New Hampshire is the Granite State, after all. Many of the hillsides in the White Mountains were ablaze in glorious fall colors but the color was interrupted by large swaths of native granite where trees cannot grow. The white and gray streaks of rock seemed to make the fall colors even more brilliant.
The scenic and winding Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire parallels the Swift River for much of its length. At the river’s Lower Falls, a few of the maples were sporting their fiery orange-red autumn finery on a green and yellow backdrop of evergreens and birch.
The Albany Covered Bridge was first constructed in 1858 over the Swift River in New Hampshire. It carries automobile traffic today and it has been restored and rebuilt. However, it was originally built to accommodate hay wagons and its size is a “load of hay high and a load of hay wide.” Covered bridges were built to help the bridge itself last longer by protecting the road bed from harsh winter weather. New Hampshire has 54 covered bridges, all protected by state law. It takes patience to photograph this and other covered bridges in New Hampshire. I waited until no one was in sight to take this image. It was sometimes a long wait between clicks as there was a contrast stream of visitors and vehicles entering and existing the bridge.
Simply looking up can give you an entirely new and unexpected perspective on a scene. Using a wide angle lens and pointing the camera straight up reveals a unique symmetry in the forest. The tree trunks all appear to tip inward to a central point where the canopies of each tree meet. The colors mingle. Close down the lens and a starburst from the sun adds a finishing touch.
The breeze was stiff so the colorful leaves at Willey House on the Saco River in New Hampshire were shimmering too much to get good photographs of the fall colors. We ventured into the woods. The ground was strewn with decaying bark and leaves which made the perfect base for Waxy Cap mushrooms to thrive. These tiny fungi (less than an inch in diameter) were the most colorful thing on the ground as most of the red and gold leaves were still attached to their branches. They reminded me of the mushrooms in the China Dance in the Walt Disney classic Fantasia. I kneeled down and placed my Nikon Z6II with the Nikkor MC105mm macro lens on the ground. in front of me. I needed a small stick to elevate the lens to the right position and thankfully, the monitor pulls out so I didn’t have to scrunch my body down to see through the viewfinder. I decided to try focus shift shooting which in this environment was new to me since I’d only tried it indoors with a tripod. I took 20 shots to combine into this final image, not enough to get every part of the mushrooms in focus but I like the end result and the colors are a lively contrast to the brown compost beneath. I expected to hear strains from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite at any moment and for the mushrooms to leap and spin. It was Fantasia in the forest.
We called her Charlotte when we found her busily constructing a huge web between the posts of Covered Bridge No. 51 in Jackson, New Hampshire. When I realized the background was the fall colors on the banks of the Ellis River, I knew I had to photograph her. I used my Nikkor Z70-200MM lens to capture the intricacies of her legs and of the web as she spun concentric strands that connected the radial lines of the delicate silk.
As its name suggests, the Silver Cascade is a waterfall that cascades down a granite slope. It is like a silver thread visible in the midst of the tapestry of glorious autumn shades of gold and red and orange and yellow and green in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. For all its striking beauty, you could miss it if you’re driving too fast. Unlike so many gorgeous places, this one is not a hidden gem. It is literally on the edge of Crawford Notch Road (US Route 302). If you’re not paying attention, you might not notice the cars parked on either side, or you might run down one of the visitors slowly ambling across the highway, or you might smash into the gawker in front of you slowing their vehicle to a crawl for a drive-by iPhone shot of the cascade. It is smart to pay attention when you’re in this neck of the woods, especially during the peak of fall color. It’s a sight you don’t want to miss.
Mount Washington in New Hampshire is the windiest place on earth. And I was just blown away by the view from the 6,288 foot summit. It was like looking down on the clouds from an airplane. We watched them start to roll over the nearby ridges as the wind picked up in the afternoon. Luckily, the winds the afternoon we visited were gentle, and nothing like the world record 231 MPH recorded in 1934 by the weather station there. That wind speed still holds the record for winds observed by man. This amazing place is accessible two ways: by the steep, winding auto road from the east side which is how we got there, or by the Mount Washington Cog Railway. It is the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway built in 1868 and it is still operating today, pulling passengers up the mountain to the summit. There’s no fall color atop the summit but two colorful Cogs are visible as they approached the mountain top. We watched four arrive in quick succession to deposit passengers and to back down the mountain on the single track to return with those ready to go home.
This week is peak season for fall color in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We’ve watched the colors spread and intensify in the few days we’ve been here. The annual fall show is expected to reach its climax this weekend but Thursday morning’s spectacular showing at Willey House on the Saco River was like nothing I’d ever seen. The rich hues, especially the many nuances of reds and oranges with some magenta and yellows competing for attention, is an unforgettable palette of colors that creates a vibrant display across the hillsides.
Claude Monet was a French Impressionist perhaps most widely recognized today for his paintings of water lilies. He said about the paintings he made of his gardens with its distinctive water features, “These landscapes of water and reflection have become an obsession.” Yesterday morning in the White Mountains of New Hampshire as the peak of fall color is here in all its glory, we visited a spot along the Saco River at Willey House hoping to capture some spectacular reflections in the water, that is until the wind whipped up. That turned out to be our good fortune because what we saw reflected in the water was precisely reminiscent of Monet, the genius of his brushstrokes, and his spectacular paintings of reflections and water. A few years ago, I was fortunate to visit the permanent exhibit of Monet’s final series of water lilies installed in 1927 in Paris at the Musée de l’Orangerie, a year after he died. What I photographed in New Hampshire was alive with color and movement and excitement and took me back to Paris and Monet and Impressionism.