I have always been fascinated with roads and streets that are lined by trees that overhang the roadway. There is just something about them that is peaceful and soothing to me and makes me want to walk back and forth under those trees for hours.
Trying to fulfill my New Year’s photography resolution, which I recently modified slightly, I am constantly searching images on Google in my quest to find new photographic locations and subjects. During one of these searches, I found photographs of a section of highway located just a few miles south of Scott, Arkansas. The road’s official designation is State Highway 161, but the section that caught my eye is known locally as “Pecan Alley” and for good reason as this particular stretch of road is lined for several miles with pecan trees that have grown over the highway. As soon as I saw these photographs, I knew I had to find that location.
My first attempt to find Pecan Alley, back in January, failed. I drove all over the area looking for this highway, and while I found several roads with pecan orchards off of them, I could not find Pecan Alley. As the weeks and months followed, I continued my search, on the Internet (which is a lot cheaper than gas), for this elusive roadway. Finally, about two weeks ago and with the help of the satellite view on Google Maps, I was able to find what I thought was my target. So, on a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon (the kind of afternoon that is horrible for good landscape photography), I hopped in my truck and went on a reconnaissance mission. After about a 30-minute drive, I found the road I was looking for and began driving down it. It wasn’t long before, right in front of me, Pecan Alley appeared!
Because the lighting was not want I wanted, I waited until the following weekend to go back to photograph the area. To make sure I got there in time for sunrise, I got up about 4:30 and was out of the house by 5:00. Unfortunately, or so I thought at the time, the clouds from the previous night’s rain had not cleared. In fact, as I drove along, I noticed occasional flashes of lightning in the distance, and I all could do was hope the storms stayed away. They did.
I faced two problems. First was the lack of parking. The road did not have a shoulder to park on. It was road and then dirt. Of course, after the rain, it was mud, and I was afraid I would get stuck. I didn’t want to park on someone’s property without permission, but I wasn’t about to knock on anyone’s door at 5:30 in the morning and ask if you could park in their driveway. So, I did the only thing I could do: I pulled off the road onto the muddy shoulder and hoped for the best. The best happened that morning, and I didn’t get stuck in the mud.
The second problem I faced was one I had not really expected at that time of day – other people driving down the road. This was especially a concern for me since one of the shots I wanted required me to position myself right in the middle of the road. But I did a quick calculation: country road + pre-sunrise morning + a weekend morning would equal no traffic at all. I was wrong. While I was out there, I probably had six cars go by at a rather high rate of speed. I had expected none. The good thing was that the road was straight, and it was still dark enough that I could see their headlights and move long before they reached me. But, it was still somewhat nerve-wracking.
In the image above, I love the ways the trees line the highway allowing the branches to grow out over the road to create a canopy of leaves. This photograph is, without a doubt, one of my all-time favorites. But, I can’t wait to go back this fall, when the leaves start to change their color, and create another all-time favorite!
Settings: Canon 5D Mk II, 200mm, 5 sec, f/22