“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”― Ansel Adams
As nature photographers we live for the seasons. The summer months have provided many of us some great photo opportunities with family vacations, graduations, sporting events, beautiful scenery and even some exciting lightning strikes during some rare summer thunderstorms for those who were brave enough to go and risk their lives shooting lightning.
As much as I love the warm summer days and nights, I look forward to the fall season when the days can still be warm but the nights are much cooler. Our trees begin to produce those vibrant fall colors so many of us love to photograph. We have all heard of how beautiful the fall colors can be in the Eastern parts of the United States but I have found some places in California that can be just as beautiful. The area I would like to share with you is the Eastern Sierra’s along Highway 395, which I was fortunate enough to be able to visit for the first time two years ago.
From the Bay Area, it is a five-hour drive (250 mi.) to Lee Vining near Mono Lake. There are many canyons, creeks and lakes in this area. My favorite areas near Lee Vining are Lundy Lake, which is just a few miles North of Lee Vining off Highway 395 or the June Lake Loop which is 5 miles south on Highway 395. You can take a passenger car to Lundy Lake but do expect it to get dirty. The ride can be a bit rough in some spots depending on whether there has been rain or not. June Lake Loop has four lakes along the loop and you will be driving on paved roads.
My all time favorite location is 80 miles South of Lee Vining which is home to some of the most beautiful lakes, streams and canyons I have ever seen. Most use the town of Bishop as a base camp and take day trips to Bishop Creek Canyon via Lake Sabrina Rd. 15 miles West of Bishop.
As with most landscape photography, it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. The great thing about the Eastern Sierras is each of these areas is at different elevations ranging from 4,000-10,000 ft. So, if you miss the peak period for fall color at one location, you may be able to find it peaking at another nearby canyon or lake.
Fall color reports can be found online to keep you up to date on the progress of the fall color. I would recommend going when your schedule allows between the last week in September to the middle of October. Don’t worry that just because one report says the fall color is a week away from being at the peak or is past peak that there won’t be anything to shoot. I found out last year conditions can change very fast depending on the weather. I choose to postpone my trip and found out the Fall color had peaked overnight and missed it at one location but thankfully I was able to find another location nearby where the fall color was in abundance. Wind has been known to ruin some people’s plans to shoot fall color after the leaves all blew off, but I have found bare trees with fallen leaves on the ground can be just as beautiful.
This is just one area in California where fall colors explode. There are many other areas and they all peak at different times. Other locations similar to the Eastern Sierras are Hope Valley near Lake Tahoe, and Plumas County near Quincy. We also have our beautiful Napa and Sonoma Valley’s that peak late October through mid November.
What will you need for a successful trip.*
1. Check Fall Color updates often
2. Make reservations as soon as possible since there are few motels in the area and they book up very fast.
3. Dress in layers. It can be very cold in the am, but warm in the afternoon.
4. Bring camera, wide-angle, telephoto, macro lens, tripod, cable release or self timer (on camera), extra memory cards & batteries, polarizing filter, food and drink since there are no stores in most of these canyons.
5. Laptop and external hard drives to review and back up images.
*Editors Note: When shooting fall color I have my camera on a tripod (most of the time), use Raw format, bracket 3 exposures 2-stops apart, use Live View, Aperture Priority, f/8-f/11 and on occasion f/16-f/22, ISO 100, 2 second timer set in camera or cable release to prevent camera shake.
N4C August Competition Results
Journalism Projected Images – Masters
Motocross Rider Performs No Hands Stunt At CA State Fair
Four DVCC members placed in the N4C monthly competition with a total of six winning images. Congratulations to Cathy Cooper for her first place in Journalism Projected Image Masters for her Motocross Rider Performs No Hands Stunt At CA State Fair image, Amory Donaldson for her 2nd place in Pictorial Projected Image Masters Encircle my heart with your Love! image, and Grant Kreinberg and Irena Miles for their winning images.
To see a list of all the N4C winners visit the N4C website. The results on the DVCC STANDINGS page have been updated to reflect these latest N4C results.
Pictorial Projected Images – Masters
Encircle my heart with your Love!
Travel Projected Images – Intermediate
On a hot and humid afternoon, a vendor with freshly cut cooled pineapples
approaches a modern wedding party preparing for photos on the steps of Angkor Wat.
DVCC August Judged Competition
At our August competition we had 55 images submitted. Our judge for the evening was John Goya, who was new to judging our clubs images. He provided some strong critiques in trying to help us become better photographers. Keep in mind that our judges comments are their own personal opinion and if your images don’t place in this months competition, you can always resubmit it into another months competition with a different judge.
To view all the winning entries please visit our competition website.
Projected Image of the Night
Congratulations goes out to Amory Donaldson for her ” Elephant Seal Weaners Resting Together” nature image.
Best in Show
Nature Projected Images – Masters
Elephant seal weaners resting together M. angustirostris
Print of the Night
Congratulations goes out to Chris Nelson for his “On The Western Range” pictorial image.