A very different fall

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Tomorrow afternoon the first of two Yosemite fall color workshops starts. When I’m preparing to go on a trip I like to go through my images from the previous year. Seeing the old images helps me set the tone for the trip and it gets the creative juices flowing. Usually, fall in Yosemite is a very peaceful time. The falls are almost entirely dry leaving the, nearly still, Merced river to artfully display reflections of fall color.  The operative word, for this trip, is usually.

An very strong fall storm is still rolling through California. It is bringing early snow and a huge amount of water to a very thirsty landscape. The impact that the storm will have on my trip will be WATER! All of the weather should have the falls running with spring-like flows. The combination of fall color with spring water conditions will allow for some very rare photo opportunities.  I can’t wait to get there.

As mentioned, this image was taken last year during a fall workshop. It reminds me a great deal of an Ansel Adams image of some aspen trees. The rest of the group was photographing the last, golden light, on Half Dome. This stand of trees was across the river from our location and just barely picking up a shaft of side light. The effect was that aspen leaves illuminated like little lanterns on an otherwise dark background.

I made the image with my Canon 5D and 100-400L lens. I was zoomed in to 160mm. I set the aperture at f/11 to get the sharpest possible image which gave me an exposure of 2 seconds at ISO 100. An exposure like that underscores the importance of using a quality tripod for landscape work. To have any chance at  hand-holding the camera for this scene I would have had to open my aperture as wide as possible and/or cranked up my ISO to eliminate camera shake.  Both would have compromised the image.  The tripod allows me to use the right aperture for the scene without having to let my ability to hold the camera still override my creativity.