Hi everyone. I have had quite a busy month of October that included a shooting trip to Zion National Park which was followed by my Fall in West Virginia Workshop with my partner Martin Radigan. I am still working through a myriad of images and will get some of these up here as soon as I can. I am holding off on the Zion images as I am waiting for the publication of my new article in the upcoming edition of Fuji X Passion Magazine, Volume 2.
In the interim I am sharing a few of the images I made during our West Virginia Workshop. Martin and I had an outstanding group of photographers and we were very excited to take them to some of our favorite locations in and around Canaan Valley, Dolly Sods, and Black Water Falls. The workshop began with a nice sunset shoot at Lindy Point Overlook. A short hike brings you out to a rock outcrop where the forested slopes run down at steep angles to engage the Black Water River.
Of course no visit to this area would be complete without shooting the waterfalls of Black Water Falls State Park. Several days before the workshop began I made a scouting trip to Shays Run and found the waterfalls to be very low with almost no water running through them. Though still beautiful these waterfalls really come to life with higher flow rates of water. As luck would have it a passing storm midway through the workshop brought a great deal of rain to the area and by the next day the waterfalls were flowing very well, and in fact the water rose quite a bit during the time we had our workshop group at the site.
We experienced quite a bit of fog as well, both in Canaan Valley, and up in the higher elevations along the ridge lines of Dolly Sods Wilderness. Dolly Sods is beautiful and eerie in the fog. Layers of Huckleberries, just beginning to turn red, and interspersed by glacial rocks faded from view, giving way against stands of ghostly pines. The wind, normally blowing hard, was calm leaving the landscape quiet and contemplative. I love the lower contrast of a foggy scene and the subtle rendering of color, the softness of edges, and the shifting of shapes as the fog literally moves in and out of the landscape. The Fall colors up in the higher elevations were nearly at their peak with the distinctive reds of the huckleberry in stark contrast to the greens of laurels and pines. Down below the ridge lines, in Canaan Valley, the colors were spectacular. Maples glowed red and yellow and as the temperatures dropped and rain moved in the colors seemingly intensified overnight.
This is an area, and a landscape, that takes some time to get to know. It is not a location that grabs you with the grand vista or big skies that roll on to the horizon. It is more subtle and intimate. The trick I think is to compose for those intimate details; to dissect the scene into discreet elements of line and shape. And then look inside of that. This is a case of really needing to see the "trees for the forest." It takes some practice see in this way. In fact it is a difficult process for me as I have always thought that my vision resides somewhere between 15mm to 18mm - big and ultra-wide, to be exact. Overtime I have moved away from this aspect ratio and begun to shoot locations such as these with normal lenses, such as the my Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 R (35mm equivalent), and the Fujinon XF 35mm f2.0 WR (50mm equivelent). Additionally I have found that dialing into these intimate landscapes with a medium telephoto, such as the Fujinon XF16mm-55mm f2.8 WR gives me a great many options for composing images. I have found over time that I love these kinds of images-the lines and details, shapes and forms, depth through selective focus, and of course the sense of color.
Hopefully you have enjoyed these images and perhaps find some inspiration in them. It will not be long now before all of the color is gone and snow will begin to blanket the valleys and high mountain plateaus. But Spring will bring a time of renewal along with the bright greens of fresh growth. The forest will be another season older, and change will be hard to see, but it will be there if we only look.
If you are interested in joining me on my 2017 Spring in the West Virginia Highlands I would love to have you. Stay tuned as I will open up the registrations very soon. Thanks again for stopping by! RHC