Autumn Extremes

Fall colors around here weren’t as I expected.  The many people I’ve mentioned this to are mostly likely tired of hearing about it and would prefer the seasons move on to something new.  Between being disappointed and being busy at work I’m only now starting to look through all my images to see how they may turn out.

So far a couple have caught my attention.  Neither is the grand landscape of fall quilted colors, but rather portray those aspects unique to photography of showing something usually missed or very difficult to see.

Lines of the season

Lines of the season

This one is just a close-up of a few leaves.  These were surrounded by hundreds of similar colored and shaped leaves but what caught my attention was how the lines and shadows enhanced the dimensionality of the composition.  The light was just the right angle to bring out the surface details while being bright enough to highlight the color.  All the little irregularities in the leaf, signs of its end, break up the linear nature of the image and bring some character to the subject.  It’s a scene easily missed if you are literally looking at the forest instead of the trees.

Morning Shore

Morning Shore

This one is a multi-image HDR composition, with enough exposures to enable the viewer to see the rocks as well as the clouds at sunrise.  The location overlooks Lake Michigan and that morning a strong wind was pushing 4-5 foot swells right into the rocky shoreline – hence the wispy appearance of the water.  Standing there you would be able to see the sunrise or the rocks, but probably not both – the dynamic range was too great even for human eyes.  I liked the color version but it was complex – grey rocks, green grass, pale blue water, pink/orange sunrise – and hard to decide on the subject.  Turning it into B&W resolved much of the conflict, I believe.  Now it portrays textures, from hard to soft, permanent to ethereal, giving a sense of anticipation of what might happen next across three distinct layers from bottom to top.

Getting hyped up about fall colors is easy to do since I have a history of color slides for my early photography experience.  Each year I just want to capture that feeling again, only this time with better skills and “seeing” so that I’m amazed at the images.  Some years it happens; some it doesn’t.  What I have to keep remembering is there are scenes everywhere – just have to seek them out and make something of them.

 

Trying a little of everything.

Wandering around a nearby state park, trying out some different techniques.  Nice day to be doing just about any type of photography.

First, with the strong morning sun and no cloud cover shadows were going to be black, but contain some interesting details.  So, go with HDR.

5-image HDR

5-image HDR

Nearing the top of the bluff with almost the whole lake spread out before us, good time to show the complete picture with a panoramic.

10-image Panoramic

10-image Panoramic

One of the most popular rock formations, and some clouds coming in for sky definition, along with a look at the rest of the lake.  Don’t want the distortion of a really short lens, so another panoramic.

7-image Panoramic

7-image Panoramic

More clouds coming in fast but still plenty of sunshine overhead.  With the contrast of rock, water, sky and foliage, time for infrared.

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On the way down, along a forested trail, turn from the grand landscape to the intimate one.

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All in all a nice walk through some varying terrain.  What better way to spend a holiday?

Sierra Images

On the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range lies Mono Lake, a remnant of a prehistoric sea that filled the valley below Tioga Pass.  Once famous for the millions of migratory birds that stopped here on their travel and the Pacific gulls that nested in the millions, Mono Lake suffered from Los Angeles siphoning off water from the melting snowpack that feeds the lake.  Threatened with disappearance, the lake is slowly recovering after efforts by conservation groups to wrestle the water supply away from the metropolis almost 400 miles away.  Nonetheless, the numbers of birds using Mono Lake for resting, feeding and nesting has dropped significantly as they seek other havens in this desert environment.

Mono Lake from Visitor's Center

Mono Lake from Visitor’s Center

Mono Lake is famous for its tufa formations (images of those later), remains of thermal vents in the lake’s bottom that are gradually exposed as the water level drops.  The two islands in the lake and the chain of craters to the south are symbols of the younger and more violent volcanic activity in this valley.  Although Mono Lake is probably over 1 million years old it sits on unstable foundations.  Water passing through these younger strata pick up minerals, contributing to a salinity several times greater than the ocean and an alkaline nature that Mark Twain commented on as being useful for cleaning clothes by simply dipping them in the water a few times!

Mono Lake from overlook

Mono Lake from overlook

Little towns string along the eastern Sierra foothills, agricultural oasis catering to the constant tourist flow passing through in admiration of the scenery to the west.

Sierras from Bridgeport, CA

Sierras from Bridgeport, CA

North Dome in Mirror Lake, Yosemite

North Dome in Mirror Lake, Yosemite

Glacier Point and Royal Arch Creek, Yosemite

Glacier Point and Royal Arch Creek, Yosemite

Bridalveil Falls and Leaning Tower, Yosemite

Bridalveil Falls and Leaning Tower, Yosemite

Natural scenes, end of summer

Just a little cruising around the middle of the state looking for fall color opportunities.  Surprising topography where the glaciers didn’t bulldoze everything flat.

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Natural Bridge State Park

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Devil’s Lake State Park

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Devil’s Lake State Park

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Halweg Road

Watch me evolve

One of the aspects of autumn colors I really like are the trees that gradually change from the outside in.  Their outer leaves start building colors while the interior leaves retain some sense of summer normality.  It gives the tree an iridescent look, especially when the wind moves the leaves and your perspective on green vs. color changes.  It’s a color scheme that goes with anything surrounding the tree!