Posted by: kerryl29 | January 17, 2017

New England, Day 10: Northern Vermont Tour, Continued

Despite (another) less than favorable sunrise forecast, I made my way back to Wheeler Pond–a spot I’d visited twice the previous day–for daybreak.  The color had been so good, I felt it would be worthwhile to revisit the spot on this morning.  It was cloudy, as predicted, when the sun rose high enough to produce enough ambient light to tell, so I started off with some long lens shots.

Wheeler Pond, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond Intimate, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond Intimate, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond Intimate, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond Intimate, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond Trees, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond Trees, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond Trees, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond Trees, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

After a few minutes, a hint of color began to appear in the clouds.  It wasn’t anything incredible by any means, but it gave me an excuse to break out the wide angle for an entirely different perspective of the pond.

Wheeler Pond, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond at Daybreak, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond at Daybreak, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond at Daybreak, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond at Daybreak, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond at Daybreak, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond at Daybreak, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

The sense that the skies might be clearing was extinguished in fairly short order, as a fifth consecutive day of overcast skies appeared to be a reality.  I made the rounds of some of the spots in the immediate area–this part of Orleans County–that I had scouted but hadn’t yet photographed, beginning with a return to Long Pond.  Conditions–as you can see from the reflections above–had been essentially windless at Wheeler Pond, and I hoped that would be the case at Long Pond as well.

Unfortunately, as I discovered within minutes, Long Pond was entirely rippled by a fairly stiff breeze when I arrived.  I limited myself to some telephoto shots of the trees surrounding the lake before moving on.

Long Pond Trees, Orleans County, Vermont

Long Pond Trees, Orleans County, Vermont

My next stop was a wetland I’d passed several times on the way to or from Lake Willoughby.  There wasn’t much color in this spot but I was sufficiently intrigued by the long grasses and reflections to render an image in black and white.

Wetlands Reflections Black & White, Orleans County, Vermont

Wetlands Reflections Black & White, Orleans County, Vermont

Finally, I simply had to stop to photograph a shockingly red maple, situated all by itself (color-wise) along the roadside.  I’d passed this tree at least three times over the past few days and so on this occasion I pulled over on the shoulder and made an image or two.

Shocking Red, Orleans County, Vermont

Shocking Red, Orleans County, Vermont

My route was going to take me to Lyndonville so I decided to spend some time back on Darling Hill Road, from which I’d photographed sunset on Day 6.  I’d only had time to explore part of the road, so I took this opportunity to revisit the areas I’d scouted previously and check out some other spots as well.

Darling Hill Road, Caledonia County, Vermont

Darling Hill Road, Caledonia County, Vermont

Darling Hill Road, Caledonia County, Vermont

Darling Hill Road, Caledonia County, Vermont

Darling Hill Road View, Caledonia County, Vermont

Darling Hill Road View, Caledonia County, Vermont

Darling Hill Road View, Caledonia County, Vermont

Darling Hill Road View, Caledonia County, Vermont

From this point, I decided to investigate some new locations, so I headed south and west, in the general direction of the previous day’s excursion to Groton State Forest.  But my destination this time was a bit different.  The two spots I definitely wanted to check out before the end of the day were Nichols Ledge and the village of Peacham.  So I headed in that general direction.  But before trying to find Nichols Ledge, I wanted to have a look at some covered bridges, the first near the tiny town of Lyndon.  This was the Chamberlin Mill Covered Bridge, at the site of the former (you guessed it) Chamberlin Mill…which no longer exists.  A small part of the foundation can still be seen, but that’s all that remains.  But the bridge is still in place, and very much in use by modern day traffic.

Chamberlin Mill Covered Bridge, Caledonia County, Vermont

Chamberlin Mill Covered Bridge, Caledonia County, Vermont

Chamberlin Mill Covered Bridge Black & White, Caledonia County, Vermont

Chamberlin Mill Covered Bridge Black & White, Caledonia County, Vermont

From the bridge I could see a series of cascades below me, so I climbed down the embankment next to the bridge to see if I could find a pleasing composition.  Options were limited and I settled for what you see below.

South Wheelock Brook, Caledonia County, Vermont

South Wheelock Brook, Caledonia County, Vermont

From here I continued west to check the Foster Covered Bridge.  This location really intrigued me.  I knew that the bridge was now located on private property but was accessible to the public.  I also knew that the bridge was no longer “in service” and in fact simply spanned a creek, more or less in the middle of a field.  Indeed, that’s what I found.  A sign was in place stating, that while visitors were welcome to approach the bridge, they were asked, very clearly not to stand on or cross the bridge itself.  As you might imagine, a few people–including a family of four when I was there–plainly ignored the sign and climbed all over the bridge.  I kept my distance and didn’t feel deprived at all.

Foster Covered Bridge, Washington County, Vermont

Foster Covered Bridge, Washington County, Vermont

Foster Covered Bridge, Washington County, Vermont

Foster Covered Bridge, Washington County, Vermont

Foster Covered Bridge Black & White, Washington County, Vermont

Foster Covered Bridge Black & White, Washington County, Vermont

Foster Covered Bridge, Washington County, Vermont

Foster Covered Bridge, Washington County, Vermont

From one spot near the bridge, there was an impressive view to the south.

Layered Ridges, Washington County, Vermont

Layered Ridges, Washington County, Vermont

It was becoming apparent that there were signs of some clearing to the west, so at this stage–it was mid-afternoon by now–I decided to make my way to Nichols Ledge.  The ledge, which is an open overlook providing a view of Nichols Pond and East Long Pond, as well as the thick forest surrounding both bodies of water, requires a fairly short, straight forward but steep hike of about a mile on a marked trail straight up a thickly wooded hillside.  The area had been closed for months due to the presence of some nesting peregrine falcons but had been re-opened to public access a few weeks earlier.

The hike was no problem and in about ten minutes I found myself on an open rocky shelf.  Seven or eight other people were up there already, but none were hanging out near the shelf’s edge, so I made my way there, jumped down to the lower part of the rock ledge and took in the view.  I waited at least five minutes before pulling out my camera.

Nichols Pond and East Long Pond from Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

Nichols Pond and East Long Pond from Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

Somewhat to my surprise, given what I’d seen elsewhere, the color in the area was still probably a few days shy of peak, but the view was magnificent nonetheless.

Nichols Pond and East Long Pond from Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

Nichols Pond and East Long Pond from Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

Nichols Pond from Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

Nichols Pond from Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

Nichols Pond from Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

Nichols Pond from Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

Nichols Pond from Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

Nichols Pond from Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

Despite being perched hundreds of feet above the pond, I could see, on occasion, a pair of loons in the water.  And before I left, I caught a glimpse of a falcon, arching through the sky.  Eventually, I turned my gaze to the south, away from the ponds, to take in that part of the 180-degree view.

Nichols Ledge View, Washington County, Vermont

Nichols Ledge View, Washington County, Vermont

Nichols Ledge View, Washington County, Vermont

Nichols Ledge View, Washington County, Vermont

The sun was peeking out now, with regularity.  I headed back down the trail and decided to make my way, in the now-late afternoon light, toward Peacham.  On the way, I stopped very briefly to photograph Cabot Common.

Cabot Common, Washington County, Vermont

Cabot Common, Washington County, Vermont

Peacham is a tiny Vermont village, a real throwback to yesteryear, and is the site of one of the few truly iconic scenes that I expected to come across on this trip–the view of the village from a hilly open field behind the fire department building.  I had absolutely no intention of photographing this scene myself…until I saw it with my own eyes, in the warmth of the late afternoon sunshine.  I then understood why so many people are drawn to photograph the scene and, rather than fight the urge, I simply succumbed.  A photo workshop was already on site when I arrived, but they were packing up and leaving so I ended up having the place, and the scene to myself.

Peacham Village, Caledonia County, Vermont

Peacham Village, Caledonia County, Vermont

By pure chance–as I said, I hadn’t intended to make this image–I arrived just in time.  Much sooner and the light wouldn’t have been so flattering to the scene; any later and the shadows, cast by the trees on the hillside behind me, would have covered the scene completely.

Peacham Village, Caledonia County, Vermont

Peacham Village, Caledonia County, Vermont

When I finished on the hillside, I slogged my way back to where I had parked and then, remembering something I’d read in Andy Richards’ Vermont photo guide, walked across the street from the fire station into Peacham’s cemetery.  While the cemetery itself would be awfully interesting to photograph in the right light, I walked through–it’s surprisingly large–to the back where there are some wonderful views to the south.

Peacham Cemetery View, Caledonia County, Vermont

Peacham Cemetery View, Caledonia County, Vermont

Sunset was approaching and I really didn’t have a location planned out, so I decided to drive north, in the general direction of US-2 (which would be my route back to St. Johnsbury) and see if I ran across something of interest.  This isn’t my preferred course of action, but I wasn’t sure what else to do since I hadn’t really had the opportunity to scout the area.  I was not entirely successful…but it wasn’t exactly an epic sunset sky anyway.

Bayley-Hazen Road, Caledonia County, Vermont

Bayley-Hazen Road, Caledonia County, Vermont

Bayley-Hazen Road, Caledonia County, Vermont

Bayley-Hazen Road, Caledonia County, Vermont

Bayley-Hazen Road, Caledonia County, Vermont

Bayley-Hazen Road, Caledonia County, Vermont

I made my way back to US-2 and headed east, figuring that the day’s shooting was over.  But when I reached the overlook from which I had photographed the previous day, I had to stop.  The earthshadow effect from this location, now long after sunset, was simply too much to pass up.  It was quite dark at this point but there wasn’t a breath of wind so I opened up to a 15-second exposure and let it go.

Earthshadow Viewpoint, Caledonia County, Vermont

Earthshadow Viewpoint, Caledonia County, Vermont

Earthshadow Viewpoint, Caledonia County, Vermont

Earthshadow Viewpoint, Caledonia County, Vermont

And that was the last image of the evening.  At some point the following day I was to relocate my base of operations to North Conway, New Hampshire.  As you’ll see, that relocation took place very late on Day 11.

Posted by: kerryl29 | January 10, 2017

New England, Day 9: Exploring Vermont

As I mentioned in my last post, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to join Carol Smith for some photography on Day 9, but since she wouldn’t arrive in the area until late morning, I would be on my own for a few hours.  The forecast was for a fourth consecutive cloudy day, but I got up and out in time for sunrise at May Pond, in Orleans County–about a 30-minute ride from where I was staying in St. Johnsbury–just in case.  Unfortunately the forecast was correct.  In fact, very shortly after I arrived and set up at the pond, it started to rain.

May Pond Reflections, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond Reflections, Orleans County, Vermont

I resolved to return to May Pond at a later point in time and retreated west, through the small town of Barton, to Burton Hill Road.  My friend Andy Richards, in his Vermont photography ebook, raved about Burton Hill Road, so I decided to check it out.  Suffice to say that the fuss was entirely justified.

Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road is paved, initially, but after heading west for a mile or two it changes to well-graded dirt/gravel and remains that way, pretty much all the way to its terminus in the village of Irasburg, roughly seven miles to the northwest.  The road is relentlessly hilly, which is a big part of the reason why the area accessible from Burton Hill is so scenic.  There are a number of unpaved roads that junction with Burton Hill and I spent a bit of time exploring some of the vantage points afforded to me.

Foggy Morning, Butler Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Foggy Morning, Butler Road, Orleans County, Vermont

It was not only cloudy this morning, there was also a lot of valley fog and I spent a lot of my time this morning trying to incorporate the fog into my scenic images.

Farm on Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Farm on Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Foggy Morning, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Foggy Morning, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Foggy Morning, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Foggy Morning, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Foggy Morning, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Foggy Morning, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

I produced some wide angle images, but during most of this time I was using a telephoto lens, due to a relative lack of usable foreground elements in many locations.

Foggy Morning, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Foggy Morning, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Foggy Morning, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Foggy Morning, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Foggy Morning, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Foggy Morning, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Eventually I turned my attention to some tighter, more intimate images including pockets of color that I spotted as I meandered along the road.

Isolated Red, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Isolated Red, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Autumn Intimate, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Autumn Intimate, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Autumn Intimate, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Autumn Intimate, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Autumn Intimate, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Autumn Intimate, Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

After completing my exploration of Burton Hill Road–and, again, vowing to return–I decided to go in search of Wheeler Pond, in the Willoughby State Forest.  I found the pond, which wasn’t all that far away, and checked out a couple of different vantage points.  There’s a trail that goes around at least part of Wheeler Pond and I was following it when it started to rain again, so I retreated to the car, found the trailhead for the hike to Wheeler Mountain for possible future reference, and then prepared to meet Carol because it was late morning by this time.

After a brief greeting we were on our way.  It had stopped raining by now and we made a quick stop at Crystal Lake at the south end of the town of Barton.  We stopped at a lakeside spot that Carol was particularly fond of (and with reason, I found).

Crystal Lake, Orleans County, Vermont

Crystal Lake, Orleans County, Vermont

The conditions weren’t optimal, but we did our best.

Crystal Lake, Orleans County, Vermont

Crystal Lake, Orleans County, Vermont

I was especially intrigued by the trunks of a leafless stand of trees that were backed by rich fall color.  This shot, taken with a telephoto lens, required a focus stacking approach to overcome a depth of field problem.

Crystal Lake Trees, Orleans County, Vermont

Crystal Lake Trees, Orleans County, Vermont

Our next stop was Lake Willoughby.  I’d stopped by the lake (without photographing) on Day 7; now, though the conditions weren’t quite perfect (it started and stopped raining again while we were on site), we stopped to shoot.  Lake Willoughby is long and comparatively narrow, running north-south.  We were at the north end of the lake which is, in my view, the best place to photograph the lake at water level.  There’s a decent sized beach at the north end of the lake and there are often at least a few boats moored in the relatively shallow water.

Lake Willougbhy, Orleans County, Vermont

Lake Willougbhy, Orleans County, Vermont

Lake Willougbhy, Orleans County, Vermont

Lake Willougbhy, Orleans County, Vermont

Lake Willougbhy Black & White, Orleans County, Vermont

Lake Willougbhy Black & White, Orleans County, Vermont

Our next stop was Long Pond, accessible via a well-graded unpaved road on the east side of Lake Willoughby.  The color here was excellent, as close to peak as anything I’d seen during my time in New England to date.

Long Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

Long Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

Autumn Hillside, Orleans County, Vermont

Autumn Hillside, Orleans County, Vermont

We moved on to Wheeler Pond–where I’d scouted during the morning.  It still very foggy around the pond, which added “atmosphere,” if you were willing to view the glass as half-full.

Wheeler Pond in Fog, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond in Fog, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond in Fog, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond in Fog, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Though harder to see, the color here–as at Long Pond–was terrific.  In fact, the since there was arguably more red at Wheeler, this was the hottest of the hot spots thus far.

Wheeler Pond Trees, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond Trees, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond Trees in Fog, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

Wheeler Pond Trees in Fog, Willoughby State Forest, Vermont

We decided to spend the late afternoon hours at Groton State Forest, to the southwest of where we’d been, so we headed down I-91 to St. Johnsbury and then west on US-2.  On the way we stopped at an overlook on the south side of the road.  For the first time all day we were seeing signs of some breaks in the clouds.

US-2 View, Caledonia County, Vermont

US-2 View, Caledonia County, Vermont

US-2 View, Caledonia County, Vermont

US-2 View, Caledonia County, Vermont

When we reached the Groton State Forest area there were perhaps two hours of daylight left and we decided to spend them by checking out several ponds within  the forest, beginning with Peacham Pond.

Peacham Pond Black & White, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Peacham Pond Black & White, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Peacham Pond Black & White, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Peacham Pond Black & White, Groton State Forest, Vermont

From there, we moved on to Osmore Pond, where a beached canoe and a couple of logs served as useful foreground objects.

Osmore Pond, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Osmore Pond, Groton State Forest, Vermont

The mix of coniferous and deciduous trees across the lake were begging for the long lens treatment.

Osmore Pond Trees, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Osmore Pond Trees, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Osmore Pond Trees, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Osmore Pond Trees, Groton State Forest, Vermont

The light was fading by time we reached Ricker Pond, but it was my favorite of the three spots we checked at Groton State Forest.  We ended up at the southern end of the pond, quite near the spot where the Wells River serves as an outlet stream.  As the ambient light dropped to nothing we scrambled to procure some images.

Ricker Pond, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Ricker Pond, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Ricker Pond Outlet, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Ricker Pond Outlet, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Finally, with the light almost completely gone, I made one last reflection image shooting diagonally toward the east side of the pond, with a partially submerged tree stump serving as mid-ground interest.  The exposure was a full 10 seconds in length but the dead calm conditions allowed the foliage to remain sharp.

Ricker Pond, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Ricker Pond, Groton State Forest, Vermont

And that was the end of the photographic day.  I’ll be forever grateful to Carol for guiding me around all afternoon.  Much of whatever success I had photographing on this day is due to her patience and willingness to show me so many of northern Vermont’s top photographic locations.

Posted by: kerryl29 | January 4, 2017

Double Entendre: Scenes of Vermont

On a couple of occasions during the chronology of my trip to New England I’ve mentioned that I had some assistance in trip planning and photo location advice, particularly as it pertains to my time in Vermont, so I want to take a moment to give credit to those who deserve it.

My friend Andy Richards–also my Photographing Michigan’s Upper Peninsula ebook co-author–published a photo guide to Vermont in the fall in 2011 entitled Photographing Vermont’s Fall Foliage.  I purchased this ebook a few months before I hit the road for New England and it served as my template for my time in Vermont.  While the book ostensibly covers the entire state, I confined my explorations to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom (the northeast quadrant of the state) and a bit of time in the northwest quadrant.  Many of the locations I visited I first learned about in Andy’s guide and it was a valuable resource for planning locations, time of visitation and recognizing best conditions.

Lake Willoughby in Fog, Orleans County, Vermont

Lake Willoughby in Fog, Orleans County, Vermont

Andy also referred me to the invaluable Scenes of Vermont forum.  There are some folks who post on this forum who have spectacularly detailed knowledge about Vermont locations and they’re very willing to share their insights with others.  I received some detailed suggestions for specific locations to visit and drives to serve as the source for regional exploration from forum members that was truly invaluable.  If you’re planning a trip to Vermont–be it a photo trip or something more of a traditional sightseeing venture–you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice by not visiting the forum first and making some inquiries.  The denizens there are knowledgeable, friendly and incredibly helpful.

Ricker Pond, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Ricker Pond, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Tying things together, Andy gave me a personal introduction to Carol Smith, one of the most active members of the Scenes of Vermont Forum (and a moderator there).  In addition to having decades of on-the-ground experience in Vermont, Carol is a terrific photographer in her own right (seriously–check out her blog and website), so I was thrilled when she invited me to join her for a day during the time that I was based in Vermont.  (That day will be featured in my next post.)  During my time with Carol, she was gracious enough to show me quite a few new locations, many of which I probably never would have found on my own.

Long Pond, Orelans County, Vermont

Long Pond, Orelans County, Vermont

I’ve always said, the guidance of someone familiar with a particular area is invaluable to the landscape photographer new to that locale.  During my time in Vermont, I was lucky enough to have the copious assistance of a wide number of knowledgeable and helpful individuals–Andy, Carol and other members of the Scenes of Vermont forum.   Much of my success during my time in Vermont is due to their magnanimous efforts, and for that I offer my enduring and heartfelt thanks!

Southern Exposure Caledonia County, Vermont

Southern Exposure Caledonia County, Vermont

Footnote:  Andy’s Photographing Vermont’s Fall Foliage is already a highly valuable resource to the photographer planning an autumn visit to Vermont.  But a second edition, which will be co-authored by Carol Smith, is expected to be released some time in 2017 and, trust me, that is going to be an absolute must-have volume.  As I said, the first edition is of tremendous value, but with the addition of all of Carol’s intricate–and intimate–knowledge of Vermont, coupled with Andy’s foundation…let’s just say I can’t wait to see the finished product.

View From Peacham Cemetery, Washington County, Vermont

View From Peacham Cemetery, Washington County, Vermont

Posted by: kerryl29 | December 27, 2016

New England Day 8: Franconia Notch

That cloudy weather that was ubiquitous on Day 7?  That was the forecast for Day 8 as well.  But there’s cloudy and then there’s cloudy.  You know, the kind of gloomy overcast day with no definition in the clouds.  The kind of day that’s so dark it appears that it will start raining at any moment.  That is the kind of weather forecast for Day 8…and the forecast was accurate.

I decided to spend the day in a location that was well-suited for the weather conditions, so I headed south on I-93 to Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire–about a 30-minute drive from St. Johnsbury.  A guidebook that I’d purchased before the trip gave me some details about a couple of trails in the park filled with waterfalls and streams–good subjects for overcast conditions, as I constantly preach.

My first stop was the Falling Waters Trail, which has three waterfalls on it in addition to the stream (Dry Brook).  This is a very popular route up to the Ridge Trail in the White Mountains.  Even on a day like this–with absolutely no visibility above perhaps 2000 feet due to the low cloud cover–there was still plenty of traffic.  The waterfalls all lie in the first couple of miles on this fairly steep trail, and I was only planning to go up as far as the top of the third cataract (Cloudland Falls).

Dry Brook parallels–and occasionally crosses–the trail and I started out by noting some opportunities to photograph the waterway below the waterfall.  I made one photograph:

Dry Brook, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Dry Brook, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

 

I decided to wait until the return trip to actually shoot these spots.  I then made my way up the trail to the first of the waterfalls:  Stair Falls, the smallest of the three falls on the route.

Stair Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Stair Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Not much farther along the trail is Swiftwater Falls.

Swiftwater Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Swiftwater Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

The rocky surface immediately below the falls was remarkably slippery so I was very careful with my footing as I investigated some alternate compositions.

Swiftwater Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Swiftwater Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

As you can see, many of the trees along this trail are conifers, so there isn’t an abundance of color.  The waterfalls, however, are quite photogenic including 80-foot Cloudland Falls, the better part of a mile farther along the trail from Swiftwater.

Cloudland Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Cloudland Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

I spent a fair amount of time at this location, exploring a number of different spots.

Cloudland Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Cloudland Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Cloudland Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Cloudland Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

I climbed the steep, slick trail above Cloudland Falls.  On the way up, I found a spot from which I wanted to photograph the waterfall, but it was a very narrow ledge and given the traffic on the trail, I decided to wait for the trip back down to try to produce the photo.

I resumed the climb up the trail and produced a few shots of Dry Brook above Cloudland Falls.

Dry Brook, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Dry Brook, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

I then began the descent of the trail, but stopped at that small ledge to produce the image of Cloudland Falls that I’d identified a bit earlier.

Cloudland Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Cloudland Falls, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

When I got down near the trailhead, I returned to the spots along Dry Brook that I’d found on the way up.

Dry Brook, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Dry Brook, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Dry Brook, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Dry Brook, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Dry Brook, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Dry Brook, Falling Waters Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

It was early afternoon by the time I got back to my car and I made the short drive to the parking area for the Cascade Brook Trail, a several mile-long trail that includes a couple of waterfalls and excellent access to Cascade Brook itself.

Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

I spent about four hours investigating photo opportunities along the trail.  One particularly interesting feature is “The Basin.”  I spent a fair amount of time fine-tuning compositions of this unique spot.

The Basin, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

The Basin, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

The Basin Black & White, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

The Basin Black & White, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

I continued along the trail and found many compelling locations.

Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Eventually I arrived at the first of the two “major” waterfalls along the trail:  Kinsman Falls.

Kinsman Falls, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Kinsman Falls, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Kinsman Falls, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Kinsman Falls, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Kinsman Falls is tucked into a notch with a sizable splash pool so I spent most of my time investigating the surrounding environment with particular emphasis on the foreground.

Kinsman Falls, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Kinsman Falls, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Kinsman Falls Black & White, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Kinsman Falls Black & White, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

The end of my journey on this trail was Rock Glen Falls.  This waterfall was difficult to see; the only decent viewpoint lies between two large rocky edifices.  I played around with a couple of different compositions.

Rocky Glen Falls, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Rocky Glen Falls, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Rocky Glen Falls, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Rocky Glen Falls, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

I captured one intimate fall color scene right at the Cascade Brook Trail parking lot.

Fall Color, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

Fall Color, Cascade Brook Trail, Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

With only about an hour of daylight remaining I made the relatively short drive to the Lost River area of White Mountain National Forest.  The color in this area was excellent and I spent the short time I had left before it became completely dark capturing some images.

Fall Color, Lost River, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Fall Color, Lost River, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Lost River, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Lost River, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Fall Color, Lost River, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Fall Color, Lost River, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

And with that, the day came to an end.  Day 9 would be spent back in Vermont, covering quite a bit of ground, but before chronicling that experience, in the next post I’ll describe a special source of information I was able to utilize to help me find locations while in Vermont.

 

Day 7, my first full day in Vermont, presented a bit of a conundrum.  I was unfamiliar with the lay of the land, though I had a series of suggested driving routes to check out.  The problem was, most of these routes were pretty heavily focused on countryside views.  What’s wrong with that, you ask.  Nothing, really, but the forecast (complication number two) was for a cloudy day, with periods of light rain, i.e. not great for grand scenics.  I did have one specific recommendation to shoot a remote creek–a perfect suggestion for a day like this–so I more or less built a loose itinerary around some locations I wanted to scout in the general vicinity.  (I’ll describe in detail the extremely helpful sources I was able to leverage for Vermont shooting locations in a future post.)  So, I worked generally north and east of St. Johnsbury, covering a large chunk of Orleans County in the vicinity of Barton and part of Essex County, around Island Pond.

Passumpsic River, Orleans County, Vermont

Passumpsic River, Orleans County, Vermont

The weather was indeed cloudy–very cloudy–and, right on cue, there was on-and-off drizzle to deal with, particularly in the morning.  I won’t bore you with many of the details as the bulk of the time was spent scouting.  A fair amount of the foliage was still fairly green, but there were excellent pockets of color all over and the farther north I moved, the better the color was.  By the time I reached the northernmost portions of my wandering, north of Island Pond, the color was essentially at peak.

Red Maple, Orleans County, Vermont

Red Maple, Orleans County, Vermont

Colorful Hillside, Orleans County, Vermont

Colorful Hillside, Orleans County, Vermont

Regardless of where I was at any moment, the sky was a feature-less white, so I omitted it from the frame whenever possible.  I simply eschewed shots that I otherwise would have made but for the sky.

Fall Color Roadside, Orleans County, Vermont

Fall Color Roadside, Orleans County, Vermont

Birches & Maples, Orleans County, Vermont

Birches & Maples, Orleans County, Vermont

I basically tooled around VT-16, VT-58 and several other state highways and spent a lot of time checking out the conditions on a variety of secondary roads.  I did a lot of stopping, noting color conditions and other specifications, and then deciding whether it merited a photograph at the time or whether I should return at a later date.  I did more of the latter than the former.

When I reached Jack Brook–the primary destination for the day–following an interesting drive on a series of lonely back roads, I got out, surveyed the situation, and then spent the next 90-odd minutes teasing out compositions along the creek after donning my rubber boots.  I simply walked up and down the creek bed, after descending into the waterway from the unpaved road.

Jack Brook, Orleans County, Vermont

Jack Brook, Orleans County, Vermont

Jack Brook, Orleans County, Vermont

Jack Brook, Orleans County, Vermont

Jack Brook, Orleans County, Vermont

Jack Brook, Orleans County, Vermont

Jack Brook Black & White, Orleans County, Vermont

Jack Brook Black & White, Orleans County, Vermont

On the way back to the main highway, I found a couple of spots along the road that I found intriguing enough to pull out the camera.

Lost Nation Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Lost Nation Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Lost Nation Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Lost Nation Road, Orleans County, Vermont

From here, it was back to the inevitable drift to the northeast and the exploration of interesting looking back roads and other locations spotted along the way.

Red Maples, Orleans County, Vermont

Red Maples, Orleans County, Vermont

Newark Road Color, Orleans County, Vermont

Newark Road Color, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond Road Mix, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond Road Mix, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond Road Mix, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond Road Mix, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond Road Color Intimate, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond Road Color Intimate, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond Road Hillside, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond Road Hillside, Orleans County, Vermont

I spent a lot of time scouting around Island Pond without photographing (time that would prove to be well spent when I returned to the area later in the trip), particularly in an ultimately fruitless attempt to visit the Lewis Pond Overlook, which beckoned like Shangri-La.  I finally made my last image of the day when I determined that the road to Lewis Pond Overlook was far too rough for my vehicle.  As much as I wanted to visit the overlook it wasn’t worth taking the chance of getting a flat tire and being stranded in the middle of nowhere.  Been there, done that.

Henshaw Road Color, Essex County, Vermont

Henshaw Road Color, Essex County, Vermont

The day ended more or less the way it began:  entirely overcast with a bit of light rain thrown in for good measure.  There was no sunset; it just got dark.  What’s more, the forecast for the following day was identical and with that in mind I decided to seek out some subject matter that was entirely compatible with the weather.

 

 

Posted by: kerryl29 | December 15, 2016

Thematic Interruption: An Ongoing Celebration of the Mundane

I’ve said it before, more than once:  I take my photographic proclivities–the perspectives, the “eye,” if you will–everywhere I go.  After years of cutting my teeth on locales that effectively require an attention to creating order from chaos, even when I’m at places where grand scenics are virtually everywhere, I find my eye inevitably drawn to intimates.  While I’m attracted to the grand scene as much as the next person–as I believe my chronological travelogues demonstrate–I don’t simply jump from one of theses locations to the other.  I invariably seek out the details between grand scenic captures.

Pine Forest Color, Carroll County, New Hampshire

Pine Forest Color, Carroll County, New Hampshire

And so it was, yet again, during my time in New England this fall.  You’ve already seen evidence of that, particularly during my days in Maine, but it was every bit as much the case during my adventures in Vermont and New Hampshire as well.

Colors of Autumn, Essex County, Vermont

Colors of Autumn, Essex County, Vermont

This is now “a thing.”  While I’m aware of it, I’m not really consciously telling myself to “look for intimates” when I’m in the field.  It’s a firmly ingrained part of my in-field workflow at this stage.  I don’t have to try and find intimate shots; I simply do so, almost literally every time I’m in the field.

Maple Splendor, Essex County, Vermont

Maple Splendor, Essex County, Vermont

And I think it would be a big mistake for me to fight this embedded tendency.  It’s not causing me to miss grand opportunities–I believe I’ve demonstrated that with my posts.

Birches and Beeches, Long Pond Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Birches and Beeches, Long Pond Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Besides, fighting what is plainly a natural tendency would not only make me miss a shot of these more subtle intimate shots that I like so much; at this point, I think it would also produce a level of cognitive dissonance.  I’d have to work to not see these kinds of shots at this stage.

Roots and Leaves, Elephant Head Trail, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Roots and Leaves, Elephant Head Trail, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Besides, it’s pretty clear to me at this point that this is who I am as a photographer.  Why would I want to fight something that has emerged, organically?  Why would I want to suppress something that essentially defines me as (dare I say it?) an artist?

Birch Trunks, Easton Road, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Birch Trunks, Easton Road, Grafton County, New Hampshire

I think the answer, clearly, is “I wouldn’t.”  If this represents a semblance of the much-discussed, long-pondered personal style of photography (and I’m not at all certain that it does), then so be it.  And if it doesn’t…well, that’s okay too.

Maples and Birches, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Maples and Birches, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

My tendency to analyze to death notwithstanding, I’ve more or less concluded that these are compositions I’m inclined to see and I like to produce them so…that’s what I do. 🙂  And I’m perfectly content with that conclusion.

Maples Leaves Intimate, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Maples Leaves Intimate, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

The next post will return to the chronology of the trip with an account of my first full day based in the Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

Posted by: kerryl29 | December 5, 2016

New England, Day 6: Transitions

When I’m on one of these photo trips, days that involve moving from one base of operations to another are always a bit chaotic and often relatively unproductive.  That result is a function of competing goals:  the pragmatic act of traveling from one place to another versus the aesthetic–and self-pleasing–attempt to scratch a photographic itch.

On this day, I was relocating from Rumford Center, Maine to St. Johnsbury, Vermont.  If the sole goal is to get from the former to the latter as quickly as possible, the recommended route is simple–take US-2 west until you get there.  It’s a simple matter of following this road for 95 miles (estimated driving time:  two hours).  But I’d driven this route (west to east) on my drive in.  Based on that experience five days prior, reversing the route would not optimize photographic opportunities.  Instead, I planned to head west to ME-113 south back through Evans Notch (which I had visited on the afternoon of Day 5), and then west on NH-112 to Interstate 93 north to St. Johnsbury.  Why this route?  Because NH-112 is the Kancamagus Highway which cuts right through the White Mountain National Forest and is reputed to be one of the most scenic routes in New England.  This would be a great opportunity to scout the areas along “the Kanc” (as the highway is known locally), and do some photographing as well.  (I expected to spend copious time in this area when I was based in New Hampshire–my final stop on the trip–beginning in another five days.)  I had been warned that peak color often comes early to the areas along the Kanc, so I was a bit concerned that it might be past peak when I returned to the area nearly a week later.  This day’s “scouting” session would allow me to size up foliage development along the route.

The first order of business on this day was to plan a sunrise shoot and I couldn’t think of a better spot than right on the motel property alongside the Androscoggin River, as I had done on Day 2.  Once again, fog on the river and first light were cooperative, even though it wasn’t quite as cold this morning as it had been four days prior.

Androscoggin River Dawn, Oxford County, Maine

Androscoggin River Dawn, Oxford County, Maine

Lone Tree, Androscoggin River Sunrise, Oxford County, Maine

Lone Tree, Androscoggin River Sunrise, Oxford County, Maine

Androscoggin River Dawn, Oxford County, Maine

Androscoggin River Dawn, Oxford County, Maine

Androscoggin River Sunrise, Oxford County, Maine

Androscoggin River Sunrise, Oxford County, Maine

After sunrise, I packed up the car and began heading west.  But before I got very far I made a quick detour north on Sunday River Road–where I’d scouted on Day 2–to photograph the covered bridge there.  Since it wasn’t raining this time, I immediately headed down to the bank of the river.

Sunday River Covered Bridge, Oxford County, Maine

Sunday River Covered Bridge, Oxford County, Maine

I also took the time to make one image shooting upriver.

Sunday River, Oxford County, Maine

Sunday River, Oxford County, Maine

On the way back to the highway, I was struck by the sight of a farm that included a cooperative horse, so I stopped again to make a single image.

Sunday River Road Farm, Oxford County, Maine

Sunday River Road Farm, Oxford County, Maine

From here it was back to Evans Notch.  Unsurprisingly, there had been little additional color development overnight–the trees in the Notch remained overwhelmingly green–but there were some pockets of color and when I spotted them I stopped to photograph.

Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, Maine

Before I left the Notch I stopped again at Basin Pond, which is just over the state line in New Hampshire.  Unlike the previous day, when the pond’s surface was heavily rippled by wind, the water this morning was calm, which made for excellent reflections.

Basin Pond, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Basin Pond, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

As you can see, the trees bounding the pond were overwhelmingly green on September 30.  I remember wondering, when I was there, if the area would reach peak color before I left New England on October 9.  (That’s a bit of foreshadowing; stay tuned.)

The most developed color was on a slope backing the pond.

Basin Pond Color, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Basin Pond Color, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

The same trees made for an interesting abstract reflection image.

Basin Pond Reflections, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Basin Pond Reflections, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

There were also a few trees along the shore that had started to turn.

Basin Pond, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Basin Pond, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

It had started to cloud up significantly while I was at the pond.  Before I left, I produced a telephoto shot of some of the birches and conifers on a small ridge located away from the water.  I thought it was best rendered in black and white.

Basin Pond Morning Black & White, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Basin Pond Morning Black & White, Evans Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

When I wrapped at Basin Pond I continued my drive south on 113 and then hooked up with NH-112 in Conway.  That’s the eastern end of the Kancamagus Highway.  Before beginning my journey I stopped at the ranger station in Conway and purchased a daily parking permit (required at many of the highway’s most popular parking areas) and a topographic trail map of the White Mountains.  And then I resumed my drive, stopping periodically at locations along the way.  Sometimes I just scouted spots and sometimes I pulled out my camera on what had become a completely overcast day.

Despite what I had been told about typical foliage peak timing (i.e. late September), it was still pre-peak along the Kanc, though there were pockets of good color developing.

My first stop was at an unmarked break in the trees that provided what appeared, from the side of the road, to be an interesting view of the river.  I picked my way from the shoulder down to the rocks on the river side to capture the below image.

Swift River, White Montain National Forest, New Hampshire

Swift River, White Montain National Forest, New Hampshire

My next photo stop was at the Covered Bridge Campground which provides access to the highly photogenic Albany Covered Bridge.  There were a fair number of people around the bridge, but most were on the road on one side of the river or the other.  I decided to explore the river bank on both sides of the water and found what I regarded as some very nice perspectives.

Albany Covered Bridge, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Albany Covered Bridge, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Albany Covered Bridge, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Albany Covered Bridge, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

The Lower Falls Scenic Area, just a short distance up the road, was my next stop..  This area of Swift River cascades is highly photogenic and I spent a fair amount of time working on a variety of compositions.

Lower Falls Recreation Area, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Lower Falls Recreation Area, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Lower Falls Recreation Area, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Lower Falls Recreation Area, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Lower Falls Recreation Area Black & White, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Lower Falls Recreation Area Black & White, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Rocky Gorge Scenic Area was next on the agenda.  This small gorge includes a waterfall, a variety of upstream cascades and easy access to a surprisingly secluded pond.  I photographed the waterfall and gorge as well as the and cascades, but limited myself to scouting the pond.

Rocky Gorge Scenic Area, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Rocky Gorge Scenic Area, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Swift River, Rocky Gorge Scenic Area, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Swift River, Rocky Gorge Scenic Area, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Though I stopped regularly along the way to scout, my next photo stop was at the Passaconaway Historic Site a.k.a. the Russell-Colbath Historic Site.  While the focus of most here is on a period building, which has been turned into a Forest Service cabin, my attention was captured by intimates of some of the trees in the area.

Russell-Colbath Historic Site, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Russell-Colbath Historic Site, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Russell-Colbath Historic Site, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Russell-Colbath Historic Site, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Russell-Colbath Historic Site, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Russell-Colbath Historic Site, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

The western half of the Kanc is heavily endowed with dramatic overlooks of distant vistas.  I stopped at all of them, but made no images (due to the overcast conditions).  The scouting sessions would pay dividends when I returned to the Kanc later in trip.

My last photo stop along the highway was at the parking area for Sabbaday Falls.  There’s a short trail from the parking area to the tiered falls, which are visible from a number of perspectives.  It’s challenging to get good shots of the falls due to the configuration of the trail and the tight viewing locations.  I started at the bottom, and worked my way up.  The image you see of the bottom tier, below, required a focus stacking of three frames to achieve the desired front-to-back sharpness.

Sabbaday Falls, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Sabbaday Falls, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

I then climbed up above the upper tier of the waterfall.  This part of the trail was bordered by fencing and I had to contort myself–and my equipment–to achieve a position that would provide a clean look.

Sabbaday Falls, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Sabbaday Falls, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Sabbaday Falls Black & White, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Sabbaday Falls Black & White, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

I scouted some additional locations along the Kanc but didn’t photograph anymore, reaching the western terminus of the highway at the town of Woodstock around mid-afternoon.  I then proceeded north on I-93 to St. Johnsbury.  After checking into my hotel, I had about 90 minutes until hypothetical sunset.  Based on a recommendation (more on this in future installments) I decided to head about eight miles north to the small town of Lyndonville to check out Darling Hill Road, a partially paved/gravel ridge road that provides some impressive views both to the west and east.  If there was to be a sunset this day–and it didn’t seem promising–this appeared to be a good vantage point from which to capture it.

I traveled the length of this road–about five miles–and noted several interesting viewpoints on both sides of the road but ultimately returned to the first location with a westerly view that I’d identified–from the road, high above the pasture of a goat farm.

Wonder of wonders, there was just enough of a break in the western sky at sunset, after a completely cloudy day, to provide some sky interest.

Darling Hill Road at Sunset, Orleans County, Vermont

Darling Hill Road at Sunset, Orleans County, Vermont

Darling Hill Road at Sunset, Orleans County, Vermont

Darling Hill Road at Sunset, Orleans County, Vermont

Darling Hill Road at Sunset, Orleans County, Vermont

Darling Hill Road at Sunset, Orleans County, Vermont

And with, a long day of travel and photography had come to an end.  I’d spend the next day exploring a wide swath of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

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.

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