Upper Valley Coordinates

Every year I attempt to spend an entire day during peak foliage shooting the trees, or as I call it, the foliage hunt.  It seems as though last week was primetime for tourists from Massachusetts to make themselves at home to go visit the area, see the foliage, drop their garbage and cram back on the highway on Monday to head home.

Every year I go out and brave the tourists to get some exemplary shots of the foliage in bloom, this year my wife and I took our annual trip up north.  Got some good shots, but I felt it was still early in my opinion.  I wasn’t happy with what I’ve gotten so far, as you can see in my previous foliage blog, Foliage Hunting.   It’s been just over a week since that trip, and what I open on Facebook is nothing short of amazing to me, but good and bad amazing.  I’m amazed in a good way by all the great colors people have been getting out there, not to mention shots from the ground level, shots from standing on their trucks, overall extra creativity.  It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer, and some of these photographers with their cellphones and iPads are doing what some big players with their SLRs are, making artwork with their selected tool.   Meanwhile, I’m amazed in a bad way at some of the post processing (you might know it as Photoshop) of some of these photos.  I certainly do my fair share of tweaking of highlights and darks, a little saturation here and there.  Saturation, a dish best served cold, or is the cliche supposed to be a spoonful of sugar helps the whisky go down, whatever fits, it’s something that shouldn’t be overdone.  Some of the photos I’ve seen this week have amazed me with how saturation hurts these wonderfully composed shots.  These typically have been some of the people I follow because they’re semi-professionals.  The big honkin’ SLR with huge lenses and all the gadgets money can buy, and you’re producing that?

Ok, my inner puritan is satisfied with getting that out there.  Now onto the trip!

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My buddy, Representative Glen Aldrich (Meredith/Gilford), told me he was planning a day where he could drive around and nail a bunch of covered bridges that he didn’t have yet.  You see, when people get old we start doing things like driving around to look at old wooden bridges that have been travelled on for hundreds of years.  I’ve had a personal goal to grab a shot at all of New Hampshire’s covered bridges.  I’m not really interested in the ones at the Golf Course or the one that’s 4 miles onto someone’s property and looks like it was thrown together with 2×4 construction.  I’m talking the ones that served the community, the ones that halved travel commutes, the ones that joined together neighboring towns that otherwise didn’t interact.  Glen had created a list with GPS coordinates and then arranged them somewhat like the map above.  One trip, no backtracking and nail 15 bridges.  We didn’t get all 15, we got 13 and I only shot 11 myself.  We were on the road at 5:20am and did all of them in about 11 hours.  The weather was partially cloudy and in the 30s.  Tell me this isn’t work.

Lunches packed, gassed up, Lola the wonder dog was accounted for.  We were off.  Stopping first at Rowell’s Covered Bridge. You won’t see a photo from us from Rowell’s, since we got there at around 5:45am and there simply wasn’t enough light to shoot at it.  We pondered staying and waiting it out.  Glad we did not.  Onward to the Henneker Covered Bridge on the campus of New England College.

Henniker Sunrise
Henniker Sunrise

This bridge was rather new, and took a small walk to get to it.  Glen calls this shot a “twofer” as you can not only shoot this bridge but you can get the stone bridge in the center of town while you are on this bridge.  As you can see above, the light was little but I took a minute to grab a shot and check my settings.  I ended up really liking this shot that I call “Henniker Sunrise.”  Until the light started giving way and I ended up with the shot below:

Sunrise over Henneker
Sunrise Over Henniker

When I’m out shooting with another photographer, I really hate “stepping on them” meaning getting the exact same shot, same settings, same angle, +/- 10 inches.  I want mine to be unique to anyone else’s, including the people I’m taking photos with.  When Glen and myself were out, he was typically taking shots of something other than what I was currently.  I checked out spots and told him about it, when I was leaving it.  He happened to take a few great shots of this same angle, but I feel mine might also be worthy of being called great.  I called this one “Sunrise over Henniker.”  Original, I know.

Henniker Colors
Henniker Colors

Of course, I spent way too much time on the bridge itself, and not exploring better shots around it.  When I eventually found this spot, it was already very bright out, thus the washed out sky.  I still enjoyed the colors and composition.  I will have to attempt this shot again in the spring.  I call it, “Henniker Colors.”

 Our next stop was Bradford, New Hampshire.  Another town I’d never heard of and another bridge I’d never gotten before.  When we were starting the trip, I was simply hoping to get a second shot at many of these bridges I’d been to before.  Luckily for me the trip creator put in a few to knock a couple off my own list.  Henniker Covered Bridge was one of them, as was Bement as seen below.

Bement Colors
Bement Colors

Golden hour rays gently touched the big orange trees, but most of the other angles I got from this were a bit washed out.  I am satisfied with this being “Bement Colors.”

Colors on the Mountainside
Colors on the Mountainside

On our trek our next stop was Corbin Covered Bridge.  But first, we pulled over right quick when we got a load of this mountainside.  Terrific colors and reflections.  I even had a bit of room for the nice sky above.

Corbin Colors
Corbin Colors

“Corbin Colors” was a tough one for me to choose.  I’m going to name “colors” to every one of these bridges that best fits the title.  Choosing which of the many angles and shots I got is the difficult part.  I also have a lot of love for the below shot “Autumn at the Corbin Bridge.”

Autumn at the Corbin Bridge
Autumn at the Corbin Bridge

A younger girl was there probably getting some great senior portraits in for her school yearbook.  I was waiting for her to move that way I could lay down on the ground and get a decent keeper from the bench looking up in “Benchside Foliage.”

Benchside Foliage
Benchside Foliage

After leaving Corbin, the damn GPS sent us down a very obscure road, but marked as a normal highway on the display.  I knew something was up when we passed an open gate with a number.  As we travelled between large oak lined streets, the road got worse and worse, with a mile to go according to the GPS, we weren’t going to risk the vehicle any further.  On our way out, I opted to hop out of the car and get some shots from close to ground level.  I really liked the contrast between the leaf lined road and the torn up pavement we were driving on.  I called this one, “Fall on the Road to Nowhere.”  Understand that this photo has had ZERO post process color enhancement.  Amazing!

Fall on the Road to Nowhere
Fall on the Road to Nowhere

We now were on track to hit the next two covered bridges side by side.  Pier Covered Bridge and Wright’s Covered Bridge are two railroad covered bridges used for trails in the woods.  They’re both almost exactly the same look to them, with Pier being a bit longer over the river.  Last time I had the opportunity to shoot these, it was middle of summer and much like the current shoot was also out of golden hour and had a very harsh sun.  Had to process “Pier Bridge Colors” a lot before posting it.

Pier Bridge Colors
Pier Bridge Colors

A couple miles downriver, we came to Wright’s Covered Bridge and I took a few shots of which even fewer stood out as being worth a whole heckuva lot.  I was happy with “Wright’s Bridge Colors” and guest starring Lola, who I have to get a model release for now.

Wright's Bridge Colors
Wright’s Bridge Colors

Now were were heading into Cornish, where there are a few bridges right in town.  Our first stop was one of my past favorites due to the history of it serving one family across the river.  Blacksmith Shop Covered Bridge as depicted in “Blacksmith Shop Colors” was a first attempt at getting around the side of the bridge to get a nice reflection and shot of the stonework surrounding this ancient bridge.  Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I got on the river. . . it started snowing.  Light fluffy flakes.  Reminded me of winter.  Not a good feeling.

Blacksmith Shop Covered Bridge
Blacksmith Shop Colors

We rolled on over to Dingleton Hill Covered Bridge and I captured “Dingleton Hill Colors”

Dingleton Hill Colors
Dingleton Hill Colors

And it was snowing again, off and on.  During the off times, we headed over to the famous Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge.  One time, it was the longest covered bridge in the United States.  It is frequently photographed, and I’ve shot it many times.  We didn’t even need the GPS coordinates for me to get us there.  What I never did, however, was travel by foot to the other end.  No one ever does.  There’s no parking on the other end, there’s not much to look at on the other end.  So we went down to the other end, and am I glad I did.  Following Glen’s suggestion, I got a great shot out of the window of the bridge of the land and riverscape which was a great shot.  I also decided against using the typical side of the bridge that everyone shoots as my feature shot for this bridge.  “Cornish Windsor Colors”

Cornish Windsor Colors
Cornish-Windsor Colors

People were really rude when we were exiting the bridge.  Of course, we’re not standing in the middle like tourists, we’re off the side and allowing traffic to travel unhindered.  Unfortunately, some people think that even having people inside of the bridge slows them down too much.  Really not sorry, not when I can get shots like “Autumn in the Upper Valley.”

Autumn in the Upper Valley
Autumn in the Upper Valley

The next stop on our list was the Blow-Me-Down Covered Bridge.  The bridge, is ho-hum to me.  Nothing special.  The neighbors don’t want you parking near the bridge, and are quite obvious with their intention by parking 18 wheelers and lugging large branches onto spots where parking obviously happens.  We parked anyway.  I got a couple ho-hum shots of the ho-hum bridge but what makes Blow-Me-Down so special, is its waterfall beneath.  Spectacular.  I didn’t even bother much more with the bridge, and as snow fell upon me, achieved a cool shot from the cliff above.  I was holding my camera tight against the tree that I leaned out upon to keep the shot steady.  I wanted to show the trails of water, and that was achieved in “Blow-Me-Down Riverflow.”

Blow Me Down Riverflow
Blow-Me-Down Riverflow

I was getting beat now.  It was probably into hour number 9 but I was zonked from the drive.  I knew up ahead we had another bridge with a spectacular water flow beneath it.  I’d gotten a similar shot before on my travels, but not during foliage season.  I trekked down the wonky path to the bottom of the canal beneath the Meriden Bridge.  Having forgot my tripod up top, and with Glen out searching for a mythical Bald Eagle a local told him about, I was on my own to steady the camera in “Meriden Riverflow”

Meriden Riverflow
Meriden Riverflow

As my last shot here previously was, this was washed out above the bridge.  Though, with post processing I could probably fix the exposure, and will.  Though for now I feel the water flow is a big enough achievement for this bridge.

Then came our trip back to Warner, down 89 and into what I’ve shot before at the Waterloo Covered Bridge.  Having experienced these bridges before, I was able to show Glen a few shortcuts to get some better shots across the way.  When I first came here a few years ago, I shot the bridge from the opening side, and left.  The next time I came, I had knowledge that someone, somewhere, had gotten a side shot.  I had my waterproof boots on that last time, and expected to wade onto the island to get the angle I needed.  Waterloo, however, has a hidden dam and enough concrete to walk across and onto the island.  No boots needed, but check for ticks after!  I could have chosen the typical side shot for my colors shot, but I wanted something different and with vibrant color.  Even though a small weed blocks part of the bridge, I can’t help but love the composition I had of the tree above giving me sunshade and gorgeous oranges and reds in “Waterloo Colors”

Waterloo Colors
Waterloo Colors

We were almost done, which was good because I was too.  I let Glen take a couple shots of a rail trestle and the Packard Hill Covered Bridge, as I’d shot that many times before and it wasn’t very appealing to me, at least not as appealing as nodding off for 5 minutes in the car.  Our last stop was the Railroad Bridge in Contoocook.

Contoocook Colors
Contoocook Colors

This is one of the more difficult bridges to photograph, in my opinion.  It’s angled to sidestep another bridge.  At one time, this bridge was closed up and used as a storage house for town items.  Luckily, it’s open now, but hard to get a decent photograph of, without the adjacent building and dodging traffic in the street in front of it.  I had trekked down beside the bridge to get a shot, but so much foliage was in the way that I decided that this would be the one for “Contoocook Colors.”  Though, it feels as though I’m ending this blog on a sad note.  I’ll go into my collection and grab a generic New England foliage shot to wind things down.  Thank you all for visiting my blog.

If you like these photos, and want to purchase one for yourself or a loved one (or someone you hate), feel free to contact me at jankowski.tony@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to set you up with prints, mugs, hats, t-shirts, mousepads (if you still use them).

Autumn on the Contoocook River
Autumn on the Contoocook River

Autumn Reflections
Autumn Reflections

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