The Shawnee: A Photographer’s Dream
– by Joshua Spengler – Sprengler Photography & Fine Arts
The Shawnee National Forest is a photographer’s dream come true. From the rocky sandstone formations to the cascading creeks, and waterfalls, the Shawnee has a lot to offer.
One thing I love about the area as a photographer, is all the diversity that the forest brings forth. From deep ravines and canyons, to wildflower filled meadows. From dense hardwood forest to cascading spring waterfalls, the Shawnee has many different terrains and landscapes.
Personally, I like to explore places that are off “the beaten path” per say. Places like, One Horse Gap, Heron Pond, Ghost Dance Canyon, Indian Kitchen and even the high trails of Bald knob. For it is here in these places, that Mother Nature truly opens up her heart for everyone to see, and better yet photograph.
Spring is a great time to photograph parts of the forest. The winter snow melt mixed with heavy spring rains makes many of the areas waterfalls come alive. Waterfalls at Burden Falls, Jackson Falls, Fern Clyffe, and a few others are great to photograph in the early mornings or in the late evening’s light. Just sitting by these roaring falls make one forget about everyday life, and relax in the peaceful quietness of the moment. You can’t say spring without saying “Wildflowers”. Yes the Shawnee has a fast array of colorful wildflowers that are literally everywhere. From deep in the valleys of Bell-Smith Springs to high atop the Garden of the Gods they are EVERYWHERE! Even on the road sides you will find patches of blooming flowers.
Peak Time – The Right Time
Fall is my favorite time of year in the Shawnee. Not only are the grapes of local vineyards ready for harvest, but in early to middle October the fall colors are at their peak. Scenic overlooks, like Garden of the Gods, and Alto Pass become intertwined with color and beauty. Even places like Dixon Springs State Park and the Little Grand Canyon become full of vibrant exquisiteness. It is here in these places, that Mother Nature gives us an endless opportunity to photograph. There just needs to be someone there at the right place and the right time to click the shutter.
Did I mention all the local wineries that are tucked away throughout the Shawnee? Yes, there are a lot of wineries that grow their own grapes and make most of their wine selections on site! These are also great places to sit back and enjoy nature, and the photography isn’t bad either.
As a naturalist and photographer I can spend weeks at a time down in the heart of the Shawnee. So a great place to sleep and “wine” down for the night is a must. There are many cabin rentals and campgrounds scattered all through out the area. I love the hospitality that each and every one of these host or hostess gives there guest. No matter what parts of the forest your exploring there is always a cabin or campground with in a short drive.
Why the Shawnee?
To Sum it all up, one could photograph the Shawnee everyday for years and not even come close to finding all of her hidden gems and jewels. This mixed with the diversification, the curiosity of the unexplored, and the local hospitality is what brings me back to the Shawnee National Forest year after year.
I am a photographer who loves changing someones expressions, and thoughts just by a click of my finger. I am forever trying to find that perfect shot at the perfect moment in time. Click here to follow me at Spengler Photography & Fine Arts page on Facebook.
Spengler Photography is a fine art business that deals with fine picture prints. We like to say our art work captures a moment in time through the naked eye. Our work is something you won’t see everyday, but we think that you, as a enthusiast will enjoy
Just wanted to say Thanks Joshua Spengler for taking the time to share his passion of nature photography and the Shawnee Hills. We hope to have him back soon to share his unique perspective on other areas of Southern Illinois. Make sure to LIKE his Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/SpenglerPhotography so you can keep up with his latest projects. – Gary Marks
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