© Ben Jacobi
Pic of the Week 12/2/22
"McGee Creek Reservoir"
Location: McGee Creek State Park, OK
Date taken: 11/13/22
I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving and holiday time. I know that there are many things for which I am thankful. I am especially grateful to be able to travel, hike, camp, and of course, shoot photos! Last month, Ashlee and I traveled to McGee Creek State Park in southern Oklahoma in pursuit of autumnal foliage. We had heard this relatively unknown state park had good bursts of color throughout its forest. It had also been quite some time since we’ve been camping. With the more popular state parks expected to gather larger crowds, we decided to seek out a place that was a little more isolated.
We arrived at our campsite just before 3pm. We got our tent set up and prepared for the colder weather we would be facing through the night. At this time, it was forecast to be the coldest night of the year (so far). Temperatures were forecast to drop into the low 30’s overnight, and we wanted to make sure we were gonna stay warm. We brought with us plenty of sleeping layers/blankets/extra clothes to keep us toasty through the night. I also planned for us to have a hot meal over a campfire just before bed. With our shelter in place, we headed off down the Potapo Hill Trail, which was just across the road from our campsite. Our goal was to use this time to scout out locations for sunrise the next day and see if we could find any fall colors.
After starting on the trail, the woods slowly closed in around us. Soon we found ourselves enshrouded in a canopy of loblolly pine, hickory, oak, and elm trees. The hickory leaves had started changing to a nice golden-yellow, and we could find small bursts of color on some of the oaks, but mostly there wasn’t too much fall foliage. That meant we would have to scope our compositions carefully and only seek out the best autumn colors. Our path took us past large rock outcroppings and scattered boulders. I found a few potential photos that piqued my interest, and I made a mental note to come back tomorrow. Walking on the soft fallen pine needles and crunchy leaves, the trail led us to the lakeshore, where we got an up close view of the McGee Creek Reservoir. I decided this was going to be my sunrise location for tomorrow morning. I scoped a few compositions before we decided to head back to camp and have some dinner.
Our dinner was fire-roasted hot dogs, with toasted buns, red onion, spicy brown mustard, and relish. I always enjoy dining by the fireside. Soon the sun set, and the night began to fall. One of the most impressive things about McGee State Park was the night sky. For being relatively close to a nearby town, the light pollution was minimal. We stared up at the shimmering stars, counting meteors and enjoying the peaceful night. Temperatures were starting to drop, and it was time to get into the tent while we were still warm.
We awoke from our tents the next morning with just enough time to eat a quick breakfast before heading back out on the trail.I had a rough idea of where I was going to shoot sunrise, but I remained hopeful that we might get some fog on the water. Once again, we were walking in the woods, passing by multiple locations of interest. Ashlee decided she would head back to the west and look for wildlife, but I continued north towards the lake. My determination paid off as when I arrived, I could see a thin sheet of mist hovering over the water. Knowing the fog would burn off as the sun rose, I immediately got my camera out and started searching for a photo.
I hiked to a small rock outcropping I scouted out the day before to search out an interesting foreground for the composition. I liked the idea of using the boulders as a leading line through the image and catching the silhouette of the trees against a brightly lit background. I arrived just in time to secure this composition. Little beams of light filtered through the trees and splashed against the rocks, adding some light and color to the foreground. This also helped break up and separate the layers in the scene. Some of the light spilled over onto the swirling fog on the water and separated the background even more. I had a nice reflection on the left side, fog and good light on the right, and an interesting foreground to lead the eye through the scene. Overall, I think this image is a great representation of that morning at McGee Creek State Park, and I have several more from this trip that I will share real soon.