Friday, November 30, 2012


The vivid reds, oranges and yellows of autumn color are my favorite time of the year to photograph.  I usually try to plan travel in the fall to see some of the great color displays of maples or aspens in October.  Then when November gets here I start to think more local as that is when our fall color season kicks in.

This year I have really put an emphasis on getting out as much as I can in search of finding local fall color.  Most people who live here would say there is not any.  A few photographers might say it is too short or things are just brown.  They are both very wrong.  We have a very nice and long fall color season.  

We also have some very vivid colors-you just have to pay attention and know where to look.

Most of our trees go yellow, but we do have native red oaks that can go very crimson.  Find red oaks and you find fall color.  There are several parks that I know of where there are red oaks and I have been frequenting them a lot over the last few weeks.  

Luckily the two best parks are also more natural areas where the trees grow on hillsides and in valleys.  That also helps from a photography standpoint since that lets me frame a shot where I can just show the trees in a natural setting.  Of course, I also try some close ups of individual trees too.

Here are some of the highlights from the last week.  The colors are probably peaking and there is some great fall color in the area.  I'll still be going out as the late changers will keep going almost to Christmas.  
The scene will slowly change to more and more bare trees and fewer and fewer with color until we enter our brief winter right after solstice.

Until then, I keep chasing the vivid reds and oranges of autumn.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Going Long

One thing I have learned about myself as a photographer is I like wide.  I may have carried a three lens kit of a wide zoom, mid zoom, and telephoto zoom-but I mainly used the wide zoom.  When I looked at my usage it went something like 80% or more of my images were taken with the wide zoom and 90% of my favorites were wides. If you look through my blog posts, I bet most of them are wide angle images too.

In fact I use the wide zoom so much, that when I made the jump to full frame I decided to never change the lens.  My lens of choice on my Canon 5D2 is the 17-40 and it stays on the camera permanent.

I like wide.

However, I still carry my Canon 50D with my 70-200 f/4L lens for those times I want to go long.  It is not often and I often think of simplifying down to just the one camera and lens.

Well, this fall I have tried to work a little more with the long lens to isolate scenes of fall color along the Trinity River.

Here are a few of those attempts as I chase autumn around Fort Worth.

The woods have been golden and some of the red oaks are living up to their name and putting on some crimson.

The longer lens does help me lose distractions and keep out the sky, houses, or whatever else might be in the scene. It is still a tougher way for me to see and I frequently find myself reaching for the wide again.  At least it is an attempt to be different.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Changes of Autumn

Autumn is passing through Texas right now.  A long slow process that takes several weeks and brings changes a bit at a time.  I have been getting out as much as I can to see it and photograph it whenever possible.

Much of that time is spent along the Clear Fork.  I think of the Clear Fork as my own backyard.  First, because it literally is in my backyard.  Second because I know of no one else who photographs it.  I know that when I take my camera out along the Clear Fork, there will be no other photographers there.  I have to say, I like it that way.

One of my favorite views along the river is in a wooded stretch.  A nice view of just a small piece of the river.  I have been by that spot every few days for several weeks now. Looking back over my images from there I can follow the progression of the colors from the yellowing greens through the first few cycles of leaves turning and falling.

I thought that change would make an interesting blog post and it is presented here.  

The first image if from October 21st.  The trees are green, but you just notice a hint of yellow that fall color is fast approaching.

We jump to November 4th and the fall color is here.  Cool days and nights have brought out the colors of the seasons.

Move forward a week to November 10th and the color really looks good, even though the first wave of change is falling.

Then we jump another week to November 17th and see the early color is gone and the second wave has gone golden yellow.

I'll probably be back by this spot a couple of more times before Christmas, which is the end of our color season, to see what happens next on the journey through autumn season.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Along the Clear Fork

Fall colors are rolling through the trees and floating down the river.  Our first wave of leaves went yellow and have fallen in the last ten days or so.  Last week I photographed them in the trees and this week as the floated on the Clear Fork. It was a whole different experience of photography and a different feeling of fall. 

It is a refreshing difference after the long summers we have here in Texas.

The leaves crunching underfoot.  The cool crisp mornings.  The yellows of fall in the trees.

The seemingly endless blue sky of the last few weeks had given way to cloud cover and it made the day even more autumn like.

I wandered the gravel bars of the river looking for patches of leaves, pools of water, and compositions that might work to put it all together.

Big yellow leaves of some tree that I have no idea what it is- you know, the big yellow kind :-)   making an ideal foreground to look downstream.  The second wave of color in trees to complete the shot.

Later in the morning I wandered the banks of the river and found this one tree jutting out over the river like an arm.  Leaves pooled on the surface of the river.  More leaves floated slowly past.  I knew I could get another image here if I could just slow the shutter enough to get a 10 second exposure.  Luckily the cloudy day and polariser did the trick and  I got just enough motion to get the shot.

Downstream I find even more color floating on the river and lining the bank.  I think there is another image to be made and hop around on rocks until I find the angle that has the nice leading lines of the water moving into the color of distant trees.

It ends up being over five hours of wandering the river with the camera and making over 200 images.  I would easily call it one of the finest days I have ever had photographing locally.  Fall color, cloudy sky, and a river-I call it a trifecta.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fall Colors on the Clear Fork

On a cool Sunday morning, I grabbed my camera and headed for the Clear Fork.  Inspired by the fall colors I had seen west of town, I decided to see if they had reached that first wave of yellows along the Clear Fork.

The river is low right now from both lack of rain in the last few weeks and due to some work being done along the river.  That allowed to to walk on gravel bars into some areas I normally would have to wade to.

The colors are not quite as far along here in town as they are west of here.  More yellowing-green than yellow.  With luck, that will be nice in another week.  I sat up this shot in the early light and hoped the long exposure would capture the reflections of the trees in the still water.

Then later in the day I was out again with the camera and saw the one cloud we had Sunday hanging over the river and grabbed this second image.  Here the colors were further along giving me hope I will get some nice local images over the next few weeks.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fall Arrives in Texas

Fall color has arrived in Texas!

After weeks of waiting, watching and hoping-fall colors are arriving in north Texas.  I have been watching the greens of summer start to yellow and hoping something would kick them up a notch, then last week a cold snap seems to have done the trick.

I went out to Palo Pinto County yesterday to see how the last several weeks had changed the countryside.  The bright green grass of late summer had gone dry and brown.  The trees had some nice yellows.  There was even some reds in the red oaks.

Fall at last.

I started along one of the creeks in the early light.  The native trees we have here all seem to go yellow with the exception of the red oaks and the sumac.  The red oaks are a couple of weeks out although I did see a few lone trees looking bright.  What we are getting now are the yellows.

I photographed the bluffs and the trees on a clear blue sky day.  I wish it could have been cloudy and rainy but you have to work with what you have.  With the clear skies I tried to frame some views with back lit trees to highlight the colors.  A polariser helped make them pop too.

The colors were nice and are the beginning of the long fall we have here.  People do not think of Texas as a fall color destination.  What they do not realize what we have here is not a burst of vivid reds but instead almost two months of a slow rolling change.  We have our first wave now and the last one will end the week of Christmas when the bradford pears lose their leaves.

So, at last, fall is here and it means the high point of our photography season.  I plan to be in the field as much as possible chasing colors and hopefully clouds too.  Here are a couple from the day yesterday.