Posted by: kerryl29 | January 31, 2017

New England, Day 12: An Introduction to the White Mountains

I’d had the opportunity to do some scouting of the Kancamagus Highway–something of 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 Hampshire.

One of the things I had determined during that day of scouting was that I wanted to photograph sunrise from a highway overlook that had an eastern view of Kancamagus Pass.  I’d found that overlook, the CL Graham Wangan Overlook, during my scouting session.  So that was my first destination on Day 12.

I gave myself an hour to make the drive from North Conway and I arrived in the dark.  There was a light wind blowing when I approached the overlook, which was unfortunate, but I ultimately moved myself into position to photograph the sunrise.  It was cold as well–not much above freezing–but I was appropriately attired.

Kancamagus Pass at Sunrise, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Kancamagus Pass at Sunrise, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

There was, as you can see, quite a bit of valley fog present.  Including a lot of foreground trees in the composition was out of the question, as the breeze made it impossible to obtain sharp images given the shutter speeds necessary to properly expose the scene.

Kancamagus Pass at Sunrise, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Kancamagus Pass at Sunrise, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Unfortunately, there were no clouds in the eastern sky, but I tried to overcome this by emphasizing the graphic nature of the scene.

Kancamagus Pass at Sunrise, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Kancamagus Pass at Sunrise, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Kancamagus Pass at Sunrise, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Kancamagus Pass at Sunrise, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

After the sun came up, I made a quick stop at the Pemiqewasset Overlook, just a short distance to the west, to catch some of the light on the peaks in that direction.  But the overlook is rather overgrown and the shooting options are limited.  I knew this from my first check of the location six days earlier, so I didn’t stay long.

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

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

I headed back east on the highway, unsure of my next stop, but I was stopped in my tracks by a view I caught from the car of the Sugar Hill Overlook.  Lower in elevation than Graham Wangan, the views of the fog enshrouded valley were quite different; it was also less windy at this overlook, so I stopped and poked around for some interesting perspectives.

Sugar Hill Overlook, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Sugar Hill Overlook, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

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

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

My next stop was Lily Pond, a small body of water just off the highway to the north.  This was another spot I’d investigated during my scouting session on Day 6; the color here was only so-so, as there is a great deal of coniferous growth near the pond.  But sky conditions on scouting day had been cloudy.  It was sunny this morning and the resulting reflections were remarkably enticing, so I stopped to make some images.

Lily Pond, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Lily Pond, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

All of the shots I produced were made with a telephoto lens and most required focus stacking, including the image below (a 10-image stack).

Lily Pond Reflections, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Lily Pond Reflections, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

One image for which no focus stacking was required is displayed below.

Lily Pond Reflections, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Lily Pond Reflections, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

I continued east on the Kanc (as the Kancamagus Highway is known), occasionally stopping if something caught my eye.

Autumn Intimate, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Intimate, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

When I reached Bear Notch Road, the only through road on the Kanc between Lincoln and Conway, I headed north.  Bear Notch itself is filled with interesting subject matter–primarily overlooks, waterways and trees.  I spent the rest of the morning, and the early part of the afternoon, in Bear Notch.

My first stop was at Douglas Brook, where I found myself intrigued by reflections, creek intimates and foliage.

Reflections, Douglas Brook, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Reflections, Douglas Brook, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

I spotted an interesting looking boulder-strewn section of Douglas Brook on the east side of the road and climbed down the steep embankment, knee-high rubber boots adorned, and walked into the stream itself to obtain the image you see below.

Douglas Brook, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Douglas Brook, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Back on the embankment and a short distance downstream from the above shot I found myself looking straight down on a thickly leafed (mostly) yellow branch of a maple tree.

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

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

And then it was on to the overlooks.  (There are several of them on Bear Notch Road.)  The light wasn’t very good when I arrived, but I still made a few images and took special note of the locations for possible future reference.  Mt. Washington could be seen in the background on this (nearly) clear sky day.

Bear Notch Overlook, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Bear Notch Overlook, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Bear Notch Overlook, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Bear Notch Overlook, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

From here, I decided to explore Crawford Notch, to the north of Bear Notch Road.  The notch is a beautiful gap in the White Mountains, broader than Bear Notch, and I spent the most of the rest of the day exploring the area.  Since the sun was out I spent the next few hours largely limiting myself to scouting.  One exception was the image you see below.

Colorful Mountainside, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Colorful Mountainside, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Eventually, when I reached the northern end of the notch, the light was just beginning to improve as the sun began its descent.  I decided to take the steep mile-long trail up to the Elephant Head Overlook, which provides a view of the notch itself, to the south.  Elephant Head is an exposed rocky outcrop that sits several hundred feet above the canyon floor.

Elephant Head Overlook, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Elephant Head Overlook, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

In the shaded area on the slope below, on the west side of the notch, the colors and the patterns stood out so I pulled out the telephoto lens.

Greens and Yellows, Elephant Head Overlook, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Greens and Yellows, Elephant Head Overlook, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

I had noticed several intimate scenes on the trail on the way up and as I descended back to the trailhead, with the area of interest entirely in shadow, I decided to indulge myself.

Tree Roots and Leaves, Elephant Head Trail, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Tree Roots and Leaves, Elephant Head Trail, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Maple Leaf Closeup, Elephant Head Trail, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Maple Leaf Closeup, Elephant Head Trail, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

I then worked my way back through Crawford Notch, to the south.  By the time I reached the area around Willey Pond, much of the notch was in open shade, and I used the even light to photograph a stand of birches.

Birches, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Birches, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

I also photographed, looking north, from the edge of the pond itself.

Willey Pond, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Willey Pond, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

I resumed the journey south as the sun continued to go down.  At the very southern edge of Crawford Notch State park I photographed a sun-kissed bluff towering above trees and the last wildflowers of the year.

Sunset Bluff, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Sunset Bluff, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

I spent a lot of time photographing intimates of some of the gorgeous fall color that lined both sides of the notch.

Autumn Intimate, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Autumn Intimate, Crawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire

Autumn Intimate, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Intimate, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Intimate, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Intimate, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Trees, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Trees, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Trees, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Trees, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Intimate, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Intimate, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Intimate, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Intimate, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Intimate, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Autumn Intimate, Crawford Notch, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

I headed back through Bear Notch, expecting that the entirely clear sky would make for an uninteresting sunset from the west-facing overlooks.  But when I reached the same overlook that I had photographed from late in the morning, I was stopped in my tracks.  The sky gradient, the light and the color of the foliage were all exquisite.

Bear Notch Overlook at Sunset, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

Bear Notch Overlook at Sunset, Bear Notch Road, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

With three more full days based in New Hampshire, I looked forward to more excellent shooting opportunities in the White Mountains.  I wasn’t to be disappointed.

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Responses

  1. Beautiful!

  2. Spectacular photos.

    • Thanks very much!

  3. Awesome!

  4. Well done! With all the exploring and image composing going on that day, I’ll bet the hours sped by way too quickly.

    • Thanks, Tom!

      Most, if not all, of the days on this trip seemed to disappear in no time at all.

  5. Beautiful images!

    • Thanks very much!

  6. Such amazing pics! I also like that you’ve described the way you made them. Image stacking? Now you’ve got me googling it 🙂

    • Thanks very much! I’m going to produce an extended post on focus stacking in the relatively near future.

      • That would be good.

  7. I loved the Lily pond reflections! Nice essay overall.

  8. Wow.!!! what a treat…

    Incredible images and thank you so much for sharing 🙂

    Have a beautiful day 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Sreejith!

  9. Wow, such incredible colours and what a great landscape!! 🙂

  10. Ethereal!

  11. More incredible work, my friend.

    • Thanks very much!

  12. Gorgeous colors, especially striking to us evergreen west coasters. And maybe it’s just that I did a puzzle for the first time in years last week, but some of these would make fantastic puzzles, from the “merely” beautiful (Willey Pond), to the maddening AND beautiful (maple intimate).

    • Thanks. New England color really is unmatched, even compared to North Woods environs further west (e.g. northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan). There are simply more reds and maroons in New England, due to a higher prevalence of certain maple species. Purely in terms of foliage hues, nothing west of NE Minnesota is even close.

  13. Absolutely Beautiful!!!

  14. […] With only an hour or so before “sunset” (there would be no visible sunset on this day), I decided to end the day with a quick stop in Bear Notch, to focus on some intimate images that I’d identified during my visit to this location on Day 12. […]

  15. […] then made the drive to Silver Cascades, a location I’d scouted in bright, sunny conditions on Day 12.  Silver Cascades is an interesting place.  Essentially, the cascade is a ribbon of water that […]


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