Imagine a crisp autumn day in Virginia 's Shenandoah National Park . You're driving on the park's Skyline Drive when you see people getting out of their cars. They're staring wide eyed, mouths open. Is it the scenery?
Then, you see it for yourself. One half of the road is under intense sunlight; the other side is entirely under the clouds. The effect is so strange that it seems like two different seasons. Sun reflects off the shiny leaves on one side of the road. Oak leaves frozen with flecks of snow are on the other side.
“The day was like magic,” said nature photographer Peter Tomlinson of the phenomenon he experienced more than three years ago.
The day of "two seasons" is indicative of why Tomlinson travels to Shenandoah Park every six weeks and comes back with different photos. But some days just outweigh others.
About a month ago on a sunny autumn day he experienced another beautiful effect on Skyline Drive . He was high up in the bright sunlight and below him big, billowy clouds collected in the bowl of the valley.
The result of these two days was about 15 of his best foliage pictures. To this day, they remain some of his best-selling prints. For this reason, it is important to pick a place to photograph that can be visited regularly and experienced in different types of lighting, noted Tomlinson. “Nature is something I never tire of. It's always changing,” he said.
Tomlinson's love affair with Shenandoah Park began when he was taken there by his finance in 2000, shortly after he moved to northern Virginia from Paris . “We were parked on Skyline Drive and couldn't see anything,” he said. “It was completely in cloud cover.”
Luckily, Tomlinson returned. From then on, he realized the park's allure. Its combination of beautiful outlooks, waterfalls, wild bears and loads of deer, wild turkeys, bobcats, coyotes and raccoons make it a nature photographer's paradise.
Collectively, he believes his experience at the park beats any one day photographing at the Grand Canyon . Furthermore, the native of England finds America one of the best places in the world to photograph nature.
“Going out in nature is like a spiritual experience,” said Tomlinson. “I'm just trying to capture that.”
His next goal, “I still want to photograph a bobcat in Shenandoah. But it's difficult because they are so elusive.”
At least the bears are in hibernation.
For more information and to view more than 500 prints by Tomlinson, go to www.photosbypjt.com .