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1) Photographer: Mark Geistweite
Location: Conway Summit, Eastern Sierra Nevada, California
Equipment: Canon EOS 60D, Tamron AF 18-270mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD
I had already scheduled my annual fall trip for the first week of November 2011 in Yosemite Valley. I had always wanted to experience Yosemite at that time. As an avid landscape photographer, I scour the autumn foliage reports daily from late September to early November. As usual, the “awesome” and “epic” posts were coming out of the east side at the usual places, and it was eating at me. On a whim, my wonderful wife obliged my yearning. The next day, we were on our way, having booked a room in Mammoth Lakes. Our last stop was Conway Summit. As we crested the top of the grade and began the descent toward Bridgeport, the aspen groves to the west of Highway 395 were at peak. Although the clouds had mostly dissipated, I knew the backlight would give the aspens a golden glow. I waited for the setting sun to hit the treetops as it hid behind Dunderberg Peak, my ƒ/16 aperture creating a dramatic star effect. This is a manual blend of three exposures to capture the wide dynamic range. I placed my hand in front of the lens to block the direct sun and prevent flare.
As this issue was being finalized in August, I ran a Fall Color Assignment at outdoorphotographer.com. The submissions were excellent, and we reached out to several photographers to publish their work here in the magazine. These photos are all from previous years, obviously, but I’ve kept the Fall Color Assignment open through the end of October so you’ll be able to send in photos from this year’s display, as well.
—Christopher Robinson, Editor
2) Photographer: Joshua Vogt
Location: Kebler Pass Road, Crested Butte, Colorado
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 70-300mm IS, Gitzo tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead
Kebler Pass is a fall destination in central Colorado that draws thousands of nature photographers and others appreciative of its spectacular foliage. With some of the largest aspen stands in Colorado, it’s easy to understand why Kebler Pass’ fall colors are such a hit. In September 2012, along with my photo assistant, Chester, the super-mutt, I made the pilgrimage. On my second day scouting the area, I noticed the far ridge of East Beckwith Peak looming over an especially captivating stand of aspens and decided to make it my sunrise shot. I found a campsite close by and waited for morning. I awoke to heavy rain and, sure enough, East Beckwith was completely buried in cloud cover. Refusing to give up, I set up my camera and waited for the storm to clear. The rain continued for several hours, when suddenly the storm began to break up just enough for the mountain to peek out from behind the clouds, revealing the first snow of the year. I hurriedly got to work, shooting several different compositions, including this four-image panorama. The scene didn’t last long; after a few minutes, the clouds rolled back in for the rest of the day.
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3) Photographer: Suzanne Mathia
Location: Mooney Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Equipment: Canon EOS-1DS Mark III, Canon EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L USM, tripod
Nestled 3,000 feet deep into Havasu Canyon lies the land of the Havasupai tribe. The area is known around the world for its blue waters and spectacular waterfalls. Fall is my favorite time to visit this area. The cottonwoods that line the creek have all turned to gold, and early-morning wading in the water is a pleasure. My favorite area is the part of the canyon below Mooney Falls. This image was taken just below Mooney Falls in an area called Ash Springs Canyon in November 2011. There, delicate waterfalls cascade down travertine curtains from the bench above, showering gently across the overhang of moss-covered caves and terraces, finally joining the turquoise waters of the Havasu. I meandered down the creek, wading thigh deep into warm waters. I set up my tripod mid-stream in a spot where the water was still. I set up my shot so I could get as much in my frame as possible—the swirling leaves in the eddy in the foreground, the travertine pour-offs with lush ferns. I had to keep adjusting my composition and my focal length until I could get the cottonwoods above the falls. The light wasn’t going to cooperate for long, but luckily, I was able to create the image that I envisioned.
4) Photographer: Bill Sisson
Location: Snyder-Middleswarth State Park, Snyder County, Pennsylvania
Equipment: Pentax K20D, SLIK tripod
This region of Pennsylvania is blessed with forests carpeting the mountains and streams flowing down the mountain slopes. I stumbled upon this stream while searching for small scenes to photograph near my home. I’ve photographed this stream in different seasons over recent years. When I took this image in October 2010, the trees had started to shed their brightly colored leaves. I waited until late afternoon, when the stream was shaded by a nearby ridge, so that the colors of the leaves wouldn’t be washed out by direct sunlight. The indirect light also helped bring out the rich greens of the abundant moss on this section of the stream. I used a long shutter speed to accentuate the flowing lines of the water tumbling past the rocks. I tried to capture the essence of the season, the fallen leaves, with the fluid lines of the falling stream.