Harwood’s Mill Reservoir is a gem of a place for a photo outing. The reservoir is a 265-acre impoundment which supplies water to the City of Newport News. Harwood’s Mill Reservoir is part of the City of Newport News Park system as they own the land, but the reservoir is actually located in York County, Virginia. The reservoir parking area is located off exit 255B on I-64 and is off of Oriana Road (SR 620) in Yorktown, Virginia. Oriana Road divides the reservoir into two sections. On the northern section there is an abundance of cypress trees while the southern section has more open water. The southern section is where the parking area is located for Harwood’s Mill Reservoir .
A couple of weeks ago while nearby the area, I decided to stop by the reservoir to check it out, and I saw a lot of potential for sunrise, especially with the fall colors on some of the trees around the lake. Also, I discovered they have kayaks and john boats with paddles and oars available to rent from Memorial Day to the end of October. The john boat rentals are $6 for all day, but I am uncertain about the kayak rental fee.
So, last weekend, I headed out to Hardwood’s Mill Reservoir for sunrise and to rent a john boat for an hour or two to do some landscape photography with the fall colors around the reservoir. Unfortunately, the sunrise was not the greatest sunrise as there was not much color in the sky. I did take some images of the sunrise using different foreground elements to help with the lack of color in the sky. In the sunrise photos I used AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) by taking three pictures of a scene and then merging those three images in my HDR software, which is Photomax Essentials. Below is an HDR image of the sunrise from Harwood’s Mill reservoir. Even though, that morning did not have a great colorful sky with sunrise, there was potential with the subject and foreground elements to make some great sunrise images. Therefore, I will be attempting to photograph future sunrises here at Harwood’s Mill Reservoir as I really did like some of the landscape potential at this location.
As I explored the reservoir lake in the johnboat just after sunrise, I discovered something moving along with edge of the water, and as I got closer, I discovered it was an American coot. However, this coot did not have the usual all-black body. Its color was more grayish. I am thinking this bird may be an immature coot. Luckily, I happen to bring a short telephoto lens with which I was able to use to capture some images of this coot. The proximity of the background was too close and did not allow for blurring out the background, which I really prefer to do, but from the johnboat I did get some nice images of this coot in its habitat. I also encountered a pied-billed, herons and other birds that were too small to determine what they were from a distance. Next time I will bring my binoculars and my longer lens. Below are a couple of images of this coot from Harwood’s Mill Reservoir.
While spending couple of hours padding around the reservoir lake taking pictures of the various landscape views, I found some select trees with nice fall colors. I used a monopod in the boat to give me a little extra stability and compensate for the action of the moving boat on the water. Here are a couple of images taken of the fall colors of the lake from the johnboat.
Harwood’s Mill Reservoir was a fantastic find for me as a photo location and as an outdoor nature lover. It was very enjoyable and peaceful to be out on the lake. It had been quite a while since I had been in a small boat on the water like that. This will definitely be a place to return to frequently. I did briefly explore one trail and found some macro subjects such as fungi and mushrooms. Like all woods, because of the change in weather and seasons, you never know each time walking through the woods what you may discover for macro subjects. Next time I return, I plan to explore the trail around the southern section of the lake to see what opportunities present for photographing birds or landscapes.
Hope you enjoy my images from Harwood’s Mill Reservoir. I would love to hear what you think of my images.
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All the very best,
Lori A. Cash
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