Thanksgiving Weekend Fall Color
The cottage (trailer, lakehouse, summerhouse etc...) dubbed affectionately by me as the Fortress of Moderate Solitude, is primarily a weekend retreat for us. We arrive Thursday evening and I'll work from here on Friday. This way, we beat a lot of the summer traffic of others heading to their wilderness refuges. While the weekends are never long enough, being here is a blessing in many ways.

One of the side benefits of coming up on the weekends is that we also get "snapshots" of the seasons. Each weekend is often noticeably different from the previous one. In the spring we see almost a timelapse of foliage coming out and farm fields being readied for planting. In the summer we see the crops of corn, soy, hay, rye and wheat grow from fragile sprouts to cover vast fields of farmland. 

And the autumn.... well.

The ever-changing kaleidoscope of color is a sight to behold, morphing from green to yellow, gold, orange and red. It can be a whirlwind of visual stimulation.
This year, the autumn of 2021, however, has sadly not been as spectacular so far. There is definitely color change, but it's often muted or in small patches, when compared to years past. The overall color scheme is yellow-gold, it seems.
Comparison between 2020 and 2021 within one day of each other.
Based on what I saw the previous weekend, I felt pretty sure that Canadian Thanksgiving in the Kawarthas would be at peak color. I now realize peak color - if it happens - will likely occur between the weekends. I noticed a good degree of leaf fall on our fall drives this weekend, so it's hard to say what will still be on branches next weekend.
That said, however, we still went out in search of the elusive fall colors along River Road into Hastings, on Highway 28, at Cordova Falls, along County Road 2, Route 23 and also in Lakefield. While not as stunning as I was hoping for, I did find some great scenes over the past three days. I hope you will agree.
Tech note: I've been taking advantage of the new masking tools in the current Lightroom Beta. (these tools are throughout the ecosystem - Lightroom Desktop, Lightroom Mobile and Lightroom Classic and they are awesome. It's so much easier to manage local adjustments now and we can very easily (and accurately) select visual elements like the sky. This capability was a huge help to me this weekend, as the sky was mostly overcast, and I wanted to get some detail where possible.
River Road
Shot from the top of the embankment. I've made captures similar to this from roughly the same vantage point. So this time, I made the extra effort and scrambled down the rocky embankment to get closer to the river's edge.
Amidst all the natural splendour, inevitably, if I look down I will at some point see the impact of inconsiderate human beings. I generally turn my lens away from this distasteful evidence, but I also think it's important to understand and realize that we HAVE a significant impact on our environment, even as individuals.
Cordova Falls
Cordova Falls has become a favorite location of mine and I was looking forward to seeing how the autumn color impacted the area. Again, there was not a great deal of vibrant colour other than Sumach bushes (sumachs have won the color war in my area of the Kawarthas). I enjoyed my visit, though, and pulled off some pretty acceptable results, overall
You can see that even a lone sumach bush, clinging tenaciously to the rocks, is the clear winner in terms of color. A long exposure (6 seconds, on average) gave me the silky look to this raging torrent of water.
Never underestimate the impact of looking straight down.
Leahy's Farm
Perched on the top of one of the many rolling hills in the Kawarthas is Leahy's Farm. They sell local produce and baked goods and even bring in fresh fruit from Niagara. And they have a great fall display! The farm is always busy on the weekends throughout the summer and autumn.
Route 23
On our way to Kawartha Country Wines, on route 23, there is a small lake (pond? Wetland?) opposite Chemong Lake. And while the fall foliage is in the distance, it never ceases to impress me. Even on a damp, dark rainy/drizzly day like today. The reeds in the foreground add much needed contrast, texture and depth to the scene, as elements fade into the mist and drizzle across the water. Making use of the new and freaking amazing masking tools in the Lightroom beta gave me the chance to quickly and accurately mask/select the sky to add a bit more detail into the clouds. These new masking tools are the single biggest improvement to Lightroom in a very long time, IMO.
Driving through Lakefield, these scenes caught my eye, so I made sure to stop there on the way back to the cottage. These two locations are within a three-minute walk of each other on Route 29, near the lift lock.
Plunkett Road
Just off County Road 2 is this interesting, tree-shrouded road that has wonderful pastoral views of the countryside looking south to Rice Lake. While not visible here, between the ribbon of autumn foliage in the midground and the hazy blue hills on the horizon, sits Rice Lake. I really like the framing in the shot in the upper left, but the fall colour is so subtle, that the black and white rendition in the lower right also works, showcasing the texture (and possibly the heritage) of the area.
Lang Mill
I can't NOT go to the Lang Grist Mill in the autumn, but I admit this time, I didn't get a strong emotional connection to the scene, likely due to the low contrast. I'm impacted more by the texture of the clouds than I am the mill or the background color. It makes me think I should have recomposed to show more sky... one is always learning...
Cheers from the Fortress
And what weekend is complete without me sending cheers and greetings on social media from the cottage (aka the #fortressofmoderatesolitude on Instagram)? I typically make these photos with Lightroom Mobile on my iPhone, using the depth capture mode soI can de-emphasize the background in some way, through sharpness, brightness or color saturation.
I hope you've enjoyed this journey with me and I hope wherever you are, you are enjoying the season and making the most of it. Cheers!

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