Today, Friday-Dec 3rd, started out more overcast than sunny. Allen Shirley and I drove up Yokohl Valley Rd and really didn’t find much … a wandering tarantula frozen on the road in the cool 46 degree mist was about it. He could move a little with some prompting, but we shot just a few images then moved him to the roadside before we moved on. A distant coyote and some kind of wild apple were all we saw. On our way to the Dry Creek Rd north of Lemon Cove we got stalled behind a cattle drive for a bit. The four working dogs kept the cows moving while the cowboys blocked the road. Great. Back to Hwy 198 then north to just past Lemon Cove, left on State Road 216, then a mile down the road right (north) on to Dry Creek Drive. The sign put the community of Badger about twenty miles up this narrow and windy, but paved, road in the foothills to the Sierra’s. We could see snow on top of some ridges about a thousand feet above the road. I guess the early season snow has begun to fall in Sequoia National Park.
We drove up the road a ways but turned back to photograph a grove of California Sycamore trees still displaying vibrant autumn colors. We crossed through the unmarked wire fence and dropped down to the little basin where the creek crossed through the trees in small waterfalls. The leaves of these Sycamore trees are huge and with the bright colors made the shallow pools the obvious subject.
Once again I had forgotten my wading boots so I had to be careful about moving around the slippery rocks. It’s not that I don’t already have enough support equipment in my 4Runner, for some reason remembering the boots seems to allude me. I criss-crossed the creek using my polarizer and 12-24mm lens to frame images and reduce reflections on the water. The light was good, though filtered somewhat through the trees – and with mostly middle-toned subjects I kept my bracket pretty tight, 3 shots a half stop apart.
After working the creek I began photographing the colorful leaves and the equally amazing bark that Sycamore trees have. I noticed in processing the images that the strong yellow and orange leaves, and green leaves – had added a pretty strong yellow bias to my images. I experimented a little and found that the gray eyedropper in the Levels Dialog Box worked well to reset the image colors when I clicked it on the gray patches of bark on the sycamores. A little reduction in Magenta saturation and my colors were as I remembered them. The wind had been blowing just a little but it was enough to ruin a number of leaf images.
We left Tulare about 7am and got back to my house about Noon. I shot about 240 images including a bunch of the tarantula, and came away with 54 images after the final edit. While I’ve seen tarantulas before, I had never photographed them or any California Sycamores before. Two new subjects, a new fall location, and some very nice landscape images – it was a successful five hours.