For the fall of 2007 I made a one weeklong road trip into the Eastern Sierra from Wednesday October 3rd through Tuesday October 9th in order to capture peaking foliage during and after a forecasted unseasonable cold snowstorm. That snowstorm was similar to other cold storms in past years that abruptly caused widespread damage to leaf color in affected quaking aspen groves and other broadleaf species. The following contains some general observations for fall leaf seekers and photographers as to the natural history of aspen leaf illumination and leaf damage. Much is simply my observations from many years as a Sierra landscape photographer thus not from accepted scientific studies. I have more basic quaking aspen, populus tremuloides, information at my Fall 2006...4 Foliage Road Trips selection on my homepage. More comprehensive general quaking aspen information is available at the US National Forest Service site. There are also a number of other websites that provide basic information on reasons for fall leaf color changes though they don't go into the subtle reasons for premature leaf damage and shedding. This webpage is also a modest chronicle of my fall road trip providing some insight to life of this photographer in the field. I only vaguely refer to locations of some of the more obscure aspen photography groves, leaving it up to those leaf seekers and photographers that make an extra effort going beyond easily accessed roadside locations to reap such rewards. There is an enormous amount of aspen forest that has rarely if ever been visited in the fall. Only a small percentage of visitors ever bother to explore beyond a few hundred yards of roads or perimeters of groves that leaves vast possibilities for the few that make more effort. Images on this page have been captured with my little Coolpix 7900 digital camera while the slideshow also contains flatbed scans from eleven 4x5 transparencies. To view the slideshow.
First I'd like to present some data to show what kind of weather occurred during this usual leaf-changing period in the Eastern Sierra. The below data from the California Department of Water Resources aka CDEC website comes from remote automated weather stations. The more prominent Eastern Sierra aspen groves are between Hope Valley on the West Fork of the Carson River and Bishop Creek, 120 miles south. Thus I selected remote stations near these two basins, Caples Lake and South Lake remote weather stations respectively. There is a 1600 foot elevation difference between the two effecting about a 5 degrees Fahrenheit temperature difference due to altitude alone. Of course there are a number of other environmental factors involved. Hope Valley tends to be colder during mornings when regional winds are light than the nearby Caples Lake station even though it 1000 feet lower due to mountain valley cold air damming. The heading row is days of September from the 15th continuing into October to the 7th in 2007. The second row is the minimum temperature in degrees Fahrenheit often occurring about sunrise. And the third row is recorded water precipitation with about one inch of snow equivalent for each 0.12 inches of water. Note the South Lake precipitation data is from a tip bucket sensor that only records after each 0.12 inches accumulates then tips the sensor. One will note that until the very windy then cold October 5th leaf killer storm, aspen conditions were coming along nicely and temperatures had barely dipped below freezing a few days when two previous cold fronts came through.
The following is an example of how this data might be used. There is an approximate 3 degrees difference for each 1000 feet of altitude. One can roughly calculate that on September 24 when a low of 25 degrees occurred at South Lake at 9600 feet, that at the Big Trees Campground aspen grove along Bishop Creek at 7300 feet, the temperature may have only dropped to 25+3(9600-7300)/1000 or 32 degrees. From that information one might expect that no trees at Big Trees would have any leaf damage while some along the shores of South Lake reservoir at 9800 feet certainly would. Each fall I tend to monitor the above and other CDEC sensors in this region whenever early cold fronts pass in order to evaluate possible affects to leaf conditions. The Reno National Weather Service office issues weather forecasts for northern sections of this region on their website that includes predicted wind speeds and direction at both the Sierra Crest and down in the valleys. If those wind speeds are going to be high, one can expect that exposed groves may have leaves blown off. One might predict if specific aspen groves may be affected by evaluating a grove's topography on a USGS topographic map as those freely viewable at http://www.topozone.com.
Thus if 40 mph winds are predicted to blow from the northwest over the Mono Lake region, one can expect the large aspen groves on the east slopes of Mount Wood just east of Silver Lake labeled East Grove, won't be very affected because they lie on the lee aspect of such winds. On the other hand the large aspen groves on northwest side of that mountain labeled NW Grove on what is often referred to as the Parker Bench would be exposed to winds driving down over Parker Pass between Mt Lewis and Mt Wood. Thus winds would likely blow a lot of leaves off if they were in their shedding phase. Of course reliable up to date web reports from recent visitors to areas is worth a lot more than such analysis. However there are far more aspen groves in the Eastern Sierra for those photographers that are willing to drive up the many dirt roads or hike a bit, and most of those simply are not reported on or if so only vaguely. Thus some analysis can help refine one's planning before a road trip.
Generally aspen leaves change color in the fall when a tree slowly cuts off water flow to leaves that causes chlorophyll, the dominant green pigment inside tiny structures called plastids also termed chloroplasts involved in photosynthesis a tree's food manufacturing process for growth purposes, to gradually disappear while yellow, orange, and red pigments remain. Carotenoids are a yellow and orange family of pigments also inside their own plastids that remain. Thus the yellow pigments were already inside aspen leaves though less dominant than green pigments. That is why aspen leaves have a light green hue instead of the darker green hues of many other tree species apparently without many yellow pigments. Optimal conditions for brilliant leaf color is said to include warm sunny days that promote sugar production in cell sap and cool nights that remain above freezing which inhibit transport of those saps out of the leaves. The trapped sugars then change to red pigments called anthocyanins. Leaves normally have a system of water pressure transport from roots through trunk and branches to leaves that is powered by the photosynthesis process in leaves. Within leaves themselves, a system of veins channel water nutrients, and plant chemicals to cells within the leaf blade. However most broadleaf trees have evolved to shed leaves in the winter in order to enter a period of dormancy. A special cork cell layer, termed the abscission layer, develops across the branch end of petioles, the leaf attachment stalks, and that slowly reduces water transport channels and weakens mechanical integrity of the leaf attachment. After a leaf drops off with its petiole, a leaf scar forms on branches sealing off further fluid losses. One often observes reddest aspen leaves on most exposed to sunshine tree top branches. It is those leaves that are likely to produce sugars due to warm sunny days versus leaves lower down blocked by other leaves within a tree's crown. An inspection of leaves with red color often shows the veining network that tends to be more green or yellow versus further from the vein red areas where the sugars more easily become trapped.
An important point to understand is that most leaves on a tree must still be receiving some water that totally stops once a leaf has shed. Otherwise a leaf on a tree would act like those that have already fallen to the ground and they don't. Leaves that shed for more than a day or two lose fall leaf color saturation and dry becoming crispy. One can observe what happens by picking up some pretty freshly fallen aspen leaves or actually picking them off a tree and then leaving them in one's vehicle a day or two. Leaves that have fallen to the ground are in a naturally evolved moist decaying environment in which decomposing fungus and bacteria break down and recycle nutrients of leaves. Thus a photographer that wishes to photograph colorful leaves that have just fallen into aesthetic ground situations doesn't have the luxury of putting off immediate capture and coming back the next day. The fresher a new leaf is on the ground the better it will appear.
Apparently freezing temperatures below the high 20s can lead to changes in leaf color pigments. The longer temperatures remain cold seems to have a greater affect on pigments than the typical dip overnight to a minimum at sunrise that then rebounds during the day. Leaves that are still green, are much less affected by cold temperatures but at a some low temperature in the teens even green leaves will develop splotches of brown or go fully dark brown while still on trees. That may be due to a leaf blade freezing solidly instead of just frost on the leaf surface thus stopping water and nutrient flow. And it follows that leaves that have recently changed from green to yellow and orange are also less affected by cold temperatures than leaves further along in the leaf shedding cycle. Anytime of year on days without general regional wind flow, higher elevation cooler air at night tends to gently sump down canyon drainages to lower elevations. The effect is that coldest air is often right along canyon bottom stream channels. Because of that, one sometimes sees bands of browning leaf damage narrowly confined along canyon streams while trees just 100 feet above a canyon bottom are fine. Also small mountain valleys that are constricted by canyon walls at their head as for example Hope Valley near the Sorenson's Resort, tend to dam up such cold air. Thus trees behind such a dam are more likely to suffer cold effects than those above. And aspen groves that are in drainage basins with high elevation shadowed north facing slopes, are more likely to have cold sumping air flow down each night. An example is at 7400 feet at the Upper Lee Vining Campground area aspen along Lee Vining Creek where highway SR120 begins to climb towards Tioga pass. Each night cold air from the high crest peaks between Mount Dana and North Peak flows far down the canyon above the creek to these lower areas. A comparison of how much one area of aspen groves changed in just three days after a damaging cold storm passed through, Conway Summit groves October 3 versus the conditions right after the cold storm 3 days later Conway Summit groves October 6. Note how the leaves in the distant upper groves lost many leaves and their bright yellow color and how many nearer grove tree colors are now a more brownish orange.
Leaves on trees in windy locations or on exposed treetops tend to evolve through color changes more quickly and are more likely to fall off sooner if windy conditions occur. I would speculate that the wind mechanically helps break a leaf's vein water transport network thus making it dry, weaken, and color evolve faster. Less severe cold temperatures also seem to affect the vibrancy of aspen leaves even if they do not go brown by affecting a leaf's optimal translucence resulting in duller color. Usually leaves appear most strikingly luminous when backlit. Of course the sun is bright, thus a light translucent material that filters some sunshine wavelengths and transmits others as yellow wavelengths, has much more potential to be strongly illuminated on the backlit side than mere reflected material illumination. That is how many indicator lights on modern electronic equipment have been engineered with a light bulb in back of a piece of colored translucent plastic. So the usual photography wisdom that capturing subjects in early and late warm light usually doesn't hold with fall foliage just like it doesn't with many colored flower situations. I'm often impressed with how some aspen and cottonwood trees have such better leaf color and translucence versus trees just a few feet away. Such trees with more vibrant leaf color are often beside permanent seeps and streams however there is no doubt a genetic relationship. A good example is the difference in translucent quality of what may be a clone grove of trees on the southeast corner of the junction of the Jordan Basin dirt road with the Virginia Lakes Road that each fall has superb translucence versus other trees nearby in the large grove where the road crosses Virginia Creek on a bridge that have a more average quality.
This year of 2007 had a relatively droughty winter followed by a dry summer with mild temperatures. Early September reports indicated fall leaf changes were somewhat delayed and unsynchronized. Ideally for photographers, leaf color changes on various trees in given aspen groves would best change during the same period of time instead of some trees changing one week and others weeks later. There is some value of course in a mix of green, yellow, orange, and red leaf color in given landscapes because that helps the form of individual trees within the mass of trees to stand out. However when changes occur over unsynchronized periods the tendency is for larger areas in a grove to simply be green while other areas are yellow and other areas have lost leaves. Generally aspen groves at higher cooler elevations change before lower elevation groves. And those trees on wetter sites with permanent seeps or streams change later than those on drier sites. Accordingly the first trees that change are often the exposed dwarf aspen on dry shady talus slopes near 10,000 foot elevations and the last are beside permanent streams in protected canyon bottoms in sunny exposures a bit below 7,000 feet. The most well known long term Internet site for California fall foliage reports is at calphoto. There are several other sites that often provide information like the Inyo National Forest site, various Inyo and Mono County chamber of commerce and resort group sites, and personal websites of local photographers. However such links tend to frequently change and come and go. Searching the Internet with terms as "Sierra AND aspen AND leaves" is likely to turn up some of these others if currently active.
As the weekend of September 29 and 30 ended, reports were that many of the better-known large groves in the Eastern Sierra were finally nearing peak color. Thus I decided to leave midweek a couple days before a forecast storm arrived. The novelty of capturing aspen groves in significant snow conditions has been something missing in my body of work. Driving across the range on the morning of Wednesday October 3rd, I reached Sonora Pass in early afternoon. Below the pass at 9,000 feet quaking aspen begin to appear more frequently on hillsides then further down larger groves of trees that continue far to the south along the Eastern Sierra 7,000 to 10,000 foot elevation slopes. Thus I began roadside surveying condition of trees between Sonora Pass and June Lake in order to size up what my photography options were in following days.
I noted some of the highest groves had already had some leaf damage and blown off leaves due to the first two September cold fronts with windy conditions. The first stormy period began September 20, lasted several days, and was not that cold though covered high elevations above most of the aspen groves with several inches of snow that continues to remain on north facing exposures. The second began on the 28th and lasted just into the next day though was a bit colder. Typical was the small dry aspen grove east of Sonora Pass on SR108 at 9,000 feet that often has brilliant orange and reds. It had modest yellowish color with minor brown tints and fair numbers of treetop leaves already shed. (picture near page bottom) Likewise trees along the Dunderberg Green Creek dirt road at 9,000 plus feet also showed modest numbers of the leaves shed and leaf color a bit weaker than normal with less orange and reds and more brown tints. However as of Thursday afternoon there were still many lower groves that had rather good color with mixes of yellow, orange, and red in addition to many green trees with few leaves littering understories. Typical were the aspen further down SR108 along Leavitte Creek at 8,000 feet, aspen in Leavitte Meadow, aspen groves above the Little Walker River visible from US395, aspen north of Conway Summit at 8,100 feet on US395 (shown in the image at above left captured mid day Wednesday), aspen south of Conway Summit west along the highway, aspen in lower Mill Creek, aspen along lower Walker Creek. And some lowest groves were pretty much green or just a little lime green with yellow here and there like those along lower Virginia Creek, lower Lee Vining Creek, and the east slopes of Mount Wood above Rush Creek. Wednesday afternoon became windy. I spent some time along protected Rush Creek exposing my first sheet of film on the road trip 07-CC1-1, before heading back north of Mono Lake to camp at about 6800 feet. Given the noisy wind, I opted to sleep inside my vehicle as it is nicely quiet.
Dawn Thursday October 4th I drove up to the Mono Lake scenic pullout on US395 south of Conway Summit where long thin cloud bands were taking yellow and red light east above pink waters of the huge desert alkaline lake. (see picture above right) The clouds were so nice that I dallied a bit too long before leaving. On to the gusty roadside area north of Conway Summit, I found clouds above my position now in warm pink dawn light, enhanced the landscape color especially of the large aspen groves west while the pink nightwedge built above Dunderberg Peak to the west. Oh was I disappointed that I had dallied at the Mono scenic viewpoint so was not able to set up my view camera quick enough for a capture. So just pulled out the Coolpix and recorded an image to remind myself about priorities next time. I did expose a sheet of 4x5 Provia a few minutes later after sun began hitting the peak but the indirect light off the clouds directly above had weakened. I drove off to a wind protected aspen area that worked out well. Thursday was very windy which blew off many leaves on highest elevation trees where leaves were already nearing the end of their shedding cycle. Leaves in lower elevation groves, especially those more wind protected, remained relatively unaffected. However the winds had been so intense that a modest number of leaves and small branches with leaves everywhere had been torn off. I spent mid day hiding from the annoying noisy gusts eating, reading, and sleeping in my vehicle. The jetstream was obviously atop this region of the Sierra Nevada as Sierra wave and lenticular clouds formed high above valleys east of the range. The above left dusk image with a lenticular cloud was taken Thursday from a pullout on US395 near the Old Marina area of Mono Lake. One will note the very windy conditions on the lake.
Then early in the wee hours Friday morning October 5th, winds thankfully waned while a minor snow event came through with much colder temperatures. Where I was dispersed camped north of Mono Lake at about 6800 foot elevation, it dropped to about 20 degrees on my digital thermometer. I wasn't too enthusiastic about leaving my warm -5 degree down bag haha. At sunrise an inch or two of snow covered areas of the higher landscapes while much of what landed lower quickly had melted due to still high ground temperatures. Skies east were well blocked by clouds so there wasn't any early light to get my cameras out for. I drove up and parked north of Conway Summit where a friend just driving up from the SF Bay Area pulled up along the highway then joined me for the next three days. We did a minor road tour of the area and hiked about some much of the day, 07-CC2-2. The blustery weather was sunnier in the morning but increasingly clouded up later. Bands of clouds with flurries and snow squalls occasionally passed through with temperatures at or below freezing. We found some brilliant yellow quaking aspen at the Jordon Basin and Virginia Lakes road junction, 07-CC3-1. The Coolpix image at the top of the page shows newly fallen aspen leaves atop snow. I also exposed a 4x5 sheet of Provia, 07-CC3-2. At the end of the afternoon, the core pool of cold air behind the big system arrived with snow falling continuously for a few hours. About 5 inches fell in our area at 8300 feet by mid evening with temps in low 20s.
By dawn Saturday October 6th clouds thinned, breezes quieted, and the temperature had fallen to 18 degrees where we dispersed camped inside our Subarus. The error in my ways Thursday morning still echoing in my mind, I made sure that we got up really early to put on the winter clothes, warm up our vehicles, and organize our gear. We drove off north on US395 yet again to north of Conway Summit parking along the narrow paved road edge beside the barrier fence a few hundred yards south of the wide official scenic pullout since that doesn't offer best views. I wondered why no cars were parked anywhere along the highway north of the summit since it was Saturday now, the very peak of the fall aspen season, and an unusually strong snowstorm had just delivered us a rare scenic condition, sun was about to shine on its white glory, and this was arguably the most well known roadside aspen scene along the entire Eastern Sierra? Thus we exposed a couple sheets of film at sunrise across the impressive groves fronting Dunderberg Peak. A couple layered bands of cloud wrapped across the pink peak while the middle ground of groves appeared uniquely wonderful with coats of snow that also seemed to make all the trees brighter and more colorful than before. After exposing our shots, an obvious workshop group belatedly pulled up beside us in a caravan of SUVs then frantically ran out with gear to try and make up for their tardiness. We had to smile because having a view camera on a big tripod set up on landscapes along a public road is like a neon sign to other passing photographers to stop right there and take pictures too.
We left a growing carnival of tripods and cars then drove off a few miles to another location receiving early sunlight then to an obscure grove I'd checked Thursday with cathedral-like tall trees in a wind protected grove in peaking conditions. The wealth of still green grasses below the understory reflected how the dry summer weather apparently had little impact with these trees. Interestingly there were also erosion signs of a torrential thunderstorm event sometime in the summer so this specific area was blessed with more water. We could see higher groves in the distance had apparently lost most leaves and were no longer of brilliant color. We were pleased to find the condition in our grove still in excellent shape despite the windy cold storm. I had chosen this particular dense tall aspen grove to photograph in these special conditions because I knew the fresh snow on the forest floor would accentuate lighting conditions within the usually dim understory in a way that another favorite foliage weather condition, thin overcast cannot. A weak element in photographing during overcast is that one has just white and gray monotones for leaf backgrounds instead of beautiful blue sky. Also unless winds have just freshly blown off numbers of leaves, forest floors below aspen are more often a dim element of composition versus the more brilliant fresh snow. Ideally I would have ordered up some thin diffusing clouds directly above the grove with blue skies out in the distance haha. The snow itself was all fresh fluffy powder crystals that my Sorrels exploded into airborne puffs of cold smoke with each step. Since breezes had stopped, snow covered branches and some leaves with aesthetic coatings of fresh white. The ever-present strongly fragrant sagebrush on the forest floor were also uncharacteristically appealing adorned in white. We wandered about working the area about three hours, , 07-CC5-4. Skies had cleared to a sunny deeply blue so any snow in direct sunshine soon began to melt despite sub freezing temperatures.
By 10am conditions were simply too contrasty and harsh for wider landscape film photography so we drove off south towards a secluded area of Mill Creek I often enjoy lunching at. Later in the afternoon we headed to a favorite aspen area in the Rush Creek drainage to camp where there is good opportunity for telephoto dusk silhouettes over Mono Craters and dawn telephotos up towards Mount Gibbs and Mount Dana. Since I was no longer threatened by nighttime precipitation or annoying winds, I spent the night outside my car tent less and at times in the wee hours upon waking playing with my Coolpix night landscape mode that nicely captures stars. As dawn approached I learned that capturing the sliver of a rising moon however tended to bloom it out so had to lower exposure compensation -1.3 stops. I was amused how the digital capture easily brings out the different star colors that we humans tend to not be able to discern simply looking at pinpoint stars in the night sky.
Dawn Sunday October 7th showed skies were now very clear and with radiation cooling temperatures had once again dropped into the low 20s. As an enthusiastic alpine skier of many years, I was well ready with warm clothes and gear for the trip, as I know well how hard it is to escape from a warm sleeping bag into frigid dawn air. But such is a task a wise photographer needs to overcome. After exposing a couple of sheets of film on the glowing pink peaks we headed over to the nearby Parker Lake trailhead. On the way we noticed how the giant aspen grove northeast of towering Mount Wood on what is referred to as the Parker Bench that had looked appealing a few days earlier, had been absolutely decimated by the wind and storm, now with a mix of leafless and dim brown trees. We hiked out towards Parker Lake about two miles distant. Although I was certain some of the modest aspen groves in that canyon bottom area would likely already have major leaf damage, the shadowy dark north facing cliffs of Mount Wood were so wonderful with a new coat of fresh snow that we hoped to find some protected aspen that still would work in our compositions. A number of years ago I had surveyed the canyon below from the moraine ridge top above. So vaguely recalled how most of the better aspen were well away from the trail areas. After passing a young group of weekend backpackers hiking out, we reached this popular lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness and were pleased to find relatively still air that offered nice lake reflection opportunities. However after taking a single image up canyon breezes appeared and ended that amusement. We then rambled crosscountry through the aspen areas and found one particularly good subject in the image above right about 10am. Upon reviewing my film the following week, I wasn't satisfied with the five sheets I'd exposed during this morning as I know there can be better conditions in a future year.
Returning to the trailhead, we passed a number of usual late to rise weekend hikers just getting on the trail. At that point my friend and I parted, as he needed to return to work Monday while I headed south towards Bishop. At midday I stopped along lower Mammoth Creek where I noted the row of aspens lining that stream were nicely peaking while still snow coated north facing Laural and Bloody Mountains provided a fine background. On the way south on US395 I continued to survey aspen slopes, noting most everything high was leafless or brown while lowest typically small groves in protected canyon bottoms looked fine as for example the small grove in lower Rock Creek. After a Vons food re-supply and filling up on the cheap Piute Casino gas in Bishop, I drove up into the South Fork of Bishop Creek curious as to how the storm had affected that area. Everything above Big Trees had suffered leaf damage. I drove as far as the Tyee Lakes trailhead where most leaves were still on roadside trees however they were a most ghastly dark brown. Down below at Four Jeffries campground I noticed all the common water birch tree leaves were an ugly baby poo brown instead of the usual slightly reddish yellow. Otherwise the many still green aspen leaves seemed to be damaged only slightly. Although leaves in the Big Trees grove below the road forks were still intact on trees, most trees were still green or lime green yellow and not that interesting. However that does mean late leaf visitors may have a bit left to view in the coming couple weeks. Lower on Bishop Creek at Dutch Johns Meadow I did see some trees I would return to the next morning. I headed out to the nearby Tungsten Hills, my reason for driving south, and then found a fine dispersed campspot for the night near where I would work next morning. As the earth shadow rose in the east I snapped a flash image standing beside my trusty old Subaru sedan I'd paid cash for in 1994 that now has about 245,000 miles on it. And well that cheapo neon green vinyl air mattress on my hood that cost $2.99 at Big 5 Sporting Goods began slowly leaking haha so I was attempting to find out where.
Dawn Monday October 8, some hoped for high clouds had arrived in advance of a forecast front due in maybe the next day. The best period for dawn high clouds is often a day or two in advance of forecast cold fronts as more moist air rides up atop departing high pressure. As sunlight illuminated the clouds in the early dawn warm light, I knew they would provide some wonderful color in a matter of minutes. Darn how I wished I had brought along my old Pentax AEII 6x7cm medium format camera because I really dislike using my slow to set up Wisner Expedition view camera for fast changing subjects. Also the resulting dim moody images simply will never need to be printed all that large versus more detailed well-illuminated daytime landscape subjects. Live and learn as they say! So instead I set up my tiny Coolpix atop the old Benbo Trekker tripod while also setting up the Wisner atop my big Gitzo G-1325 for the pink nightwedge then sunrise on the big peaks that would immediately follow. Oh the skies east over the White Mountains across the Owens Valley were just gorgeous with narrow pink bands and shapes. Hard to tear myself away in order to set up the view camera but had to. At least the pink light east was providing stronger warm light on the peaks. Well I found the best big yellow flowered rabbitbush in my camp area for a foreground with the still snowy peaks between Basin Mountain and Piute Crags the background. I exposed a sheet of Provia 100F transparency film while the peaks were warm with a light pink sunrise color that turned out nicely, 07-CC7-3.
Back at my vehicle, I quickly took care of the usual musical chairs of gear between night camping and daytime photography then strode off into the gray sagebrush and yellow rabbitbush to find something worthy for the prominent background of peaks. Although the landscape was relatively flat, there were often shallow hollows and gullies about that tended to be hidden from a distance. Down in some of the gullies I saw berry bushes with red stems and fall changed red leaves so found a composition with an added mix of yellow rabbitbush for a foreground and then exposed a single satisfying sheet before returning to the car, 07-CC7-4. A lot more to work in the area but there would be another fall to more properly do so when I would also be working the main Bishop Creek groves over a period of days. This trip however into the area would however be brief. Mid morning I drove up to the area of aspen on Bishop Creek I'd spotted. No need to have been there earlier as the sun had to rise rather high above the towering plateau above. I was ready when the sun first backlit the trees while their backgrounds were still in canyon shade though the result later was less than satisfying.
Back on US395 driving back north, I climbed up on a knoll and exposed a sheet of film on the curving highway with big peaks between Mt Wood and Mt Dana in the background, 07-CC8-4 I returned to Rush Creek and noticed the popular groves on the sunny south facing slopes of Mount Wood showed excellent color with a lot of trees still green so late to arrive leaf seekers visiting the June Lake Loop area ought to have something to interest them. However the popular Aerie Crag slope aspen nearby on the opposite side of the creek were browned over toast and many green aspen along Silver Lake had brown spots. Then in later afternoon I drove out to South Tufa at Mono Lake my main interest because the breezes had finally calmed to minimal levels as the cold air mass behind Friday's storm came to rest. Thus I hiked out to some favorite tufa shores, set up my view camera, then exposed a sheet before sunset and then a couple later in the expected beautiful pink dusk light, 07-CC10-1. I muted thoughts of driving all the way home and instead drove off north to a pleasant place to disperse camp one last evening.
At dawn Tuesday October 9th, more as an experiment, I exposed yet another single sheet north of Conway Summit along the road towards Dunderberg Peak during the pink nightwedge, 07-CC10-3b. Then began the long return road trip. Lower Virginia Creek along US395 down in the wind protective canyon where beaver dams be also still looked fine. I didn't bother with that and my drive turned out to be uneventful as I didn't see anything else along the way north on US395 then west across Sonora Pass on SR108 that interested me in taking out my big camera. Most groves in the distance I'd passed days ago on the way in were simply leafless or ugly brown. Below is an image of the aspen grove east of Sonora Pass at 9,000 feet on the way in and below it an image on the way out. Note the later was taken an hour or two earlier in the morning so is a bit more shadowed but the dramatic difference from wind and cold damage is apparent. Below 6,000 feet I began to see changing leaf colors of black oak trees and lower down even some newly changing Pacific dogwood and bigleaf maples that would be my next less showy quarries for a fall road trip.back to above
From my October 3 thru 9 road trip, the slide show includes 19 images taken by my Nikon Coolpix 7900 a 7 megapixel camera and 12 images by my Wisner Expedition 4x5 view camera. Then following those are 6 images from my 4x5 taken during my October 19 thru 21 road trip to Sequoia National Park. Because results of digital camera capture without reference calibration is currently impractical, the luminance and color of these Photoshop processed images could only be crudely adjusted to what I vaguely remember from the experiences. The same situation for most all digital camera users. However my Provia 100F 4x5 transparencies which I have crudely flatbed scanned and Photoshop processed are much more color and luminance accurate except for shadows, as the resulting web images can be adjusted to match the relatively color accurate Provia transparencies on my light table. To view the slideshow, select this field Fall Foliage 2007 slide show. The images are in chronological order. The given Coolpix pixel dimension are those of the full image. ....David SenesacDavid Senesac