Posted by: kerryl29 | May 27, 2014

Fall Back

I’m preparing this post during a break in my (brief) spring photo trip to Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio (which will undoubtedly be the subject of a future blog entry (or several). But spring seems like the perfect time to cover a topic I’ve neglected for months—my fall photography outside of the already-chronicled journey to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in early October of last year. After returning from the UP, I was able to get some local (read: northern Illinois/central Indiana) shooting in before the color disappeared. Fall color actually lasted into early November in northern Illinois—a bit of a feint, given the brutal winter we were handed—so I got out in the field when I could (which wasn’t nearly as often as I would have liked). (My apologies in advance for the image-heavy post.)

Fall Creek Gorge

Fall Creek Gorge is a Nature Conservancy preserve near the small town of Attica, Indiana, roughly halfway between Chicago and Indianapolis. I’ve been there once before—a few years ago, in the summer. The principal feature at the preserve is the abundance of potholes in the gorge itself; when there’s too much water flowing through Fall Creek, the potholes are completely obscured, but—most of the time—by autumn, the flow of water has diminished enough to reveal these “divots.” That’s why I decided to make a side trip, on a drive between Chicago and Indianapolis, to Fall Creek Gorge in late October of last year.

It was a mostly cloudy weekday morning when I hit the road, and I arrived at the small, deserted Fall Creek Gorge parking area on a rural back road late morning. I was on the ground at the preserve for roughly five hours and I never saw another soul. The trail from the parking area leads to a confluence of Fall Creek and a minor tributary, at which the base of the gorge itself is located. I wandered around this spot for awhile, looking for compositions, but never found anything I liked, so I returned to the trail, which leads to an area above the gorge. It’s impossible to hike up the gorge itself, but it is possible to hike down into it; exactly how far down depends on how low the water level is and how lucky you feel.

Upriver from the gorge is a small waterfall—smaller than it was during my last visit, when water flow was much stronger—with a good-sized pool at its base. A significant part of the pool was filled with brightly colored fallen leaves.

Fall Creek Waterfall, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

Fall Creek Waterfall, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

I noticed that there was a very slowly moving motion of these leaves in a counterclockwise direction, so I piled on the neutral density filtration in order to render a slow enough shutter speed to highlight the swirl.

Leaf Swirls, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

Leaf Swirls, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

After some experimentation, I settled on a shutter speed of 2 ½ minutes.

Leafy Vortex, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

Leafy Vortex, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

I converted this image to black & white, to allow the leaf swirls themselves to better reveal themselves.

Leafy Vortex Black & White, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

Leafy Vortex Black & White, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

I gradually made my way downriver to the top of the gorge. Water levels were, at most, half of what they’d been during my previous experience. The potholes were revealed, in all of their glory.

Potholes, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

Potholes, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

I also looked for available intimate compositions.

Fall Creek Intimate, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

Fall Creek Intimate, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

I finally made my way back to the confluence and hiked the tributary upstream. Water levels were quite shallow, making the hike fairly easy. My eye was still searching for intimates, and I found one in relatively short order.

Tributary Intimate, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

Tributary Intimate, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

By this time, the clouds were beginning to lift, spelling an end to the shooting day for me, but I had one last shot in mind. I had to wait out both the wind and the fickle diffusion of the now partly cloudy sky to obtain this final image.

Fall Creek Tributary, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

Fall Creek Tributary, Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, Indiana

McCormick’s Creek

McCormick’s Creek State Park is a small plot, about a mile square, located near the town of Spencer, in Owen County, Indiana, roughly 20 miles northeast of Bloomington. I’d been to McCormick’s Creek once, in the early spring of 2012, and was impressed. I decided to see what it was like in autumn—less than a week after I was at Fall Creek Gorge—and I wasn’t disappointed.

The feature around which everything at McCormick’s Creek is based is the creek itself, which winds its way through the park. Near the center is a decent-sized waterfall, and that’s where I headed first. I was treated to some fog in the creek gorge on this uncharacteristically humid fall day, which added just a touch of mystery to an already enchanting scene.

Misty Falls, McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana

Misty Falls, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana

With the same pair of rubber boots that I used to navigate around the watery areas of Fall Creek Gorge (and countless other places over the past six-odd years), I picked my way close to the waterfall itself and found myself staring at an almost endless number of compositions.

Waterfall #1, McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana

Waterfall #1, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana

The above shot is a blend of two images, which were focus-stacked for the purposes of extending apparent depth of field.

Waterfall #2, McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana

Waterfall #2, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana

Waterfall #3, McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana

Waterfall #3, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana

Waterfall #4, McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana

Waterfall #4, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana

I probably could have spent all day below the falls, but I wanted to explore a few other spots so I reluctantly climbed out of the creek gorge after a couple of hours. I did nab a parting shot of the scene—an aerial perspective, of sorts—from the staircase that leads to the rim.

Waterfall #5, McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana

Waterfall #5, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana

I decided to explore one of the trails that leads downriver from the falls, back into the gorge itself, and came upon this WPA era shelter.

Trail Shelter, McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana

Trail Shelter, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana

From there it was back out of the gorge and an exploration of an area high above the rim, north of the creek, where the color was still quite nice in pockets.

Fall Trees, McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana

Fall Trees, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana

Maple Intimate, McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana

Maple Intimate, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana

I wandered back down near the north rim of the gorge and came across this golden forest of maples.

Golden Forest, McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana

Golden Forest, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana

By skirting along the rim to the east, I was able to find a few spots where I could walk out on outcroppings, 70-odd feet above the creek, to shoot images of trees on the south side of the gorge, including the following:

A Celebration of Color, McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana

A Celebration of Color, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana

By this time it was getting dark. I’d been at it all day, without having realized it. I had slowly come to appreciate what a little gem of a park McCormick’s Creek really is.

Morton Arboretum

It was early November before I returned to the Chicago area and I was surprised to find that the color was holding out so well. I didn’t have time for a long excursion, but I did make a quick jaunt into the Morton Arboretum, only about 15 minutes away, while the color was still holding. Within a couple of days of the time the below images were made heavy rains and wind knocked virtually all of the leaves off the trees throughout the area.

The Arboretum is divided into an East Side and West Side. In the past I’ve spent the bulk of my fall Arboretum shooting time on the East Side, so this time around I decided to do something different and check out parts of the West Side. It worked out pretty well.

Autumn Intimate, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

Autumn Intimate, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

Autumnal Splendor, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

Autumnal Splendor, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

Fall Layers, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

Fall Layers, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

After capturing these images, I headed to another area on the West Side of the Arboretum, one filled with ancient oaks, which were in beautiful autumn dress.

The Chosen Path, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

The Chosen Path, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

Oaks in Autumn Dress, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

Oaks in Autumn Dress, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

It was a cloudy, chilly day and it had been getting darker and darker as the day wore on. Finally, it started to rain, just I was putting the parting touches on this image of leaves on the ground.

Fallen Leaves, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

Fallen Leaves, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

I hope you enjoyed this autumnal retrospective. I’ll return to more topical matters, including the fruits of the Hocking Hills shoot, in forthcoming entries.

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Responses

  1. Great series, Kerry. The waterfall photos from McCormick’s Creek were especially appealing. Wonderful use of colors, light, and thoughtful compositions.

    • Thanks very much, Tom.

  2. I loved this write up and images! You’ve made want to visit all these places. We don’t get all the reds in Autumn like other parts of the country, and I do long to see them one day. Your maple grove in the Arboretum with all that red is gorgeous!
    It’s pretty neat that you found water still flowing in fall. A lot of places here are still dry waiting for winter rains to begin flowing again. These places are going on my “bucket list”!

    • Thanks very much. The places that these images came from are all pretty obscure (i.e. they’re not well-known outside of their respective immediate areas). McCormick’s Creek and Fall Creek never go dry; the amount of flow involved varies depending on the time of year and the amount of rain, but these are perpetual waterways, so there’s always some flow involved. There are other parts of the region where that’s not the case; the waterfalls at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois, for instance, are fed by run off, and they are often completely dry in summer and fall unless there’s been copious rain.

  3. They’re all very nice! Particularly liked “Autumn Intimate, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois”.

    • Thank you! I was really struck by the shape of the clustered branches of that tree.

  4. Beautiful pictures!

  5. Fabulous photos! The etched rock speaks of extreme time and gorgeous geology.

    • Thanks very much!

  6. Can’t pick any favorites in this set, they’re all fantastic with that peaceful serenity that fog creates. Then again you reminded me of the joy of shooting waterfalls. I looked closely at the series taken at McCormick’s Creek State Park and must say that #2 is a knockout as far as I’m concerned. Thanks for sharing these delightful scenes.

    • Thanks, Gunta. One of the nice things about the McCormick’s Creek waterfall is that the creek below the falls is sufficiently shallow that–with the appropriate footwear–it allows almost total access to the site, so compositional possibilities abound.

  7. Wonderful post. What a gorgeous place to visit.

    • Thanks very much!

  8. Wonderful Autumnal images. As we enter the last few weeks of Fall here in Australia I long to see such vistas of autumn colour. I go nuts when I find two or three trees in autumn finery, but whole parklands and valleys, sigh!

    • Thanks. Not to rub it in, but the fall color in this part of the world wasn’t great (by historical standards) last autumn. I hope you’re able to find a few more colorful scenes before fall in the Southern Hemisphere disappears completely.

  9. […] Source: Fall Back […]

  10. Sorry for not commenting sooner, but I’ve been busy going through hundreds of photos of birds that I shot while on vacation, and fighting a lens/body combination that doesn’t match up well, as you know.

    I absolutely love your style of landscape photography and of course, the photos in this post!

    I’ve even gone so far as to try to duplicate your style, but I’m never very happy with the results. I think that I have finally figured out why, you must see the see scenes completely different that what I do to begin with. I don’t mean the way that you compose your photos as much as the way that you capture light, color, and contrast. But, that’s one of the things that I love about photography, there’s room for many different styles, all of them very good in their own way.

    • Thanks very much for the comment (and no need to apologize, goodness knows).

      I think your epiphany (for lack of a better term) is very interesting, and I think it may well be fodder for a future post.

  11. These are incredible! I have been housebound for a lengthy period due to illness and travel isn’t a consideration. Today I have visited amazing places through your eyes. Thank you for what you do. It has been a precious gift.

    • Thanks very much!

      I’m very sorry that you’ve been ill; hopefully you’ll be out and about again very soon. To the extent that my images are of some help to you, I’m extremely grateful to you for making me aware of it.

  12. I like the picture 0106, most for itś first plan.

    • Thanks–that’s one of my favorites from that shoot as well.

  13. Reblogged this on rasimair.


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