Autumn is quickly approaching. It’s an exciting time filled with much anticipation and planning. I’ve made sure to take a Parkway drive at least every other day to bring you the changing conditions and the areas that turn first. We all hear a lot about “Peak Leaf” and if you’re planning a single trip, it’s best to hit it as close to the peak as possible. However, after living in the area for 30 years, I’ve come to realize that the best kept secret is the early leaf turn. During this time, you will see a gorgeous mix of brilliant yellows intermixed with fresh greens and an occasional fiery red. I see alot of the local photographers out there during this time and most have favorite areas or secret trees that turn early. You rarely see them as most are immersed in the dense forest scouting and planning the return trip. I’ve also come to love the local creek beds. Most have been all but dry lately, so yesterday, armed with my wading boots and serious waterproof gear, I trekked up both Wilson and Boone Fork Creeks. Almost inaccessible due to the raging water flow and super slippery rocks, I went as far as I could.(I do not recommend this without the appropriate gear) While in the dense canopy of golds and greens, the water raging around me…. I couldn’t help but to fight back a smile, as I do love the solitary moments when it’s just you and the forest. Surrounded by God’s creation and the evolution of millions of years, which has formed our present landscape. Good stuff 🙂
It’s easy to step into the world of fall and find yourself bathed in the beauty of golds and reds. It’s really quite an experience, add the boulder fields, distant views and mountain streams and sometimes it can be downright difficult to know where to point your camera first. I see most people shooting with wide angles and while I also enjoy shooting with a super wide(especially in the mornings), I’d like to suggest trying something different this year. I have become a huge fan of storytelling with the more intimate compositions. Even more so now, shooting with my 24-70mm. A perfect focal range for this type of work. I’m not saying don’t shoot with your super wide, but do yourself a favor and try out a prime or mid range zoom this year. I think you’ll be glad you did.
While you’re out there this fall, don’t forget a sturdy tripod and a cable release to trigger your shutter. These are essential pieces of equipment for any photographer! You will also need a Circular Polarizer. This will help you control glare on the leaves and on the water. It will also assist is giving you nice, saturated fall color.
While you’re out there enjoying the fall color, here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing… while shooting during the harsh midday sun, use the canopy, structure and even holes in leaves to help knock down the sun and create a sun star. Try using an f stop of f14 or higher and you’ll be surprised at what you can create. Finally, as your shooting around the gorgeous lakes and streams, don’t forget to turn your sights towards the reflections. Reflections of all sorts can add to your composition, the sky’s the limit! Feeling a little more creative?… try a slower shutter speed and let the leaves flutter creating a more painterly look. Remember, while shooting in a stiff breeze, you may want to consider taking an additional exposure(without moving the camera) at a higher shutter speed to stop the leaf movement. The two images can be composited later in Photoshop to give you nice, crisp leaves in your shot! Finally, using a sturdy tripod gives you the ability to take long exposures. Adding a soft, silky feel to your water can give your image a dreamy feel, a personal favorite of mine 🙂 I usually find that using a shutter time between 1/4 – 8 seconds can yield an interesting look. It really depends on your personal taste as to whether you wish to show texture in the water or smooth it out completely. Play around with it and see what appeals to you!
So, now on to the good stuff!…
As of today, Tuesday September 29th, here’s what going on in the High Country.
*Before the deluge of began, the Blue Ridge Parkway(elevations of 3800+) were showing brilliant colors in the treetops of key areas. Most are still there, but the rain has turned some of it to the traditional golden browns. You will still find an isolated area of good color. The area of Stack Rock is one of them.
*Streams and Lakes are showing pretty good early color. These areas will turn and drop first, so add them to your early hit list.
*The weeks of Oct. 5th and 12th still look to be “Peak Color” The important thing to remember is the tops will turn first and then transition into the valleys.
*Best areas to visit now are: Boone Fork Creek, Rough Ridge, Beacon Heights, Price Lake, Boone Bowl and The Crag, Grandfather Mountain, Mt. Mitchell, Graveyard Fields, Linville Falls and select areas of Linville Gorge.
Please introduce yourself if you see me out and about ~ Tommy
Happy Shooting and we hope to see you out there!
Cheers! Tommy & Alistair