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Greenbelt’s Nature Photographers and How to Shoot Fall Foliage

Greenbelt Lake

I’ve been following some of Greenbelt’s photographers, especially when they post nature shots online somewhere.  Michael Smallwood’s photos are exhibited at the New Deal Cafe.  Harold Anderson shoots both stills and video, most often at the lake. Bill Cornett does videos here on Vimeo,  And Steve Skolnik’s photography and darkroom work will forever grace the home page of the fabulous but now  dormant blog Greenbelt2012.  Heather Brooks shoots a range of subjects, including nature, and posts them on her blog Greenbelt Girl.

(Now who did I miss? Let me know!)

How to Photograph Fall Foliage and Water

So for this blog I’ve been determined to get some decent shots of fall foliage around Greenbelt Lake, but the results were no better than these examples above and below.

Greenbelt Lake


Greenbelt Lake

These photos fail to thrill me on two counts. First and foremost, the leaves aren’t all that colorful! And according to this, the leaves have already peaked, so it looks like we’re having a dull year.  Wondering why, I consulted the National Arboretum on the Science of Color and learned that:

A growing season with ample moisture that is followed by a rather dry, cool, sunny autumn that is marked by warm days and cool but frostless nights provides the best weather conditions for development of the brightest fall colors.

Isn’t that exactly what we’ve had?  So the leaves should be at their best, to my nonscientific thinking, at least.

The photos above also fail to deliver the pow of perfectly reflected trees on the lake that I’ve seen in Michael Smallwood’s photos (and cursed him at the sight of!), so I asked him how he did it. Turns out, the light is all wrong midday when those shots were taken.  So I tried early morning and voila:

Greenbelt Lake



Greenbelt Lake


Greenbelt Lake

Michael explained to me the science behind these contrasting results and I promptly forgot the answer.  Michael?

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

2 Responses

  1. Kathie
    | Reply

    Beautiful photos and writing, from both of you. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Melanie Griffin
    | Reply

    Hi Susan – thanks for sharing. Here is a link to a poem/photo montage that was published in Outside In Literary and Travel Magazine earlier this year. All the nature photos are Greenbelt-grown! I’m not sure I’d call myself an official “nature photographer,” but I take a lot of pictures of nature around Greenbelt. Enjoy!


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