Gary Jones Photos | Blog | Fall Photography in Arkansas 2019
Making preparations for our Fall photography trip to capture the color around the state of Arkansas 2019 and what it takes to plan out a successful photography adventure.
fall photography, fall color, tim ernst, william rainey, buffalo river photos, bella vista, arkansas, photography, a rare quality of light, arkansas treasures, the trailhouse
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Gary Christine at waterfall

Arkansas 2019 – Fall Color | Preparations

­The time is upon us again to get out and shoot some Fall color and this year we chose to shoot around Northwestern Arkansas.  We have gone to shoot the Fall color in many places, but this year we chose to stay closer to home to cut down on travel time over shooting time.  As always, getting to a location when the color is present is always the trick.  Mother Nature speeds up and slows down on her own schedule and planning a trip too far out can leave you arriving too early or missing it completely.  We keep tabs on web cams in an area, reports on the web and keep checking in with photographers we know in particular areas. 

In Arkansas, both Tim Ernst and William Rainey are two of Arkansas’s top photographers and are go-to resources for our trips.   While both live outside the NW part and live in middle and southern parts of the state, they travel all over the state and post images and comments which help us decide where to go.  One area may be covered in muted color, while another part of the state is alive with color or way past it.  It’s always good to keep an eye on where the best photographers in the state are going.  Both photographers have excellent books out that show how incredible Arkansas’s landscapes can be in every season. Be sure to check out their web sites and click on the images below to check out their books!

Once we know about how things are looking, we find a good place to stay on Airbnb or VRBO to serve as our home-base for a week or so of traveling and shooting. We always rent a full house because we bring a lot of gear and need a place to put our camera gear, along with space to setup our computers and backup drives that we use to review and edit images.   Every time we go on a trip it’s a matter of what to bring and what to leave out – and how to cram it all into our SUV to get it there.  Christine is a master at packing and organizing and is somehow able to strategically arrange all the luggage, camera and computer gear so we can get them in the SUV and still see out the windows!

We chose a great place in Bella Vista named The Trailhouse through Airbnb that was clean, has a good layout and the rooms that we needed. We are going back in a few weeks and will be staying there again. If you need a place in Bella vista to stay sometime we recommend it.

Arkansas is one of those places where you can’t be in a big hurry to get somewhere.  If you aren’t on an interstate highway, you are going to be traveling constantly winding roads that keep your speed down under 55 miles per hour most of the time.  It seems like 35-45 is the norm, so a trip 85 miles can take almost two hours each way.  That’s a lot of time spent driving and not shooting.

That’s why choosing a place to stay that allows you to get to as many of the shooting locations you want to shoot is key.  We chose lodging in Bella Vista, Arkansas just North of Fayetteville in large part due to its proximity to shooting locations.   It has an interstate running through it so we can get to other areas quickly before we must exit onto the unending winding roads that go out to the best locations.  When Paul McCartney wrote ‘The Long and Winding Road’ I just wonder if he’d been to Arkansas.  (grins)

The state is a treasure trove of rivers, waterfalls and wooded hikes that are rarely crowded, except for some locations on weekends.   Much of the state is a wooded wonderland where hikes take you through wooded hills on trails that cut around boulders and across rivers and past waterfalls of all sizes.  Our goals for this trip were to find some of those waterfalls, hopefully surrounded by some good Fall color and enjoy being out in the woods together.  Our plan was to get out early and start hiking and to shoot and hike till dark.  We are equipped with walkie-talkies, headlamps, GPS with trail maps, water and trail snacks to keep us going and get us out at the end of the day.  Go prepared or don’t go.

So, what’s to come?  I’ll be putting out a daily blog post about each day’s hike, along with images and videos from our hikes so you can join us on our latest outdoor photography adventure.    I’ll be covering our hikes, gear, problems we run into getting an image and my thoughts as we trek down trails or bushwhack our way to a location – it’s all going to be an adventure we’d love to have you join us on!

Planning Takeaways

Scout locations using Google Maps, Street View and Images, local photographers web sites and their social media sites, local web cams, local photography clubs social media sites and the state’s Tourism Department.

Keep checking the local weather through sites like for their extended outlook to understand what kind of clothing and gear to pack.

Airbnb and HomeAway are great sites for finding homes to base your operations out of and give you a respite that hotel rooms won’t provide. is a great resource for analyzing how long it will take to get from your lodging to the sites you want to shoot.

Get the PhotoPills app so you’ll know things like sunrise/sunset, moon phases, sun paths and DOF calculators. This app will help you visualize when the best times are to shoot in the locations you want to shoot in so you can be there when the light is best.

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