Posted by: kerryl29 | October 20, 2016

A Taste of New England: An Appetizer

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

Arethusa Falls, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Arethusa Falls, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

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

The Road Less-Traveled, Orleans County, Vermont

The Road Less-Traveled, Orleans County, Vermont

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

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

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

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

Rangeley Lake from Bald Mountain, Franklin County, Maine

Rangeley Lake from Bald Mountain, Franklin County, Maine

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

Moose, Pensioners Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

Moose, Pensioners Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

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

Coos Canyon, Oxford County, Maine

Coos Canyon, Oxford County, Maine

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

Birch Forest, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Birch Forest, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

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

Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Autumn Intimate, Oxford County, Maine

Autumn Intimate, Oxford County, Maine

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

Rural View, Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

Rural View, Nichols Ledge, Washington County, Vermont

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

Old Barn, North Road, Oxford County, Maine

Old Barn, North Road, Oxford County, Maine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack Brook, Orleans County, Vermont

Jack Brook, Orleans County, Vermont

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

Easton Road Color, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Easton Road Color, Grafton County, New Hampshire

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

Mill Brook Pond, Franklin County, Maine

Mill Brook Pond, Franklin County, Maine

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

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

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

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

Autumn Color, Long Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

Autumn Color, Long Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

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

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

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

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Responses

  1. A remarkable set of images, Kerry. The colors are outstanding. I feel like I’m right there.

    • Thanks very much!

  2. Great photos! This has been a late year for fall foliage, but it’s turning out to be a good one.

    • Thanks!

      I got the impression, from talking to some people, that the drought that impacted New England this year was effectively broken in the northern part of the region (where I spent my time). When I was in Vermont, I was told by several people who either live up there full-time or have been making an annual pilgrimage in the fall for years that 2016 was as good as anything they’ve ever seen in the NEK. New Hampshire (at least the White Mountains region) was every bit as impressive to my eyes.

  3. WOW!!!

  4. Some very nice images shared here, Kerry. I’m amused the moose posed for you in the one image. Definitely much more color where you were than what I typically see here in California.

    • Thanks, Stan.

      BTW, I ran out of gas long before that moose did. He (I *think* it’s a male juvenile) was still wandering around in the pond when I left; I’d estimate that I spent 20-30 minutes watching and photographing him.

  5. Stunning images! Here in Oklahoma we are not seeing but a slight bit of yellow here with a sprinkling of red.

    • Thanks!

      Any sense of how this year’s color prospects in Oklahoma line up compared to what you’ve seen in the past? In other words, are you not seeing much color there right now because it’s too early or is it just shaping up as a poor color season?

      • Our very warm weather for this time of year might have something to do with it. Color is very slow coming. The other factor that ruins our color is autumn rains, which we have not had this year. I’m hopeful for a spectacular show!!

  6. These are definitely “take your breath away” images. Each one has something remarkable about it, but the second to last with the red leaves making a bit of a vertical arc through the frame is simple, but powerful. Of course, I love the water scenes, and the moose made me smile.

    • Thanks, Ellen. The moose was a very cooperative subject; I spent the better part of a half-hour photographing him and I left before he did. This was one of three moose sightings on the trip (the other two were in Maine). I also saw black bear (in Evans Notch, in Maine), a fox, three sets of loons and so many wild turkeys (dozens and dozens of them) that I literally lost count, to say nothing of numerous white-tailed deer, Canada Geese and mallards. Oh, I almost forgot…I saw a snake (not sure what species) while on a trail in (if I recall correctly) New Hampshire. I definitely startled the snake more than it startled me.

  7. An outstanding post ❤

    • Thanks very much!

  8. I don’t think it matter where you go, or the time of the year, you always come back with images that amaze me!

    • Thanks very much, Jerry!

  9. Beautiful autumn images … each and every one!

    • Thanks, Denise!

  10. Stunning photos! Makes me want to hit the road in the States again ❤

    • Thanks very much!

  11. Kerry, I am so excited to have time to jump back to this post and read everything in order. And the photos, ah. I’m so glad that you’ve included a few “hand of man” images, especially the Burton Hill Road image. There’s something about a road leading into the woods that always grabs me. But the abstract image of waterlilies reflected on the water is simply gorgeous – the colors, the shapes, everything perfect. As always, your vision just astounds me – bravo, Kerry!

    • Thanks, Lynn. A friend of mine who has a lot more experience photographing in New England than I do thought I’d be disappointed with the experience because so many of the most “desirable” locations in the region contain man-made elements. I guess he thought that this wasn’t my thing because I don’t include the hand of man all that often, but I don’t really see it that way. Many of the “hand of man” elements that I see most often, in my neck of the woods, simply aren’t particularly complementary. I mean…power lines? Utility poles? Chain link fences? Meh. But rustic barns, rural roads, stone walls…that’s an entirely different kettle of fish.

    • Thanks, Lynn. A friend of mine who has a lot more experience photographing in New England than I do thought I’d be disappointed with the experience because so many of the most “desirable” locations in the region contain man-made elements. I guess he thought that this wasn’t my thing because I don’t include the hand of man all that often, but I don’t really see it that way. Many of the “hand of man” elements that I see most often, in my neck of the woods, simply aren’t particularly complementary. I mean…power lines? Utility poles? Chain link fences? Meh. But rustic barns, rural roads, stone walls…that’s an entirely different kettle of fish.

  12. I want to go to New England.

    • I hope you get the chance; it’s a beautiful region of the country.


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