Autumn Snow

Bands of sunlight on Laurel Mountain from Convict Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Bands of sunlight on Laurel Mountain from Convict Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

On Tuesday Claudia and I headed over Tioga Pass to Lee Vining. Forecasts called for snow above 7000 feet on Wednesday, so we were trying to get over the pass before the road closed to photograph the snowstorm and its aftermath.

And snow it did. Five or six inches fell at higher elevations on Wednesday, covering the mountains, pines, and aspens. I was like a kid in a candy store; I saw photographs everywhere I looked. I haven’t had time to process or post anything until now because I’ve been spending every spare minute behind the camera, but here are two images from Thursday morning at Convict Lake, and I’ll post more when I get the chance.

Tioga Pass reopened today, so we’re headed back home to Mariposa for a couple of days, but so far the cold and snow haven’t adversely affected the aspens. While the color at some of the higher elevations areas is past peak, many of my favorite lower-elevation areas like June Lake Loop and Lee Vining Canyon still have a mix of green and yellow leaves, so it looks like the color should last a while longer.

— Michael Frye

Related Post: Signs of Autumn

Autumn color along the shore of Convict Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Autumn color along the shore of Convict Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

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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.

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23 Responses to “Autumn Snow”

  1. E E Liley Jr says:

    Oh Michael, you SO DO justice to the Sierra landscape!!!

  2. Kevin Reilly says:


    These are gorgeous. The combination of snow, color and that dramatic light really does make for the best candy store ever. We’re heading over the Sonora pass this weekend for the color, but it looks like it’ll be a blue sky day. Sorry to have missed this.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks Kevin! Conditions like this are pretty rare, which is why we had to make the effort to get over here. But there’s lots to photograph on any day on the east side right now, so you’ll have a great time.

  3. Jerry Cagle says:

    Lovely. I had designs on climbing the “easy” route on Laurel Mountain at one time… Is the park open? I hope you’ve not had to cancel any of your workshops…!

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks Jerry. I’m sure that would have been a nice climb. :) Yosemite is not open. I haven’t had to cancel any workshops yet, thankfully. I’m teaching two workshops on the east side soon, and I have one in Yosemite Valley at the end of the month, so I hope the shutdown ends before then.

  4. Ann says:

    Captivating and serene. It appears as if the Aspen trees have created their own ‘light’. The fresh beginnings snow remind me of sprinkled powered sugar. Most surprising is that the NPS didn’t close down Tioga Pass as part of the government shutdown. Thanks for your posting.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks very much Ann! Indeed, some aspens do seem to glow with their own light when they’re in the shade. The park service is keeping through roads in Yosemite open during the shutdown, including 120 (Tioga Pass), 140, and 41. You’re not supposed to stop inside the park.

  5. [...] away.  This weekend has been beautiful in the high country, with clear skies and dazzling color.  CLICK HERE to read Michael’s [...]

  6. Richard Smith says:

    I was one of 4 photographers at a workshop and happened to be at Covict Lake last Thursday morning with you. I feel like I must lake done something really good in a prior life to have the good karma to have beeen there that morning. It was one on those moments that restores one ‘s sense of awe and wonder. We did June Lake Loop the day before during the snow storm. Our workshop was supposed to have been in Yosemite, but you know what happened. However, no thanks to our government our bad fortune turned into good fortune. Would not have traded that morning at Convict Lake to have beeen anyplace eels in the world. Richard Smith

    • Michael Frye says:

      That was a great morning Richard, and I’m glad you got to experience it. Please feel free to post a link to your photos from that morning if you’d like. Were you with Alan Ross?

      • Richard Smith says:

        Yes, we had the good fortune to spend 5 days with Alan. His knowledge of the eastern Sierra was very impressive. In addition to Convict Lake, we went to Bodie, June Lake Loop (during the snowstorm), the boulder field above Manzanar, the Alabama Hills, and several of the high lakes around Mammoth Lakes. Alan is an excellent teacher and a great guy.

        I will post a link after I upload my photos.

  7. These are beautiful non-Yosemite images. Enjoy seeing these.

  8. Bobby says:


    I discovered your site today. Awesome pictures of fall.

    My wife and I were at Convict Lake on the same day you were, I agree the place was as beautiful as you’ve described.


  9. [...] the snow. I posted one photograph from that snowy day here, and two more from the following morning here. But I made a lot of other images during that storm, and now finally have a chance to show you some [...]

  10. Hi Michael – It’s great to see more beautiful images.
    These 2 images are very beautiful.

    John R McNally.

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