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West Virginia Autumn Photo Workshop

Canaan Valley, Blackwater Falls, Dolly Sods

12-14 Oct. 2012

w/ Irene Hinke-Sacilotto

Limited to 10 participants.

One of my favorite photo workshop destinations is Canaan Valley, Blackwater Falls State Park, and the surrounding countryside in the West Virginia Mountains. The locations have been selected to provide workshop participants with a wide selection of photo subjects varying from beautiful mountain scenery to semi-tame deer.  I scheduled the workshop to coincide with autumn color.  Activities will begin at sunrise to take advantage of the warm early morning light.  Field experience will be mixed with helpful critiques mid-day Sat. and Sun. afternoon. For convenience we will be staying at Canaan Valley Resort, centrally located and a relatively short drive to each of the photo destinations.


Located in the Appalachian Mountains, Canaan Valley Park is a 6,000 acre sanctuary with over 18 miles of established trails through the marshes, woods, and meadows.  The valley is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, raccoons, groundhogs, chipmunks, beaver, skunks, herons, waterfowl, salamanders, and an occasional black bear or bobcat.  In October, days are cool and pleasant, with some early morning frost.  At 3,200 feet above sea level, the Canaan Valley is cooler than surrounding countryside and the trees change color earlier than in other parts of the state.  In autumn, visitors are treated to a kaleidoscope of color, crimson maples, burnt-orange oaks, and golden aspen. It’s rutting season for Whitetail Deer so they are more visible in the fields.  Beavers, muskrats, and bears are active, busily gathering food for the winter.  Migrating Canada Geese and other waterfowl are common sights flying overhead on their way to feed in the Blackwater River and surrounding wetlands.



Within a 30-minute drive from out hotel is Blackwater Falls State Park. Strategically placed overlooks provide views of the Blackwater River as it cascades over boulders and plunges 60 feet over Blackwater Falls.  Other trails and viewpoints throughout the park provide additional opportunities to capture the fall color in combination with the Blackwater River Valley and surrounding mountains.


Nearby on a high mountain ridge is Dolly Sods Wilderness.  Because of its altitude and exposure to harsh weather, this remote area resembles the arctic tundra more than typical West Virginia.  Huge lichen-covered boulders are strewn about in a haphazard fashion; low blueberry and cranberry bushes cover the ground; and deformed one-sided trees stand as testament to the harsh winters.   Cold weather comes early to the high country and in Oct. leaves of many low growing shrubs turn crimson and glow when back-lit by the late afternoon sunlight.  Trails lead to rocky overlooks for interesting lighting, abstract forms, and panoramic views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains.


The group is small so I can give in individual attention to each participant, working with each person at their skill level.  Include will be several exercises to accompany the field work.  Ample time will be available for questions.  The itinerary is flexible and will be adjusted according to the location and availability of subjects, the weather, group interest, and other factors.   Hiking will not be strenuous but some trails may be rocky or wet in spots.  Any hiking will be slow paced with plenty of time for rest.  Anyone may abstain from an activity and select an alternative that is less strenuous.   Boots with firm ankle support are recommended. Dress warmly in layers.  Participants should bring 5 samples of your work.  These will be used during the orientation and as time permits.

TRANSPORTATION:  While on site, we will car pool to each location.  However, each participant is responsible for their own transportation to and from home. Once registered, contracts, health forms, & additional details will follow.

ACCOMMODATIONS: At Canaan Valley Resort (block of rooms are reserved for the class & included in the price.)


Friday, 12 October

7:00-8:30 PM (Orientation Program)

Saturday, 13 October

Sunrise to 10:30 AM (Field – Canaan Valley)

10:30-1:30 PM (Lunch & Critique)

1:30-Sunset PM (Field – Seneca Rocks, Dolly Sods, Canaan Valley)

Sunday, 14 October

Sunrise to 10 AM (Field – Blackwater Falls)

Noon-2:00 PM (Critique & Wrap-up)

Double – $536     Single – $686

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