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.

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Responses

  1. I’ve hiked in the Whites; beautiful photos Andrew! My son-in-law grew up in Woodstock, beautiful little town. Thx for sharing!

    • Thanks very much!

      BTW, who’s “Andrew”? 🙂

      • Ha! I apologize Kerry. I’d been responding to some other posts, and my mind simply slipped I guess. The comment remains valid, I love your work! 😉

        • No sweat, Mike, I figured it was something like that. 🙂

  2. Beautiful photos! I loved those waterfalls.

  3. Your narrative is a great addition to the photographs; I felt I was there. The B&W of Sabbaday Falls is a stunner. Thanks for posting.

  4. Stunning images like always 🙂

    • Thanks very much!

  5. As always, you put yourself in some great locations. The Sabbaday Falls focus-stacked image intrigues me. What focal length and aperture were used?

    • I’ll check the EXIF data this evening. I’m almost sure I shot it at f/7.1 or f/8 and I know it was with the 80-400 mm lens, but I’m not sure of the exact focal length.

    • Update: the focus stacked images were all shot at f/7.1 at 80 mm.

  6. Stunning… every.. single.. one!

  7. A joy to read/see, thank you.

  8. Another wonderful post Kerry. I enjoyed both the narrative and the beautiful photos. I especially enjoyed all of the waterfall images and your perspectives from above Sabbaday Falls are really well done. I’m glad that Vermont provided you a a little bit of color in the sky for sunset along Darling Hill Road. I’m excited your blog posts have arrived to your time in Vermont and I’m really looking forward to seeing those Vt images.

    • Thanks very much, Carol. Yeah, I was pleased to see that I got any color at all during sunset from Darling Hill Road, as it had been cloudy virtually all day long.

      Most of the next five days of chronicling will be of Vermont imagery (with the exception of Day 8, which I spent in Franconia Notch). I’m sure you’ll recognize all of the locations.

  9. I continue to enjoy your photos! I love the colors, textures and contrasts. You are an excellent photographer! I find your photos deeply spiritual. Thanks🙂

    • Thanks very much, Roland! That’s very kind of you.

  10. Great set, top to bottom. A very productive trip.

  11. Kerry: Well, you’ve done it again. A great set and an education. The colors are tremendous and the subjects were just what the rest of us needed – those of us who never get there.

    • Thanks very much, Dan. I really appreciate the kind words.

  12. Gorgeous work, Kerry….it’s always a pleasure going along with you….

    • Thanks, Scott. I greatly appreciate the comment.

  13. Thank you for sharing these, I feel intensely jealous of your proper autumn colours. In London it feels like it goes straight from green late summer to bare winter 😦

    • I greatly sympathize. Autumn is my favorite time of year to photograph precisely because of the colorful foliage. It would be difficult to give that up.

  14. Kerry, I love the presence of the single red leaf in the first of the Swift River images – a subtle but important touch.

    • And the sunset images at Darling Hill Road – oh my!

      • Thanks! Yeah, I was pretty lucky to get what I did that evening. When I set out, I really had no expectation of seeing any kind of a sunset, as it had been cloudy just about all day long.

    • Excellent eye, Lynn. That leaf is the reason I set up where I did to capture that image.

  15. […] 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 […]

  16. […] I had taken US-2 west when I drove to Maine on Day 1, and I had crossed the Kancamagus Highway on Day 6.  I decided that the latter option was the better choice, so that’s where I […]

  17. […] a southern edge to exploration of the White Mountains–when I drove from Maine to Vermont on Day 6.  That stood me in good stead on this day, my first based in New […]

  18. […] 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 […]

  19. […] I made my way back to the Kancamagus Highway by way of Bear Notch Road and gradually made my west to Hancock Overlook, a spot I had scouted when I made my way from Maine to Vermont via the Kanc on Day 6. […]

  20. […] Falls and the Rocky Gorge Scenic Areas on the Kancamagus Highway, locations I’d visited on Day 6.  As I was eastbound, I came to Rocky Gorge first and noted, without surprise, how much farther […]


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