My wife and I have been going to the Eastern Sierras for over 30 years - she to read and me to fish and enjoy the lakes. Coming from the desert that is San Diego, it is nice to be among the trees and water. When the kids were a factor, we went during summer, but before and now after the kids, we tend to go before school gets out or after it starts in the fall.
this year, we decided to go in mid October in hopes of catching the fall color as well as some fish. Not only do I bring a fishing pole, but a kayak to work the lakes (many) and bigger streams (few) of the area. So while the camera has been raised in importance, certainly the fishing rod is still high on the list.
The last time we visited was about 5 years ago in late May - water was high and most of the snow was gone. The weather has been wacky this year and water was way down when we arrived. Of course the weather was cooler, a welcomed change from the hot weather from SoCal and it looked like we were going to hit a prime weekend for the color.
It was cold. Not for you Eastern or Midwesterners - but it was for us coastal southwesterners. Yes, layers and layers. At altitude (we stayed about 8500ft) it was only pleasant during mid day. It was hard to get out of bed for the fish. They would wait.
Then, snow. After talking, we decided to go to lower altitude to thaw and to find some color for the camera. Note that this area (Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, Bridgeport) are towns built on trout in the summer time. But, as we headed to lower country and would stop at scenic areas (some planned, and some just suspected) we found it: More tripods than fishing rods. Wow. This digital thing has really taken off.
Every rest stop; every scenic area; every visible stand of changing aspens - cars and tripods. Yeah, there were fishermen on the lakes (a few), but it was really rare to see anyone walking around with a fishing rod. And, the lake areas where there were stands of Aspens nearby and a scenic mountain - no fishermen at all.
We ran into one older gentleman from Laguna Niguel (coastal SoCal south of Disneyland, but before Camp Pendleton) and he said he had been coming up to the area for fall color for 30 years. We saw him and his service dog at several stops. Maybe this is the 'third season' for the Eastern Sierras - Photo Season.
Or have things changed. has the digital revolution also brought the fall color sportsman to the area at a different time of year - short, but still, it brings them.
Confession - while I brought a tripod, I don't use it unless I am faced with long shutter times (greater than 1/30th). The VR lens seems to me to get sharp enough in most cases (and that has proven true when I looked at my captures after i returned). I felt like the 'incognito shooter' in a field of tripod shooters.
So, as there were more visible tripods than fishing rods - it appears that the times have changed. Anyone with a DSLR or even a pocket camera, can take a thousand shots on a long weekend and find the 3 or 4 goodies. I suspect that, like trout, the quantity of keepers gets greater when one gets off the beaten path. Also, those keepers, coupled with the memories of how/when they were taken, will make them even more significant if it comes to a print.
the one shot here is from the campground we stayed in (in a trailer) looking across the lake about 8 hours after the snow had stopped falling (my guess - as we were down at lower - and warmer - elevations when it stopped snowing).
- and my first use of a polarizer. I kept it on the camera, removing it only for the darker scenes. And, the skies cooperated.
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