Craggy Gardens - Blue Ridge Parkway, June 2017Craggy Gardens - Blue Ridge Parkway, June 2017

Autumn Photo Season

November 24, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Continuing on my last blog, I have to think this may have not have been too bad of a fall season after all.   Sure wish I could have those three lost days when I was waiting for my photo gear to be replaced.  But overall, I'm satisfied with it.  I was lucky to have captured some locations at good times even though I missed several too.

One of my early stops was Skinny Dip Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  This is always a very popular destination since it's beautiful and a fairly easy hike.  I took this photo near the top of staircase leading down into the falls.  Caught the colors just right.  When shooting in the fall, ALWAYS use your circular polarizer. It helps remove not only the shine from the water and rocks but also the leaves providing more color saturation to your image. 

Skinny Dip Falls  2015Skinny Dip Falls 2015Skinny Dip Falls - Blue Ridge Parkway

The next image is Linville Falls from down in the gorge.  As noted in my last post, the day was bright sunshine so my friend and I decided to meet at 4pm to hike down.  By the time we reached the bottom the sun had just sunk below the tree line above the falls.  Conditions were perfect; no wind, great colors, good water flow and no people.  With sunset around 5:45 or so, we wanted to leave around 5:30 so we wouldn't be hiking out in the dark.  Well with the great conditions we lost track of time as we tried to capture every possible composition we could think of.  By the time we looked at our watches it was nearly 6pm and getting very dark quickly. So we packed up and barely found our way to the main trail before total darkness set in.

Luckily my buddy had a headlamp, which was a lifesaver, literally.  I've never hiked out of anywhere in the dark and I'm not wanting to do it again.  Even with a headlamp, it's very disorientating and very easy to lose track of the trail.  But we took our time and finally got out.  

I really wanted to hit Linville Falls in prime autumn conditions and I got my wish.  I came away with several great images in my opinion.


Linville Falls Oct. 2019Linville Falls Oct. 2019  


A few days later, a couple of friends and I decided to take a look at Pearson Falls. Conditions were fairly good when we arrived but were expected to deteriorate quickly. I managed to get one photo I liked and it turned out very well in my humble opinion.
Pearson Falls  Oct. 2019Pearson Falls Oct. 2019


With leaf colors past peak around us, it was time to start heading west and south.  In early November, I headed to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park - the Tremont area to be more specific.  Weather conditions were expected to be good in the afternoon but to our dismay, the skies were very clear.  So he had to wait until late in the day and hurry to get some shots in before dark.  But we lucked out.  

Our first stop was Spruce Flats Falls located at the Smoky Mountain Institute.  The hike is 1.1 miles one-way and is moderately difficult, mostly at the front end.  But this is a beautiful waterfall in the right conditions.  On this day, the water flow was extremely light making a full frontal image not look particularly good.  So after canvasing the area for possible compositions, I landed on the near left side of the falls.  Most of the leaf color was gone but the one right near the falls provided the necessary "pop".

Spruce Flats Falls Oct. 2019Spruce Flats Falls Oct. 2019

After hurrying back to our car, we rushed further down into the Tremont area.  There is one cascade I particularly like.  You might agree that it's pretty spectacular in the right conditions, which we had.

Tremont Autumn Cascade    November 2017Tremont Autumn Cascade November 2017

With the Smokys pretty much past fall color, it was time to head further south into northern Georgia.  The Clayton area is very nice with many great photo locations.  Our first stop this day was Minnehaha Falls near Lake Rabun. Water flow was very low but was good enough.  It did allow us to move around, albeit with great caution being taken.  The rocks were extremely slippery so footing was terrible.  But by moving around, I was able to get some unique compositions that normally would not be possible under normal water flows.

Minnehaha Falls Oct. 2019Minnehaha Falls Oct. 2019  

Our next stop was Raper Creek Falls.  When I was here last year, I didn't have my wide angle lens, which was in being repaired.  My images were just OK and I knew if I had it I'd be able to really be able to get some much better compositions.  I think this image proves my expectation.


Raper Creek Falls Oct. 2019Raper Creek Falls Oct. 2019

On our way to our next location, we came across this curve in the road with the fence curving along with it.  We knew we had to pull over and see what we could do with it.

Rural Georgia Oct. 2019Rural Georgia Oct. 2019

Western North Carolina and the surrounding area is a great place to photograph in autumn. Start up  north on the Blue Ridge Parkway around the Linville Gorge and Linn Cove Viaduct during the second week of October....generally.  Work your way south and into the lower elevations such as Linville Falls.  Continue south around the Brevard area in mid-October and you'll generally find fantastic color.  Around this time as well is heading west toward the Cashiers and Highlands area.  Conditions weren't good this year so I didn't have much of an opportunity to shoot there this season.  In late October, the higher elevations of the Smokys start looking really good with the lower elevations peaking the first and second weeks on November.  Finally, try out north Georgia in early to mid November for their autumn colors.

Patience is really needed during the fall season.  Rain, wind and sunny skies are your enemy.  Weather forecasts around western North Carolina are notoriously bad.  So getting out early and staying out late should hopefully give you some good opportunities to capture some good images.





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