Last year, I headed up to Yosemite on Halloween for several reasons. First, I knew that there would still be some color in the valley as many of the Oaks and Cottonwoods hold on to their leaves into November. Secondly, the first Winter storm of the year was due to roll in. Lastly, the road to Glacier Point was still open, but it was due to close for the season as soon as that storm blew in. With the promise of colorful leaves in the valley along with some shots of new snow on the surrounding peaks, I took off with high hopes.
It seems that one of the prerequisites for gorgeous shooting locations in West Virginia is that they need to be located quite literally in the middle of nowhere. When you bring up Blackwater Falls State Park on Google maps, you can see tiny, one horse towns scattered around the woods nearby, but no large cities. As I was driving in from the Winchester area, I drove through several small towns on the way out there, but soon found myself driving past sprawling farms, creeks and rivers and mile after mile of uninterrupted forest. So I settled in, found some bluegrass on a local station, and just soaked it in.
Ah…October. That wonderful month when you throw the first log on the fire, watch a college football game, feel a chill in the air, notice the geese flying South, and rake the leaves in the yard, all of which are now changing.
Unless, of course, you happen to live in Southern California. It was 105 degrees outside yesterday and the only thing that I can see changing color right now is my lawn. (Hint: It’s not green.) Here in Orange County, we don’t really have “seasons.” We have what might generously be described as “blech.” Most of us aren’t quite sure what “rain” is as we have only had fleeting glimpses of it lately, and we haul out the big winter coats once the temperatures dip way down into the lower 60’s.
So…yes. I’ve been starving for seasons. And of all the seasons that we don’t get here in Southern California, I think I miss autumn the most. It was with this in mind that I set off for West Virginia two years ago in hopes of shooting the Grist Mill at Babcock State Park.
Some of you may be surprised to learn that I have been directing choirs in the Southern California area for nearly 30 years. I have spent a good part of my life practicing on instruments, learning to read music, singing in various choirs, and eventually earning a Bachelors and a Masters in Choral Conducting. There was a time, in the not too distant past, when I was convinced that I would continue to teach until well into my seventies as many of my colleagues have done and are continuing to do. I have been very fortunate over the past three decades or so to have had a job that I love and look forward to going to each day. But in 2006, I picked up a Nikon DSLR camera for the first time and suddenly I found myself considering a second, part time career . It was the first time I held a decent camera in my hands since shooting landscapes with a Canon AE-1 after I had just graduated from high school. For the next three or four years, I shot everything. Portraits, street photography, macro…it didn’t matter. I just wanted to get out with my camera whenever I had a chance. In 2009, I took my camera to Yosemite and to Laguna Beach for the first time, and began to realize that my true passion in photography was landscapes.