In a word, autumn color in WV’s Randolph and Tucker Counties was spectacular this year. The reds in the Bear Rocks Preserve atop Dolly Sods were particularly vibrant. It was indeed quite picturesque. Unfortunately, it was not particularly photogenic during the photography workshop I led last month. Most mornings the weather did not cooperate. Thick clouds at the horizon often obstructed the sunrise. If the sun did rise high enough to be visible above this cloud cover, its light on the foliage and rock formations was harsh. Generally, a thick cloud cover would ride in on strong winds and block direct sunlight. The resulting dull light spoiled any early morning scenic landscape photo opportunities.

The poor conditions Mother Nature provided certainly hampered the quantity of images folks generally capture during the fall color photo workshop. Fortunately, these conditions enhanced the quality of images. They forced workshop participants to seek out different vistas; to anticipate and be ready to capture the fleeting light; to forego broad landscapes and seek out more intimate landscapes; and to be creative.

For example, we captured a storm front seconds before it blocked the sunlight highlighting the mountain valleys and the foliage lining the escarpment. A telephoto lens allowed us to shoot tight compositions of the fog rolling through the valleys along the Allegheny Plateau. A creative choice of white balance lent an ethereal quality to our peek to peak view of the misty valleys far below. The exceptionally numerous and colorful cinnamon ferns as well as backlit meadow grasses offered a number of photo opportunities. I suspect Mother Nature was feeling a little bit guilty, because on the last morning fog suddenly and unexpectedly enveloped the mountain meadow we had entered moments before. The rolling fog allowed us to capture the intriguing patterns, shapes, and leading lines of the mountain meadow.

Here are some of the images I captured: