My day of photographing Alaska's fall colors did not go as I had planned. I was supposed to head out to Eklutna Lake with my husband and son, and we were going to four-wheel out to a remote area of the lake, where I would photograph the most spectacular fall colors ever seen by any human.
Instead, I got the plague. Or flu, or a really bad cold, or whatever you want to call it. Anyway, I was grounded by my illness. Forced to stay home. And I was really mad (and sniffly).
Luckily for me, my house is in Alaska, so even though I was stuck at home, I was still near some pretty nice colors. And the lighting was good - it was overcast, which I knew would make the colors pop. And it wasn't raining.
So, I dragged my near-death self out to my backyard and began snapping away. Because the thing about fall colors in Alaska is that they can last two weeks or they can last two days, depending on whether or not we get a huge wind storm. Missing a weekend could mean missing the whole season. Despite my infirmity, I had to get out there and shoot as much color as I could.
The colors here in Alaska are not what they are in Indiana, where I grew up. Indiana has a greater variety of trees, and the colors range from yellow to orange to bright red. Alaska's colors are mainly yellow and orange. This tree had a tiny bit of red on its leaves. I have no idea what kind of tree it is, but I loved the red.
This is a pretty typical-looking fall Alaska tree. Lots of yellow. And the blue behind the is the Cook Inlet. We didn't have an inlets in Indiana. I love using the Inlet as a background.
Here is a gorgeous tree in our neighbor's yard that was in full, yellowy color. This picture features another background that I love to use: mountains. These mountains are topped with termination dust. For my Hoosier friends: termination dust is the first dusting of snow that starts up in the mountains and creeps downward, until it reaches Anchorage. According to the amount of termination dust up there now, it could snow in town any day now.
Trees in my other neighbor's yard. You can see Sleeping Lady in the background here. Sleeping Lady's snow blanket is getting bigger.
I took these photos with my Nikon D90, using my beloved 70-200 f/2.8 lens. I could have used a wider angle lens to capture more of the landscape, but I used my longer lens because I love it more than I love my children. Okay, not really. But I love it a lot. It's big and heavy and really fun to shoot with. Even when I'm out in the backyard in my sweats with my hair all messed up and sneezing my head off, I look like a pro when I use this lens. And the pictures it takes are swwweeetttt.
I kept my aperture set to f/2.8 for all of these photos for a couple of reasons: one, I wanted lots of background blur, and two, the cloudy skies made it a little dark out, and I wanted the fastest shutter speed possible. Even though I was using a very long lens, I was able to hand-hold (in other words, shoot without a tripod) for all of these shots because I was using fast shutter speeds.
There were a few wildflowers left in the yard, too. Always, always shoot wildflowers with your aperture wide open. That is my rule.
Texture is nice in fall photos, too. This tree trunk looks like this because moose have stripped the bark off of it. Moose eat tree bark and tree branches in the winter. They'll pretty much destroy every tree in your yard if you don't wrap them.
More texture. And bokeh (another name for background blur).
And my companion and protector for this outing: Seamus, the seven-year-old collie. I don't go outside without Seamus, especially this time of year, when bull moose have been wandering the neighborhood. This is rutting season for moose, which means that the male moose are pretty cranky, and I don't want to be anywhere near one. Seamus is always very alert, and protects me like I am a sheep. He is awesome.
All of these photographs were taken in RAW format and were first processed in Aperture. Then, I applied actions by Pioneer Woman (available here) in Adobe Photoshop CS3 (someday, I'll get CS4). Her actions are amazing, and very addictive. I never use actions just as they are however, I usually do a lot of tweaking after I've applied them.
I'm going back to my couch now, to continue recovering from the plague. And to wait for the snow ...