South Conejos Fall
Cottonwoods this time, from late September. This is the South Fork of the Conejos in Colorado’s South San Juan Wilderness.
The South Fork is a grand place, full of aspens and hemmed in by cliffs all around. After the evening shooting and dinner, I was sleeping soundly on the open ground (I went tent-free on this trip) when I was snapped instantly awake by a series of breathy coughs, disturbingly close, which suddenly broke into a hoarse shriek, echoing off the walls. I caught a glimpse of a coyote across the meadow in the moonlight. But this one’s song was no happy, drunk-on-the-moon yipping; it’s voice was disturbingly savage alone in a wilderness canyon at midnight. I kept feeding my little fire through the dark hours, the coyote kept barking and screaming, and I was happy to see the dawn.
There’s a lot that can be said about fall color photography, but one principle I find very useful is that the spectacular morning and evening light that makes so many photos work is often not the best for autumn leaves. That warm, low-angle light that can give such a beautiful glow to grand landscapes frequently turns fall foliage to a mess of muddy-looking orange. There are times when it works, but I generally prefer overcast, deep shade, reflected light or back-lighting. The blue cast you get in the shade can make a very nice complement to yellow leaves.
Another view of the South Fork; the composition’s to messy for it to make the A-list, but it shows the beauty of the place nicely:
Two mornings later, looking down from the canyon rim on my previous campsite, with 13,000 foot Conejos Peak above: