August is one of the slow months for photographers. Not much is going on in the US unless you go north and work the high mountains. Almost everywhere else the pretty green lushness of early summer has faded and the landscape looks more tattered than fantastic. Of course you could go to Africa and watch the migration on the Serengeti or trek up to see the gorillas in Uganda with someone special but those are not your usual options.
What is usual for photographers at this time of the year is thinking about the visual candy soon to arrive in the fall. Being in New England, this is the time for thinking about October color. From the spectacular hillsides and river valleys around my home to the foggy harbors and brilliant red maples of the Maine coast- I can’t wait. October can’t get here fast enough!!
One thing that I like to do now is to visit some of the sites I usually go to when the color is popping just to check things out and make sure everything is okay. I look for trees down, new stream details, pools that appear one year and not the next, new colorful boats or even new points of access that I hadn’t noticed before. Sometimes I find bad news- a new house on the point that wrecked the best shot, a trail washed out, a tree across a falls, new telephone lines on the horizon, an ugly metal barn where an old beautiful one used to be. The point is I would rather know now so I can plan and figure out a new shot or approach than to show up on a prime time day and then scramble for something mediocre.
The best example I have of this is from a few years ago when tropical storm Irene came through Vermont in late summer ,and dumped 12″ of rain in 12 hours causing all kinds of damage and wash outs. What I noticed was that many of my favorite streams had become astonishingly altered. Gone were the soft green banks overhung with drooping branches, replaced by scoured banks of rocks and dirt. My most favorite stream- Emma’s Creek- went from gorgeous to unphotographable in half a day! It is unlikely it will ever be as pretty as it was just a few years ago.
I found a new spot, a new stream. It’s only 3 miles away. It went from an ugly jumble of logs and messy pools to a beautiful open cascade on clean granite. Irene taketh and giveth. When the color came I mostly tooketh, happily so. So go out now and visit some of your favorite spots, you’ll thank yourself in a couple of months.