Saturday, October 20, 2012


Fall is my favorite season of the year.  The air can be bracing, but if one dresses properly that is not a problem.  Besides, the fall colors can be amazing.  Our summer had been hot and dry, and that probably contributed to fall colors that were more vibrant but also earlier than usual.  I kept admiring the colors but not doing anything about it.  Finally, on Friday, October 19th, I took my camera out to shoot some of what was left of the color.  Even though a lot of the trees had dropped their leaves, there were a fair number that we hanging on.

The day I chose was not one of those bright sun-drenched days where the sun could be counted on to backlight the trees, creating brilliant, splashy displays.  Rather, it was overcast and threatening rain.  The result was a drabness punctuated with muted color.  I was not discouraged because I knew that I could help things a bit in post processing.  Besides, in another week or so, the rest of the color would most likely be gone, and I would have missed my chance.  So I headed to Harrington Beach State Park, where I knew there were extensive woods that might provide some color opportunities.

On the way i spotted an open field with a line of trees and shrubs at one end and pulled over to take a few shots.  Here is the first.

What caught my eye was the layering of color, beginning with a grass field, a line of taller brown grass, then shrubs, then trees, and finally the sky.  The original shot included a lot of sky which held some interest, but I decided to crop it down to emphasize the fall colors.

Here is a close-up of a portion of the vegetation.

Nice, I think.  I very much liked the texture of the light colored grass at the base of the shot.

Here is a similar panoramic shot.

I especially liked the bright yellow tree toward the left and the maroon tree in the center.  This is testimony to the fact that even if most of the trees have dropped their leaves, there can still be enough color to make an interesting shot.  In fact, in some ways the rareness of the color helps to emphasize the color that remains.  I wish that the line of trees had not petered out on the right.  However, cropping the right side of the shot seemed to leave the composition out of balance.  The shrubbery extending to the right in the foreground helped to compensate for the absence of background trees.

When I got into the park, I first headed for the Lake Michigan beach.

A pretty angry and foreboding lake--and sky.  I turned this shot into a B&W and increased the contrast a bit to emphasize the ominous quality of the sky.

The park includes, not just a beach on Lake Michigan, but a lovely small tree-lined lake formed from an abandoned quarry.  On my way I spotted a young white birch set in front of a background of varied color.

I intentionally opened the aperture on the lens to isolate the birch from its background and to limit the background to color rather than to texture.  A little disappointing, I'm afraid, particularly considering the work it took to get the camera positioned where I wanted it.

I was also looking for opportunities where I could capture multiple fall colors.  Here is the best of those.

The small tree on the left was the most interesting, and perhaps I should have composed the shot around it, instead of trying to capture reds, yellows, and oranges in one shot.

On to the quarry lake.  Here are a couple of shots illustrating the remaining color bordering the lake.

It might have been a lot better if the waters of the lake had been still, but there was a fair amount of wind that effectively robbed the shot of reflections in the water.There was a bit more reflection opportunity in the following shot.

After circling the lake and because it had started to rain, I headed back toward the car, cutting through a woods of maples and oaks.  Here are a few of the shots from this portion of my shoot.

My goal here was to flood the image with color, punctuated by the dark of the tree trunks.  I thought that, by including the leaf-strewn floor of the woods, I was able to give the shot a better sense of depth.  But my favorite shot was the following.

I especially liked that the vertical tree trunks are balanced by the horizontal quality of the branches of leaves.  I also liked that there was some variation of color in the leaves.  The shot also shows some depth.  It was shot at an aperture of f/11.  Keep in mind that these shots were taken on a very overcast day that included off and on rain.

And here is a close-up shot.

I liked the simplicity of this shot.  I just wish that the branches and the leaves had fully filled the image, without leaving the gaps evident on the left.

Finally, in my walk through the woods, I took a few shots of the leaves on the floor of the woods.

It always amazes me that visible light represents an extremely narrow portion of the overall range of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation.  Even so, we humans are able to distinguish a multitude of colors within that narrow band.  Fall colors put an exclamation point on that fact.

Taken with my Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 lens and Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 lens.

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