Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mossy Log (French Creek State Park)

Mossy Log, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

On one of the first outings since the colorful autumn season, Max and I visited French Creek State Park.

It was a mild fall day, but extremely muddy, a recurring theme this year due to frequent rain.

The two mile lap around the lake takes about an hour when you stop often to take pictures or to decipher the low lying smells.

I believe that the beaver family remained in their same lodge for nowhere was a new one built. Fresh gnawing's and newly downed trees were apparent all along the shore line.

A few people were around, but the park had a lonely feeling as winterizing was nearly complete.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pond Reflection and Leaves

Pond Reflection and Leaves, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

Forest Hills Cemetery at the foot of Neversink Mountain is very picturesque. Not only is the back of the property the access point to the trails of Neversink Mountain, but the grounds offer photo subjects as well.

The pond was covered with fresh leaves. The fountain was creating a slight current making the leaves gradually float around.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Conowingo Dam (Bald Eagle Watch)

On November 6, 2009, we trekked about 70 miles to the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River in MD.

I learned that early November was near prime viewing of the Bald Eagles as they are migrating.

It was a clear cold day, maybe 40 degrees, but felt much colder along the gusty river.

My camera is really no match for the reach of the rigs mounted on the heavy duty tripods. Some of these folks could have bought a small car with their camera and lens investment.

It was a great outing and my goal to see Bald Eagles was more then satisfied.

Initially, it took a little time to find them in the mix of the all the bird activity generated by the water release, but once you recognize their soaring flight pattern and size, they actually stand out.

During the hour or so we visited, an eagle was almost always present. The cold temps and frozen fingers took it's toll and I finally wrapped it up.

Lots of really great photos on Flickr of the Bald Eagles of Conowingo. In fact, there is a group dedicated to the subject.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Little Falls (Nolde State Forest)

Little Falls, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

I believe our Nolde State Forest visit was the last fall foliage outing for 2009. Sadly, the leaves were pummeled by rain and wind so their colorful show was short-lived.

Once again another cloudy day actually turned sunny in the last 15 minutes of my visit.

Max and I were on the clock and had to leave by 2:00PM, so it would just be a few highlight like the steam (Watershed Trail), stone walls, Kissinger Road and the Mansion.

By no means is this list complete. Some really excellent and unique trails are the Coffee Pot Hollow Trail, Middle Road, and Laurel Path to name a few. The North Pond and Painted Turtle Pond are great subjects too.

Coincidentally, on this Sunday, the Mansion was offering tours from 1-4P. I would love to take a tour sometime, but didn't think dogs were welcome so I passed. (Their event calendar shows 12/6/09 open house again)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

SGL43 (Horseshoe Trail & Mine Run Creek)

Mine Run Creek, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

One of our final fall outings, Max and I went to the SGL43 in Chester County. With 6o degree temps, heavy overcast and occasional drizzle the notion to stay home had occurred.

Once again, it had been raining for days prior so the trail was muddy, inches deep at spots. Wind dropped most of the leaves too, so tree photography was limited.

In spite of the gray day, it was a productive photo outing, so the moral is don't let gloomy weather deter going for a photo walk.

A short, easy mile walk with a great destination. Subdued lighting makes for neat shadowless effects, but I sound like a broken record shooting in these conditions repeatedly this fall.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Antietam Creek (Perfect Morning)

Antietam Creek, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

Early Sunday by 9AM, Max and I were witnessing the peak colors of autumn at the Antietam Reservoir.

Lake reflections were already brilliant while the woods were just starting to catch some sun rays.

Antietam Creek lies in a valley so it gets maybe 4-5 hours of light, based on my experience. It's got rich lighting between 10A and 2P.

I found a really useful website for photographers, called "Solar Rose" which plots the direction of the sunrise and sunset.

We meandered along the Antietam Creek for a couple hours then exited as the sun climbed. We covered only 1.5 miles in total, but that trek has so much fabulous scenery you don't need to venture any further.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Klapperhall Curve Reflection

Before sunset, Max and I headed to Forest Hills Cemetery to hop the Klapperhall Trail to the river.

The Klapperhall Trail joins the Exeter Scenic River Trail, once you go through the tunnel under the railroad tracks.

From the tunnel you can see a path down the bank to a large clearing next to the river. An obvious fishing spot which I think has the best views of Neversink Mountain the Klapperhall curve or the river.

Due to the angle of the sun, there wasn't much lighting on the trails, just the tree tops.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reading Museum (Fall Photo Walk)

P1220002, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

A regular stop on my photo walk calendar, the Reading Public Museum trails are a popular dog walking and people strolling destination.

The colors were good with a range of some trees nearly empty while others just starting their autumn show.

A round trip to Trudy's Garden and back to the parking lot is easy and less then a mile.

If you continue past the garden, the trail goes for miles all the way to the quarry fields and SR724 in Shillington.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Neversink Mountain Preserve (Views of Reading)

P1210902a, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

A gorgeous, 60 and sunny, evening was the draw for another outing with Max.

The drive to the shoulder parking is likely more challenging then the walk to the "Witches Hat" and "Overlook" with it's multiple 90 degree switchbacks.

"Magic hour" was the perfect time to get rich lighting on Reading.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

French Creek State Park (Fall Colors at Scotts Run)

P1210812a, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

Scotts Run at French Creek State Park always offers some of the best reflections and fall colors around.

It is a must see on my circuit of fall color spots. The cover of my French Creek book features a picture of Scotts Run.

Max and I walked up the shoreline past the dozen or so boats that have yet to be removed for winter. A constant breeze rippled the lake so no mirror-like reflections.

We then walked along the crest of the dam and down the Scotts Run trail. The creek was rushing due to three straight days of rain. Great scenes at every bend. All day the sun was subdued by clouds, but burst out just before sundown.

The muddy, yet colorful trail and stream offered some great subject matter. Ferns (one of my favorites) in various shades of green, yellow and brown are prevalent along the trail.

The trail ends and Max and I loop back on the green blazed Lenape trail.

The view where the trail opens to the lake was amazing. The light was hitting the trees and the breeze was gone completely leaving a mirror of well lit autumn splender.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Schuylkill River (Thun Trail)

P1210458, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

Rapidly changing fall colors drew me to the Brentwood Trailhead for a view of the reflections on the Schuylkill River.

The Brentwood Trailhead is part of the Schuylkill River Trail system and is located on SR10 just up the road from Angelica Park.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Birsboro Reservoir (Fall Colors)

Birdsboro Reservoir, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

Max and I ventured out on an overcast afternoon.

Lighting was waning so I shot most shots with shutter priority setting between 1/30 and 1/60 of a second for trail shots deliberately underexposing them.

I estimate that only 20% of the deciduous trees were in color.

Temps were a fall-like 50, and the round trip walk is about 2 miles.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blue Marsh Lake (Early Fall Color)

Red Leaves, originally uploaded by Berks_Awhile.

Max and I parked at the parking area where Justa Road ends. Justa Road is just a short distance from the Highland Road and the Old Dry Road Farm where I usually start my walks. The lot has trails going into the surrounding fields or you can follow the gated road towards the lake.

A bunch of riders were unloading their horses from the six or so trailers. We ran into them a couple more times for they covered the same roads as us.

Justa Road meets Sleepy Hollow Road, which runs along a finger of the lake and ends at the ramp. This is my favorite leg of the hike since you can see the lake through the back lit trees. Also, many of the trees were in full color along the lake offering vivid colors to photograph.

A few boats were on the lake, but not the greatest reflections.

I'd estimate that we walked about a 2 miles on a mild and sunny 62 degree day.


You may have noticed the new larger picture in this blog. I am now using Flickr to store and link to my images. I like the size and the opportunity to share more pictures then this blog can physically handle.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Las Vegas Posts (August 2009)

I finally finished the Las Vegas posts. I chose not to show the rather common casino shots, in favor of less visited locales.

Fall Colors Commence

Mums have a perfect shape and come in vibrant colors. Also, while walking Max I saw a row of conifers' needles dying off.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blogiversary (One Year Old)

Friday, September 26 was the one year anniversary of when I started posting to Google blogger. It's been a fun project and perfect excuse to get off the couch to learn, discover, and enjoy my surroundings. As a result of the blog, I find myself not only composing photos, but words too, as I walk Max on the trails.

I hope you enjoy the photo journal. I do deviate from Berks County and the nature from time-to-time, but I think those subjects are photogenic and interesting too.

Please feel free to make comments. It's like Christmas when I see a Berks Awhile comment notification in my email.

Upcoming Posts
Keep visiting in October for I've listed no less then 13 different nature locales that I want to capture in fall color. The always fun Joana Furnace Apple Festival is on Saturday, October 10.

Also, I'm still word smithing the Las Vegas posts, but my ridiculous 2400 photos take time to organize and edit.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hopewell Furnace National Park

Continuing my Berks History tour from the Mouns Jones Festival, I made the short drive to the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. They were offering free admission celebrating the National Parks system.

I arrived in time to see the demo on furnace operation and watched the three educators make a replica "aluminum" piece from the infamous Hopewell Furnace cast iron stove.

They talked about the history of the area and how its natural resources of limestone, iron ore and hardwood forests are the key ingredients for iron and pig iron.

Skilled iron smiths and apprentices made high quality, durable stoves. The stoves actually were made of ten interlocking pieces which were shipped to purchasers who needed to then assemble.

Hopewell Furnace, similar to Joanna Furnace, was a whole little community dedicated to supporting the men that keep giant furnaces hot enough to smelt iron and manufacture goods.

Mouns Jones Festival

Old Morlatton Village in Douglasville was the site of the annual Mouns Jones County Fair and Harvest Festival.

Period dressed volunteers demonstrated how life might have been almost 300 years. A fundraising auction was on-going while crafters offered their wares and the Boy Scouts were selling home made food.

In the Mouns Jones house, bonnet-wearing women were demonstrating how they used to cook pies over an open fire and bake bread in the bee hive oven.

One of the highlights of the day for me was the Historic Preservation Trust opened up the old George Douglas Mansion for tours. It was very cool seeing and learning about the work-in-progress of rehabbing a piece of history.

You could see the impact of generations of dwellers on the building from additions, to the retrofitted 60+ year old electric wiring and fixtures. Layers, of peeling paint, wallpaper, and various levels of floor coverings uncovered the styles of the past inhabitants.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Middle Creek Wildlife Area (Waterfowl Festival)

Another cool event hosted by Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area is Waterfowl Festival. The talent of the carvers is remarkable. Besides carvers, are a few painters, decoy makers, carver supply dealers, and duck call designers and sellers.

Wildlife Management is a paradox to me. Basically, the land provides an ideal habitat for wildlife to feed, reproduce and flourish so that the "excess" can be hunted.

I'm not opposed to hunters or hunting as a sport. It's fees are the means to preserve the great land masses for both hunters and non-hunters to enjoy. It truly is a balance, a scientific balance too, that seems to be working.

The gardens that were so photogenic a month earlier are waning, but still offered lots of color and bees to photograph. The fields are highlighted with yellow golden rod with lots of browns and greens.

Another great day of weather, capping a weekend of great early fall weather featuring cool 50-degree nights and 75-degree day temp. The broad temp swings and moisture are key elements to vibrant colors of the leaves that is forthcoming.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

French Creek State Park (Late Summer, Fall's Coming)

Max and I lapped Hopewell Lake on a perfect late summer night. Temp in the 70's, sunny, and a calm lake was way better then the predicted rain and chilly weather.

The usual muddy spots were present. A few hikers were encountered, but lots of kayakers explored the lake. The beaver(s) recently gnawed chunks out of a big tree and made some very precise tool-like cuts.

Reflections and magic hour lighting are great subjects and plentiful at French Creek.