Fall Color

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The colors of fall are, for most of the country, becoming a thing of the past. The leaves have mostly fallen; and only a few places remain where autumn can still put on a show. In the Guadeloupe Mountains in Texas sometimes don’t strut their fall stuff until late in November (although peak color seems to be happening right now). In most places in the country, the turning of the leaves has finished and only bare branches remain. Every year many landscape photographers take a stab at capturing autumn color. Their success depends on what locations they have access to and their luck at finding compelling vistas through which to illustrate the color.

The best color is generally in the New England area; it’s safe to say that, while the Western side of the U.S. has most of the really spectacular scenery, the eastern half has the best color. In the west, the best color is in western Colorado, particularly in the Elk and San Juan Mountains. Even so, the color is not as varied as in New England: it’s mostly yellowing aspens. Still, they are quite impressive:

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Colorado fall color has something New England doesn’t: spectacular mountains to serve as a backdrop to the color:

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Fall color on the west coast isn’t nearly as spectacular or intriguing as is found in New England or Colorado. Most of the foliage out this way is of the evergreen nature which stays green all year round. The deciduous stuff exists in isolated patches which are difficult to photograph to any great advantage:

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Still, one can stumble upon some nice patches, especially along creeks and rivers. In Oregon, along the Rogue and Umpqua rivers (and their assorted tributaries), there are patches of decent color:

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Still, this is a poor man’s Colorado or New England fall color. The northcoast of California is even worse: a destitute man’s fall color, if you will. The most popular deciduous tree out in the wild turns in a most vile way: the leaves simply begin to look diseased, then crinkle up and die. Below was the best I could find in the way of color along the Redwood Highway:

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Better color exists inland. But even here is still remains sparse, in patches among the dominant evergreen foliage, as is this modest bursting of color near McCloud Falls:

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More promising was the trail to Upper McCloud Falls. But most of the leaves had already fallen:

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So for those really serious about photographing fall color, what needs to be done should be clear: if you live in the western United States, go to Colorado; if you live in the eastern half of the country, head for New England. While there are other places that exhibit good color, New England and Colorado are the best places for that sort of thing.