I lived in Quebec City last fall and during a magical two weeks, it was like living inside a flame: a swirl of reds, golds, and oranges.
I went back recently to work on a few articles and to knock four more states off my list: Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. My follow-up post will be a leaf-peeping log of the things we did, ate and argued about.
But for now, here are some general leaf-peeping tips, followed by photography advice.
Leaf-Peeping Tips, Fresh From New England
- Timing is everything.When we landed in Boston, all the leaves were plain dark green. Unworthy of admiration. Boring. Disappointment washed over me. I thought we timed it wrong. As soon as we crossed in New Hampshire, pops of color appeared on the horizon. Then, it was everywhere. Color me relieved! It’s like the state was saying, “we don’t have Boston. But we have something better.” As the trip progressed, the leaves got more colorful.
- Area is important too. Quebec and Northern Maine held the best color. Vermont was all green (hence the nickname). It’s dependent on weather patterns and other things, like weird tree fungi.
- Use those aps. New technology makes travel-planning a breeze. Check out this leaf-peeping map.
- Rent a new whip. If you’re leaf-peeping, don’t just stay in one state or city. Rent a fancy car. You can bring rental cars into Canada without customs trouble now. Nothing spurs on that fall feelin’ like Canada, land of the maple leaf. Get up there and bring me back some iced cider, s.v.p.
- Pick one or two things to see in each state. It’s helpful to sketch out a very malleable itinerary. We saw Fenway and the MFA in Boston, lighthouses in Maine, and our friends in Quebec. Look up opening hours and days because they change as northern states prepare for winter.
Leaf-Peeping Photo Tips
Fall isn’t just changing leaves. It’s hot cider, flapping scarves, and golden apples. It’s moody and dark one minute and sunny and crisp the next. If you’re going to do leaves, capture the way they skip across the street or float in puddles or are illuminated in the afternoon light.
In other words, don’t just take a picture of leaves. Think about setting. I am not a professional photographer, not even close, but I have learned a few things from taking hundreds of blurry pictures.
- Charge your batteries/clear your camera. When you’re resting in the hotel, charge your camera batteries and clear your CF card.
- Do something unique with your photos. Now is the time to practice photography. Get out of the car. Get close super close to the leaves. Stand back. Sit on top of your car (if it’s a rental, be wary of denting the hood). Crawl on your belly. You might look crazy, but your photos will be more exciting.
- Use the rain. As a Seattlelite, rain is part of my daily life. I embrace it, photowise. It creates dramatic clouds, misty backdrops, and the most flattering lighting. A light drizzle is better than a sunny day, because there’s no harsh glare or awful shadows. It also creates reflective pools, which can be fun. (Note: I said rain or drizzle, not sudden downpour).
- Get close: I took hundreds of pictures from the car window. But the ones where I got out of the car and singled out a few trees or just one or a few leaves improved the shots dramatically.
More travel logs and photos will follow. Until then, happy leaf peeping!