Shavertown Trail in the western Catskill Mountains of New York State is a short trail that offers a huge reward. The trail begins at the Pepacton Reservoir, itself a beautiful location, and climbs through a deciduous forest up to a small meadow with a lovely pond, surrounded by cattails and filled with water lilies in season. The forest opens up to the west of the pond, offering views of the mountains and reservoir below. It is the perfect hike for an autumn afternoon.
I was heading back down the trail late in the day as the sun was beginning its descent, when I reached a space where the trail opened up and offered a stunning view of the forest showcasing its autumnal color. The gathering clouds overhead helped soften the light and mitigate the contrast between the deepening shadows and glow of the setting sun, but the cloud cover was still light enough to allow wonderful patches of blue to show through.
It’s always tricky finding the right location on the right day to hit autumn at its absolute peak of color. That morning I had been an hour and a half further south in the Pocono Mountains and the color was only just beginning to show. If I had driven two hours further north to the Adirondack Mountains, it would have been past peak. But that afternoon, in the Western Catskills, autumn was at its most glorious.
As I was hiking, I was shooting handheld. The bright afternoon light allowed for a low ISO and a mid-range aperture, with a wide depth of field to capture the details of the vibrant trees.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor