Autumn Along The Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

This autumn, I made a few excursions out to the mountains of Virginia to capture the changing fall foliage. For one of my trips, I ventured down to south west Virginia to shoot along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The foliage scouting reports for this area were sounding positive this year, but much to my dissappointment, I missed the peak by a week. What made things worse was a day or two prior to my arrival, the area experienced several days of high winds that stripped the majority of the trees of their leaves.

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn Maple

Canon EOS 5D, 24-70mm, polarizer filter

Early morning fog is quite common along the Blue Ridge Parkway and I’ve experienced it before. I was hoping to get up early and be in location pre-dawn to capture the morning fog, but I slept in. Give a guy a break; I work several jobs and have been exhausted! So this trip was turning out to be a bust, with few leaves on the trees and a mid-morning arrival.

However, I was drawn to this large maple set off the parkway in a cow pasture (that also featured wild turkey). So large and magestic, yet blanketed by strong, late morning light. The harsher than I prefer light was casting deep shadows along the trunk, so I did a two exposure shot and blended them together in Photoshop. The end result is a slight HDR image. Not the best image in the world, but one of the best I was able to capture during this trip. Blue Ridge Parkway Fence PostWhen presented lemons, make lemonade.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is also lined with a variety of styles of wooden fences, especially along the narrow points. The cloudless sky lacked the interesting character clouds can add, so I decided to isolate a portion of the fence for my other image. This image captures the rustic nature of the fence line in the morning light. While I tend to shoot more mid-to-wide angle landscapes, it’s nice to zoom in and focus on the details now and then.

While it can be frustrating to drive over 5 hours to a location only to find less than ideal shooting conditions, it’s important not to give up. Beauty and beautiful photographs can be found and made anywhere and at any time. It’s up to you as a photographer to see all forms of beauty and tackle the challenge of capturing it.

For information about the Blue Ridge Parkway, visit the National Park Service website.

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