October 2011 Archives
While leaves have fallen through much of the Adirondack region, trees are still turning around the lowest elevations of the park. Lake George, at about 300 feet above sea level, and Lake Champlain at only 95 feet above sea level should have some really prime colors this coming weekend - Oct. 22, 23. While the mountain tops have lost many of their leaves, the shoreline areas are just turning, offering some great photo opps! It's also the first weekend of big game season, so be sure to wear bright colors in the woods, and keep a conversation going with your friends. Hunters tend to shy away from areas that are frequented by a lot of hikers, so most popular hiking destinations would have few, if any hunters.
There are a number of public accesses to the lake around Lake George Village - Million Dollar Beach, Shepard Park, Lake George Battlefield Park, and Usher Park. There's also Rogers Memorial Park in Bolton, plus the overlook on 9 at Sabbath Day Point, and the great views of the lake from Hague, Ticonderoga, and Hullets Landing. There are parks in each of these towns as well. While Rogers Rock and Hearthstone State Campgrounds are closed, I believe there may be limited access to the shorelines.
A wonderful way to see the lake is from one of the boat cruises which are still operating through this coming weekend. There are also kayak rentals and tours based in Bolton Landing. Weather is looking good, so have a last fling before the leaves drop and winter starts to set in!!
There was lots of water in the streams and rivers this past weekend in the Adirondacks, with many of them running at spring water levels. I had scheduled a photo tour for Sat. Oct. 15th to photograph along the West Branch of the Sacandaga during a hike back into the gorge. Since this is suggested to be done during low water conditions, I opted to check out some other locations in the area instead. While the rain had taken down many of the leaves from the trees, there were still some nice colors along the waterways.
We headed north of Wells first and checked out East Jimmy Creek, hiked a bit around Griffin Gorge on the East Sacandaga, and then did the short hike back to Hope Falls, which is south of Wells. There was lots of water going over any falls and cascades!
The day was mostly overcast and showery, with a couple of pretty good rains around mid afternoon. The light was perrfect for working in the woods and along the streams. The soft, diffused light filled in shadows so textures were more apparent, and the low light allowed for longer exposure times to help soften the effects of water motion.
Even on cloudy days there's still often a 'glow' in the light that comes around the time the sun sets. We were walking back from Hope Falls, and had set up to photograph Tenant Creek with a forest of beech trees as a backdrop. We hadn't been there long, when the light began to build, and the recently turned beech leaves glowed a wonderful golden color. It sure was a wonderful end to a great day with a fun group of photographers!
It's always fun to see where and how the colors are turning each year. One thing that is pretty consistent, is the change is elevation based. Trees start turning first at the higher elevations in the High Peaks around the last week in September. Much of the northern, central, and western Adirondacks change close to this same time, and then colors progress toward the lower foothill areas in the southern Adirondacks which peak around the first and second weeks of October. Lake George and Lake Champlain reach peak about a week after that. This weekend (Columbus Day weekend) should be prime color here in the Warren / Saratoga County region and periphery of the park, with nice colors yet in Keene Valley and other low elevation locations around the peaks. One thing I've noticed this year though, is that although we're getting some really great colors, the leaves don't hang on the trees very long after they've turned.
In addition, the long range weather forecast for this Columbus Day weekend is looking pretty good. All major roads have been repaired after the flooding from Irene, and most trails are open as well. It's been pretty wet this fall, so most streams and rivers are flowing at a higher level. That makes for some real nice water coming over waterfalls and cascades!
Over the past 10 days during my late September and early October workshops and tours, I've had a chance to wander across much of the Adirondack region to view and photograph the changing fall colors. I've really enjoyed the groups I've been working with, and we've had some special, unique light, as well as great foliage in different locations. There has also been a mix of rain, mist and showers, as well as a quite chilly and showery wind blowing down Tupper Lake during the Wild Center workshop this past Saturday (Oct. 1). The soft light of misty conditions though is great for creating imagery with a mystical feel.
For photography, colors tend to 'pop' the best in the glow of early morning and evening light. Morning is especially nice when there is some mist and moisture to add a dreamy effect to the images. The moisture also helps accentuate some of the colors. A polarizing filter can enhance the fall colors as well as sky contrasts when it's used at angles of about 90 degrees to the direction the light is coming from. However, I find I can enhance the colors and sky with little difficulty in post processing techniques to compare with the colors I expected from film, and rarely use filters for my digital photography.
With all the colors around it may seem like pictures would be everywhere, but take time to compose your photos so they have a nice balance of contrasts and details. Hone the composition to just the details that tell the story. It's often the simplest compositions that have the greatest impact.