Autumn aspens, Conway Summit, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Autumn aspens, Conway Summit, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Here are two photographs I made last week near Conway Summit on the eastern side of the Sierra. The first one, above, is from Tuesday afternoon, with soft backlight filtering through thin clouds and making the leaves glow. The second image, below, was made Wednesday morning under overcast skies as the snow started to fall. I used a fast shutter speed (1/90th sec.) to freeze the motion of the snowflakes, which created a faint white dot pattern across the frame.

Aspens and willows during an autumn snowstorm, Toiyabe NF, CA, USA

Aspens and willows during an autumn snowstorm, Toiyabe NF, CA, USA

I didn’t set out to show the same composition (well almost the same) with different light and weather. On each visit I tried a variety of different compositions, but this framing just seemed to work well, and I ended up liking both the Tuesday-afternoon and Wednesday-morning versions.

Then, looking at these images later, I was struck by how different the mood is in each photograph. It’s hard to put these things into words, but the first one is brighter and more vibrant, while the second image is softer and more impressionistic.

I’m not sure I can pick between these two. I might have a slight preference for the second image, but only because it’s more unusual. If you have a preference let me know.

But the main reason I wanted to post these is to show how light and weather can completely transform a landscape. This is not a new revelation, just a striking example. We can’t control the weather, but we can adapt to it, and try to find subjects and compositions that work with the conditions we get.

— Michael Frye

Related Posts: Autumn Snow; Signs of Autumn

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Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.