Lost Paddle Rapid
October 22, 2017. Kayaking buddies enter the 4th drop of Lost Paddle of the Gauley River the last day of Gauley Season, 2017. It was a warm, 80* day and the leaves were just beginning to change. This is also a little bit North of the New River Gorge and it seems like the colors start to change a little earlier up there.
Dawn of Autumn
The sun rises over the New River Dries on October 24, 2017. An unseasonably warm start to Autumn and a lack of rain had us waiting a little longer for the changing of the colors in the New River Gorge, WV. I was on my way to school but I just had to pull over and grab this image. I was late for my World Religions class at West Virginia State University, but I still got an A for the class.
Piece of Cake Rapid
Lower New River. November 3, 2017. Autumn Leaves Journal: The leaves have started to peak. It was a little late this year with the unseasonably warm temperatures and the lack of rain. On October 31 the temperature finally dropped and it rained quite a bit. The leaves changed, practically overnight. On this day I went kayaking with my neighbors, Tennyson, Josh and Nick. That’s what we do in West Virginia. We go out and play in the New River Gorge.
Upper Railroad with Train
Autumn Leaves Journal 2017: On November 5th the leaves were in full peak. When it rained on Halloween and the temperature dropped, the colors came out. On this one particular day, it was the perfect photography day. Stormy clouds were passing overhead throughout the day. There were patches of sunlight in between. Fortunately, I had my truck at the takeout and could spend the whole day photographing the New River Gorge. It was the peak day for this year’s leaf season.
I was digging this view of Upper Railroad Rapid from river left. I’ve never been at this particular spot and while I was there a train drove across the bridge.
Autumn Leaves Journal 2017: The series continues, with almost all of my best pictures from Autumn coming from November 5th. The pattern of the leaves weren’t anything like the website predicted. This particular day was filled with so much color. Not just the leaves, but the sky was changing constantly throughout the day. We had stormy clouds and light whispy clouds, just as in this picture. This was the third rapid I got out to photograph and there would be two more. Golden Hour arrives a little early in The Gorge because it sits 800 feet below the mountains.
Hook 99 Rapid
Looking Upstream from Hook 99, a rapid on the New River Gorge. On this day, Golden Hour hit around 6pm. The light shining through the clouds was just what I wanted. I was approaching Hook 99 rapid when I turned to look upstream and I just had to get out of my boat and make a record of such a beautiful sight.
I stayed at this spot for almost 45 minutes and shot 64 images. This is a composite of 7 of my favorites. There’s a lot of debate online these days about photographers wanting other photographers to be up front about their claims as to whether an image is a composite or a single frame. Maybe you’ve seen the debate about Peter Lik’s image. What a bunch of crap. Who cares? Art is art. An image is an image. Yes, this is a composite. I make composites because my camera’s sensor does not have a range to record all of the colors of nature and compositing is the closest I can get. There, take that pixel-peepers! Lol
To be clear, Hook 99 Rapid is not where Mark Harmon died. I’m sick of raft guides telling that to their guests. Mark Harmon was one of the pioneers of canoeing the New River. He flipped his canoe, which had the number 66 on it, and wrapped it around a rock in this rapid. While the canoe was upside down it looked like a 99. Hence, Hook 99.
Twilight on Autumn Leaves in the New River Gorge
My final picture from the Autumn Leaves 2017 series. November 5th was the epic, quintessential photography day for me this year. Every time I thought the light was going to disappear, it got better. Just as the sun began to set beyond the rim of the New River Gorge, the light became absolutely surreal. It was one of those times where everything just glowed. All of the colors were brighter and more vivid. Every leaf in the gorge looked like it had electricity flowing through it.
I was in between Upper and Lower Kaymoor rapids and I just had to pull over immediately to get some documentation. This was one of those surreal moments that just begged me to use my fisheye lens. I have this 15mm fisheye lens that I bought in 2009. I hardly ever use it. It definitely calls for a special occasion. Interestingly enough, I hardly ever bring it out on the river because space in my dry bag is at a premium. For some reason I had it on this day and it truly fit the bill. This was the picture that really capped off an unusual fall.
Epic Photography Days of Autumn
November 5th was the epic Autumn Leaves photography day for me in the New River Gorge. This year I decided I wanted to record the weather patterns and temperatures from my perspective. Not very scientific, but simple.
In fall of 2016 I was on my way to the Gauley River to go kayaking. It was after Gauley Season, the first week in November. About the same time as this in 2017. The weather patterns were very similar. I’m driving to the takeout to run shuttle and listening to the radio station. The DJ says “with a high of only 70.” Only 70?! In the first week of November? Are you for real?
I remember as a kid that if Halloween came and we didn’t have to wear a jacket, it was amazing. It was the luckiest day of the year. 70 degrees would have been unheard of.
I don’t know if climate change is a real thing or if we are just in the midst of a cycle that is bigger than our manmade instruments can measure. Either way, it’s worth documenting. Thanks for reading.