Stark, New Hampshire, USA by Michael Blanchette

Picture Story

Stark is a small village of some 500 residents in the northern part of New Hampshire, along the Ammonoosuc River. Much of the town lies within the boundaries of the White Mountain National Forest. The village was named after General John Stark, a New Hampshire native and a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

Stark is best known for its famous covered bridge, nicely positioned next to the photogenic Stark Union Church, with a mountainous backdrop. It’s not often that you can include both a historic covered bridge and historic white-steeple church in the same frame, but Stark is one of the few places in New England where it remains possible.

The iconic location has been heavily photographed over the years, so I wanted to try something a little different, while still spotlighting peak foliage colors. After dark, the lights in the windows and tower of the Stark Union Church go on, so I stayed around until dusk to capture the scene during the “blue hour”. I took several long exposures to capture streaks from passing vehicles for a sense of motion. It only seemed fitting since the covered bridge is clearly designed for vehicular traffic. And it adds color to an otherwise dull road surface.

The base photo was a 20-second exposure, but I continued shooting 30-second exposures to record longer light streaks formed by the headlights and taillights. In post-processing, I blended in a few of those additional light streaks into the base image to increase the perception of motion. I also chose a square crop because it best captures the essence of the scene while eliminating unnecessary clutter.

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