Curtain Rising

September 13, 2018  •  1 Comment

Autumn reflections Lamprey River Durham New HampshireImpressionisticFallen leaves floating on the surface of the Lamprey River, their movement captured with a long exposure, combine with reflections of autumn color along the shoreline to create an impressionistic scene. (Near Durham, New Hampshire)

It's time for the "foliage show!"

As I prepare to photograph the color in Grand Teton National Park - before heading back East to do more of the same - I think about how dramatically my relationship with autumn has changed over the years. 

Back in the day, I wasn't exactly a fan of the season. Growing up in suburban Chicago, our yard was filled with mature, stately oak trees. When the leaves began to fall, all I could see was the big raking job ahead - and winter waiting in the wings. Most oaks don't produce riotous color (though there are exceptions), so there wasn't much of a display to speak of. And the winter which would soon follow meant intense cold, too much snow, and driving difficulties. From my point of view, October was a little depressing.

Living later in Southern California, the changing of the seasons was so subtle (at least to this Midwesterner), there was no autumn to speak of. Perhaps I missed it just a bit....?

Enter New England. My first visit there occurred in early October. The spectacle knocked me over: the intense, varied color was like nothing I had ever seen. A few years later I moved to New Hampshire, and thus began my love affair with foliage season. 

While all of New England is beautiful as the trees turn color, for my money, nowhere is it more lovely then in the mountains of the Granite State. Though I've witnessed that "show" now for many years, still it takes my breath away every time. Autumn? YES! Bring it! I look forward to experiencing those magical sights, and to capture the essence of the season with my camera. 

Ironically, cleaning up the yard was an even bigger chore in New Hampshire than it had been in Illinois: we lived in a heavily wooded area. And winters, with their inevitable Nor'easters and power outages, could be challenging. The negatives were still there, but my views changed considerably - and I have New Hampshire to thank for it. 

Autumn foliage is one of my favorite things to photograph. And I learned how to cope with the biting winter cold - and invested in a good pair of snowshoes - so I now enjoy capturing the landscape during those months as well.

While I no longer live in the Northeast, I return every year with my camera. I seek out autumn colors in other parts of the country to extend the season. It is a magnificent show....every bit as striking as the beauty of the earth awakening each spring with bursts of blooms (still my very favorite time of the year). 

Never experienced autumn in New England? Put it on your bucket list. 

If you're interested in photographing the display, check out my guide to the white mountains, available at Amazon. It'll familiarize you with the area, save you time, and free you up to concentrate on making beautiful images. The link below will take you to the book:

Autumn in New Hampshire's White Mountains: The Photographer's Guide

As for the image pictured here, it's one of my all-time favorites. I made it about 15 years ago on film. It's not from the mountains; rather, I was about 15 minutes from home. That year it had been an extremely dry summer. Considering the drought conditions, the color in the Whites had been quite good. That said, it came and went quickly. I'd finished my shoot up north and was now poking around the Seacoast trying to find more opportunities.

On this overcast day, late in the afternoon, I decided to swing by the river to have a look before wrapping up for the day. A single red tree caught my eye, so I decided to explore further. Hiking through dense underbrush to get down to the water's edge, picking up quite a few bloody scrapes along the way, there was nothing particularly interesting on land - but I saw the makings of a photograph in the water. 

The surface was scattered with leaves, which transformed the scene into something that might have come from Monet's paintbrush. I eliminated the shoreline entirely and shot only the reflection. The combination of slight water movement in select areas of the frame and a shallower depth of field created an impressionistic feel. The single red tree provided the focal point. 

Reflections of Autumn.


Dave Miller(non-registered)
My wife and I are headed out to Vermont and New Hampshire next week (from California). Looks like we will be a bit early for peak, but still looking forward to the adventure. I just finished your book about the White Mountains. It's exactly what I was looking for and probably the best photographer's guide I've read. My wife particularly appreciates the fact that you point out the restroom locations! That's a huge deal!

Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

Best regards,

Dave Miller
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