine

The question of exactly where to base myself in each state was a tricky one–and I’ll flesh out the thinking here more completely in future installments–but I ultimately settled on the Rangeley Lakes area of Maine; the Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont; and the White Mountains area of New Hampshire.

Moose, Pensioners Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

Moose, Pensioners Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

All of these locations are in the northern halves of their states and, based on some (admittedly scanty) information, I had reason to believe that the best ordering of base camps was Maine, Vermont and then New Hampshire, beginning the final week of September and stretching through the first 10 or so days of October.

Coos Canyon, Oxford County, Maine

Coos Canyon, Oxford County, Maine

The images accompanying this post are a more or less random assortment from the trip; I’ve just scratched the surface in terms of processing material from my time in New England.

Birch Forest, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Birch Forest, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

As luck would have it, I was a bit early for peak color during the time I was based in Maine–this wasn’t surprising–but the color I did find was excellent and improving with each day I was on the ground.  By the time I moved from Maine to Vermont–September 30, to be exact–the color in northwest Maine was at peak in pockets and approaching it everywhere else.

Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

In Vermont and New Hampshire, I caught absolute peak conditions, pretty much throughout my stay in both locations.  And, because my New Hampshire base was very close to the Maine state line, I dipped back into Maine one day and caught peak color in Evans Notch.

Evans Brook at Dusk, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Evans Brook at Dusk, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Not only did I catch peak color, but that peak this fall season was exceptional.  The color in northern New England this autumn was as good as I’ve ever seen it anywhere and I’ve spent a lot of time over the years pursuing fall foliage.

Pemiqewasset Overlook at Sunrise, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Pemiqewasset Overlook at Sunrise, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

The weather was a little bit spottier than the color.  The biggest disappointment during the trip was the relative lack of good sunrise/sunset photographic opportunities–a function of a lot of days of either complete overcast or bald blue sky conditions.  That’s not to say that there were no good sunrises or sunsets, because there were–just not all that many relative to the number of days on the ground.  Still, the temperatures were mostly moderate to warm, there was a bit of light rain, but nothing torrential and, until very, very late in the trip, there was almost literally no wind on any day, regardless of where I was located.  So while the weather wasn’t quite perfect, it was still pretty good.  Great color and pretty good weather means there wasn’t much to complain about.

Autumn Intimate, Oxford County, Maine

Autumn Intimate, Oxford County, Maine

I spent a lot of time driving around from place to place during this trip.  I rented a car and put nearly 5000 miles on it.  (The Hertz corporation doesn’t like me much.)  Of that total, well over half excludes the round trip from the Midwest to New England.  The average day on the ground in New England involved nearly 200 miles of driving.

Rural View, Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

Rural View, Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

I did quite a bit of hiking on this trip.  Most of the hikes were pretty short–under four miles in length–but most of them involved some very steep trails.  As luck would have it I’d done a lot of working out on a Stairmaster in the months prior to the trip and that stood me in good stead.

Old Barn, North Road, Oxford County, Maine

Old Barn, North Road, Oxford County, Maine

And as for the trails themselves, let’s just say that there’s a perpetual Rock and Tree Root Festival going on in New England and the trail system there is a big part of it.  While hiking, you take your eyes off the trail at your peril.  I’ll discuss some of the specific trails in more detail in later installments.

Color Riot, Hancock Overlook, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Color Riot, Hancock Overlook, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

My primary early source of information about where to go and what might be available to photograph came from a book titled The Colors of Fall.  Though written by a professional photographer, it’s not really a photo guide (and, in fairness, makes no claims to be one).  I found it useful, to a point, and mainly relied on it for my initial forays while in Maine–where I had no other personal guidance upon which to rely.

Water Lilies and Reflections, Mill Brook Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Water Lilies and Reflections, Mill Brook Pond, Franklin County, Maine

While I used the book as the basis for establishing my bases of operations while in New England, once I was on the ground, after the first couple of days in Maine, I referred to it less and less as I became more familiar with my surroundings and moved on to locations where I had other sources of information.

Jack Brook, Orleans County, Vermont

Jack Brook, Orleans County, Vermont

I had better information for Vermont than anywhere else, due in large part to the assistance of some extremely helpful folks at the Scenes of Vermont forum.  I’ll provide a bit more on the forum, and the help I received there, in future installments but I will say, without reservation, that if you’re planning a trip to Vermont and don’t know much about the state (or even if you do know a lot about the state) you’d be making a big mistake if you didn’t consult the forum denizens for suggestions first.

Easton Road Color, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Easton Road Color, Grafton County, New Hampshire

At times, as I was driving and hiking around New England, I felt as though I was on sensory overload.  The color was so good and the various scenes–both wide and intimate (and regular readers of this blog will know that I’m quite drawn to intimates)–were so numerous, that it was sometimes harder to decide what to shoot rather than whether to shoot.  This isn’t often a problem for me when photographing, but it popped up with regularity in New England.

Mill Brook Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Mill Brook Pond, Franklin County, Maine

In later installments covering my time in New England I’ll share some thoughts about the photographic experience, given the nature of the subject matter.  Generally speaking, I found that my normal m.o. of giving myself enough time to return to particular locations (if so desired); an emphasis on scouting, particularly during times of “bad” light; and following time tested rules about certain types of subject matter, given lighting conditions, stood me in good stead.

Evans Brook, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Evans Brook, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Fortunately, all of the locations I frequented had a nice variety of subjects, from creeks and wateralls, to pastoral and scenic vistas, to dazzlingly colorful forests, ponds and lakes.

Autumn Color, Long Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

Autumn Color, Long Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

I’ll begin the chronological narrative with my next installment, covering my first day in Maine, next time.

Mooselookmeguntic Lake from Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Mooselookmeguntic Lake from Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Posted by: kerryl29 | October 14, 2016

A Bridge

Howdy.  On Tuesday evening I returned to the Midwest from a two-week trip to New England; I split my time more or less evenly between Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.  Spoiler alert:  the fall color was jaw dropping.  I was a bit early for peak color when I was in Maine (though the color there was still excellent).  But I hit absolute peak in both Vermont and New Hampshire, and it was breathtaking.

I won’t be able to begin editing work on the images until early next week.  I hope to have a preliminary post from the trip at some point next week, and then begin a series of chronological posts after that.  In the meantime, I thought I’d produce a brief interim entry.

The twin themes of this post are perseverance and luck.

Lake O'Hara Canoe Dock, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Lake O’Hara Canoe Dock, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

If you’re a regular, long-time reader of the blog, you’ll recall my experiences at Lake O’Hara, in the Canadian Rockies.  If you missed my pieces on the Lake O’Hara area, you’ll find them at the links below.

https://lightscapesphotography.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/the-canadian-rockies-day-two-lake-ohara/

https://lightscapesphotography.wordpress.com/2015/12/01/canadian-rockies-day-6-scratching-the-itch-part-i/

https://lightscapesphotography.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/canadian-rockies-day-7-scratching-the-itch-part-ii/

Mary Lake and Lake O'Hara from the West Opabin Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Mary Lake and Lake O’Hara from the West Opabin Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

If you haven’t read these entries, I urge you to check them out.  My Lake O’Hara experience was one of second (and third) chances and ultimately receiving impeccable weather (and other conditions).  During the copious hours of time I spent driving around New England, any time I thought that conditions were less than ideal, my first day at Lake O’Hara, in the fall of 2014, popped into my head.  Now those were less than ideal conditions, and at the time I thought it would be my only chance to photograph the place.  Subsequent proved otherwise, fortunately.

It just goes to show that given sufficient opportunities, things often do work themselves out.  If at first you don’t succeed, try again…assuming you have the available time.  The Lake O’Hara experience serves as a healthy reminder to approach opportunities without a fatalistic mindset.

Cascade Lakes Reflections, Opabin Plateau, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Cascade Lakes Reflections, Opabin Plateau, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Weather conditions in the Lake O’Hara area are frequently miserable.  I’ve seen it myself (twice) and I was recently reminded of how often the conditions are poor when a friend of mine spent a less-than-ideal weekend there last month.  But I got lucky on back-to-back days last year.

Hungabee Lake and Cathedral Mountain, Opabin Plateau, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Hungabee Lake and Cathedral Mountain, Opabin Plateau, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Indeed, I often do have pretty good luck on these photo excursions.  It happened again on this trip to New England when, after a very warm September, a series of cold nights just as I was arriving kick started an epic fall color season in the northern part of the region.  I was there for all of it and areas were just slipping into the “past peak” stage as I was departing.  You can’t ask for much more than that.  And the experience in New England made me think of O’Hara and the opportunity I ultimately had there.

Hungabee Lake Outlet Stream, Opabin Plateau, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Hungabee Lake Outlet Stream, Opabin Plateau, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

I’ll be back next week with a New England post.

Posted by: kerryl29 | September 21, 2016

Targeted Fatigue

Note:  On Saturday, September 24, I begin my drive to northern New England for roughly two weeks of what I hope will be colorful-foliage-filled photography in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.  I will attempt to prepare a few blog entries that will post while I’m gone, but I may not have time to do so.  In any event, I should have some new material on the blog beginning in mid-October. 

Maybe I’m just getting old and irascible, but  with each passing year I increasingly weary of the talk of new photographic gear.  Photokina is upon us again.  The biannual show–held in Cologne, Germany–is the world’s largest photographic/imaging exhibition and invariably all of the camera (and photo accessory) companies make important new product announcements before and during Photokina.  This year is no different and recent days have seen plenty of new gear previewed and publicized.  And it’s all made me realize how little I care.

Heart of the Dunes, White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Heart of the Dunes, White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Oh, it’s not that I don’t care at all.  I check out the occasional announcement, just to make sure I have some idea of what’s out there.  But I don’t hang on every word and I’m not really in the market to buy anything.  I don’t want to sound smug or anything, but I haven’t made a major photo purchase in more than 2 1/2 years when I replaced my old 80-400 mm lens with the new model.  The other three lenses I carry with me have been in my possession for eight to 15 years.  My current camera body–the Nikon D800E (I have two of them)–has been in my bag for more than four years now.  The D800E has already been upgraded and that model is due to have an announced upgrade itself very soon.  I skipped the first upgrade (the D810), obviously, and I can’t imagine that I won’t do so again when the D810 update is announced.

Jordan Pond in Fog, Acadia National Park, Maine

Jordan Pond in Fog, Acadia National Park, Maine

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that there’s anything inherently wrong with people who are looking to upgrade their equipment for some particular reason.  And I’m not saying that I won’t ever buy another piece of photo equipment; I’m sure I will at some point.

But…perhaps, I suppose, because I’m generally satisfied with what I currently own…and possibly because the vast majority of new offerings are largely iterative…and perhaps because what minimal new equipment I might find modestly intriguing is effectively out of my price range…I simply can’t get excited about the new offerings

Spring Forest Floor, Forty Acre Rock Heritage Preserve, South Carolina

Spring Forest Floor, Forty Acre Rock Heritage Preserve, South Carolina

This wasn’t always the case.  Back in the heady days of the 2000s, when order of magnitude-like improvements could be expected in the dynamic range and resolution of digital sensors every other generation (and sometimes more frequently than that), the prospect of upgrading was enticing.  In the span of less than nine years (fall of 2003 to the summer of 2012) I went through four different digital SLRs, counting the one I currently shoot with, including a format change (which necessitated some new lens purchases)  along the way.  And while I maintain that none of those upgrades made me a better photographer, they did allow me to make substantially better prints, with each and every update.

Squaw Rock Trail, South Chagrin Reservation, Cleveland Metroparks, Ohio

Squaw Rock Trail, South Chagrin Reservation, Cleveland Metroparks, Ohio

That is simply no longer true.  Current upgrades are so incremental–in the areas of concern to me–that print improvements are largely theoretical.  Some of the enhancements and other changes made to cameras today are relevant to some photographers, but I’m not among them.

Teardrop Arch, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Utah

Teardrop Arch, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Utah

There is still something that excites me, however:  the opportunity, a couple of times per year on average, to spend extended time in the field and make images.  I would happily forego a new camera body if I could spend the money I saved not upgrading traveling somewhere to indulge my passion for a few days.  And that’s what I’ll be doing for the next couple of weeks (beginning next week).  “See” you upon my return.

Setting Sun, Clingman's Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina

Setting Sun, Clingman’s Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina

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