Autumn in Arkansas // Adventure Photography
Fall 2018 is going to be burned into my memory for long, long time! Conditions were the best I’ve ever seen in the Ozarks with plentiful rain throughout the summer keeping the trees & leaves healthy, then some flood-stage rains right at peak leaf color filling the creeks & waterfalls. This is one week’s worth of my favorite time of the year in some of my favorite places!
Day 1: Community
Before the big rains, there was still plenty to be seen & fun to be had out in the Ozarks. “The big week” started with a sunrise. My wife & I went out to meet our friends Jeff, Will, Justin, & Hannah for a foggy foliage-filled sunrise at a bluff line that I previously didn’t even know existed! This was the start of what turned into sun-up to sun-down, 9-mile day for me, my wife, our pup, & an incredible community out there of people just as in love with the area as us.
After sunrise we all regrouped for some breakfast burrito nourishment at the Buffalo Outdoor Center where we unexpectedly ran into more friends, Brittany & Rachel. The whole morning crew dispersed for other plans, so Brittany, Rachel, Hanna & I laid out a plan for the afternoon. We knew where we wanted to watch sunset, but spending time through the heat of the day was up in the air. We decided to go to one of my favorite areas that Brittany & Rachel had never seen - Falling Water Creek near the Richland Wilderness Area.
After hiking & laughing through mid-day we set our sights on Pedestal Rocks/King’s Bluff area for sunset. Upon arriving we made more new friends when Hank & his wife Hannah recognized us from the Internet (not weird), so we spent hours together talking, hiking, & enjoying the sunset!
When the rains hit big I knew that this might be the only week in 10 years or so with these ideal conditions. I got in touch with my go-to parter, Jeff Rose, & we made a plan to check off a bucket-list item. For years now Jeff & I have talked about the bucket-list photos we want in Arkansas. That list has always included Compton’s Double Falls with autumn foliage. Rainfall during peak colors is just so rare around here I never expected I would get the opportunity to spend an entire day doing nothing short of worshipping the work of the Creator.
We started slow, avoiding rain showers, waiting it out in the car, & skipping area to area.
We were walking down the mess of a road to Hammerschmidt Falls when I realized I’d never actually gotten a photograph of this waterfall that I’ve visited a handful of times… Well, here it is!
As afternoon approached we knew we had to hit the trail to Compton’s Double Falls in the rain or dry for sake of time & light. The bushwhack proved to be more difficult that either of us remember after storms downed trees & leaves covered rocks & holes the whole way there, but WE MADE IT. The shot I’m most proud of is the wide shot on bottom that I used for the cover of this blog.
On the way back to the trailhead we made the detour upstream to find Amber Falls. Once we got there we heard a splash into the pool below the waterfall. We had company! A wild otter was swimming all around the hollow, keeping a close eye on us, & let me snap a photo or two. It was surreal!
Nearing the end of the day we decided to rush to Lost Valley to get one last classic waterfall in while we could. On the way though we were stopped in our tracks by the biggest bull elk fight I have ever seen! I was lucky to have a bit of zoom on my lens to get some pictures. The sounds & power of these massive animals was just incredible.
Eden Falls at Lost Valley was our last stop of the day. We lost light fast right as we got to the waterfall, but were able to get a few last photos even though Jeff realized he lost a battery somewhere back & my film camera took a little dip in the creek.
35mm Film from “Mid-Week” — Portra 160
Long story short, I was shooting a roll of Portra 160 film during the entire day of our waterfall hike. I even captured some moments that I did not get on digital, but at the very end of the day, at Lost Valley, my film camera took a little swim in Clark Creek! Half submerged, I picked it up, practically poured water out of it, & wound up the film in a panic. Luckily, I had my only weather-sealed lens on the camera, so I did my best to dry & clean it up over the next 24 hours and it all works perfectly! Even better, The Darkroom Lab was able to save the film and only the last shot of the roll had any water spots at all! Here is that roll of film I’m super excited to have.
The Last Leg: Something Different
Towards the end of the week Hanna & I actually had to leave Northwest Arkansas behind to shoot a wedding near Little Rock, so we scheduled an engagement shoot at one of the best State Parks in Arkansas- Petit Jean State Park! We got there plenty early to explore some new areas & I was able to shoot a few landscapes & rattle off some film around the portrait session (which I’ll also be blogging before too long!)
35mm Film from “The Last Leg” — Fujifilm 400h
Within a week of these last photos an extreme cold-snap hit northwest Arkansas & most of the leaves are now on the ground or hanging on brown & crispy. I’m SO thankful for all I got to see & do within this magical week of Autumn in Arkansas.
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