This time of year means only one thing for me...foliage!
As a nature photographer based in Northern New England, I greatly anticipate the onset of autumn each year. The annual "show" in New Hampshire (and the White Mountains in particular) is one of the greatest you'll see anywhere.
Many of the products at The Christian Gift are designed around photographs made in the White Mountains.
Color and texture in nature is a common theme of my work, and there's no better time and place to capture it than autumn in New Hampshire. I was up in the mountains this past weekend on a shoot, and though I've seen the foliage display many, many times, again I marveled at God's amazing handiwork. (If you've never experienced autumn in New England, I highly recommend it. It is something you will never forget.)
Since the turning leaves are a prime tourist attraction, the quality and timing of the color is always a subject of great discussion and interest. Will it be early - or late? Will it be vibrant - or a bit more subdued? Will it last, or will it all be gone with one big storm?
Any number of variables contribute to making each year's show somewhat unique - and quite unpredictable. Too warm...too cold...too wet...too dry...too windy....so many things can make a difference!
We all remember from science class as children how the process works. Falling chlorophyll levels trigger a chemical reaction that forms a cell layer at the basis of each leaf. Within roughly two weeks, this stops the flow of moisture. Once the leaf has been completely sealed from the twig, it falls from the tree. In the meantime, though, as the green chlorophyll fades away, the underlying colors begin to show through. If the conditions are right, they don't just show through, they're ablaze in all their glory!
A good show requires ample rain during the summer months - but not too much later in the season. It also requires sunny autumn days (but not too warm) accompanied by cool nights (consistently in the 45 degree range). During sunny days, the tree produces sugar; those cool nighttime temperatures then trap the sugar in the leaves, resulting in those amazing hues of yellow, orange and red. If it's cloudy, then the tree doesn't produce as much sugar. And if it's too warm overnight, the sugar flows out of the leaf. Colors are dull, or brown.
Conversely, too much cold can wreak havoc. An early hard frost or series of frosts kills those cells in the leaves, shutting down the chemical change. VERY bad for the display. Hard rains are also a foliage-killer. Not only will heavy rain knock the leaves off the trees, but it washes out most of the chemicals in the leaves. Also not good!
You can see why it's possible for the same tree to produce varying colors from one year to the next.
What about this year's show in New Hampshire? We had quite a bit of rain earlier this summer (unusually high amounts, actually), so the trees had plenty of moisture. Since they're so healthy, they don't require the leaves to gather energy; as a result, the leaves started turning early this season.
I can attest to that, as the color in the mountains was already quite well established this past weekend.
Whether it's New England or the Ozarks, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Smoky Mountains, or your own neighborhood...wherever you are this autumn, take it in and appreciate the beautiful display.
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