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Sacramento Fall Color Comparisons: iPhone or Nikon?

William Land Park, Sacramento (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

William Land Park, Sacramento [iPhone or Nikon? – You Guess] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

For a Monday morning live segment on Sacramento’s KCRA-TV3 about CaliforniaFallColor, I spent Saturday exploring Sacramento County.

Mormon Island Wetland (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Mormon Island Wetland (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Mormon Island Wetland (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Mormon Island Wetland (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Plaza Park, Fair Oaks [iPhone] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Plaza Park, Fair Oaks [iPhone] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Plaza Park, Fair Oaks [Nikon] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Plaza Park, Fair Oaks [Nikon] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

40th Ave., [iPhone] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

40th Ave., [iPhone] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

40th Ave. [Nikon] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

40th Ave. [Nikon] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

William Land Park, Sacramento [iPhone] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

William Land Park, Sacramento [iPhone] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

William Land Park, Sacramento  [Nikon] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

William Land Park, Sacramento [Nikon] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

The color was patchy, though still beautiful with chartreuse sycamore and yellow and lime cottonwood throughout the County. Patchy fall color can be as lovely as full peak. Also, photographing fall color need not be about the grand landscape, it can also be about little places.

For this assignment, I carried two cameras, a Nikon D700 with Nikkor 28 – 300 3.5F AF lens and an iPhone 5S using Ollo Clip lenses (wide angle, fisheye and telephoto with polarizer).  I’ve been experimenting with the iPhone on travel writing assignments.

Images shot with an iPhone photographs are not as sharp as with a full frame digital camera like the Nikon.  Admittedly, I did not use a tripod which would have improved sharpness. And, the softness seen in these is exaggerated, because I used in-app filters.  I use Adobe Photoshop’s iPhone app to filter my photos, as the resulting images are remarkably appealing.

I began Saturday’s trek in Folsom.  While transiting town to US 50, I spotted golden crested cottonwood at Mormon Island Wetlands and pulled over to the curb on Sophia Parkway, shooting these two images with the Nikon while standing inside the Folsom city limits, proving that it isn’t necessary to drive hundreds of miles to find dramatic landscapes. They’re all around us when we’re observant.

Fair Oaks is a gentrified rural village outside Sacramento where roosters crow and have the run of town. None would cooperate for these photos of Plaza Park.

The American River has valley oak and black cottonwood that are still Just Starting.

The Fabulous 40s are tree-lined residential avenues in East Sacramento with landmark London Plane Trees (towering sycamore) creating canopies of leaf-heavy branches.  The scene is lovely though overwhelming, so I sat on the curb to put the scene in perspective by photographing a pile of leaves in the foreground.

William Land Park is Sacramento’s great central park, with a golf course, zoo, children’s fairytale town, ponds, lawns and lots of trees.  There are so many varieties of trees, that the color changes gradually from mid October through Thanksgiving day.

Pocket/Greenhaven, Sacramento (10/26/14) Sharon

Pocket/Greenhaven, Sacramento [HTC Android] (10/26/14) Sharon Chew

To confuse the conversation further, color spotter Sharon Chew provides this photo shot with her HTC Android phone of the boulevard of near peak liquidambar along Pocket Rd. at Greenhaven in southwest Sacramento.

Patchy – Sacramento County (10 – 50%) – Cottonwood and sycamore are showing lime, yellow and chartreuse throughout Sacramento County.  Still, way short of nearing peak, though lovely none the less.

[weatherlayer country=”United States” city=”Sacramento”]

 

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Carson Pass Peaking

Aspen, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Carson Pass, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Carson Pass, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Today, we chose to search for California’s gold and found it peaking on Carson Pass.

The pass is the high point of State Route 88.  It was named after western explorer and scout, Kit Carson, who, in January 1844, proposed that the Frémont Expedition turn west in order to resupply at Sutter’s Fort in present-day Sacramento. Local Indians warned against attempting a winter crossing, but always impulsive, John C Frémont forged on across the Sierra, reaching Sutter’s Fort in March.

Four years later, Mormon emigrants blazed a route along what they called the Carson Trail, from Sly Park,  across Carson Pass to the Carson Valley in Nevada.  The route they laid out is now called Mormon Emigrant Trail. Our drive in search of golden leaves began on Hwy 50 in Folsom, traveling east along historic gold miner routes to Sly Park where we linked up with the Mormon Emigrant Trail.

The route is getting mixed reviews.  We thought there was nice color, though Nanci Knight, a veteran color spotter didn’t see as much orange (true) as she’d seen in past years and thought the yellows to be pale, particularly continuing beyond Hope Valley to Monitor Pass (many trees there got stripped of trees by strong winds, the weekend before last).  Nanci also conjectured poetically that the drought has reduced the amount of green growing beneath pines and aspen, “leaving a pervasive dull brown tableau of lifeless, gnarly dead wood/sticks.”

Narrow Leaf Willows, (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Willows, (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Mormon Emigrant Trail – The first color seen is an orange-yellow tinge to black oak leaves at 4,200′.  At 7,500′, willows shine bright yellow, though the color spots are so few and far between that the road is hardly worth exploring for fall color, though as a road that is historic, wide, straight and untraveled, Mormon Emigrant has few peers.

GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – West Slope, Carson Pass (Hwy 88) – As you near Silver Lake, stands of bright yellow aspen speckle the forest at 7,500′ elevation.  A particularly good stand of very large, old aspen flickering bright yellow is found on the north side of the highway at elevation 7,200′ at the entrance to the Kirkwood Lake Road.

Red Lake Peak Rim Trail, Kirkwood (10/5/14) Kevin Cooper

Red Lake Peak Rim Trail, Kirkwood (10/5/14) Kevin Cooper

Red Lake Peak Rim Trail, Kirkwood (10/5/14) Kevin Cooper

Red Lake Peak Rim Trail, Kirkwood (10/5/14) Kevin Cooper

GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Kirkwood Mountain Resort – This was the weekend to be hiking goat trails surrounding the Kirkwood Mountain Resort, as color spotter Kevin Cooper (Coop) did to get these shots.  The hike got Coop psyched for Kirkwood’s new guided, off-piste backcountry ski experience called Expedition Kirkwood Backcountry that will explore deep powder bowls.

Caples Lake (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Caples Lake (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Caples Lake – The east shore of Caples lake has bands of day-glo orange-red and yellow aspen.  A nice view is from the fishing access parking area on the west shore of the lake at Caples Lake Resort.

East Slope, Carson Pass (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

East Slope, Carson Pass (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – East Slope, Carson Pass (Hwy 88) – The upper reaches of the Hope Valley near Carson Pass are at full peak.  We diverted driving a dirt road toward Red Lake to find a boulevard of yellow, peaking aspen.

Blue Lakes Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Blue Lakes Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

GO NOW! Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Hope Valley Recreation Area – Blue Lakes Road which travels through the Hope Valley Recreation Area has little color along it.  Though there are a few brilliant stands.  The best we saw was a boulevard of yellow aspen just beyond the winter road closure gates, after passing the Hope Valley Campground.

Hope Valley (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Hope Valley (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

GO NOW! Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Hope Valley – There’s still quite a bit of green and lime, particularly on the north side of the valley, though too are wide swaths of red, orange and yellow among fir and pine forests.

GO NOW! Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Sorensen’s Resort – This popular collection of cabins set in a forest of towering aspen flickers with yellow.  Across Hwy 88, large groves of aspen are mostly yellow and orange, though some trees still have green or lime leaves in abundance.

Sorenson's Resort (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Sorensen’s Resort (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Big Meadow – A little yellow is ringing Big Meadow on State Route 89, north of the Hope Valley, though it is still mostly green and lime.  The drive up 89 to the meadow from Hope Valley passes through groves of very green aspen.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – U.S. 50 – Also called the Lincoln Highway, US 50 has a few pockets of yellow aspen on the west slope of its summit at 6,400′; black oak are beginning to be edged with orange and yellow at 5,400′, black cottonwood are turning gold at 3,600′ and bigleaf maple seem almost sun burned with edging of yellow and brown at 3,300′.  US 50 is not known for its color, but get off the highway near Placerville onto Newtown Road in late October to mid November, and you’ll drive along branch-draped roads of fall color.

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Wind Alert for Sierra Foothills

A wind alert for the Sierra Foothills has been posted by Sacramento area meteorologists, with gusts to 60 mph predicted.  So high a wind, even if in spurts, will put an end to autumn in the foothills and Central Valley.  The wind is predicted to intensify in the late afternoon, intensifying in the evening and continuing through Friday morning.

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Weather Arrives, Will Color Survive?

Bing Cherry, El Dorado Hills (11/17/13) John Poimiroo

Bing Cherry, El Dorado Hills (11/17/13) John Poimiroo

A storm will be crossing Northern and Central California today with rain and winds that are likely to strip trees of their color.  The show now has moved to sea level with urban forests at peak across the state.

This cherry tree was just beginning to turn when photographed on Sunday in the Sierra foothills.  In a storm, fully turned leaves are the most vulnerable.  They’ve lost much of their strength and are more easily blown from branches.  Still-green or slightly turned leaves will usually survive to turn color later.

The condition of California’s fall color is typical for this time of year with much of the best color still to be seen in urban forests where boulevard trees and parks will continue their show through Thanksgiving Day.  Parts of Southern California will still be turning through the holidays.

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Nevada City – Still Discovering Gold

Bigleaf maple, Nevada City (11/16/13) Dotty Molt

Maple leaf, Nevada City (11/16/13) Dotty Molt

Color spotter Dotty Molt (one of her photos was chosen as a California Fall Color Photo of the Week, sent to California media, last week) drove to Nevada City in the Gold Country, today to discover gold in the woods around this 1800s town.

Dotty reported, “Nevada City is a picturesque little town filled with surprisingly good restaurants, intriguing art galleries, and tree lined streets of historic homes that are still holding onto leaves of brilliant yellow, red, and orange.

Deer Creek Tribute Trail, Nevada City (11/16/13) Dotty Molt

Deer Creek Tribute Trail, Nevada City (11/16/13) Dotty Molt

The Deer Creek Tribute Trail, which runs through this tiny town, is past peak, but definitely worth a trip back next year. Go now just to walk along the streets and enjoy the crisp fall air.”

Nevada City (11/16/13) Dotty Molt

Nevada City (11/16/13) Dotty Molt

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Nevada City – While the woods surrounding Nevada City are  past peak, trees along the city’s blocks are still holding their color.  With a change in weather approaching, you probably ought to get there now, to see the remaining color, though it’s worth a trip, just for the autumn atmosphere that’s in the crisp Sierra Foothill air.

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California’s Urban Forests are – in a word – “Glorious”

Acapulco St., Campbell (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

Acapulco St., Campbell (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

A road trip from the Sierra Foothills to Silicon Valley and back, today, provided opportunities to see how color is developing along the I-80, I-680 and I-880 corridors.  In a word, it is “glorious.”

Land Park, Sacramento (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

Land Park, Sacramento (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Sacramento – Piles of leaves along Sacramento streets are a sure sign that the fall color is past peak on some species.  Sycamore are among them, though other large species in Sacramento are still yellow and orange, with spots of red.  Land Park, south of U.S. 50 and the Fabulous 40s in midtown have the best displays of color.

GO NOW! 75 – 100% – Dixon Agricultural Corridor – Orchards between Davis and Vacaville are at peak.

Livery Shopping Center, Danville (11/13/13) Linnea Wahamaki

Livery Shopping Center, Danville (11/13/13) Linnea Wahamaki

Danville Oak (File Photo) Yelp

Danville Oak (File Photo) Yelp

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon – Native oak are softly pastel orange, while exotic species are blazing.  Color spotter Linnea Wahamaki sent along these shots taken this past week at the Livery Shopping Center in Danville.  We tip our hat to Danville which, Linnea reports, “Does a good job of planting and protecting trees, and is really gorgeous during the autumn season – as is evident by these stunning trees!”  Danville is one of California’s Cities of Trees, even with a landmark oak that has it’s own Yelp page.

Palo Alto (11/17/13) Mathias Van Hesemans

Palo Alto (11/17/13) Mathias Van Hesemans

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – San Francisco Peninsula – The Peninsula communities of Burlingame, Hillsborough, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton are providing the best show of color in the Bay Area.

Livery Shopping Center, Danville (11/13/13) Linnea Wahamaki

Livery Shopping Center, Danville (11/13/13) Linnea Wahamaki

Livery Shopping Center, Danville (11/13/13) Linnea Wahamaki

Livery Shopping Center, Danville (11/13/13) Linnea Wahamaki

Leaf pile on Pine in San Jose (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

Leaf pile on Pine in San Jose (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

Pomagranate, Silicon Valley (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

Pomegranate, Silicon Valley (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

 

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Silicon Valley – The Santa Clara County communities of Campbell, Los Gatos and San Jose are dressed in fall foliage.  Brilliant stands of gingko are found along the boulevards.  Before it became known as Silicon Valley (for the silicon chips produced here by Intel), the Santa Clara Valley was known for growing fruit (apricots, plums and other tree fruit).

Today, a pomegranate bush along Pine in San Jose was heavy with ripe fruit.

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How Do It Know!?

Blue oak leaves, El Dorado Hills (11/13/13) John Poimiroo

Blue oak leaves, El Dorado Hills (11/13/13) John Poimiroo

“How do it know!?” is the silly punchline of the old joke about the guy, who claims the Thermos to be the world’s greatest invention, after his friends have named the printing press, airplane and computer as their choices.  He reasons, “In summer, it keeps a drink cold and in winter, it keeps a drink hot.  How do it know!?”

Yesterday, I had the same sort of experience upon seeing blue oak in the Sierra foothills suddenly dump piles of leaves.  It wasn’t a particularly breezy day, though it was overcast.  Then, a day-long shower of dry, buff, oak leaves littered the ground around my house to be raked, swept or blown into piles.

Blue oaks, El Dorado Hills (11/13/13) John Poimiroo

Blue oaks, El Dorado Hills (11/13/13) John Poimiroo

The same thing scene is occurring across California as trees shed their leaves.  Some species of oaks provide spectacular shows of color… the black oak  – growing between 4,000′ and 5,000′ in elevation – is one of them.  Though others, like the blue oak, will exhibit the slightest hint of orange color, as they change quickly from blue-green to dry-brown. That’s happening now in the Sierra foothills.

How do it know!?

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Sierra foothills (1,000′)

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Amador County Looks/Tastes Delicious

Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Grape leaf, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Grape leaf, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Amador County – Color spotter Dotty Molt forwards these lovely photos taken in the vineyards of Amador County and reports that thanks to Robin Bray of Bray Vineyards, Dotty was allowed to “wander in and around beautiful multi-colored vines.”  She adds, “The colors are at peak, and if you’re headed that way, try to get there soon as the weather is changing.  And make sure you stop in for a tasting. Yum!”

Grape Leaves. Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Grape Leaves. Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Oaks, Gold Country (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Oaks, Gold Country (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

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Hwy 50 Magical At Day’s End

American River, U.S. 50 (11/10/13) Kimberly Kofala

American River, U.S. 50 (11/10/13) Kimberly Kofala

GO NOW! -75-100% – U.S. 50 (Lincoln Highway) – Color spotter Kimberly Kofala reports she drove U.S. 50 yesterday and “the corridor from Placerville to just below Strawberry was gorgeous with golden oaks, grasses and bushes. The banks of the American River are showing beautifully now.  If you are returning in the late afternoon, around 4:30,  be sure to stop in at the Strawberry Market turn arou’nd and watch the alpenglow of Lovers Leap behind Strawberry Lodge – you will think you are in Yosemite for a moment!”

Redbud, El Dorado Hills (11/9/13) John Poimiroo

Redbud, El Dorado Hills (11/9/13) John Poimiroo

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – El Dorado Hills / Folsom – The Sierra foothills communities of El Dorado Hills and Folsom were beautifully colored this past weekend, with a variety of exotic trees dressed in brilliant yellow, red, orange and Sienna.  Threatened rain and wind will likely strip some trees by week’s end.

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Breezy Beginnings

Red oak, Sierra foothills (11/4/13) John Poimiroo

Red oak, Sierra foothills (11/4/13) John Poimiroo

Following a calm weekend, the first full week in November begins with breezy conditions as fall color continues to descend through the Sierra foothills to California’s urban forests.  This red oak is typical of the change happening at 1,000′ in elevation, with red, orange, yellow and Sienna mixed with lime and unchanged green.

GO NOW! 50 – 75% – Sierra Foothills – Lower elevations of the Sierra foothills are approaching peak, with lots of exotic trees already peaking.