It seems like this Fall has been crazy busy for me with so many different things happening. I was starting to get pretty frustrated about failing to find the time to get out and capture some of the Fall colors, and also just disappointed in the quality of the foliage in my area of Tennessee this year. Fortunately, that all changed a couple of weeks ago and I have some colorful, new photographs to prove it.
On November 4th, I took advantage of the opportunity to drive over to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (LTBL) with my friend Kristi (with my dog, Dexter, in tow, of course). Our mission was two-fold: capture some pleasing images of the last of the colorful leaves of Autumn and track down some of the big beasts at home on the LBTL bison range. For me there was a lot of pressure on this trip, because I knew that after the first weekend of November, the remaining deciduous foliage in our area of the world would turn brown and drop with the impending change in weather.
The LBTL was the location that offered our best chance of experiencing beautiful golden fields and placid lakes and ponds surrounded by foliage in a broad spectrum of colors. The area is 170,000 acres of forest, fields, lakes, and ponds about a 90 minute drive west through the country from my home. LTBL straddles the state borders of western Kentucky and Tennessee. It is protected habitat for many different kinds of wildlife, from elk to bald eagles, and also includes a 700-acre, enclosed bison range. I love the area for photography, hiking, or even just a drive in winter.
When I leave home for the LBTL, I never know what I'm going to find, or even what the weather is going to be like when I arrive, as it's very changeable in this area. For example, when Kristi and I headed out that day, the radar was clear and it was beautiful and sunny in my neck of the woods. By the time we had made it up the peninsula to the bison range, however, the sky had become cloudy and was threatening rain. I was initially disappointed by this change in the light.
With the right subjects, overcast skies can result in fully saturated colors and some lovely images. The foliage and fields at the LBTL, however, contained a lot of gold and orange that seemed to glow when the sunlight would peak through the clouds, so I really wanted to capture these landscapes in golden sunlight. Also, blues complement golds very well, so including some blue sky in the composition can really punch up the impact of the photograph.
We had to travel around the area for a few hours and wait for transitions in the light to create the photographic opportunities represented by the pictures included in this post. Early on, I was able to work with the overcast sky in the bison photographs. The portrait, Number 609, is my favorite. This young male seemed to be interested in me and my camera and stayed close to the fence that separated us long enough for me to capture a range of portraits. I still had to borrow a 55-230 mm zoom lens from Kristi to get this close-up, and a 100-400 mm lens to bag some photos of the bison with the bird on its back (represented here by Symbiosis). I applied a preset developed by my sister in Snapseed to all of the bison images to give them a unique and consistent look and feel.
Otherwise, all the images in this post, from close-ups to landscapes, were taken with a fixed focal length 35 mm lens. I used my feet to 'zoom in or out' on my subjects. Overcast light made for great color saturation in some of the images of foliage, including Complementary Colors and The Woods. A brief moment of sunlight brought together the golds and blues that give my photograph, Golden Canopy, its impact. Waiting for the slightest peak of sunlight through dramatic clouds transformed the landscape in A Place for Deer from flat and average to warm and textured.
On our way back out of the park, the sky had cleared somewhat and the sun was setting. I just happened to catch a glimpse of a pond with some nice reflections at a picnic stop off to the left as we drove past. I asked Kristi to quickly turn around so we could try to capture something special in the fading, golden sunlight. This fortuitous span of about 10 minutes resulted in a series of colorful photographs, including Autumn Flames, Touching Water, Autumn at Golden Pond, and Remains of Days. The scene changed quickly as the light faded and fog began to rise over the pond.
Finally, a few days after this outing, I was able to combine Remains of Days with a close-up I took of some unusual bark on a tree next to the same pond into a unique composite photograph. I have added this photo, Chimera No. 7, to my Chimera collection of composites. I love the texture and the colors; this image is truly an abstract, yet organic, representation of Autumn in the mid-South.
Amazingly, these new photographs of Autumn have started to sell! I feel very fortunate that people love these photographs enough to want to live with them in their homes and gift them to friends and family. If you're interested in purchasing prints of any of these or my other photographs, please visit my Purchase Prints page.
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-- Angela Martin