I was hiking through Emerald Bay State Park on the shore of Lake Tahoe in late November, scouting for a private tour. It was getting cold, and the rain turned quickly into snow. I noticed a grove of aspen trees. Amazingly enough, there were still a few final leaves holding on. I was witnessing what would likely be the last day of fall for this grove of aspens. Then I noticed something truly incredible lying at my feet. The fallen aspen leaves glowed in an array of stunning colors. I had never seen anything like it, and I rushed to set up my camera and macro lens.
The snow fell harder and harder as I quickly attached my Canon 5D Mark III with a Tamron 90mm ƒ/2.8 macro lens on my Gitzo 3541XLS tripod. The use of a macro lens would give me the level of detail that I desired on the leaves. The rain had formed perfect drops on the leaves, and the snow started to stick, adding a feeling of cold to an image with such warm colors. I was able to find a compelling composition and take a series of shots. I used an aperture of ƒ/11 and kept the ISO to 100 for optimal quality. It was important to keep the plane of the sensor as parallel as possible with the forest floor in order to keep each element in focus. I took quite a few frames as the weather closed in. It wasn’t long before the entire ground was covered in snow and the shot was gone forever. I immediately knew that I had captured an instant favorite of mine in such a fleeting moment in nature. I had no preconceptions of the image before discovering it, which just goes to show that you should always keep your eyes open and embrace the spontaneity of nature.