Autumn within the Canadian Rockies is temporary however dramatic; the leaves change seemingly in a single day.

When you reside within the Canadian Rockies, the place autumn is finest measured in days not weeks, chasing fall colours generally is a problem.

Driving by means of Canmore with an keen group of photographers final yr on day one among a seven-day autumn workshop, I observed the inexperienced poplar leaves had been starting to show vivid yellow. Every week later, we made our method again to the airport, passing by means of Canmore as soon as once more. By then, a lot of the poplar leaves had already fallen. Those seven days marked the start, peak and conclusion to our fall colours.

What makes the Canadian Rockies autumn spectacular, although, is the atmospheric drama the abruptly cooling air creates when transferring throughout the still-warm earth.

Image of fall snow in the Canadian Rockies

September snow will not be unusual within the Rocky Mountains. The gentle dusting of snow on the evergreens enhances the turquoise inexperienced water and low, rolling clouds.

Autumn marks the shift from the longer days of summer season to the longer nights of winter. Typically once we consider autumn, we predict first about vibrant fall colours. Nevertheless, it isn’t simply the leaves that change. Animal conduct, temperature and climate patterns are all altering, too.

Consider how the altering of the seasons supplies alternatives for distinctive atmospheric landscapes—even if you’re not fortunate sufficient to be in an space with daring fall colours.

Photo of Moraine Lake in the moonlight

Moraine Lake within the moonlight. The longer nights of autumn and abruptly cooling temperatures create distinctive situations, even on the most iconic places.

First, moody, atmospheric situations can remodel even probably the most iconic places into distinctive scenes that seize the viewer’s creativeness. My picture of Moraine Lake within the moonlight fantastically exemplifies that transition for me. That night, I got down to shoot the sundown. As is usually the case within the Rockies, the clouds didn’t cooperate. But, shortly after sundown, low clouds began to float by means of the valley. With moonrise not far off, I waited and watched this iconic panorama remodel into an ethereal dreamscape.

The cool air transferring over the (comparatively) hotter water created the proper situations for low, lazy clouds drifting by means of the valley. The greater clouds rolled in throughout twilight, and because the first stars got here out, the rising moon underlit the incoming clouds. The solely factor this picture is lacking is a few yellow larch timber, which solely develop at greater elevations, and perhaps a grizzly bear filling his stomach earlier than an extended winter’s nap. Through the years, I’ve photographed Moraine Lake in each season. Despite the dearth of daring fall colours, that is my favourite picture of all my photographs from final yr. The mixture of low, drifting clouds, and the lake bathed in moonlight makes it a singular perspective of an often-photographed iconic location.

Autumn weather in the Yukon’s Tombstone mountain range

The often-unforgiving autumn climate within the Yukon’s Tombstone Mountain vary makes it really feel just like the final frontier. The darkish, brooding clouds on this picture give the viewer a way of what it’s prefer to be on this distant and remoted a part of the world. 

Dynamic climate can even assist create an emotional connection to the picture, each for the viewer and the photographer. While I used to be on a week-long tenting journey within the Yukon throughout the first week of September 2018, the temperatures dropped beneath freezing at evening. That week it snowed most each evening. The Yukon autumn felt extra just like the winter within the Canadian Rockies. One morning, I woke as much as frozen mountain climbing boots; I needed to chisel away a layer of ice earlier than I may even pry the laces aside. Despite the winter-like situations, I used to be utterly captivated by the Yukon panorama. The remoteness, rugged peaks, difficult, dramatic climate and relative absence of individuals made it really feel just like the final frontier.

During my time within the Yukon, I’d have cherished nothing greater than to see wonderful gentle alongside these stunning fall colours. However, the pictures I captured with darkish, brooding clouds over the rugged peaks and vibrant tundra encapsulate the sensation of what it was prefer to be there on this distant a part of the world the place the climate may be unforgiving.

Image of glaciers near Patagonia

Patagonia meets Antarctica. Somehow, the moist climate right here felt colder than a Canadian winter, however when the clouds parted lengthy sufficient to disclose these unnamed peaks, all I may take into consideration was how quickly I may return.

I’ve additionally discovered that I’ve extra emotional connection to my very own photographs when situations are difficult (this contains being bodily tough or technically tough to execute the picture). For instance, throughout a visit to Patagonia, I skilled each sort of climate, most notably driving rain and heavy winds. Of the twenty-two days I used to be on my Patagonia journey, it rained on eighteen of them. As the chilly rain soaked by means of my boots and penetrated my bones, I used to be colder than I had by no means been in Canada. When the rain lastly let up, the moody environment resulted in some memorable moments and photographs.

The most memorable day of the expedition got here after my greatest wrestle with Mother Nature. Our small group of explorers made base camp close to the underside of the glacier earlier than making the trek up the mountain, to the overlook on the high of the glacier. There was no path, and far of the hike was a bushwhack. One hour into the four-hour trek, I fell in poor health and hiked the remainder of the way in which wishing I had not left my emergency antibiotics at base camp. It rained till we reached the highest, then it snowed. I used to be exhausted, chilly and demoralized.

The subsequent morning, the clouds lastly broke by means of, however I felt too weak to climb any additional up the mountain for a dawn shoot. Matt Lum, my good buddy, packed my digital camera gear and tripod in his bag and stated, “You didn’t come all this way and wait so long for good conditions to miss this. You can do it.” With his encouragement, I did. That morning was the one time the clouds would half lengthy sufficient for us to see these unnamed peaks.

Photo of sunrise during cold fall conditions

Watching the clouds half over these unnamed peaks after 16 days of rain and chilly was probably the most memorable moments I’ve had in images. Looking again on this picture, I really feel a robust emotional connection to that second of seeing the sunshine breaking by means of the clouds and feeling the heat of the solar on my face.

Watching the solar break by means of the clouds over this distant a part of the world was transcendent, one thing I’ll always remember. After countless rain, chilly and sickness, these temporary moments of sunshine and environment had been much more particular. For the primary time in weeks, I felt heat on my pores and skin and a renewed sense of power. Unfortunately, the sunshine didn’t final lengthy. I had a couple of minutes to sew collectively a vertical panorama. When I take a look at this picture right this moment, I’m crammed with that very same sense of sunshine and heat I skilled on the mountain over a yr in the past. It will not be my favourite picture compositionally, however I’ve a robust emotional connection to the second and the experiences that introduced me there.

Once we returned to civilization and made our method to Torres del Paine, the climate was extra favorable. The fall colours had been fairly, however it was the temper of the place that made me wish to return to the area as quickly as attainable.

Image of a fall landscape at Torres del Paine

The fall colours had been fairly in Torres del Paine National Park, however the ever-changing clouds and environment created probably the most compelling photographs.

Atmospheric situations, like those I photographed in Torres del Paine, assist to rework a two-dimensional {photograph} right into a three-dimensional view. When wanting towards a distant horizon, tiny particles fill the air between our eyes and the distant objects. Light scattering from these particles makes distant objects much less luminous and fewer saturated, which is a cue to our visible system that an object is additional away. Foreground objects could have excessive distinction, whereas background objects could have decrease distinction. While it’s completely attainable to create a few of these results in post-processing, atmospheric situations produce a pure, three-dimensional high quality in a picture.

In one other favourite picture from Torres del Paine, for instance, the grass within the foreground is excessive distinction and saturated. As the attention strikes towards the again of the scene, the mist and low cloud desaturate the mountain, and the mountain space is low distinction. Together, these parts assist to create a sensation of depth within the picture.

Photo of low clouds over Torres del Paine

Atmospheric situations, such because the fog and low clouds on this picture of Torres del Paine, assist give the viewer a notion of depth.

Finally, stormy, moody climate additionally lends itself to distinctive capturing situations that may change a panorama from in the future to the subsequent. The Devil’s Pulpit in Scotland is one among my favourite locations to {photograph} as a result of I see a singular perspective each time I go to. It rains most day by day in Scotland however not all day. Consequently, the water ranges in that little gorge rise and fall, revealing and concealing the fascinating pink rock beneath the floor of the water. When the sunshine hits in simply the correct method, the colourful inexperienced of the canyon partitions displays within the cola-colored water. For the previous 5 years, I’ve photographed this location each autumn and have but to see the identical situations twice!

Photo of a river and gorge in Scotland during fall

This stunning little gorge in Scotland reveals one thing new each time I go to; the altering season brings autumn rains, which reveal and conceal fascinating textures and options of the pink rocks beneath the floor of the water.

Looking by means of my assortment of fall photographs from many alternative elements of the globe, the most effective ones weren’t all the time those with probably the most vibrant fall colours. Rather, my favourite photographs are those with probably the most atmospheric situations. While these situations can happen at any time all year long, it’s definitely extra widespread to seek out them within the fall as the times grow to be shorter, the nights grow to be longer and chilly air intersects with the hotter earth. If you’re searching for the proper autumn photograph this yr however you don’t dwell in an space that sometimes has vibrant fall colours, preserve an in depth eye on the climate—you may simply shock your self with what you may seize.


See extra of Rachel Jones Ross’ work at astralisphotography.com.



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