Surprising Winter Color in the Clear Shade Wild Area

What a difference a couple of weeks makes

Gallitzin State Forest, Babcock Division

Gallitzin State Forest, Babcock Division

New Year’s Day, pre-dawn, found me wandering around the Clear Shade Wild Area of Gallitzin State Forest’s Babcock Division, desperately seeking a composition, a wash of light, a compelling subject, anything that would help to create an image I’d be willing to share, all to no avail. I came home discouraged, cold and hungry, muttering about “…too many trees in the woods” or some such nonsense, when a friend reminded me of a wise man’s words, “There’s always a photograph.” Okay, it wasn’t a wise man who said it. It was me, and that continues to be my guiding principle of photography. Then another friend mentioned the beaver dam that I had walked past and rejected, for various reasons, and I spent that night considering the possibilities until I finally visualized the image that could work – with the right light. So, here we are, almost three weeks later, still waiting for a bit of early morning sunshine.

With that shot, and that quote, in mind, knowing there would again be no light, before dawn I threw the kit in the car and headed back to the top of the mountain. I might at least look for a shorter path to the beaver dam (there is none), scout other potential subjects (there are plenty) and, anticipating a break in the rain, maybe find a scene or two to photograph. Missions accomplished.

Mill Run - Clear Shade Wild Area - Gallitzin State Forest, Babcock Division

Mill Run – Clear Shade Wild Area – Gallitzin State Forest, Babcock Division

I always compare at least three different forecasts before setting out and, when they all agree, I’m confident there’s a 50/50 chance they’ll be right – or wrong. All three claimed the rain would pause around 8:00AM (or, maybe by next Tuesday, we don’t really know). So, waiting for the weather to break and leaving the kit dry and warm-ish in the car, I set off in the rain to see what there was to see, and, well off the well-beaten JP Saylor track, I found a bunch. The rain stopped, I headed back to the car, opened the door, and the rain started again. I sat in the car for a bit, listening to Mike Madden pile on Antonio Brown on DVE and, accepting that meteorology is not an exact science, or even a science at all, I swaddled the kit in whatever polyethylene bags I could find and headed out into the weather.

Froze my fingers off again, even with the hand warmers, but, along with the gear, stayed reasonably dry. The results are below. I hope you enjoy them.

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