If you’ve been following this series of posts since the beginning, you may recall that I poked my nose, figuratively speaking, into Evans Notch on Day 5 and Day 6. As a refresher, Evans Notch is a mostly north-south gap in the White Mountains, most of which lies just across the New Hampshire border in Maine. Only the extreme southern edge of the notch–Basin Pond–is on the New Hampshire side of the state line. When I explored the area on Days 5 and 6, the area was still quite green. This was particularly true of the Basin Pond region, which had just begun to show signs of color, but was largely true of the rest of the notch as well. My hope was that a week’s time had caused the area to change and I would see for myself that morning.
Despite the lack of color I had photographed at Basin Pond at sunrise on Day 6, and then had driven to Conway, New Hampshire as a prelude to my first journey across the Kancamagus Highway on my to Vermont, so I knew the route. I would be reversing the trip on this morning and I had the added difficulty of making my way in the dark. Fortunately I had the spot marked on my GPS.
When I arrived at Basin Pond, the light was just beginning to come up. It was clear, chilly and essentially windless. As it got brighter I could see that a week’s time had indeed produced a great deal of progression in the color of the foliage. It probably wasn’t quite at peak yet, but it was pretty close. The temperature/humidity combination produced some mist at the pond’s surface; just enough to add some atmosphere.
The pond’s access area was deserted when I arrived, but after I’d been there for 10 minutes or so, someone else drove up to photograph. This gentleman, however, set up a couple of hundred yards behind me and to my right and didn’t interfere with what I was doing in any way.
As the sun came up, direct warm light began to hit the slopes surrounding the pond.
I followed the shadow line as it slid across the mountainside in front of me, and ultimately switched to my ultra wide angle lens.
I changed my shooting position, modestly, on several occasions. Doing so had a significant effect on the compositional outcome.
A quick switch to a telephoto lens, concentrating on a part of the pond that remained in open shade, highlighted the effect of the mist. I could hear a flock of geese, at the far end of the pond, honking away and splashing around.
When I finished at the pond, I made the five-minute drive north, to the Brickett Place setting. This structure, now used by the U.S. Forest Service, was built more than 200 years ago. I had scouted this location on Day 5, and now I took advantage of that experience. The sun was kissing the tops of some of the trees but the light remained soft enough, roughly 30 minutes after sunrise, to remain shootable.
From here, I drove straight to the trailhead for the Roost and made the now familiar relatively-short-but extremely-steep hike up to the overlook. My experience there on Day 5 had been useful; this was definitely a better morning than afternoon location.
The view from this location is impressive, looking essentially to the southwest.
Since there were no clouds present, I minimized the sky in my compositions, including the eight image panorama stitch that you see below.
On some shots, I eliminated the sky altogether.
There were quite a few leaves on the ground along the trail–really the first time I’d seen this volume of leaves of down during the trip–and on the way back down I found a shady spot to produce the intimate image you see below.
This, believe it or not, was the final image I made until well into the afternoon this day. The entire day was clear, or nearly so, and it became quite breezy. The conditions simply weren’t suitable for shooting given my subject matter and location so I spent the next six or seven hours scouting. The first couple of hours of that time was spent in the notch itself, heading north. I stopped a number of times to explore areas of Evans Brook and the Wild River and some of their tributaries, literally climbing into the creek bed on a number of occasions. My hope was to find locations that would be compelling in the even light that would be present late in the afternoon. I found numerous interesting spots and it didn’t take long before I discovered that most of these areas in Evans Notch were at peak color. This discovery, plus the fruits of the scouting session, convinced me that a return to the notch to photograph later in the day was a must.
It was late morning by the time I reached the northern edge of Evans Notch, at US-2. I decided to head west–and then south on NH-16–to Pinkham Notch, an area of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire that I hadn’t yet explored. I spent 3-4 hours doing so, without ever taking my camera out of the bag. I stopped first at a wide-open meadow, near the Mt. Washington Auto Road, to scout some interesting views of Mt. Washington and some of the surrounding peaks. It was a completely blue sky day at this point, with copious wind, so photography was out of the question, but I busily marked spots near the overflow parking area for the road to Mt. Washington and further south on NH-16. When I reached the Pinkham Notch Lodge–a jumping off point for numerous trails–I stopped again and did some hiking. I checked out the Square Ledges Trail, the Lost Pond Trail. It was seven or eight miles in all, but it was remarkable how easy it all seemed, given that I didn’t have my gear with me. I took plenty of mental notes, with the expectation of returning at a different time on another day.
By mid-afternoon I’d finished my hiking and returned to the area near Evans Notch. The light was still too harsh, so I spent about 30 minutes retracing River Road, just north of US-2 in Maine. I’d photographed along this road on Day 1 of the trip; it was nearly two weeks later, so I was interested to see what the area looked like. I ended up being disappointed. The light wasn’t going to flatter the conditions regardless, but there was in fact little to be flattered. The color–what there was of it–was dull and uninteresting.
The River Road scouting session didn’t pay any direct dividends but it killed some time and I made the short drive to the northern edge of Evans Notch and returned to some of the spots I’d marked that morning.
I made my way to one of the Wild River locations I’d identified and worked with some interesting reflections in some of the small pools.
I then returned to the first of several spots on Evans Brook that I’d visited earlier in the day. This was another location with strong reflection possibilities.
About 30 minutes before sunset I found my way to boulder-strewn location on Evans Brook that I’d noted was especially promising during my morning scout. This is where I would end the day.
I really like this spot. In even light, it has everything–great foreground options with all of the boulders, some nice rapids, excellent background color.
Ultimately, I carefully rock-hopped out into the middle of the brook for a “head on” perspective.
I made my way back to the bank and picked my way over the boulders to the point where I had left my pack and began putting away my belongings. The sun was down by now and it was getting dark. I took one look behind me…and set up my tripod one last time.