It’s officially fall. To some that may mean the return or everything pumpkin or pumpkin spice. To others it’s the beginning of the countdown. It seems as though once All Hallows Eve is done the end of the year is upon us like the Jonestown Flood. In some parts of the country fall means bright yellow, orange, fiery red, and other colored leaves that transform the landscape into Vincent Van Gogh’s palate. To some you have to go to or be in Vermont to see the fall color. If you ask around at work and other places you visit about where to go to see the beautiful colors of fall it’s likely you will get one answer over and over…not in California. I’m here to tell you they are mistaken. California has fall.
Where would that be, you ask. Here is a site that can get you in the right direction (to the east), www.californiafallcolor.com. This site is volunteer run and will help you plan your fall trip to the Eastern Sierra Nevada’s. Color starts up around 10,000’ and from the end of September through the first of November works its way down. Two of my favorite places are Lundy Canyon and June Lake. The aspens turn a bright yellow and since aspens always grow in large groups in the wild they are easy to spot. You can take a fancy camera to capture your memories but if you are looking for some new screen wall paper your phone will do just fine. Here are a few tips to help you capture California’s wonderful fall colors.
First, be sure you plan your day to take advantage of the soft light. The Golden Hour is the time just after the sun rises and before it sets. It isn’t really an hour but about two hours on each end of the day. Because of the angle of the sun all those bright oranges, yellows, and reds will more saturated, something your camera sensor will like. When you plan your trip be sure to account for the shadows thrown by the Sierra Nevada range. If you take a DSLR I strongly recommend you pick up a polarizer. It does for your camera what your polarized sun glasses do. Because the polarizer bends the light it will saturate the colors even more and help eliminate glare. You operate it by turning the front. As you turn it you will see the colors go from subdued to saturated. Pick the level you like the best. If you want crisp leaves on those trees use a high shutter speed, something above 1/500. If you like the somewhat fuzzy look that communicates a windy day dropping to 1/250 or below works well. If you want a watercolor type look drop your shutter speed below 1/60 but beware, you’ll need a tripod.
If you done have time to go all the way to the Eastern Sierras we have color locally in the Santa Cruz mountains. I strongly recommend you do not touch the poison ivy that grows naturally in the hills, however, I strongly recommend that you look for its fiery red color when taking pictures. The red poison ivy contrasts nicely with the brown leaves falling off the trees laying on the ground and the evergreens that are all over the hills.
Lastly, there are come parks in the area that have been planted with trees with fall in mind. My favorite is Vasona Park. As an added bonus the pond in the park acts as a mirror of the colors.
Don’t fret if you can’t afford the time or money to go to Vermont this fall. All you need to do is plan a weekend, or even a day right here in California.
This fall pictures brought to you from Lundy Canyon, California.