2014 Our Natural World Award

Roaring Brook Autumnlands (Roaring Brook Falls, Cheshire, Connecticut)

“Roaring Brook Autumnlands”
Roaring Brook Falls, Cheshire, Connecticut
© 2013 J. G. Coleman

I’m pleased to announce that my piece, Roaring Brook Autumnlands, has been selected to receive the Best-in-Show Award at the 2014 Our Natural World photography exhibit hosted by the Glastonbury Audubon Society during the month of February! Produced on an outing in Cheshire, Connecticut during a cool October morning last year, this piece is surely among my favorite works from 2013.

Since I already introduced this piece in my January 2014 blog post, Autumn Meditations, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to discuss how Roaring Brook Autumnlands came together and explain the methods I used to get the shot.

This piece grew out of an early morning trek into the woodlands of Cheshire. My plan was to set out from the trailhead well before dawn, make the 3/4-mile hike up to Roaring Brook Falls, then take advantage of twilight to capture some images that emphasized the exemplary autumn colors we enjoyed last year in Southern New England. Everything went according to plan, with the glaring exception of the light. Twilight conditions just weren’t offering up the subtle color tones that I had been envisioning. I experimented with a few perspectives of downstream cascades, eventually finding myself at the very base of Roaring Brook Falls just as the sun began to peek over the wooded hilltops behind me.

Within only a few minutes, the lackluster conditions were swept away as I watched a stunning scene unfold before my eyes. The sun had risen just enough to set ablaze the autumn canopy at the precipice of the falls, but was still low enough on the horizon that the glistening rock faces below remained cloaked in shadow. The contrast of vibrant, glowing color and dark stone made for a captivating moment that I knew I wanted to share.


Roaring Brook Autumnlands wins Best-in-Show at the 2014 Our Natural World exhibit, on display through February 28 in the Glastonbury Audubon Center.

From the standpoint of technique, a sturdy tripod was absolutely critical since the exposure ran for two seconds. But even with a stable platform from which to shoot, there were a few other considerations. The significant disparity in brightness between the falls and forest could only be tamed by calling upon two different filters. A circular polarizer helped to remove glare from the leaves and slightly deepen the tones of the blue sky. I also held a 2-stop graduated neutral density filter over the lens to dial back some of the the brilliant light of the forest canopy. The resulting exposure was balanced fairly well, ensuring that I kept detail in both the shadows and the highlights.

You can see Roaring Brook Autumnlands, as well as many other fine photographs, at the Glastonbury Audubon Center located at 1361 Main Street, Glastonbury. The exhibit runs through February 28 and many of the excellent works on display are framed and reasonably priced.

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