Posted by: kerryl29 | August 8, 2016

Thematic Interruption: That Time of the Year Is Just Around the Corner

What am I doing interrupting a summertime narrative of a spring photo trip by writing about the fall?  I can’t help myself.  My favorite season to photograph has always been autumn.  My very first trip dedicated to photography was to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the fall of 2002.  That experience ultimately led to my current pattern of heading off (usually) twice a year to photograph at some relatively far flung locale.  One of those two trips is almost always during autumn, with fall color at least part of the puzzle, if not the prime object.

Au Train Falls, Alger County, Michigan

Au Train Falls, Alger County, Michigan

Michigan’s UP has been the recipient of the plurality of those fall journeys, because it’s the closest, most accessible North Woods ecosystem to my home base.  The mixture of maple, birch, beech and other deciduous trees that produce colorful fall foliage is exceptional, and it lies in a mostly undeveloped area rich with forest lakes, waterfalls, rushing rivers and the coastlines of three of the Great Lakes.

Au Sable Point at Sunset, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Au Sable Point at Sunset, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

My extensive experience in the UP is what led me to co-author, with my friend Andy Richards, the ebook Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a photographer’s guide to the UP, which includes extensive coverage (directions, GPS coordinates, best times and other tips) to dozens of our favorite locations (including, but by no means limited to, those depicted in the UP images in this post).

Morning Rainbow, Council Lake, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

Morning Rainbow, Council Lake, Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

While the UP has been my most visited autumn locale, it hasn’t been the only one.  The first of my many visits to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, was in the fall.

Tulip Trees & Red Maple, Elkmont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Tulip Trees & Red Maple, Elkmont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

While I’ve subsequently been to the Smokies four times in the spring, I’ve made no secret of my desire to return there during autumn.  Why haven’t I?  There are too many other fall destinations that I haven’t visited even once to date on my personal list.

Middle Prong of the Little River, Tremont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Middle Prong of the Little River, Tremont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

In more than one instance, I’ve visited a location in the fall and my senses teased just enough to feel an imperative to return to the same area as soon as possible (i.e. the following autumn).  One such example is the Canaan Valley of West Virginia.  I had a taste of this locale over a long weekend under horrible conditions in October, 2010.  Poor as the circumstances were, the incredible potential was self-evident.  I made plans to return, for a full week, the following year.

Spruce Knob Sunrise, Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

Spruce Knob Sunrise, Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

It was a good call.  I spent that week in 2011 surrounded by terrific color (if not necessarily always great weather conditions; and I won’t bother to recount the infamous flat tire experience on a miserable national forest road).

Sunrise, Bear Rocks Preserve, Dolly Sods Wilderness, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

Sunrise, Bear Rocks Preserve, Dolly Sods Wilderness, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

More recently, I had a back-to-back (2014-15) fall experience in the Canadian Rockies.  It was no accident that I paid my first visit to the region in autumn; I wanted to catch the aspens and larches (the only conifer in the world that drops its needles each year) in their golden splendor.

Aspen Forest, Muleshoe Picnic Area, Banff National Park, Alberta

Aspen Forest, Muleshoe Picnic Area, Banff National Park, Alberta

It was, of course, my inability to properly photograph the larch-strewn Opabin Plateau above Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park in 2014 that had me plotting my return the next year almost as soon as my O’Hara misstep had played out.  The return experience to the Opabin Plateau was much more satisfying.

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

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

And I can’t imagine a better time to visit the many meadows and open plains in and around the Canadian Rockies than when the aspen groves are at their peak.

Kootenay Plains at Sunset, David Thompson Country, Alberta

Kootenay Plains at Sunset, David Thompson Country, Alberta

I’ve had the opportunity to pursue fall color in other areas as well, from Ohio…

Bridal Veil Falls, Bedford Reservation, Cleveland Metroparks, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Bridal Veil Falls, Bedford Reservation, Cleveland Metroparks, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

to New Mexico…

Aspen Grove Dawn, Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico

Aspen Grove Dawn, Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico

to Pennsylvania…

McConnell's Mill, McConnell's Mill State Park, Pennsylvania

McConnell’s Mill, McConnell’s Mill State Park, Pennsylvania

to Wisconsin.

Pewits Nest State Natural Area, Wisconsin

Pewits Nest State Natural Area, Wisconsin

Regardless of the destinations of extended fall photo trips I take in a given year, I always hope to be able to make time to photograph during the peak of autumn color in Illinois and Indiana.  And, most years, I’m able to do so.  I’m almost always able to make at least one quick spin through the Morton Arboretum, less than 20 minutes away from my base in northeast Illinois, each fall.

A Celebration of Color, Morton Arboretum, Du Page Country, Illinois

A Celebration of Color, Morton Arboretum, Du Page Country, Illinois

Oaks and Maples, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

Oaks and Maples, Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, Illinois

And occasionally, I’m able to hit another location or two in northern Illinois.

Lake Ellyn Autumn, Lake Ellyn Park, DuPage County, Illinois

Autumn's Remains, Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Autumn’s Remains, Illinois Canyon, Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Lake Bridge in Autumn, Matthiessen State Park, Illinois

Lake Bridge in Autumn, Matthiessen State Park, Illinois

The same is true of central Indiana.  I always try to make at least one day trip in the region.  Some years I’m able to make more than one.

Bridle Path, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Bridle Path, Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Misty Falls, McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana

Misty Falls, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana

Autumn Alcove, Eagle Creek Park, Marion County, Indiana

Autumn Alcove, Eagle Creek Park, Marion County, Indiana

Autumn Tapestry, Brown County State Park, Indiana

Autumn Tapestry, Brown County State Park, Indiana

So what of this year?  Well, after a planned trip to southern Utah in late October fell through, I pivoted.  I’ve been talking for years and years about a trip to New England in the fall and this year I’m finally going to make it happen.  Beginning in late September I’ll have about two weeks split, more or less evenly, between northwest Maine, northern Vermont and central and northern New Hampshire.  I’ve never photographed in any of the locations I’ll be visiting, which makes it both incredibly enticing and worrisome.  Incredibly enticing because, well, obviously.  (It’s New England in the fall!)  Worrisome because whenever I go somewhere new I fear that I won’t have enough time, or the proper conditions, or the bare knowledge, to make the most of the experience.  To the extent that’s true–witness West Virginia and the Canadian Rockies–it always seems to give me an insatiable desire to return–as soon as possible.

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Responses

  1. Your photos are spectacular, beautiful landscape photography. Hope you enjoy your trips in September and post more stunning shots.

    • Thanks–much appreciated. And, whatever I’m able to photograph this fall, I’ll certainly post about it here. 🙂

  2. Beautiful shots. I can see why you like fall.

  3. The autumn has always been–and will always be–very special for me, too, but I don’t like to rush it. I prefer to savor the high-summer opportunities while they’re still with us. The time seems to fly by faster each year. Sigh.

    • The time seems to fly by faster each year.

      I know what you mean…and it’s a bit disconcerting.

  4. Kerry you take amazing photos! You bring alive the beauty of the earth. Thanks for sharing them.

    • Thanks very much, Roland!

  5. You enjoyment of the opportunities to visit these beautiful locations is evident in the images you share. I don’t think anyone could look at them without an immediate desire to be there.

  6. Autumn’s my favorite season, and you’ve certainly revealed its complexity and beauty in this collection of images. Beyond that, you’ve made me even happier with my decision to hit the road this October. However well or poorly done the photos I bring back, I know the experience will be wonderful.

    Just out of curiosity, have you ever seen autumn in the Flint Hills of Kansas, or the Tallgrass praire? It’s quite a different world than, for example, New England foliage, but it’s well worth seeing at least once.

  7. Thanks!

    Haven’t been to the Flint Hills (in fact, Kansas and Oklahoma are two of the six states in the U,S. I’ve never been to, to date). But I’ve seen pictures–and there was a profile of the Flint Hills in an issue of Outdoor Photographer a couple of months ago–and it looks like a very intriguing place.

    Are you convinced that the region is best visited in the fall? What about springtime?

  8. Kerry, I remember many of these gorgeous shots from your previous posts, especially the one from McConnell’s Mill, which is not far from here. You do have a gift of capturing all of the subtle and delicate beauty of fall color; have a wonderful trip to New England. I can’t wait to see what you bring back to share with us, your fans!

    • Thanks very much, Lynn. Hopefully the trip to New England will yield some nice results; I’m certainly looking forward to the experience.

  9. These are magical shots!


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