Fall Color

The Road to Cedar Breaks

The Road to Cedar Breaks

The view along UT 14 as it winds its way up from Cedar City to Cedar Breaks National Monument

Since I visit the western US to shoot mostly during the fall, I’ve had the opportunity to see the aspens at peak fall color on several occasions. It’s always a magnificent experience. While planning this trip to Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, I hoped that our schedule, elevation, and an aspen forest would intersect at some point. While at Great Basin National Park, the aspen forest had already turned and shed its leaves. Even so, the park was fun to visit and beautiful.

But, as we headed southeast toward Cedar City, I hoped that a beautiful aspen forest at the peak of fall color would be visible along the way. About thirty minutes out from Cedar City I began to see the mountains rising in the distance. I *thought* I could see pops of yellow on the mountainsides but I convinced myself that it was simply the way the sun was hitting the mountains. As we got closer, though, it became obvious that the large patches of yellow and orange that we could see were actually huge aspen groves. Needless to say, I got pretty excited.

I became even more excited once we dropped off our bags and headed up the mountain from Cedar City to Cedar Breaks National Monument. While on prior trips to southern Utah I had heard of Cedar Breaks and its beauty but I had never visited. So, I was pretty stoked to pay it a visit. What I hadn’t anticipated was the amazing beauty of the road up the mountain. It was one of those drives where we were stopping at least once a mile, and sometimes more often, just to gape at the landscape. I had gone from no leaves on the aspen trees to grove after grove at the peak of their fall beauty. And, I hadn’t even made it to the main attraction yet!

This shot was taken during one of those stops. There was a county park where we parked the car and moved up and down the road for a while. I loved the way that he fence and the road led my eye into the mass of the aspen-covered mountain we had just driven past. The colors were amazing and there were even a few clouds in the sky to break up the otherwise perfect blue sky overhead. The scenery was so beautiful that we utterly enjoyed two or three trips up and down the mountain pass just so we could soak it all in. I hope this image conveys some sense of the beauty of the scene that we experienced.

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Fall Color and the Great Wall

Fall Colors and the Great Wall

Fall colors surround the Great Wall as it follows the ridges of the mountainous region outside Beijing

Last fall I had the opportunity to travel to China. The primary focus of the trip was to meet with the leaders of some incredible organizations that work with special needs children. The highlight of the trip was meeting the kids and seeing how love and simple acts of service can impact their lives forever. As an ancillary benefit I was able to haul my camera gear over and had a few opportunities to shoot.

Easily the most spectacular sight that I visited while there was the Great Wall. I’ve heard of it my entire life, but it really is one of those places that you have to see and experience in order to truly appreciate. As I stood on the wall and looked at it stretching off literally to the horizon in both directions I was stunned by the amount of labor and material it took to construct it. I simply can’t imagine something like it being constructed today.

The section of the wall that we experienced was Mutianyu. It’s relatively close to Beijing and the best preserved section of the Great Wall. As a bonus, the air was relatively clean the day we visited and some of the extensive tree canopy was turning color. The conditions weren’t perfect, but since I only had one morning to shoot I was very grateful to have conditions as good as they turned out to be.

I know there are better shots of the Great Wall out there, but I like this one. I hope to return one day and have the opportunity to visit other sections of the wall. Until then, my memories of this section will be more than enough to enjoy. I hope you enjoy the images as well.

Walking Bragg Hill Road

Walking Bragg Hill Road

A woman walks her dog at the peak of fall color along beautiful Bragg Hill Road in Waitsfield, Vermont

Well, it’s been a long time since my last post. I’m trying to get back in the groove. I’ve got images from China, California, Georgia, and France to post so I don’t know how I’m going to catch up. But, I’ll give it a shot and get as may images and stories posted as possible over the next few months.

This will probably be my last image from last fall’s trip to New York and Vermont. I have to post it, though. It’s one of my favorites from the trip. And, as it so often happens, the shot was totally unplanned.

One of the most beautiful spots on my sojourn through New England last fall was Bragg Hill Road in picturesque Waitsfield, Vermont. I was driving slowly through the farms on Bragg Hill Road near sunrise just looking for ways to highlight the beautiful fall color in the region. I had stopped by the side of the road to photography a barn when a lady walked by with her dog. She was just taking the animal for his morning stroll but I quickly realized that her and the dog could be an interesting focal point for a larger picture of Bragg Hill Road.

I waited patiently for her to walk to the bottom of the hill and begin the ascent to the next hill. I snapped several images, but this one seemed to capture the beauty of the moment the best. I considered taking all of the telephone poles and lines out of the shot, but they too seem to convey some of the rural nature of the area. In the end I liked the way the woman and her dog are almost lost in the scene. The image conveys the solitude that one can still attain in the fall in New England surrounded by incredibly beauty. Enjoy.

Maple Lane Farm

Maple Lane Farm

A sign for Maple Lane Farm with beautiful fall foliage behind near Woodstock, Vermont

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post. I’ve undertaken the gigantic task of moving my entire workflow from editing photos in Apple’s now defunct – but formerly excellent – photo editing software to Adobe’s Lightroom. I’ll try to post about my trials and tribulations with that transition shortly.

In the meantime here’s one of the last images from last fall’s trip to Vermont. This is a simple, but beautiful shot from near Woodstock, Vermont. As you might imagine there is a recurring theme related to maple trees in New England. Maple syrup, maple trees, maple leaves, Maple Street, and all things maple can be found in the region. Add in the fall foliage and the occasional maple tree flaming with various colors and signs like these become representative of the region. I hope to have more for you soon. Enjoy.

Continuing the Theme…

Waits River

A classic small New England town, Waits River, Vermont

This is yet another visitation of a classic Arnold Kaplan composition. Waits River is literally a wide spot in the road as you move from one small Vermont village to another. It took me quite a bit of research to determine *exactly* where this shot was taken. After driving the back roads a bit, I still had to adjust my bearings a bit to find the right turns and ensure that I had indeed arrived in Waits River.

I think this is a good example of the vanishing classic New England village. Even after some fairly extensive retouching to remove the most egregious signs of modern man, I am still left with a myriad of wires, posts, and other relics of modern life that weren’t one hundred years ago or even less. Still, this image is a great reminder of what Vermont used to look like and, in some cases, still does. Enjoy.

Strafford, Vermont

Strafford, Vermont

Fall foliage surrounds the town center of Strafford, Vermont

As I mentioned before, I have a weakness for the white steepled churches of New England. Even though this is now the town hall of Strafford, Vermont, the steeple gives away the original purpose of the structure. What a perfect setting for a church in a quaint New England town. The town green, the post office, a few shops, some beautiful homes, and the church as the hub of the town are all elements of a quintessential New England town. Enjoy.

South Strafford, Vermont Church

South Strafford, Vermont Church

Universalist Society of Strafford Church in fall, South Strafford, Vermont

I’m a sucker for this type of image. Something about white steeples, blue skies, and brilliant foliage catch my eye every time. I have photos of dozens, if not hundreds, of church steeples in New England in the fall. Maybe I should move on and find another subject category, but every time I see a sight like this one, I’m compelled to pull over and find a way to capture it.

This shot and several others that I have blogged about or that I will blog about soon result from simply wandering around back roads seeing what there is to be seen. I absolutely love it when lighting conditions, subject matter, and my occasional ability to create a good composition actually align. I think this is a case where all three happened to be true. Enjoy.

Foggy Morning at Sleepy Hollow Farm

Foggy Morning at Sleepy Hollow Farm

Morning fog lifts as sunlight streams in over Sleepy Hollow Farm in Woodstock, Vermont

On the morning that I shot Jenne Farm I decided to stay in the Woodstock area for a while to see what else I could find. From my previous travels and my research I knew that I wanted to wander up and down Cloudland Road, Galaxy Hill Road, and explore the nearby communities of Pomfret and Barnard.

I began by driving back up to Woodstock and arrived before any of the businesses had opened. In the peak of fall foliage season it was a bit odd to have the town virtually to myself. But, I wasn’t interested in buying antiques or visiting galleries. I continues out-of-town to explore along Cloudland and Galaxy Hill Roads.

One unusual weather condition that occurs in the fall is patch fog. At Jenne Farm I had a virtually cloud-free sky. But, on my short drive back up to Woodstock fog was still lifting from the fields and clinging to the ridges. That was the case on Cloudland Road. The conditions were pretty awesome. Fog was lifting from the deep ravines and valleys revealing barns, houses, and rocky creeks.

At one of these spots where the fog was lifting, I noticed a particularly handsome old barn just emerging from the fog. I quickly pulled my car over to the side of the road, got my gear from the backseat, and rushed back down the road to capture the scene. In my haste, I had completely ignored some other photographers who were also pulled over at this spot taking advantage of the show evolving in front of us. As the fog lifted from the valley, the sun was streaming through the trees higher on the hillside and illuminating the fog beautifully. I quickly snapped this image and a few others. Only after the fact did I realize that I had stumbled back onto another classic Vermont icon, Sleepy Hollow Farm.

The classic view of Sleepy Hollow Farm is from just down the road from where I stood. There is a lovely curving road or driveway that drops down from Cloudland Road and makes a great foreground leading your eye right to the farm buildings. At the right time of the fall, a tree at the head of the driveway and all the surrounding trees can turn vibrant colors making for a beautiful shot. But, the shot I had found – quite by accident – was another intriguing view of the classic farm. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunrise at Jenne Farm

Sunrise at Jenne Farm

Often photographed but still beautiful Jenne Farm in scenic Reading, Vermont

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to mix in some of the classic Vermont landscape locations on my fall trip. Perhaps *the* most iconic subject in Vermont is Jenne Farm. I’ve photographed it before, but I wanted to capture a current image with a high-resolution digital camera. So, I woke up two hours before sunrise hoping that the weather conditions would give me a bit of sunlight at dawn.

I’ve shot at Jenne Farm at least two times before. On both prior occasions the light was dismal and the colors around the farm were either before or after their peak color. This day dawned mostly clear and there was good, if not great, color on the trees. I really couldn’t have asked for better conditions.

One thing hadn’t changed from previous visits. There were at least a dozen other photographers lined up waiting for the first rays of sunlight to fall on Jenne Farm below. Photographers from all over the country make their pilgrimage to this spot each fall to capture this Vermont landscape icon.

Once the sun rose over the horizon and light spilled onto the scene, each photographer composed and captured furiously. At least those of us who had been there before did. Unfortunately, as beautiful as the scene is at sunrise, the light can quickly become harsh and contain too much contrast making beautiful images almost impossible to capture. That was the case this morning. By thirty minutes after sunrise the light had become much too direct and it was time to pack up and move on.

Even though it’s been shot thousands of times before, I still love the location. I hope you enjoy it too.

Late Afternoon at Hillside Acres Farm

Late Afternoon at Hillside Acres Farm

Late afternoon light softly bathes Hillside Acres Farm and the surrounding hills covered with peak color fall foliage

Although not as iconic as the Peacham shot I posted last time, Hillside Acres is hardly a new discovery on my part. Although at one point I thought it was…

About twenty years ago I had my first visit to New England in the fall. At that point I was just learning about the craft of photography and developing an eye for composition. I had the same tendency which many fall into regarding composition. I wanted to capture everything my eye could see in one image rather than focusing on individual elements of the scene.

Nonetheless, it was a blast traipsing through New England at the peak of fall color just soaking it all in. On one of my trips I came across this scene. I have the almost identical scene captured on Fuji Velvia shot with a Minolta Maxxum, my first “real” camera. At the time I thought I had discovered a farm that most people had never seen. Now I now that Arnold Kaplan had identified this shot in his classic Vermont guidebook. Oh well, at least I had good taste…

I intentionally drove to this site to recapture the image with my current gear. As much as I loved Velvia, the detail I capture with my Nikon D800 is just superior to what I captured on film. And the adjustments I can make are superior now. So, here’s a new version of a classic Vermont scene, Hillside Acres Farm in beautiful late afternoon light. Enjoy.