Foliage Report: Cool Weather Has New England Thinking About Autumn
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This past weekend, New England got a fabulous preview of the fine fall weather to come.
Crystal clear blue skies dominated both days, providing a wonderful break after all the recent rains. The morning air felt crisp and dry, aside from the morning mists that rose like cauldrons out of local lakes and streams. Daytime temperatures warmed under the abundant sunshine, but a cool northwest wind kept the autumn like feel throughout.
Taking advantage of the first fall weather, our family met up with friends for opening day at Apple Annie’s, one of my favorite local orchards. Apple picking is one of the most popular fall activities in New England, as a trip to an orchard in the fall is often more than just about apples. It’s about celebrating a harvest. It’s about family, and about traditions.
Many orchards enhance the experience, turning the activity into an awesome autumn themed attraction. Pumpkin patches, hayrides and petting zoos are great for families when the bag is full and the kids begin to grow restless.
Apple Annie, by contrast, keeps it simple. A beautiful old red barn doubles as the farm store, where hot, freshly pressed apple cider and delicious apple cider donuts are at the waiting. They have apples ready to pick up, or you can go out and pick your own. There’s a few goats that you can visit and tempt with drops, and a friendly labradoodle that followed us around for a bit. The macintoshes were ready, the cortlands nearly so, and many other still ripening promised a long season ahead.
We’ve been waiting for cool weather like this past weekend to kick-start the color, but sadly the cool snap was too short lived to get things to progress, even in the far north. A good friend and great photographer, Kevin Talbot, spent the weekend kayaking and camping on the remote shores of Lake Umbagog, and found little foliage aside from the swamp maples. This area tends to reach peak during the last week in September, now just two weeks away, so more weather like last weekend is needed if the foliage is to arrive on time.
Looking ahead, both climatology and the short range forecast are on our side. In Northern New England, average morning lows fall over ten degrees between now and the end of the month, and a cold front this week will push temperatures back near average. This may finally be the weekend that reds, oranges and yellows begin to dot the forests of green in the far north.
The one exception to slowly arriving color has been, and continues to be the swamp maples which begin to turn in late August in New England. This year they are putting on quite the show, and with a little exploring, you can already come away with some early and dramatic photographs of foliage.
On the topic of photography, Yankee Magazine is once again sponsoring a fall foliage photo contest, where the top photograph will be featured in next year’s foliage issue. Entries are always beautiful, and past winners have become iconic New England images.
Last year, I wrote a blog about fall foliage photography, and stand by all the tips offered in that piece. A polarizing filter can dramatically improve the look of autumn colors in the camera, and getting up early and capturing the beautiful light and atmosphere at dawn are surely shortcuts to award winning images. In retrospect though, left off of last year’s list were a two important concepts to consider implementing this autumn.
The first tip I can offer is to always consider the rule of thirds. Centered subjects are often static, and don’t offer the eye an opportunity to explore the entire scene. Moving the focus of your image from the center, to a position a third of the way into the image often creates a much more appealing image. This concept goes farther when composing grand landscapes, as it’s often advantageous to give the foreground the bottom third of the frame and the sky the top third. If you look at past winners to our contest, you’ll see most employ the rule of thirds!
The other concept takes the rule of thirds and applies it specifically to living subjects. I call it the looking in/looking out rule. Too often we see images where people (or pets, or wildlife) are looking straight at the camera, whereas positioning them in such a way that they are off to one side, and at the same time turned into the image will help the viewer take in the entire scene within which the subject stands. This concept works especially well with autumn overlooks and vistas, where the person is facing away as well.
As you travel around New England this autumn, we hope that you share the images that you take with us here at Yankee Foliage. You can post them to our Facebook page, or include them in reports to our interactive map, either online, or through our foliage app.
Looks like cooler weather is on the way for the weekend again, hope you get out to enjoy it, and let us know if you see any color!