Starting October 6, and for the next 14 days and 4,188 miles, I’ve been on a quest for fall colors. On day 2, I picked up my friend Bill Crnkovich in Washington, D.C. Bill is a landscape photographer from Salt Lake City. D.C. gave us the opportunity to start our quest on the backroads of the Pennsylvania Dutch country.
We’ve been fall color chasers for 10 years covering mostly the Western US and Canadian Rockies. Both of us are professional photographers and doing trips like this helps build our landscape portfolios.
This year I drove because of the amount of camera gear I wanted to take and because of the proximity of Jacksonville to New England (it’s only a 2-day drive). Plus our uncertainty around hotel availability, we didn’t make reservations because we didn’t know where the best colors would be and where we would end up each day. So I brought camping gear (tent, cots, sleeping bags, etc.) for insurance. Given all the above, it had to be a road trip, and fortunately for my aging body, we didn’t need to camp. We were able to get hotel rooms even on the two busiest peak weekends during the New England fall.
So what’s it like on a road trip with a pair of landscape photographers?
- 5 AM alarm, car packed and we’re on the road by 5:30 AM
- 1st stop, a gas station for coffee, then back to the car, my first question to Bill the navigator, left or right?
- Picking the first shooting location of the day is based on weather, previous days scouting activities, current location, maps, road trip guides, and navigational software. If stars are visible (clear skies), primary targets become open spaces, lakes, and farm fields. If we’re not trying to include star photography, we’d try to be onsite 15 to 30 minutes before sunrise. If solid overcast or rainy, primary targets during the morning become streams, waterfalls, and forest, and being onsite at sunrise isn’t as critical.
- Sunrise during this period was around 6:50 AM
- When driving, we’re constantly looking for the right combination of light, color, interesting landscapes (foreground, middle ground, and background); this is the most challenging aspect of the trip for me
- 10:00 AM, we start looking for a vintage dive, diner, or drive-in for breakfast
- 10:30 AM, for the next eight hours, scout and hopefully find 2 to 4 settings where all the elements come together
- 4:00 - 7:00 PM, find a hotel
- 6:00 PM, sunset, same concepts apply as picking the first shooting location of the day
- 7:00 PM, find a Pub, wood-fired pizzeria, or sports bar
- 8:00 - 10 PM, back to the hotel to charge camera batteries, download & backup files, and edit a few images in Lightroom and Photoshop
- 9:00 - 10 PM, next day planning
- Eyes close, the alarm goes off
Click here to view my keepers from the New England road trip.