the pink lady's slipper wild orchid
My all time favorite wildflower, the Pink Lady's Slipper, is actually a member of the orchid family. A large number of these beauties can be found along the trails of the Blue Job State Forest in Strafford, NH.

As a nature and landscape photographer I always feel the push to travel far and wide in search of beautiful locations and subjects to photograph. I love the wide scenic vistas of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and traveling to the granite coastline to witness the awakening of a new day is always worth the trip. But with sky-rocketing gas prices likely to put a damper on a lot of photographer’s travel budgets this year, and it will be impacting my travel plans, I’ve started looking closer to home for scenes and subjects to photograph. Looking through my portfolio I’ve been surprised by the number of my favorite images made within a short drive from my home. In fact, every image accompanying this post was captured right in my back yard, so to speak. I think the farthest I had to drive to create any of them was  fifteen minutes. The Pink Lady’s Slipper above, shot at Blue Job State Forest in Strafford, NH, is at the long end of my “back yard” travels right at fifteen minutes. The fact that the Lady’s Slipper is my favorite wild orchid, and Blue Job is loaded with them is just the icing on the cake.

Common Loon with wings spread after dive.
Taken on Baxter Lake if Farmington, NH, this image of the common loon, wings spread to shake off excess water after a dive, remains one of my favorite wildlife images.

Living on a lake helps considerably with keeping down the travel time in capturing my favorite feathered friends in action. The common loon, with its blood-red eyes, striking black and white plumage, and beautifully eerie call  is a lake visitor I look forward to every summer. Every year we are lucky enough to have at least one nesting pair of these beautiful birds that choose Baxter Lake to raise a family on. To capture the above image I had a five-minute walk and a short paddle in my kayak. I was also given the pleasure of watching this one and it’s mate dive for fish for over an hour one morning. I was thrilled to watch their ghostly figures cruising beneath the surface in search of breakfast. A bit of an unfair advantage compared to others not lucky enough to live on a lake visited by loons, but I’ll take it.

Waterfall on the Mad River in Farmington, NH.
One of my favorite waterfall images taken on the Mad River, a small stream located off of route 11 in Farmington. A classic New Hampshire forest stream.

The above waterfall image was taken on the Mad River just off Rt 11 in Farmington, NH. Another short drive from home that yielded good results. All the locations mentioned, as well as several others I frequent, were found with just a bit of scouting. The Delorme Atlas & Gazetteer for New Hampshire is the best $20 I’ve ever spent for finding back roads, hiking trails, rivers, streams, marshes, lakes and ponds, that might be worthy of some camera time. This book never leaves my car unless it is to sit down on the couch to plan a trip. There is one written for most if not all 50 states, I highly recommend adding one to your photography arsenal.

I still plan a few trips to New Hampshire’s North Country this year, especially during the fall foliage season, but I won’t be so blind to what is right in my back yard. There is plenty out there close to home, and this summer I plan to find it!

4 thoughts on “Find It In Your Own Back Yard

    1. Thanks Kris. It’s actually one of the few times getting to a location later than intended paid off. Not long after I arrived, the sun was at the right angle to be shining right down the slope and beautifully back-lighting several of these beauties. If I had arrived at the intended time I may very well have left before the back-lighting occurred.

      One thing I’m quickly learning is that with wildflowers it pays to sleep in a little. Several times I would find the flowers I want to photograph, only to find the blooms closed up tight waiting for the sun.

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