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Bishop Canyon

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 1 November 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


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Each fall I look forward to my annual visit to the beautiful eastern Sierra, especially the canyons west of Highway 395. One of my favorites is Bishop Canyon located due west from the Mountain Light Gallery in downtown Bishop. A couple miles below North Lake is this incredible grand view of Bishop Canyon offering a rugged sloping hillside leading the the eastern Sierra crest and dotted with aspens displaying various stages of fall color.

To access this particular viewpoint requires a bit of off-road hiking but is well worth the effort. I photographed this scene in late September just as the sun doused the high peaks with first light of the morning. I used a Singh-Ray 3-stop hard edge grad to hold back the exposure on the sky and peaks and allow the deep canyon ample exposure. I then evened-out the transition line in Photoshop CS5 with the help of the dodge and burn tools.

The early fall color was some of most vivid I have seen since 2005. I love the blend of yellows and greens as opposed to a uniform spread of color. Higher up in the canyon (and perhaps not visible at this resolution) were some vivid oranges and even some rare reds. Soon after I captured this image, the first snows of the season fell across the entire scene (with the base of this image roughly at 8500 feet elevation).

Many ingredients go into the mix for vivid fall colors, but all the experts agree that warm days followed by cold nights is the main impetus for the stoppage of chlorophyll production and the yellows and oranges (carotene usually masked by the greens) begin to show. It's a beautiful show as long as there is not a disruption to this pattern. Wind is the main enemy for bringing fall color to an abrupt stoppage.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/2 second F/16.0 ISO 200 48 mm

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