Autumn in California’s Eastern Sierras

October 25, 2015 at 4:57 pm (Autumn, California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, , , , , , )

McGee Creek Canyon after the storm Oct. 18

McGee Creek Canyon after the storm Oct. 18

I’ve learned never to give up on photographing landscapes just because it’s raining. Especially in California, because it generally doesn’t rain all day. The season’s first snow and the moody clouds, combined with a touch of sun, created an image with much more character than the blue-sky postcard photograph I had planned on.


Scudding clouds changed the face of the mountains with each passing second. Patience…patience…



I camped out at Rock Creek Canyon’s French Camp, the closest to U. S. Rt. 395, sleeping in my car as usual. The day’s rain had let up and stars came out, but by Sunday morning it was back, off a little, on a little.

Hot Creek Geological Area near Mammoth Lakes Airport

Hot Creek Geological Area near Mammoth Lakes Airport

Although there was no sign posted off Rt. 395, I had found out about the Hot Creek Geological Area from an internet search. Because the temperature was in the 40s, I knew there would be steam, and I wasn’t disappointed.  It looks like the geyser pools at Yellowstone!


Then I drove up McGee Creek Canyon. Some of the aspen had already gone by, but these cottonwoods were in full glory.



You can tell the aspen by their silvery white bark.


Cottonwoods, Convict Lake

Cottonwoods, Convict Lake

Cottonwoods on the shore of Convict Lake, north of McGee Creek Canyon, were touched by a sliver of sun.

Aspens at Convict Lake

Aspens and cottonwood trees at Convict Lake

A ribbon of aspen at Mammoth Lakes turnoff

A ribbon of aspen at Mammoth Lakes turnoff


White Mountains with fresh snow

White Mountains with fresh snow

I was stunned when I looked south-eastward and saw the powdered sugar White Mountains.

Conway Summit view

Conway Summit view

The previous afternoon, during a short break in the rain showers, I was treated to a stunning panorama at Conway Summit north of Mono Lake.


The Department of Transportation planned well when they made sure there were wide pullouts off U. S. Rt. 395 to enjoy the view. Despite the weather, there were quite a few leaf peepers out.



And on Friday I had spent most of the day at Taylor Creek in South Lake Tahoe photographing the spawning kokanee salmon. However, the trail to the Lake had its own splash of color.

Taylor Creek, South Lake Tahoe

Taylor Creek, South Lake Tahoe

Taylor Creek

Taylor Creek


Colors in transition, with some pines as counterpoint

Colors in transition, with some pines as counterpoint

So there, Maine and Vermont.  It might not be too late to catch the last of California’s colors. Check the California Fall Color website before you go.


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  1. mbkircus said,

    Another beautiful set of pictures. Glad you got the cloudy weather. The reds and yellows really pop on cloudy days. And taking pictures in the rain can also make for more dramatic pictures with better saturation.

  2. anroworld said,

    Breathtaking pictures! I like how you play with color, just unbelievable!

  3. Cindy McIntyre said,

    Post-processing is important to maximizing the color saturation. I used both the Nikon D600 and the Canon SX-50. Boosting contrast and adding a little vibrance in Photoshop helps. I also did my first High Dynamic Range image, combining 3 bracketed images to capture highlights, midtones, and shadows combined in one image (the lead photo.) Photoshop makes it easy, but it still need a little selective dodging of the highlights.

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