In spring, as life slowly fills the dormant West Virginia landscape, color bursts forth everywhere. It seems that wherever you point your camera, you get good images.
While leading photography field sessions at the New River Birding and Nature Festival this May, I was stirred by the hues sweeping across the mountains in West Virginia. Each day, festival leaders take participants to a variety of locations, and, while much of the week focuses on bird watching and photography, many trips include beautiful landscapes.
Take the scenes along Glade Creek, a tributary of the New River. Within Babcock State Park sits one of North America’s most picturesque grist mills, Glad Creek Mill. The picturesque grist mill, with deciduous trees surrounding it, is often photographed in the fall, but, like many landscapes, the mill also shines in the spring.
The subtle pastels of spring highlight aspects of the mill. I included just a bit of the overcast morning sky for a sense of the horizon and, more importantly, to frame in many of the just-opening trees above the mill. The anthocyanins in the budding leaves—pigments that create red colors—pair well with the ruddy iron water wheel.
Composing vertically, I was able to keep the architectural lines of the mill square—using a hot shoe bubble level to keep my SD1 Merrill camera level left-to-right and front-to-back—and include the riffles of Glade Creek in the foreground. The white of the flowing water brings your eyes down to the river after exploring the wood-sided mill.
When you visit the New River, you must experience the famously long bridge. The steel bridge is the fourth longest arch bridge in the world. From near river level, you can appreciate the bridge’s height as it towers 876’ above the water below. While enjoying the Gorge from the Fayette Station Road Bridge, just East of the famous bridge, song birds flitted from tree to tree, and newly emerged butterflies bounced through the air.
A favorite hiking trail leads to Long Point, an impressive sandstone point that overlooks the gorge. In an overgrown field near the beginning of the trail, many dogwoods were at their peak. I decided to play with the colors and shapes with long exposures and zooming. The resulting impressionistic image reminds me of springtime fireworks.
If you love nature and have a fascination with birds—and enjoy hanging out in one of the nicest, family-like atmospheres you can find at any conference—then you might consider attending the New River Birding and Nature Festival, held the first week of May each year. Not only will you learn a whole lot about West Virginia’s spectacular natural history, you will undoubtedly come home with prize-winning springtime images.
For more information on the New River Birding and Nature Festival at www.birding-wv.com.