A tiny red plant pokes up between bridge planks on a footpath in Portland on Monday Oct. 18, 2021. Fall colors aren't just for grand, mountain vistas. They're also small and right underneath our noses. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

PORTLAND, Maine — Dramatic, mountain vistas are usually what folks are hunting for when they’re out on a leaf peeping picture prowl.

But long drives are unnecessary. You don’t even have to pack your lunch. Fall’s blazing reds, glowing golds and surprising purples are all around, even in the miniature landscapes of your local walking path or your own backyard.

Just think small.

Clockwise, from left: Fallen autumn leaves cover a sidewalk; Purple leaves stand out against a golden background along a footpath in Portland; Leaves change from green to gold. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

I made these photos over two mornings, walking my dog on the Fore River Trail in Portland. It follows a pole line from outer Congress Street, beside the Fore River, to Thompson’s Point. Along the way it skirts a set of railroad tracks, a strip mall, some athletic fields and a sewage pumping station.

A crabapple tree and other plants start to show their fall colors along a footpath in Portland on Monday Oct. 18, 2021. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

It’s not pristine wilderness.

It doesn’t have to be. Nature is generous when it comes to fall hues. Scrubby, path-side maples and clusters of sumac huddled under humming power lines shine just as bright as any mountain top scenic overlook. They’re just on a more modest scale.

Clockwise, from left: Drooping sumac leaves are lit by morning sun; Golden maple leaves shine against a blue sky and green foliage; Fallen crabapples cover a walkway along a footpath in Portland; Red maple leaves at their peak autumn color blaze along a footpath in Portland on Monday. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

This is where a camera can really help you see.

Looking through a viewfinder, you lose the rest of the world. Eyes can better focus on the singular beauty of one fallen leaf or a scrappy, unnamed weed showing off some color. The camera frame cuts out extraneous distractions, leaving you to ponder nature’s overlooked gems.

A heron prowls the banks of the Fore River in Portland on Monday Oct. 18, 2021. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Also, try turning your gaze downward. A red leaf, dropped on a patch of still-green grass can really gleam. Likewise, looking up, dull oak leaves come alive against a crisp, blue sky. Sideways, early light helps define things, too. Don’t sleep too late. Fresh light can reveal patterns and structures you may not have noticed before.

Autumn leaves change colors to match a sign on a fence in Portland on Monday Oct. 18, 2021. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

One last bit of advice: Walk the same path, day after day and you’ll get to know a place, visually. Seasonal changes get more dramatic in familiar places. Your eyes will eventually see new things you — or maybe nobody — ever noticed before.

If you have fall photo questions email them to tbennett@bangordailynews.com.

Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.