Picture of the week

October 15, 2017

Fall colors of the eastern sierra

Fall Color Paradise

Brilliant fall colors of an aspen grove as found in a higher elevation meadow of the Eastern Sierra. 

I just returned from a fall color photography trip this week, spanning from Hope Valley (junction of Highway 88 and 89 to as far south as the June Lake loop (off 395 between Lee Vining and Mammoth), exploring all my usual spots (and a few new places) looking for the best opportunities.  I was hopeful for a good year given the amount of rain the first half of this season.  In some places such as the Hope Valley and the June Lakes, the colors have been good.  In other places less protected, it appears the trees were adversely hit by the chilly north winds we had last week and a few days this week, knocking some of the leaves off the tops of the trees before they had a chance to ripen. Lundy Canyon this year appears to be a bust with many of the beaver ponds drying up, while some of groves along the Conway Summit are already blown out due to their exposed nature.  But with some effort you can find some hidden nuggets with enough exploration and creativity. The best aspen tend to be in more protected canyons or ravines closer to some water source. With most locations at peak or passing peak, you should go now (if you haven't already).

The images shown below and above were all captured with a Canon EOS 5D mark III and an EF 24-105L lens and a B&W circular polarizer most of the time. I also carried in my bag a wide angle EF 17-40L f/4 and 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 mark II telephoto lenses for some of the captures. With the winds that were present during some of the shooting, it was necessary to increase the ISO setting of the camera to maintain a higher shutter speed (e.g. 1/250 sec) while also trying to time your shots between gusts.  When using the polarizer, it is important to not overdo it, which can result in a distracting dark blue gradient across the sky if cranked to its maximum setting. I will often cross-check the resultant capture on the camera display, and then backing off the polarizer strength if I find this gradient too strong.  This is more noticeable when there is some sky in your image and with a wider angle focal length.

Travel guide to California PhotographyIf you like what you see here and want to learn more about photographing the fall colors in California, the best places to find them, or in general where to go in California for the best photography results, then check out my book available on Amazon here.  WIth over 250 locations covered with 45 separate maps with many color reference images, a wide range of landscape and wildlife locations are documented.