AUTUMN IN SIERRA NEVADA


This image shows an emblematic place at the Sierra Nevada in its full autumn splendour. I tried to find the coincidence between various factors to show the landscape in all its strength, like autumn colours in the Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyreneaicus) forest, together with clearness in the sky and with reflections (that required enough water and absence of wind), combined with snow on the peaks and high clouds to decorate the blue sky.

I made three photographic “assaults” within a period of ten days (this landscape has an interesting light only during 45 minutes a day) and this is what I consider the best image; the one that has the best confluence of these five elements.

An important factor to consider in compositions of this kind is the presence of a foreground. In many cases this place is being portrayed with the image “starting” in a quite abrupt way in the water, instead, a foreground, apart from gratifying the view, helps us to guide it into the frame and complete a composition.

In this case it was necessary to put the camera almost at the ground level, losing some of the reflection when lowering the composition, calculating in a rather intuitive way the proportions of the foreground with the rushes in relation to the whole, closing the diaphragm to assure enough depth of field (though not at a maximum, to avoid the diffraction) and polarizing, also with moderation, in order not to lose the reflection in the water.

The high clouds complete and “crown” the composition; a completely blue sky looks is not very interesting and absorbs or distracts too much of the view. The position of the clouds is also important, if the clouds are too far away from the mountains the leave a too big blue “gap” if the are too close they will let the attractive contrast between the snow capped mountains and blue sky disappear. At the same time as searching for the best sky composition I also tried to quadrate the clouds in the reflection with the same criteria. In this case their position is more or less correct, leaving only the right side the sky exposed.

Although exceeding the horizon line (which is generally not recommended), the oak at the upper right edge balances and strengthens the presence of the one at the left side, forming a diagonal visual line between the both, compensating to a certain point the high clouds in the sky and its absence at the right edge at the same time.

One of the difficulties of landscape photography consists in the fact that many places need a combination of special atmospheric conditions which in some years do not occur and only happen in a very short and peculiar moment in which one has to be there, almost forcing the photographer to a full time dedication to be able to capture the marvellous instances with full disposition.

Equipment:

Digital Reflex Camera, wide angle 10-20mm (at about 12mm), cropped and resized, diaphragm f: 11, polarizing filter, processed in Lightroom trying to maintain details in the delicate white zones of high contrast, the indispensable tripod, some experience in understanding and anticipating weather forecasts and an indispensable dosage of dedication combined with a sane touch of passion, courage and madness (call it as you like)