In New England October and Vermont are forever linked.  October is mother nature’s final fireworks show before the long cold realities of winter take over.  Real or a product of tourism marketing skill, it seems mother nature has chosen Vermont to host her party every autumn.  Not all Octobers are created but most seem to please.  A spectacular season requires everything to go right, warm sunny days followed by cold crisp nights, add the right amount of rain and even the bugs need to do their part.   When these elements come together the results can be magical and even when they don’t it can still be pretty nice.  It’s all in the eye of the beholder and the Vermont Tourism board, since it is they that get to inform the rest of the world how autumn is progressing.  It is often said that the difference between a good foliage year and a not-so-good year is a matter of effort.  In a good season little effort is required to see spectacular color, it surrounds you.  In a not-so-good year more effort is required, you will need to go find it.

The 2017 foliage season had a little bit of everything and at times needed a bit of effort to find the prize.   The season started promisingly with some early color in the first half of September which  naturally lead to predictions that a banner season lie ahead.  Then mother nature slammed on the brakes with a prolonged stretch of summer-like weather that made visiting crowds dream of water skiing and barbecues, not pumpkins and apple picking.   It wasn’t all bad, and as the season switched from early to late things started to happen.  Many parts of the state accustomed  to leaves on the ground by the first week of October instead had full trees for weeks later.  Those leaf-peepers that had reluctantly booked after the Columbus Day weekend would be rewarded with a late blooming and long lasting show.  While tropical weather was very active and destructive down south, New England was spared any destructive autumn storms early on.

The 2017  season was left to make of it what you could.  It depended where you were and when you were.  I enjoyed my time up north in early October and by mid-month lower Vermont.  Shown below are some of my favorites from this season.

 

 

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February 2017 was Vermont’s second warmest February on record.  However, the month also had above average snowfall. Record warmth and more snow, that’s hard to do.  What affect do these conditions have on landscape photographic opportunities?  The short answer is it makes it more difficult.  To have a record warm month with above average snowfall means there are some very warm days (Burlington hit 72 degrees, the highest ever February temperature in the State) and some cold snowy periods.  If you are a part-time resident like me, it very much depends on what days you are in-state.  This February I chose the fourth week of the month and photographically speaking that was the wrong week.  The week prior, there had been three big snow storms and judging from other social media posts plenty of winter landscape photo opportunities.   Then came a big warm up, just as I arrive.  Daytime temperatures in the 60’s F and nighttime lows that barely reached the freezing mark.  After several days of these conditions my photo opportunities were limited.  Conditions resembled the first week of April with Bare trees, lots of mud, no ice and bright blue sunny skies each day.  My fingers, ears and toes enjoyed the tempered weather but my photo senses were not happy.  What to do?  Simple, keep taking photos.

The answer is always to keep taking photos.  Whether the photo gods are smiling upon you or not you have to make the best of each situation.  The worst thing you can do is round up all your photo toys and go home.  Your worst photos are always the ones you don’ t take.  If you are given lots of mud try and taking interesting photos of mud.  Bald blue skies everywhere?  Do the same and try and it it to work for you.  You may not end up with your best stuff but, you will most likely learn a thing or two.  Tough conditions require careful thought, and careful thought often leads to better photography.  A whole bunch of words to say “keep on plugin'”.

These are a few samples from my trip.

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