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09/23/16 Fall is starting a bit early in Arkansas–Buffalo River Trip

Late afternoon light creeping along Roark Bluff on the Buffalo National River

Late afternoon light creeping along Roark Bluff on the Buffalo National River

Another example of the amazing Dynamic range of the Phase One IQ100 digital back.  This is one exposure and I was still able to hold my shadows and keep the highlights in line.  This camera still continues to amaze me. What an amazing improvement over the CCD technology of the past.

On my recent trip to the Buffalo, I was surprised to see that the fall colors have already started to display.  This shot was taken on the upper end of the Buffalo River at Steel Creek featuring Roark Bluff.  The water is low, as expected for this time of year, but I was surprised by the amount of color already starting to show.  Along with several tree species that have just turned brown.   In this shot you can see that the Sycamore tree on the right side has a nice golden brown color and the trees to the immediate right edge are also showing some color.

The trees on the left are all Maple and Gum trees and since the sun was setting through them, I really could not see enough to tell what the colors might be.  But looking upstream you can see that several oaks are getting the same yellow look.

This is tough shot to take in the late afternoon, since the sun will set right at your left side.  But the reward is that the entire bluff will be lit up briefly by the sun.  In the summer months, the effect is more pronounced since the sun is higher in the sky, but in the fall you can still catch a nice yellow tint to the rocks.  I love to see the transition from yellow to grey on the bluff.

If you are lucky, you will not have any wind and can catch a wonderful reflection.   This shot is also an excellent photographic study in the morning as most times there will be some fog on the river.  You can catch the reflection and the fog both.  I opt for the other solution which is to climb to the top of the bluff and catch the same shot but from the top of the bluff.  Either way you can expect to find excellent shots.

This part of the Buffalo also is close to the Boxley Valley, which offers Lost Valley, and Elk among other great things to photograph.

11/19/15 Red Sky at Night Sailors Delight!!, Wonderful evening shot from the upper Piney Creek Wilderness Arkansas

Piney Creek Arkansas

Sunset from a bluff in the Piney Creeks Wilderness

This is a shot that I like to think, puts all things back into perspective.  For 2015, the Autumn in Arkansas the colors were just terrible.  We also had a lot of rain late in October, which was too late for the streams.  All the streams are running now, but of course they look like they do in winter, just bare trees.  I like to work some of the smaller creeks in Arkansas during fall as the combination of fall colors and running water can be additive.  Arkansas has so many streams, one could never work all of them in a lifetime.  But what we found this year, were mainly cloudy skies, and dry creek beds.  The spring and summer had been so promising.  We had record amounts of rainfall and cool conditions.  But then July, and August.  Basically Arkansas recorded almost no rainfall during these months and it was hot.  Basically what happens, the trees start to go dormant and into protect mode.  If this continues for a long period of time, it will have a negative effect on the fall colors. 

What we basically saw in the fall in most of the spots, were trees turning a dull brown, even in early October.  But even worse, some trees, were staying green much longer so there was no balance in the colors.  I have seen shots from all over Arkansas, and in most of them you are still able to see quite a bit of green trees and most of the trees that have turned are just brown, or dull red.  Gone from the woods this year were the bright yellows, and reds, mainly from the Black Gums, Maples, Black Gums, Hickories and Golden browns from the Oaks. 

I had found a great new spot in the upper Piney Creeks wilderness thanks to Chris Kennedy.  Chris had found this place a week before during the opening of Arkansas Deer season.  I had been here a lot during my kayaking days in Arkansas, but had never taken some time to go look for fall color.  This is a great spots as you are looking due south on one side of Parker Ridge Road and if you cross over and take a short hike, you are looking north.  Either view gives an expansive view of the valley of Big Piney Creek.  If we had been here just one week earlier, the possiblites were endless as it was apparent that the trees in this part of the state did not go into as much stress.

Chris and I drove back to this spot a week later, and most of the color was gone, at least in the trees.  We had a mixed sky with only partial clear patches, but Chris felt it was worth staying around until about 20 minutes after the sun had set.  He had been here before and felt we might get a great play on the afterglow.  He was right, as you can see in this shot, the sun’s angle was just at the right position to really pop the clouds and just painted the sky red.  Chris took this shot with his phone, and it’s a good one even from a phone.  You can see both cameras setup and a good bit of the view from the place were were setup. 

In the spring, this might be another great place to setup, and I hope to come back here for both a milky way shoot and star trails shoot.  It’s not far from the road so working at night will not be a big danger to the photographer. 

But back to my opening, yes this shot did put things back into perspective for me.  I had been chasing color on and off for 30 days and just had not found anything to feature for this year.  In fact this will the first year I have basically no photograph from the fall in Arkansas.  Maybe I am just tired of it, and don’t have the energy anymore as the market I am shooting in has changed dramatically in the past 3 years.  But it was nice to sit on this bluff edge, and think back over the years that I have enjoyed in Arkansas’s outdoors.  We have a beautiful state in many ways.