Peaceful Beginning-North Shore Minnesota Sunrise

The sun peaks through the clouds as it rises above Lake Superior, shining light on Shovel Point and a rocky shoreline in Tettegouche State Park along the North Shore of Minnesota.
The sun peeks through the clouds as it rises above Lake Superior, shining light on Shovel Point and a rocky shoreline in Tettegouche State Park along the North Shore of Minnesota.

This rocky bay just behind the Tettegouche State Park Visitor Center was another favorite location that my son and I visited on our trip to the North Shore in Minnesota this past fall. We chose this spot for sunrise one evening and sunrise a couple of mornings. What was striking was how much the conditions of the lake varied each time. This morning the lake was calm and peaceful. The next morning was just the opposite with waves crashing against the shore!

Besides the condition of the lake, as photographers so much more depends on the clouds. Our sunset shoot barely had a cloud in the sky. The other morning at sunrise, the clouds were heavy to the east and the sun never broke through. This morning though was about as good as you could get with just enough clouds to add some drama to the scene. I look back at this picture and remember what a peaceful morning it was.

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Golden Grace-B.B. Ricketts Falls in Autumn

Kitchen Creek gracefully drops over B.B. Rickett Falls and winds around leaf covered rocks in autumn at Ricketts Glen State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Kitchen Creek gracefully drops over B.B. Rickett Falls and winds around leaf covered rocks in autumn at Ricketts Glen State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The waterfalls in Ricketts Glen State Park were all named by R.B. Ricketts, who once owned all the park land. Many of the falls have Native American names, but a few like this one are named after friends or family.

B.B. Ricketts Falls drops gracefully over a 36 foot drop along the Glen Leigh trail. I hiked down and back up this trail on an afternoon where the sun would break through the clouds frequently. Needless to say, I got my exercise in running back and forth between falls trying to dodge the direct sunlight! These falls just happened to be situated in a shady section which afforded me plenty of time to compose many different compositions.

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Autumn Dance-Kitchen Creek in Ricketts Glen State Park

Kitchen Creek twists and turns around boulders as it flows through a golden forest in Ricketts Glen State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Kitchen Creek twists and turns around boulders as it flows through a golden forest in Ricketts Glen State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Ricketts Glen State Park is a waterfall lover’s paradise. There are over 22 named waterfalls ranging in heights from 10 to 94 feet in the park. All but four of them can be seen on a three-mile loop trail that follows two branches of Kitchen Creek.

I allowed a day and a half to cover the park and sure wish I would have added another day. After leaving the Finger Lakes area of New York and heading south, I arrived at the park in the middle of the afternoon. I decided with only half a day remaining to park at the south lot and visit the falls up to where the two branches of Kitchen Creek meet. There are only four falls on this hike but there are many beautiful cascades along the way, such as this one. I no more than put my camera away in my bag that I would round a bend and to find another incredible scene. Many hours could be spent shooting in the right conditions. I will definitely have to return to this park!

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Golden Bend-Autumn along the Middle Prong Little River

The Middle Prong of the Little River flows through a golden forest and tumbles around a bend in the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
The Middle Prong of the Little River flows through a golden forest and tumbles around a bend in the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

The last stop on my recent fall trip out east was to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I had visited the park in May a couple of years ago and was anxious to see how the park looked in autumn. I only had a couple of days before I had to start the long drive back home, so I focused on my favorite area from the last trip, the Tremont and Cades Cove area on the Tennessee side of the park.

Tremont Road follows the Middle Prong of the Little River for a little over six miles, offering a multitude of photographic opportunities. It seems like there is something worth stopping and shooting around every bend. It is easy to spend a couple of days photographing along this road and I have!

This bend is found just before the end of the road at the Middle Prong Trailhead. The road turns sharply and comes right up to the edge of the river. The climb down the steep bank is a little sketchy, especially when the rocks are wet! I arrived right at sunrise in order to capture the scene before the sun came streaming through the trees. I was glad I did since it didn’t take long that morning.

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Colorado Gold-Golden Aspen Trees in Gunnison National Park

A panoramic view of golden aspen trees with blue skies and puffy white clouds overhead in the Gunnison National Forest west of Crested Butte, Colorado.
A panoramic view of golden aspen trees with blue skies and puffy white clouds overhead in the Gunnison National Forest west of Crested Butte, Colorado.

One of my favorite photography locations in Colorado is in the Gunnison National Forest west of Crested Butte. I have written about it on this blog many times. This fall I happened to be there when the aspens were at peak color.

This grove of trees catches my eye every time I am there. Set back from the road it beckons to have its picture taken. I have probably taken hundreds of pictures in this location, but this has to be one of my favorites. On this afternoon everything just came together. The trees were completely golden, the light wasn’t too harsh, and the blue skies were punctuated with puffy clouds. What more could I ask for?

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Autumnal Grace-Taughannock Falls in Central New York

Multicolored trees and brush frame Taughannock Falls as it plunges 215 feet over a rocky cliff into a placid pool at Taughannock Falls State Park in central New York.
Multicolored trees and brush frame Taughannock Falls as it plunges 215 feet over a rocky cliff into a placid pool at Taughannock Falls State Park in central New York.

Taughannock Falls is the tallest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. With a drop of 215 feet, it is 33 feet taller than Niagra Falls! That isn’t very obvious in this picture though, however imagine that someone was standing at the wall of the viewing area in the bottom right. That wall is probably about three feet tall.

The fall colors still had a ways to go until peak when I visited the park in October, but there was still enough to nicely frame the falls from the overlook along the park road. Not much water was flowing in Taughannock Creek, but I think with less flow the falls tend to look a bit more graceful. Of course the best time to photograph the falls would be in a nice light rain, but with clear skies in the forecast, I got up early one morning and was out at the overlook before sunrise. This shot was taken just before the sun broke over the cliffs to the southeast.

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Golden Grandeur-Golden Aspens Beneath Marcellina Mountain

The sheer southwest face of Marcellina Mountain looms over a mountainside covered with golden aspens and rust/orange underbrush along County Road 12 west of Crested Butte, Colorado.
The sheer southwest face of Marcellina Mountain looms over a mountainside covered with golden aspens and rust/orange underbrush along County Road 12 west of Crested Butte, Colorado.

The scenery along County Road 12 west of Crested Butte, Colorado is always exceptional but in the fall, it is out of this world. Miles upon miles of golden aspens are mixed in with many grand views of the West Elk Mountains.

Marcellina Mountain is a prominent peak which is visible from many locations along the road. On the west end, the road circles around the mountain before meeting up with Highway 133, providing closeup views of its sheer sides. This fall, the combination of aspens at their peak golden color and multicolored underbrush made for this classic Colorado image complete with bright blue skies.

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A Step at a Time-Eagle Cliff Falls in New York

McClure Creek plunges over Eagle Cliff Falls and then over a series of rocky shelves in a narrow, rocky canyon sprinkled with autumn leaves in Havana Glen Park outside of Montour Falls, New York.
McClure Creek plunges over Eagle Cliff Falls and then over a series of rocky shelves in a narrow, rocky canyon sprinkled with autumn leaves in Havana Glen Park outside of Montour Falls, New York.

There are many waterfalls to be found in the Finger Lakes region of New York. The geology of the area with an abundance of shale creates some impressive cliffs and canyons for the water to flow though. This fall was the first time I had visited the area.

Many of the waterfalls were right in town. I was surprised to find this waterfall right outside of the village of Montour Falls. It still took some time to actually get to it though. I had made the mistake (once again, you think I would learn!) of saving the GPS coordinates for the falls themselves to my Garmin, rather than the coordinates for the parking area. After driving right over the top of the falls and circling back, I stopped to figure out how to get to it. Fortunately, I had some documentation on my tablet that reminded me that the falls were in the Havana Glen Park & Campground.

The falls are tucked back in a narrow, rocky canyon. A trail follows McClure Creek up a series of metal steps before ending beside the creek in an opening surrounded by sheer rock walls. There you see Eagle Cliff Falls plunging from a notch in the hanging valley above. The highlight of the falls to me though was the way the creek steps over this rocky shelf and flows downstream. The two together make for a nice composition.

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Autumn Harmony-Golden Aspen Grove in Colorado

Rust colored ferns carpet the ground beneath a golden aspen grove outside of Crested Butte, Colorado.
Rust colored ferns carpet the ground beneath a golden aspen grove in the Gunnison National Forest outside of Crested Butte, Colorado.

One of my favorite areas to photograph in Colorado is around Crested Butte, especially in autumn. Driving west on Highway 12 will take you over Kenosha Pass and through miles and miles of aspen trees. In the fall, it is quite the site to see.

Early in October I spent a couple of days in Crested Butte before heading south to Ridgway. Many of the aspen trees close to town had started to lose their leaves, but the large aspen grove out west was just about at peak color. A real bonus this year was the ferns that blanket the ground beneath the aspens in many areas were a nice golden brown. In the right light, they almost seemed to glow.

This scene caught my eye many times as I drove along the road. I stopped to shoot it a couple of times, but it never seemed to have just the right light that I was looking for, until this day. There was a light drizzle falling when I arrived. The bright overcast sky illuminated the aspen grove, highlighting the white tree trunks and the golden ferns. The entire grove seemed to glow. It was just what I wanted.

This panoramic image was made by combining six separate exposures in Lightroom. The final result can be printed very large with lots of detail.

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Autumn Daybreak-Golden Valley Below Snow-Covered Mountains

A glorious fall scene with early morning sunlight shining on the golden fields of the Double RL Ranch with the snow-covered Mount Sneffels looming in the distance outside of Ridgway, in southwestern Colorado.
A glorious fall scene with early morning sunlight shining on the golden fields of the Double RL Ranch with the snow-covered Mount Sneffels looming in the distance outside of Ridgway, in southwestern Colorado.

I thought I would mix things up a bit and get back to a shot from this fall here in Colorado. I was able to spend more time shooting fall colors this year since I wasn’t doing any art festivals. It was nice! The area around Ridgway in southwestern Colorado is always a popular spot and the leaves around there turn a little bit later, usually early October.

I was surprised when I first arrived at the area to find that many of the aspens hadn’t started to turn yet. The colors this fall were a little bit different than previous years and obviously, it was no different there. I met up with a non-photographer friend and spent a day showing him around. One of the first stops on the way out of Ridgway was at this beautiful scene right along the highway.

This is Ralph Lauren’s Double RL Ranch. I have been there many times, but it isn’t very often that there are hay bales in the scene. The light streaming through the valley made for a peaceful setting and the hillsides were covered in colorful brush. Add to that the snow-covered mountains with Mount Sneffels in the center, and you have one pretty picture!

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