Chasing Light: Gold season!

Autumn beauty in our parking lot. In the upper right, you can see the reflection of a townhome roof. I could have easily cropped it out, but wanted a hint of where it is in the frame.

Autumn seems to be in hurry up mode this year. We’ve already had a few dustings of snow above 11,500 feet in Summit County, so leaf-peeping season could peak a little early. Some clumps of aspens and willows — especially in the tundra — are already glinting gold, and that means we’ll soon be enjoying those eye-popping vistas of aspen-covered mountains. My best guess is that late September will be the best time for a fall tour through the high country, but don’t take my word for it — check out this interactive U.S. Forest Service fall colors map.

I like to look at the leaves up close, so last September, I took a series of shots around our parking lot. You can hardly go wrong with golden leaves and reflected water droplets, but I think I did have to lay down on the wet pavement for the shot. In capturing the side-by-side leaves, I knew that I wanted to enhance the stark contrast with an Instagram filter; the same for the snow-covered leaves shot, taken just a couple of days later on the edge of our driveway. All shots with an iPhone 4, using a few different apps for sharpening and other effects. When you’re shooting fall colors this year, think of that smartphone as a digital darkroom you can hold in the palm of your hands, and don’t be afraid to play around with different apps and tools.