Thursday, September 24, 2009

Eastern Sierra Fall Colors September 23, 2009

My first chase to catch the Eastern Sierra Fall Colors started at 2:40AM on September 23, 2009. I was able to take the Old Priest Grade before they closed it. Very little wildlife crossed my path, one deer that was it. Hunting season is upon us and it always seems there are less deer close to the road. When coming down the steep section of the Tioga pass, right after Ellery Lake, the Aspen “shrubs” have turned yellow and orange with very little green. This is a very difficult image to take due to the jumbled view, so no image.
Looking down into the Lee Vining Canyon, it was still green/lime green. Barely a few Aspen started to show color. One short stop at the Tioga Gas Mart for a breakfast and coffee to go.
The Parker Bench as seen from US 395 has one patch of orange and the rest still looks green.

Bishop Creek Canyon:

Up to Aspendell, the trees are mostly lime green with the mountain sides above Intake II looking yellow with a little green. The big grove behind Aspendell has the smaller Aspens are mostly yellow/orange with a few green trees; the taller Aspens are still green. From here all the way up to Lake Sabrina, 60% of the Aspens are yellow, orange and some red. The rest is still green. Here is some bad news; I did see some trees with brown leaves already mixed in (by the small bridge past the Sabrina campground). Lake Sabrina color is about 75% turned. I barely missed an early morning reflection – just as I set up the camera, fishing boats were crossing the lake and that was it for the reflection. I went back in the afternoon and the sun lit up the trees in a sparkling yellow and orange. There are still some green ones on the slopes. I was trying for a pano, but there was just too much sun. All day - not a cloud in sight. In my opinion the colors at the lake approach peak fast. This coming weekend should be awesome!


As the Sun crests over the mountains, it lights up an Aspen Tree – September 23, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


Fishermen enjoying the afternoon on Lake Sabrina – September 23, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .

The Aspen color along the North Lake Road is about 50/50. With yellow, orange and red colors. The famous “tree tunnel” has one side green, the other side yellow. The big Aspen grove behind the lake is about half yellow with some orange and half green. The slopes up the mountain are mostly a reddish orange with some green. Some of the Aspens close to the outlet by the lake are already red and some trees have brown leaves and don’t look very good. The colors by the first day use parking lot are, in my opinion, at peak. The afternoon sun produced a nice reflection on the lake.


Aspens close by the outlet at North Lake – September 23, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


Aspens glowing in the afternoon sun at North Lake – September 23, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .

I had set up a time table for myself to catch most of the good light along the Bishop Creek Canyon, but there is just no way to catch all the best hours in one day. So I hit the South Fork of Bishop Creek close to 11:30AM. From the Forks campground to the Mountain Glenn campground the trees are mostly green with a hint of yellow here and there. Between this campground and Parchers Resort the color is coming in nicely and the Aspen trees are about 60% turned. Lots of yellow and orange, however the trees around the Table Mountain group camp are still mostly green. The slopes in this area have brilliant colors already, especially the small Aspen shrubs. There is still green in this section. 75% of the Aspens between Parchers and the South Lake parking lot are yellow and orange.


Sun light is bringing out the brilliant colors in the Aspens along the South Fork of Bishop Creek – September 23, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .


Sun light is bringing out the brilliant colors in the Aspens along the South Fork of Bishop Creek – September 23, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .

Rock Creek Canyon:
After exploring enough of the South For it was time to make it to the Rock Creek Canyon. Due to my time constraints, I got there around 1:30PM. Last year Rock Creek dazzled me with gorgeous colors, but this year ….hmm less impressive. Don’t get me wrong there is color; the show is just not like last year. The trees along road between US 395 and the snow park area are mostly green with a few colors along the slopes. Starting at the snow park area the color is yellow, red and some green. Overall color is about 50/50. From the Pack Station to the Mosquito Flat trailhead parking the color is at 80%. A lot of the trees are already yellow, with some orange and red. Some of the trees have lost their leaves or have brown leaves mixed into them.


Rock Creek Canyon Fall Color – September 23, 2009. © Copyright Inge Fernau .

This was a long day for me and I returned to the Bishop Creek Canyon to get some afternoon light. The sky was blue all day - not a single cloud. It makes shooting at midday pretty hard. On most of my images at that time I used a 4 stop soft GND filter to tone down some of the harsh sky. I am not sure why some of the trees already had brown leaves, because a local told me they had no freeze up there yet; maybe drought? Sunset was not going to be eventful so I started to make my way back home. I did observe great sunset light once in Yosemite, most likely from the smoke in the air. The sunset afterglow lasted for a long time. The Old Priest Grade was closed due to repairs, so I had to take the long way down….I was beat by the time I got home at 11PM. It was too warm, with too much sun to take an afternoon nap and for the life of me I could not find a spot shady enough to close my eyes. My body was aching (still is) from all the driving. I have to come up with a different game plan when I go back next week to be able to stay past sunset (if it is promising). I will definitely have to take an afternoon nap.

These (digital) photographs are not in the public domain! They may not be used on websites, blogs, or in any other media, they may not be copied, printed or otherwise reproduced in any manner or form, whether in whole or in part without explicit advance written permission from Inge Fernau

Please visit my website for this and more. All images may be purchased or licensed in a range of sizes.

Facebook - Magical Glow Photography
Twitter - Inge Fernau


Steven said...

OMG Inge, that's an insane trip. Awesome job on the report and great pictures.

Kahlee said...

Great work, Inge. Talk about a whirlwind tour! Really lovely images.

Greg Coates said...

Those are absolutely beautiful.

Would you mind sharing how you make those borders?

Magical Glow Photography said...

Greg, I purchased the ACsFlexibleframes action at and use the Blurred Extension option.