Sheep’s Creek is certainly named right. We turned off Highway 44 and crossed Sheep’s Creek and there they were, heading straight for us down the middle of the road. It was a small band of ewes and their lambs. Moose pulled into a turnout and we watched as they left the road, climbed the hillside, and crossed the ridge top. We drove a short distance and got out to watch as they came off the ridge top and down the slope toward us, then grazed on the hillside directly above us. Some ventured down to the road toward us. The lambs were adorable like this little one curious about the creatures below taking his photograph.
Bighorn Sheep were reintroduced to the Uinta Mountains in the Flaming Gorge area of Utah starting in 1983. Bighorns have continued to be reintroduced here, with some transplants occurring as recently in 2014. We were fortunate to spot a small group of three young rams in the campground near the edge of the gorge on our first morning here. This curious ram stopped to check us out before catching up with his mates and disappearing from view. According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, this area currently has between 150 and 200 Bighorn Sheep and they estimate the area can sustain a population of about 450 sheep. There are several small bands spread throughout this area. We’re hoping to see more during the week we’re here.
The place that offered us the most spectacular color and even doubled it for us was at Willey House on the Saco River in New Hampshire. When the resident mallards weren’t paddling to the shore for a handout from a passerby and when the wind was not rippling the water, it was calm enough to provide a clear second look at the reflected colors on the shoreline. I still can’t get over the range of colors we saw.
The morning mist was aglow in the hillsides off Crawford Notch Road in New Hampshire one morning. We didn’t have to go far to get this view. We pulled over to the side of the highway and turned around. In a few minutes the mist had dissipated and the mystery of that moment was gone.
The Ammanoosuc River is a picturesque little river that seems to be off the beaten path. We turned onto Jefferson Notch Road (there are lots of notches in New Hampshire) and basically took over the road. As I recall, only one or two vehicles passed by us and we were there a couple of hours. At the bridge we used long exposures to make the water silky and seem even lazier. The river seemed to fit Hoagy Carmichael’s lyrics to his classic “Up a Lazy River.”
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.