Fall color is the subject of the latest Readers Photo Challenge assignment.
New England is famed for the fall color of its forests, and rightly so. But if the East Coast isn’t included in your travel plans there are places much closer to home to photograph the changing of the seasons. The June Lake Loop of off Highway 395 south of the town of Lee Vining in the Sierra Nevada is known for its fall color as well as Highway 89 near Monitor Pass. Still, those places are both several hours of driving from the Central Valley and there places much closer yet. Lodi Lake, Oak Grove Regional Park and the Delta may not always provide large swaths of color but you still can find small stands of trees or individual ones that produce great color. The agricultural lands surrounding Stockton such as orchards and vineyards can be subjects that provide fall color. You can even shoot the trees in you own backyard as they change colors.
Fall leaves start to change colors due to the shortening of the days of the season. The green of spring and summer comes from daylight and the process of photosynthesis in the leaves. With the coming of shorter days the chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down and the green disappears. What remains are the yellows and oranges that were there all the time. Other chemical processes occur to produce additional colors such as reds and purples in some trees.
Most leaves are thin and translucent especially when the green fades away from them. The best way to photograph them is backlit (light coming from the rear of the leaf). This shows off their colors with much more vibrancy and color saturation. Front lit photos of leaves tend to be flat and the colors washed out. But with the light coming from behind the leaves can almost glow like Christmas tree lights.
No special equipment is needed. You can use anything from DSLRs to point-and-shoot cameras to even cellphones. Any kind of lens is acceptable from a wide angle to get an overall of a single tree or stand of trees, to a telephoto to get just a portion of one. If you want to get close, a macro lens will get you as close as an individual leaf or smaller portions thereof.
The leaves don’t even have to be on the trees. Fallen leaves, whether singly, in piles or carpeting the ground can also make compelling photos. They don’t even have to be the main subject of your picture. Fall leaves and trees, in or out of focus, can be a colorful backdrop for a portrait.
There are countless ways for you to capture the spirit of fall. So go out and hues of the season color your photographic world.
Here are the rules:
1. Entries can be emailed to email@example.com. Type in “Fall Color” in the subject line.
2. Photos have to be shot between Oct. 23 and Nov. 6. Trees and leaves can be the main subject or just in the background but fall color mush be a part of the photo. If possible try to include the species of tree (eg: oak, elm, sycamore, etc).
3. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (eg: “John Doe, Stockton. Syacmores at Grupe Park in Stockton. Canon EOS Rebel Ti with 75-300mm lens”)
4. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and where they are and what they are doing. (eg: “Jane Smith, 25, of Tracy, stands under a liquidambar tree at Oak Grove Regional Park in Stockton”)
5. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.
6. The deadline for submission is Thursday Nov. 6. The top examples will be published in The Record and my blog at Recordnet.com on Thursday, Nov. 13 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day.