The Mighty Penobscot

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The 350 mile long Penobscot River flows under the shadow of Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park, Maine. This image is taken about a mile or so from the Abol Falls Bridge along the Golden Road. I had to climb over several large boulders to get to a place where I could see both snow-capped Katahdin in the background, and have an unobstructed view of the flowing water. I really liked the blaze of color that the fall foliage offered on the nearest river bank to the left. To slow the water and get the misty effect in the foreground, I used a 6-stop neutral density filter that allowed the shutter to be open for 15 seconds.

Technical data: f22, 15 seconds, iso 100, 17-40mm at 20mm with a 6-stop ND filter.

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Mount Katahdin, Baxter State Park

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Every year the colors of fall foliage in Maine are usually spectacular, and this season is especially vibrant. I always get excited about getting out to photograph the local landscapes this time of year, but when I went back through my archives, I realized that I actually have very few images illustrating the beauty of this season.

Leaves in this part of New England usually hit their peak in color for about a week or so in mid-October. In order to be able to capture this unique time of year on film in a way that is satisfying, there are several things that all have to line up. For me that means I usually have maybe one or two days when I can get out with the camera in a meaningful way to try to capture some photographs… perhaps that’s why I don’t have much to show from this time of year.

All sorts of theories abound regarding what makes a truly great fall foliage season where the colors are at their best. A wet summer, a dry summer, heavy snow from the winter before… who knows! However, what does appear relevant to the extent of the color are the number of cold nights and warm days right around the end of September.

In the week long window of opportunity that opens up with peak season, the weather also comes into play. As the leaves change color, heavy winds and rain can wreak havoc on the trees, forcing them to spill their leaves prematurely. Factor in a few iffy days weather-wise with the usual daily work commitments, and all of a sudden that window of opportunity for me suddenly closes down to maybe a day or two each year.

I was determined to be ready this year though, and over the Columbus Day holiday weekend a friend any I drove north to Baxter State Park in search of some spectacular fall foliage and scenery to match.

This image is of Mount Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine. Katahdin towers over Baxter State Park, and on this morning I was lucky to see some really nice early morning light hit the top of it and the clouds above. I liked the foreground reflection offered by the water near the Abol Falls bridge, and the fallen leaves were a bonus that added some interest. Even though the early light was warm, the temperatures were cold, reminding me that winter wasn’t far away.