As I look out my window today, it seems to be raining dead, brown leaves. The colors of early autumn are gone and winter is just a month away. I have included two shots from the day trip I made to Dark Hollow Falls last month. My drive down Skyline Drive in the morning was dark (before dawn) and very foggy, with very limited visibility. On my way back, although the sun was high in the sky, much of the drive was done in very dense fog, with only intermittant breaks. Once such break occurred as I was passing the Crescent Rock Overlook. The sight of the low clouds pouring over the crest of the Shenandoahs caught my eye and I made a last second decision to turn into the parking area. I positioned myself at the edge of the overlook and spent several minutes watching the clouds move through Hawksbill Gap, waiting for an interesting scene to appear.
This first shot was made looking almost due south from the overlook. What caught my eye was the hole in the cloud, through which I could discern the colored foliage on the northwest flank of the Hawksbill.
This second shot, taken from the same location, shows the profile of the Hawksbill through a break in the clouds. Both shots were handheld, using the D700 with the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Post processing consisted of increasing saturation to bring out the color of the trees, and boosting the contrast and structure of the clouds to draw out their shapes.
I hope you enjoy these images.
The subtle early morning light was sculpting the tree trunks in this nondescript scene at the Abbot Wetlands. I had not been having much luck on this morning, and I certainly wasn’t finding any potential images in this scene.
The sun was about to hit this area, and before it blew out the dynamic range, I thought I would try a “schmear”. A “schmear” (my term – I don’t know of anyone else using it) is simply an image captured while the lens and camera are moving. Generally, you wind up with something pretty impressionistic – streaks of color – and often they can be quite pleasing to the eye. In this scene, all the elements were in place; there was some color, and there were several vertical elements to lend structure. The set-up is simple: adjust the ISO and aperture combination to give an exposure of a second or more; aim the camera and trip the shutter as you move the lens up or down through the scene during the exposure, thereby creating a “schmear”.
You will never be sure what you will wind up with, but of the three shots I did at this location, this is the one I like the best. A cheap “victory” in an otherwise luckless shoot? Perhaps. At the very least, I had an image that pleased me. But beyond that, I often find that this type of shooting will just stir up the creative juices enough to keep me shooting. Less than ten minutes later, I captured the image of the “flaming” leaves shown in the previous post. If I had not made this image, I probably would have given up and left the park ten minutes earlier than I did and would have missed that other image altogether.
I love the fall, but I cannot seem to get hold of it photographically. There is always so much bright color that I have a difficult time focusing in on a viable subject. This year, though, I have managed to come up with a couple of images that are worth at least a web viewing, because I don’t think either of these will be printed. The two shots in this post came from a couple of weekends ago, when I headed out to Shenandoah National Park and Dark Hollow Falls on Friday, and then went to the Abbot Wetland on Ft. Belvoir on Saturday.
The first shot was taken below the pool of the main falls at Dark Hollow. Water was running, but not much, so I headed a little way down the trail and crossed the stream in order to get a view looking back up to the falls. I made several uninspiring efforts when I turned around at saw this large rock and the backlit tree with bright, backlit leaves. Because of the extreme dynamic range, I shot it as a three image HDR.
This next image was made shortly after sunrise the next morning, at the Abbot Wetland near where I live. The temperature had dropped overnight, and there was quite a bit of mist coming off the pond. I had been chasing the light ever since dawn, and this was about the last moment before the morning sun would have illuminated the entire pond with harsh direct light. I was on my way back to the car when I spoted this tree with its foliage glowing from the sun rising on the left, but with its lower branches and the pond still in shade.