One of the things I really look forward to each year is changing seasons, especially from Summer to Fall. Where I live we get some crazy temperature swings while going through this transition, but I love it just the same.
What I really enjoy about this time of year is heading out for a photo adventure. There are many different places to go, but the Eastern Sierra is at the top of my list. I realize that there’s quite a show in the Eastern States, but the Eastern Sierra does a pretty admirable job too!
I started really paying attention to the Fall colors in the Eastern Sierra about 6 years ago. My wife and I made a special trip to see all of the brilliant color for ourselves. Back then I had my trusty Canon Rebel 300D, my 1st DSLR. At the time it was quite advanced with it’s 6 megapixels and interchangeable lens. I could add filters, use an external flash, and make very respectable prints from 4×6 to 8×10. In case you’ve never seen the 300D or forgot what it looked like, here’s a picture of one:
When we arrived at our destination I could hardly believe how beautiful it was! Stunning color everywhere. The Aspen’s were various shades of yellow, orange, and red. I knew this was going to a special trip with many photo opportunities! We started out in the high country above Bishop California, in and around Bishop Creek:
Fortunately, we were not limited to the Bishop Creek area. The color was everywhere there were Aspen tree’s in the Eastern Sierra. We explored the June Lake Loop and the Lundy Lake area. It was interesting to see so many other photographers running around. This was one time of the year when the Fishermen were outnumbered by another group of outdoor enthusiast.
With regards to my photography, I didn’t really do anything special. I did most of my work back then in jpeg format, and almost always in Aperture Priority mode (meaning I would select the aperture and the camera would set the shutter speed). I would set my ISO to 100 to eliminate the potential for any noise in my images. One of the things I was religious about was using a tripod. I have a big, heavy Manfrotto. Yes there are newer models out that are not so heavy, but they are expensive and my old Manfrotto is rock steady, so I’ll save my money and keep using it! The last thing I did was using neutral density filters when I was around water.
Neutral density filters are a handy tool when you want to reduce the amount of light reaching your camera’s sensor. In this case I wanted to use a long shutter speed to cause the moving water to blur (inferring motion), but didn’t want to overexpose my image. You can get neutral density filters in varying degrees of light blocking power. Be sure to read the description because each maker seems to have their own terminology regarding how much light (usually measured in Stops) will be reduced. Here are a couple of examples of using a neutral density filter to blur moving water:
There’s a final tip I can share, something that I’m also religious about! While you can try taking pictures all day, there are really only 2 times of the day when you’ll have the best light (sometimes only 1 time depending on where you are). If you want to nail that contest winning image, especially in the Eastern Sierra, you’re going to have to get your butt out of bed! Magic happens when the sun is rising over the White Mountains and you see the Alpen Glow on the Eastern Sierra. I’ve started many of my photo outings at 5:00am (depending on where I was going). I wanted to get to my spot, and be set up and ready to go when the show starts! And I must say that I’ve rarely been disappointed. Some mornings may be a little better than others, but stop and look where you are! You are in God’s Country and it doesn’t get much better than that!
Here are a couple links to the places I get most of my photo gear. You can go there and search on neutral density filters, or Manfrotto tripods, or anything else having to do with photography:
Be sure to visit my gallery (click the Photo Gallery link at the top of the page). Until next time, Happy Shooting!