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Photographing Fall Color at Biltmore

Posted on 10/18/2013 by Leeann Donnelly

Asheville photographer Sandra Stambaugh has photographed Biltmore’s gardens and landscapes for more than 20 years. We asked her to share some of her favorite spots on the estate where you can capture images of beautiful fall color.

Asheville photographer Sandra Stambaugh has documented Biltmore for more than 20 years.I never think of Biltmore being completely covered in a blaze of color during the fall. It’s more like a brilliant performance that pops up in one location, then moves on to dazzle in another one. This gradual movement gives Biltmore’s guests the opportunity to experience fall’s colors no matter when they visit Biltmore in autumn. 

Some of the most spectacular color comes early, from gorgeous bright red and orange sugar maple trees, such as those that greet guests at Biltmore’s Welcome Center.

Some of what I call the “signature shots,” like the maples that border the road at the Bass Pond, compel guests to get out of their cars and take pictures. It's beautiful anytime of the day but especially in the afternoon when the leaves are back-lit by the western sun and glow against a blue sky. The walk around the Bass Pond is a must-do. Colorful trees surround the pond and frame the bridge looking toward the mountains and are beautifully reflected in the water.

Another signature shot is along the hill leading up to the statue of Diana, across the lawn from Biltmore House.  Every year I try to get a shot from the statue’s perspective. Here you have a full view of the house, framed on the right side by tall colorful trees. It is a lovely place to have a picnic. With leaves swirling around and covering the ground, it can be magical. I have witnessed several proposals here during the fall.

One of my favorite shots near Diana is of the English Ivy that covers the wall of the Rampe Douce. It drapes down over the fountain, and turns a gorgeous red with sprinkles of dark gray berries. I have photographed the leaves floating in the fountain for a beautiful shot.

Another must-have shot is from the Lagoon with the view of the back of Biltmore House. I’ve most often seen people taking pictures from the open center view on the lagoon’s northern edge, but I prefer the view from the boat ramp. This location will give much more depth to your shot. Your eyes are led through the curves of the banks, and often, ducks are swimming about making the shot even more iconic. From this spot, the surrounding trees frame the house, and if there’s no wind, the structure will be reflected in the water – a perfect upside down mirror image of Biltmore House.

And then there's the “tree that's on fire," as I have heard many guests describe it. This impressive Japanese maple spreads out below the Pergola next to Biltmore House, and its lacy leaves turn a vivid red. A beautiful shot is from the south end of the Pergola looking toward the house, with this brilliant tree sitting below.

The grasses behind the South Terrace at Biltmore House are very pretty. This area is a beautiful place to take family photographs. Just have them sit on the ground with the grasses in the background. This is really nice in the afternoon light.

You might not think of the Italian Garden as a fall destination but this area can be very picturesque. The large lotus leaves turn a golden yellow and mingle with the dry pods popping up like dark shower heads.

Biltmore is a wonderful place to take pictures any time of the year, but there is something magical about fall at Biltmore. Brilliant colors off set the splendor of the gardens and landscapes. The fields soften and the light sharpens, intensifying the architectural details of Biltmore House. There are many opportunities to take beautiful pictures and it’s a great time to bring special friends and family for a cherished portrait.

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