We just finished our Eastern Sierra Fall Color workshop, and start another workshop tomorrow, so I just have time for a quick post. But we had a lot of fun last week with our group. Autumn arrived early on the east side, and then a storm came through just before the workshop, closing many Sierra passes and blowing leaves off the trees. But we still found some beautiful color; I’ve included a few photographs here made during and just before the workshop.
Though the color is fading in the eastern Sierra, the autumn foliage in Yosemite Valley typically peaks around the end of October and beginning of November. I made a detour into Yosemite Valley on our way over to the east side on October 13th. At that time it looked like the color was changing early – especially the big-leaf maples. I haven’t been back to the valley, but I talked with Evan Russel at The Ansel Adams Gallery today, and he said that there are some colorful dogwoods along Highway 120, and the big-leaf maples are still vibrant in many places in the valley. The oaks, cottonwoods, and dogwoods in the valley still have a way to go, so there should still be some good color in the valley for another couple of weeks.
I’ll post more photos when I have a chance!
— Michael Frye
Related Posts: Aspen Kaleidoscope; Early Autumn Color
Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, 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: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has 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.
I really like the “Aspens, Dogwoods and Willows along a Creek” shot; the mix of colors and flowing stream are striking.
A couple of days ago
I tried to shoot some Cottonwoods around a stream here in Colorado Springs. They are usually the last holdouts of fall color in late October. Unfortunately, although many were at peak yellow, the color seemed less than optimal. My thought was they looked very dry. The humidity here as been ~8-9% and record high temperatures during the day. Do you find that low humidity in the autumn affects leaf color? A few weeks ago when moisture was better, the aspen color was vibrant at their peak.
Thanks Jim! I haven’t noticed a correlation between humidity and autumn color, but the record high temps could be a factor. Autumn leaves apparently need clear, cool (but not freezing) nights. I have noticed that the cottonwoods in Yosemite Valley have highly variable fall color, and good years for them are rather uncommon.
Many thanks, Michael, I love the little creek with multi-color foliage abounding!
By-the-way, I just purchased your Landscapes in Lightroom ebook and video package and it’s just fantastic. I’m working my way through it and can see it is going to make a substantial contribution to my workflow in LR and will definitely improve the quality of my images, thanks so much for putting this together.
Thank you Bob – and I’m glad you like the ebook!
Thanks for sharing, Michael. I also love your foliage around the creek photo very much. I was in Yosemite on 22/23 Oct. The dogwoods were very colorful (including strong red hues) along Wawona Road. There were also a few spots along El Portal Road with some nice color. The big-leaf maples along Southside Drive east of Bridalveil Fall were near or at peak. As you pointed out, not much happening with the oaks, cottonwoods and dogwoods in the valley as of last weekend.
Thanks for the report CK!