Story and photography by Roy Ramsay
Fall is a very busy season for photographers, both amateur and professional alike. There is a specific window of time where the fall colours are at their peak. This window of time is largely determined by location, weather conditions in the area, and species of trees. In my home province of Ontario the peak typically occurs around the last week of September to the second week of October. Again, depending on the weather, and other factors out of our control, this window can move. Generally the more northern the location, and higher the elevation, the earlier the colours peak. As you move south the window can occur later by as much as two weeks. For Ontario’s real-time colour report visit www.ontarioparks.com/fallcolour. This will be an invaluable guide as to when and where to be this fall.
What’s your preference?
Are you a camper, day-tripper, B&Ber or do you like to pamper yourself a little bit on your photographic trips? I have tried them all, and to be honest while camping does have its certain nostalgic appeal, I do prefer the comfort and flexibility that certain motels and resorts offer. The nights can get pretty chilly during the fall, and if you don’t like the damp, chilly air that time of year, then you might too.
During my last trip up to Algonquin Provincial Park, my favourite location for shooting fall colours, I stayed at a place called the Blue Spruce Resort, run by proprietors Scott and Linda Hayden (www.bluespruce.ca). The Blue Spruce offers rustic cabins and studio suites that will satisfy the most demanding of patrons. The Blue Spruce is located in Dwight, ON, just outside the west gate of the park. While it’s a bit more expensive than camping, the resort offers a comfortable “home base” from which to venture out for the day to photograph the fall colours. At day’s end it offers a nice, warm place to relax, process images and take a hot shower. It even has access to WiFi. One of the greatest perks of this particular resort is that every cabin and studio room has its own kitchen, or if you prefer outdoor cooking, a BBQ.
This is great for planning your days of photography. As we all know, photographers are up before the crack of dawn and shoot until the last of light at dusk. The ability to bring groceries and cook your own meals, for me, is paramount. Not only does this keep costs down, but you can get up and eat breakfast before heading out on your shoot. You can pack your own snacks and lunches too. Your eating menu and schedule are your own. I found that it’s a bit of a challenge with B&Bs and hotels because the meal schedules don’t always mesh well with the outdoor photographer and the hours we keep. Another benefit to the resort approach is you can bring your family with you. They can enjoy the many activities of the resort and surrounding area, while you are busy “working.” After your day’s shoot you can rejoin your family and hear about their fantastic time as you sit on the deck, or in the living room of your own cabin. This was a great way to end each day. The Blue Spruce is open year round, and this area offers many activities and photographic opportunities regardless of the season. It’s definitely a must-try if you are in the area.
Final fall thoughts
I will leave you with a thought or two about capturing fall colours this season. Remember to use your polarizer to reduce glare and increase colour saturation, try to find complimentary colours to put together in your compositions to increase image impact, such as blues with orange, red and yellow. Lastly don’t forget to look up into the canopy while on the trails. Amazing colours are all around you.
Enjoy the season.