October 2013 Challenge - Fall Color, Backlight, Numbers and Best Shot

November 01, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

We're cycling back into another winter - a bit slowly, but it's inevitably coming. Rain, clear skies, red noses and bare trees await us all. October is a transition month, with colors starting to blush, the summer growing season finishing, and a magical return of your winter wardrobe. With kids back in school and vacations over, there should be more time to jaunt here and there for photo opportunities. Key words, "should be."

 

I was glad Ginnie and Jack were able to vacation on the east side of the Sierra with Monte and Stacey. The color displays are wonderful right now, both there and on the west side, too, as you'll see. Thanks, Ginnie for sharing these. The first was taken of glowing Aspens on the June Lake Loop. Postcard perfect for a Fall Color theme.  

 

 

Aspen distribution can be seen on this map - for those of you who would like to check things out.

 

 

 

Monte and Stacey also enjoy the Sierra and can be seen in the back country with full packs quite often. I don't think they roughed it too much on this trip, but I may be wrong. This is a nice shot with subjects in the shade, the tree canopy framing them, and the special golds, reds and yellows adding to the feeling of being there with them.

 

 

Ginnie also captured the changing color of one of my favorite trees in Yosemite Valley - the Cook Meadow sentinel elm tree. This is one of the most photographed trees in the world, and it's extra special when Half Dome looms large in the background. Don and I were shooting from the same spot last February - with snow on the ground!

 

 

Regal El Capitan towers over the Valley floor and color. Ginnie spotted five climbers on the rock face - all having a great time wondering who talked them into their crazy adventure. If you haven't been to Yosemite, put it on your bucket list now! And be sure to take binoculars so you can get a true perspective of how massive this rock is when you see climbers dotting along.

 

 

UPDATE: Apparently, only the first of Ginnie's posted photos was for the Challenge, so we're adding three more that have found their way to my Inbox.

She writes: "Jack and I recently met brother Monte and sister-in-law Stacey at June Lake for a weekend, then drove home hitting Bridgeport then backtracking to Tioga Pass to spend a night in Yosemite.  The fall colors were spectacular!  Especially the aspens on the eastern side of the Sierra.  There were dozens of photographers out complete with tripods and high-end looking equipment. All of these were shot with the trusty D40."

 

 

She took the next photo in Yosemite that fits the Backlight theme.

 

 

"The Number shot was taken in Bridgeport while waiting for Jack to scope out Ken's Sporting Goods.  I was surprised to find a phone booth, thought they were all taken out.  On retrospect should have taken a picture of the gas pump where we had to fuel up....$5.09 a gal."

This is a nice use of reflective color and a tight crop. These pictures are proof that you don't need a super-expensive camera to get great shots!

 


 

 

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Yours truly had fun with the Numbers theme. I've collated five pictures into one, which somewhat lessens their impact compared to viewing them one by one in a large format. But this way I can call it just one photo and move on to another! Besides, they all have something in common: they were all shot at the Dahl House in Paso Robles. A few of them have been Photoshopped to death. The one at the lower right corner is a white ruler that I spiced up the color on. And his house number sign really has black numbers, so I de-saturated the color, then painted the leaves and berries with the Fill Tool, then picked some pastel colors that would balance and used the Fill Tool on them, too. We'll see if Don likes it enough to paint the real ones to match. Forget it - Janet might, but it looks a little too foo-foo for the old man.

 

 

For the Fall Color theme, I'm choosing a sunset shot I took last night at the Isenberg Sandhill Crane Refuge just northeast of us. The cranes fly in to winter here in October. There were a few heavy duty photographers there when Barb and I arrived a little before sunset. One of them, Mike Corlew of Folsom had a Canon rig on a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod. He had 'borrowed' from Canon Corp. a new $12,000 200-400mm lens with a built-in 1.4 teleconverter that you could just switch on and off. His camera probably cost him $5000. So I talked to him awhile because the cranes hadn't started flying in yet. Actually, they didn't start until the sun had set and it was getting dark. Mike also races (or 'raced') hot air balloons, not an inexpensive sport. In fact, he called it the world's most expensive, non-recognized sport. But, I digress.

I started shooting when the long lines of birds started coming in from the south and east where they'd been feeding all day. You could pick them up at probably a mile away and follow them in. Since there was so LITTLE light, I set the ISO on my Nikon D5100 to 1600 to try to keep the birds in focus. Almost impossible, but I kept shooting probably over 100 pictures. I told Barb afterwards that I'd be lucky to get one or two good ones. I was right. Nikons crave lots of light. I used my monopod - big mistake. I had thought the fly-in would be before the sun had set and I wouldn't have any problem hand-holding some panned shots. I was wrong here, too. So I used Mt. Diablo in the background as a stationary focus point and waited until bands of birds would fly in front of it. The monopod worked okay in that situation.

Interesting that the three guys with the big gear all left without taking any pictures! Ha! I couldn't believe it! A few of us with little cameras, spotting scopes and binoculars (Barb) stayed until dark. The mosquitoes were impressed! I'll post the other pics on my website - all 6 of them!

 

 

Here's my favorite shot of the month, taken before sunrise at the same Refuge. So this fits the Your Best Shot theme, I guess. Monopod used here, too.

 

 

 

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Senor Don brings up the rear here with a couple of Backlight theme shots. Don, you've employed the sun for the backlight on the leaves, but there is a strong light coming from the front as well, like a flash. Note the shadows behind the water jug and on the pail in back of it. Looks like either an off-camera flash or some direct sunlight reflected from a window. What's the deal here? Did you use your 60mm macro for this and the next one? Nice.

Don says, "Walking around the house, I snapped one of Janet's plant projects and Cali (Aka Missy) was craving attention, so I did a no view finder point and shoot. I was quite surprised by the result....a little cropping and viola. As for my best shot, I haven't taken it yet."

 

 

It's surprising how great some grab shots can be. Missy's portrait is also a fine example of backlight. The auto-focus feature on the lens was indispensable here. Even though the sky is washed out, the exposure is purrfect for her face and whiskers. Very cute. Can you recommend her dentist? She has nice teeth!

 

 

And for our last picture of the month, Don has combined both the Backlight and Numbers themes into one with this photo of his Harley's 'dash' lights. I think you can almost throw in the Fall Color theme as well with those orange numbers. Very striking, Don. I like the close cropping and extraneous lights in the background.

 

 

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So another month fades into the annals of history and our feeble memories. I'm glad we can preserve some of the excitement in our picture sharing.

Our November themes will be:  Thanksgiving, Transportation, and Bare Trees

Remember: Your pictures can be up to 1500 pixels wide, 500kb in file size, Black and White or color, software manipulated or Plain Jane if you want.

Happy shooting to one and all.

 

 


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