First off, apologies for the length of time since I last posted. I’ve been busy with my graduate studies work (which, fortunately, involves lots of cameras.. perhaps one day I’ll even have some nature images to share from that work). Anyhow, I was finally able to make a quick trip out into the wilderness again, just in time for the last few days of fall in the higher elevations of the Eastern Sierra. Every year is different, and in a pleasant contrast to last year, the colors in the aspen leaves were quite spectacular this time. A cold storm earlier in the week brought some snow and frost down to 9,000 feet. I wish I could have been there during and right after the storm, but fortunately some of the magic remained a little longer.

“Kaleidoscape” ~ Bishop Creek, CA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, tripod
Exposure: iso 100, f/14, 0.5 sec

The black and brown leaves you see are a result of frost burn. If the temperatures get much below freezing for a few days the leaves start to turn brown and black very quickly (even while they are still on the trees) – I suppose you can think of it like frostbite you’d get on your fingers. Needless to say, it generally pays to get there before the burn is too bad, though in this case I find it adds an interesting contrast.

Most of the famous aspen images you generally see are from Colorado, where somehow they are able to grow perfectly straight in large uninterrupted groves. In the Sierra our aspens must suffer through a much harder life, as a result they are generally full of tortured twists and turns. To further frustrate us photographers they can never manage to keep themselves fully segregated from other bushy shrubs and less photogenic trees. At least they make up for it in colors – nowhere else have I ever seen such brilliantly orange and red aspen!

“Aspen in Flames” ~ Bishop Creek, CA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 70-200mm, tripod
Exposure: iso 100, f/16, 3.2 sec

The second evening and morning I explored an area I had discovered last year, and while I never got any images then that I was happy with, I immediately knew it was a special place. Far away from the crowds, this little stream is a truly wild place. With no trails to lead the way it becomes a tough bushwack through the spiny rose bushes and thick bundles of birch. Yet, in one spot the aspen have miraculously kept every other plant at bay, keeping the magical grassy carpet to themselves. The heavy winds earlier that week had knocked many of the bright yellow leaves from the trees; just what I’d hoped would happen! The magic of these wild places is impossible to relay in an image, but hopefully you can feel the peace and quiet, the awe and wonder, and can perhaps even smell the damp leaves in the crisp morning air.

“Magic Carpet” ~ Bishop, CA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 16-35mm II, polarizer, tripod
Exposure: iso 100 f/16, 3.2 sec
Notes: bracketed two exposure for focus blending, blended with Helicon Focus

Tags: ,

4 Comments to “Fall Kaleidoscapes”

  1. Kobus says:

    Fantastic Floris!

  2. Beautiful!
    Congratulations for all of your photogafic work.

    From Spain, jose.

  3. Kent Mearig says:

    I’ve missed seeing new posts from you lately. Whichever side of the school scene you’re on, it can definitely take over. You got some top shelf photos during your short trip.

  4. Kobus Smit says:

    I love these autumn shots Floris. You are a master when it comes to creativity! Keep it up in 2011.