After two straight weekend wash-outs, I finally had a chance at some decent Fall Colors. They were clearly a bit past-peak, and things didn’t always go well during the day, but I brought back something for you to see. There are also plenty of stories, and I don’t know if I should suggest no-doze or beer for this, but definitely NOT both…
I took 189 initial images, cut that down to about 40, and finalized those to the 18 you see here. This fits perfectly in line with my recent Commentary (“An Economy of Motion”). Late Sunday I heard some other photographer bragging how they took 1,400 images on a shoot (not Fall Colors). Yeah, have fun sorting through all those, buddy.
I’m still on my Madonna kick, so the music for this page is “Like a Prayer”, a very good CD with only a few presses of the skip button. “Express Yourself” is my favorite song, but there are plenty of others to keep you awake.
My first stop was the Willow River State Park near Hudson, Wisconsin. This park features an attractive waterfalls area. This colorful tree in the parking lot made for a very good start.
Not far away from the first shot was this view. The weather was wonderful with plenty of sun and light winds. The previous 5 weekend days were all cloudy and rainy, so this was refreshing.
Back to the tree again. I used a small aperture for a narrow depth of field here. Note the good contrast between the leaves and the trunk/branches.
A standard tree shot along a trail in the Willow River State Park. My regular area for Fall Colors had already passed peak, so I went with this secondary choice. I like reds, but most of those had turned to brown.
Upon arriving at the park, I was told the waterfalls parking lot was full, forcing me 1.5 miles away from them, and to walk/hike there (loaded down with full gear). Ok, I don’t like that, but it’s been the theme for 2013, so I paid my $10, and off I went to find the waterfalls.
I arrived to find the sun was behind the waterfalls, and they were mostly in the SHADE; horrible shooting conditions. What a real heartbreak, especially after the long walk/hike to get there.
However, you have to hit what’s pitched. So after my initial dejection, I went to work (play Keep it Together, now…track 9). Some friendly lady with her family asked me what I was focusing on. I told her “At this point, I’m focusing on not being bummed out and jumping in”…and explained why. Actually, I was quite polite to her, and we had a pleasant chat.
This gives you an idea of the conditions. You can clearly see the uneven light. I even had to dodge a chunk of this (2/3rds of the rock) in Photoshop to bring out the details you see here.
I was able to get something out of it. Although I had forgotten my variable ND filter (moron!), I still was able to get this effect. The neat thing about these falls is their arrangement and angles. I just wish I had better light. If you ever go there, it’s a mid to late afternoon shot.
Anyway, the friendly lady I mentioned was the first one to see this image. She then wondered why I was so bummed. Had we been there a few hours later, she would have understood.
Some yellows on my walk back to my car. What you don’t see here is the wrong path I took. It had this super-sharp incline which just drained me (remember I’m carrying full gear). People were struggling left and right there; I watched a jogger nearly collapse. The lady I mentioned earlier helped me get turned around.
Don’t forget to look UP; you might catch a neat image. Without the clouds, this single twig doesn’t work. With the clouds, it does. At least, I think it does.
After a few miles of walking/hiking on an empty stomach, I got a bite to eat, and decided to get more shots; via County Roads. That also provides a story. I was in some goofy left turn lane onto Carmichael Road that took me to I-94 east. Well, it had THREE left turn lanes, and I didn’t recognize that, which didn’t sit well with the vehicle in the third lane (I thought they were going straight). Oops…sorry about that.
I saw this wonderful tree near Roberts, WI. One of the only full reds I saw all day. The problem was it was located in someone’s backyard. Oh, just look at that cool shadow…screw it, I want the shot! The owners actually came outside and watched me work with their tree, and were quite friendly. If I saw me prowling around the property, I’d call in Machine Gun Joel.
A church in Hudson, WI. I like the composition here a lot, but the exposure was very difficult. The issue was the very bright church and the relatively dimly lit leaves. I wish I had a ND filter on me. RAW processing was complicated on this one
Be sure to check out my Fall Color Polarizer lesson page, the link is found at the end of this page.
Some playful cirrus arrived and helped with this shot, taken near Hammond, WI. Just before this, a police car whipped out behind me and lit up. I was only going 35mph but pulled over. He blasted by me (whew!), hit his siren, and pulled over some Grandma in a mini-van with a poodle in her lap. He jumped out of his squad with one hand on his holster! I have no clue what she did wrong. Maybe Grandma is the local Meth dealer? The dog? He’s a runner (Patsy Scott assisted with this very funny paragraph).
A pretty tree, also near Hammond, and this carries yet another story. As I pulled up, Fido came a chargin’…some large farm dog was not happy with my presence. So I left my door open and was ready to escape to the car if needed. It was difficult to both compose the image while watching the dog. Fido seemed to back off when I raised my camera, so I got my shot, thanked Fido for his cooperation, and left.
Back in Minnesota, this is I-694, westbound. This has been screwed up and under construction since May. I was NOT happy when this was taken; holding my D7K out the window. This was the only image that was taken in Program Mode. Everything else was shot in Manual.
After I arrived back in Fridley, I was on my way to the gas station when I realized that Locke Park was just down the road. I was rather fatigued, but hey, it was only 5 minutes away from home, so why not try?
Locke Park; sans the Locke Park Monster this time. I did see a Great Blue Heron, but he took off before I could get a shot of him. No matter; see this page HERE for the best Great Blue Heron images you will ever see.
I sure am getting a lot of mileage from sticks in 2013 (also see this page HERE). The ripple was man made; as I climbed around on downed branches along the shore for the previous shot, I slipped and my hard landing caused the ripple. Seeing what a neat shot it created, I did it again; I’m no dummy. I’m also glad a much bigger ripple didn’t occur; the “human slips and falls into water” ripple.
After more than a mile of waking/hiking in Locke Park, I wandered over to the industrial area and saw this. The contrast between the bright red leaves and barbed wire worked for me.
Closing shot of the day, taken very near the previous shot. I should have used a wider depth of field to get all of it in focus, but oh well. In a few short weeks, none of this color will exist
As mentioned earlier, check out my Fall Color Polarizer Lesson page, which is found HERE. It’s a quick, but very useful lesson.
This was a typical 2013 shoot. Lots of mixed emotions (frustration towards the top of the heap) and plenty of hard work (VERY hard), but at the end of the day, I ended up with shots I am happy with. That’s a good way to wind down the photographic season. Like 2012, expect very little from me the rest of the year. I’m an outdoor color photographer, and when the colors depart, so do I.
all images © Scott Woelm – October 2013