This past weekend, Rochelle and I travelled over the Tioga Pass in Yosemite to visit the Eastern Sierras. We try to do this at least once a year, as the Eastern side of the Sierras offers much more in the way of Fall Colors than over here in the Western Foothills. This time, we explored the June Lake Loop, just south of Lee Vining off of highway 395.
The June Lake Loop is 16 miles of the most beautiful Aspen Groves I’ve ever seen. The groves are on the hillsides, along streams in the canyons and they surround the various little lakes along the road. There are numerous places to pull over (our RT Agile had no problems with the turnouts) and enjoy the view.
There are also a large number of small campgrounds (dry camping only) run by the US Forest Service. Many of the campsites are located right on the water. Unfortunately for us, the campsites were still closed because of the recent Government shutdown. But fortunately for us, somebody “forgot” to put the chains up at one of the best campsites in the area. So, we stayed for free. I felt like such a rebel. J For those of you who prefer hookups, I noticed at least two RV resorts along the loop.
In previous years, we would only go over to the East side for the day. And our photography suffered for it. In a day trip, you miss both the early morning and early evening light, but with our little Roadtrek “Charley” we were easily able to shoot till dark and start up again at first light. That’s because we were able to stay near the best photography spots, and it takes no time at all to set-up or tear-down camp when you’re in your Class B.
Photographing Fall Colors in the middle of the day is mostly futile. The bright leaves reflect the sun, giving you horrific, blown-out highlights, while the dark shadows give you nothing but blackness. And it’s more apt to be windy in the middle of the day as well. It’s nearly impossible to focus on a scene when there are millions of aspen leaves “quaking” in the wind.
But the early mornings and late afternoons give you much softer light, so you get “easier-on-the-eyes” contrast and nicely saturated colors. And it’s much less likely to be windy, especially in the morning. Just remember to bring a tripod. That soft light is nice, but it does require longer exposures to get the shot you want.