Maximizing Stick Season

As the last flickers of autumn color fade from New England and ‘stick season’ commences, it’s tempting to put the camera away. However, though the overall landscape may seem starkly drab compared to the other seasons, these weeks offer a unique suite of photographic opportunities. Some potential subjects to consider during these weeks include the following:

Late foliage:

Oak Tree with Late Autumn Foliage

An oak tree with late foliage in a foggy forest.

With recent autumns showing a documented trend of later leaf drop and frosts, foliage photo opportunities are lasting further into November in many regions. Late-dropping species include oaks, beeches, and tamaracks (the only deciduous conifer). Foggy or misty days can be especially productive for forest scenes, even when there isn’t much overall color. Other potential subjects include streams and waterfalls framed by low foliage, leaves on the ground, and winterberry bushes.




White tailed deer in oak forest

A white tailed deer buck in prime physical condition during the ‘rut.’

Mid to late autumn is one of the best times to observe wildlife, as many animals are active throughout the day preparing for winter and leaf drop allows longer views into the forest. Moose and deer are at their physical prime during these weeks, when mature males sport large antler ‘racks.’ Also watch for flocks of ducks, loons, and other migratory waterfowl, and seasonal winter arrivals such as snowy owls, seals, and sea ducks.





Town Commons:

Winter Scene on New England Town Common

A colorful holiday display on the Templeton, Massachusetts town common.

As the holidays approach, many town commons set up holiday decorations, including colorful light displays. Twilight is often an optimal time to photograph these settings, as dark blue or lavender skies offer a colorful and dependable backdrop on both clear and overcast days. Be sure to check and adjust your compositions for bright lights on buildings and moving cars, especially during long exposures. Village scenes also often have good sales potential both locally and for buyers seeking classic New England images.


The Coast:

Many coastal subjects such as lighthouses, rocky shores, and beaches aren’t affected much by a lack of foliage. Strong ‘Northeasters’ and late tropical storms, as amply demonstrated recently by Hurricane Sandy, can stir up high surf and make for dramatic opportunities. Other benefits
include sunrises and sunsets at more manageable hours than at other times
of the year, and low off-season lodging rates!

~ John Burk

John Burk is the author of several books and guides related to New England, which may be viewed on his Amazon page.

Visit his John Burk gallery

Visit his website for current images

This entry was posted in Autumn, Beach Photography, Scenic New England, Stick Season, Village, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , , , .


  1. Scott Snyder November 12, 2012 at 17:46 #

    Very nice blog John. I gotta tell you – I LOVE the first image. It is perfect.

    • John Burk November 12, 2012 at 17:53 #

      Thanks very much Scott – an earlier season than the last 2 autumns for sure!

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  1. […] that macro subjects are few and far between. Perhaps it’s the color palette during the “stick season”  — or lack of color — that’s to […]