Tag Archives: red

Walking in Rain

Walking in Rain
Three pedestrians share an umbrella on a rainy New York morning

Walking in Rain. New York City. December 2, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Three pedestrians share an umbrella on a rainy New York morning

My recollection is that we had gone to sort of the East Village area on this morning, first to find some pastry and coffee for breakfast at a place we’ve been to before, and then to wander about making some photographs in this urban area on a cool and wet morning. Breakfast and coffee taken care of, we started walking and watching the urban landscape and its human wildlife.

There is, of course, quite a lot to see, and much of it appears and disappears quickly. I rarely have a lot of time to think about a photograph, and quite often I have to move fast, composing on the fly. When this trio walked past I immediately noticed their color palette of basically black and red/pink and thought that there might be a photograph. We were already walking this direction so I quickly made a few exposures of this group of friends or relatives as they walked along, close together and sharing an umbrella on this drizzly morning.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Cranes, Dusk Sky

Cranes, Dusk Sky
Sandhill cranes return in dusk light above the San Joaquin Valley

Cranes, Dusk Sky. San Joaquin Valley, California. December 17, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Sandhill cranes return in dusk light above the San Joaquin Valley

It sometimes seems odd to me that as the day comes to an end out here where I photograph birds, things seem to both slow down and speed up. The slowing down is the natural consequence of the daylight coming to an end, with my own awareness that a long day of photography that began well before dawn is soon to conclude, and the quieting of some of the natural occupants of this environment. The speeding up comes from certain events that take place suddenly and evolve quickly, along with the potential for several of them to occur simultaneously.

Very late in the afternoon I made a quick circuit of the area where I was photographing, trying to make a few final full daylight photographs and identifying locations where certain dusk events might be more likely — a landing by cranes, a sudden departure of geese. I identified a spot out along the levee loop where a decent sized flock of snow geese (and perhaps some Ross’s geese?) had settled in close to the perimeter road, and less than a half hour before actual sunset I was back there and ready to photograph. For some time things were very quite nearby. The geese mostly sat still in the shallow water near reeds, and I had time to compose photographs that were essentially landscapes with birds. As I was working on one of these I saw, far off in the distance beyond a roadway, that a huge flock of geese had lifted off and was wheeling in circles. Ah, well, I wasn’t going to get to photograph that flock close-up on this evening! Before long I sensed a restlessness in the smaller flock near me and, sure enough, groups soon began to lift off suddenly and head south and west — first smaller groups, and soon almost the entire remaining flock. When this happens I transition immediately from the slow and leisurely “landscape with birds” photography to working quickly and making instant decisions about what to photograph and how to photograph it. As I tracked these birds into the distance I began to notice lines of cranes heading back to one of their favorite spots perhaps a quarter-mile away. Using a long lens I tracked them as they crossed the cloud-textured sunset sky.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Aspen Trees, Near-Peak Color

Aspen Trees, Near-Peak Color
A small group of aspens against a rocky slope are in full autumn color

Aspen Trees, Near-Peak Color. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. October 4, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A small group of aspens against a rocky slope are in full autumn color

Having visited this area a week earlier I was expecting a certain level of fall color in specific places along the shoreline of this eastern Sierra Nevada lake when I arrived here again early on October. I was also expecting to see quite a few other photographers, given that this is an accessible and well-known location. I was not disappointed on either count. As I arrived I found brilliant colors along the small dirt roadway, and I also found photographers everywhere — in the parking lots, along the shoreline of the lake, stopped in the middle of the road, wandering in grassy areas. There were even a few workshop groups collected together in promising spots.

I kept going, passing through the area of the most intense color. My idea was to find a location from which I could get a line back across the valley towards the trees, placing them against a backdrop of the gray texture of granite hillsides and cliffs, and contrasting that with the brilliant color of the leaves, made even more saturated by the cloudy, wet conditions. I found my spot, wandered up onto a slight rise with a clear view of the trees, and used a long lens to isolate them.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Aspens and Rocky Cliff

Aspens and Rocky Cliff
Aspens in full autumn color against a granite cliff in the eastern Sierra Nevada

Aspens and Rocky Cliff. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. October 4, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Aspens in full autumn color against a granite cliff in the eastern Sierra Nevada

On this morning I woke up at my 8000′ eastern Sierra camp to temperatures in the mid-thirty degree range and light graupel, or snow pellets. But the clouds looked thin, and the combination of aspens and snow is appealing, so I headed up the canyon to a higher location where I thought that there might be colorful aspens and snow. When I got there, I wasn’t disappointed — the temperature was still down in the thirties, and the light snow continued to fall… and the trees at this location were probably at their peak color of the season.

The color of the trees was intense, but the soft light of the snowy, cloudy weather intensified colors even more. I went to the far side of the lake where I know of an accessible area that is a bit higher than the lake, with my plan being to photograph these trees against the backdrop of broken granite walls, using a long focal length to narrow the boundaries of the compositions and exclude distracting objects. For intense color everything was working in my favor: the peak color of the trees, the muted tones of the background rock, and the effect of the soft light from the overcast skies.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Aspen Trees, Shoreline

Aspen Trees, Shoreline
Colorful autumn aspen trees along the rocky shoreline of a subalpine Sierra Nevada lake

Aspen Trees, Shoreline. Sierra Nevada, California. September 26, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Colorful autumn aspen trees along the rocky shoreline of a subalpine Sierra Nevada lake

The Sierra Nevada autumn color season seemed to start earlier than usual this year. The question of when it would start has been on the minds of many of us who chase the aspen and other color each fall, especially given the effects of California’s fourth year of drought. We wondered (and still wonder) how many trees would die, how early the color would arrive, how good it would be, and much more. The picture isn’t yet fully clear, but I think that I can perhaps make three generalizations. First, the color did arrive early — I made this photograph during the last week of September, and such color typically arrives in this location perhaps a full week later. Second, some trees have clearly been stressed by the drought — in places trees that would usually be developing colorful leaves have instead simply dropped their leaves early. Third, in places where the water situation isn’t quite as dire there are still a lot of very green trees, and they will possibly prolong the color season well into October.

When I visited this spot I already had a long familiarity with this colorful group of trees growing along the shoreline of this subalpine lake. Ironically, it was in this drought year, when I arrived at an atypically early point in the season, that I found what may be the best colors I’ve seen on them. In the Sierra the predominant autumn aspen leaf color is a sort of golden-yellow. However, there are other colors ranging from orange through read and even to some deep almost red-brown colors. In some ways, those are the “prize” colors that we look for. And this little strip of trees has those colors in abundance!


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Base of the Cliff

Base of the Cliff
Autumn plants growing at the base of a sandstone cliff

Base of the Cliff. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. October 22, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Autumn plants growing at the base of a sandstone cliff

It seems that we have arrived at that time when each year my thoughts begin to turn again to autumn photography. That is probably my favorite season as it includes those final warm days of Indian summer, the first inkling of the coming winter, the annual color transition as trees lose their leaves, and the first real winter weather — all of which are favorite photographic subjects of mine. (I’ll be paying special attention to Sierra Nevada fall color this coming season, for a number of reasons, but especially since this is the first autumn following the publication of my book on the subject: California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” from Heyday Press.)

So, an autumn photograph! This one comes from last October, when I had the opportunity to make a photography trip through some of may favorite areas of southern Utah. Partway through the trip I met up with my friend and fellow photographer, David Hoffman. We spent several days poking around in and photographing Capitol Reef National Park. On this evening we passed through a narrow gorge not far from our camp, quickly stopped, and ended up photographing the red rock canyon walls and the autumn colors until the light faded at the end of the day.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Dry Mud and Sand

Dry Mud and Sand
Dry, cracked mud on top of red sand under reflected canyon light, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Dry Mud and Sand. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 25, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Dry, cracked mud on top of red sand under reflected canyon light, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

I almost titled this photograph, “Another Photograph of Mud.” But I have resisted that temptation, and once again used a simple more or less objective title. But, indeed, this is almost a photographic type when it comes to the Southwest, and one that is awfully difficult to pass up. These formations come about when silt-laden water rushes down desert canyons, washes, and streams, leaving behind a layer of very wet silt. The layer may be thin, as it was in this case, or it may be quite thick. In one narrow canyon last year I slipped into such silt-mud and it almost seemed like there was not bottom!

I’m not sure quite what explains our fascination with these formations. Is it because they are among the most transient features of the physical landscape, disappearing and then reforming every time it rains? Is it the patterns themselves, which can have a wonderful geometric quality and, at the same time, embody a randomness? Is it the combination of the colors of the material, which can range from white through black with many colors in between, and the reflected canyon light? Possibly it is all of these things and more.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.