Lake Caroline Trail, Washington, USA by Joshua Cramer

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Picture Story

This photo was taken on a brisk fall morning hike on the way up to Lake Caroline in the Enchantments, a protected region of pristine wilderness in the Cascade Mountains near Having Leavenworth, WA, USA. Having spent the night at the trailhead, I started my hike as the sun began to rise behind dense clouds and didn't have much hope for a photogenic day, though a sweet perfume-like smell from something growing on the trail kept me intrigued. After an hour or so of hiking, the clouds finally began to part and within a half an hour not a single cloud remained in the sky! Having never seen aspen before, I was unprepared to find the source of that lovely smell on the trail came from one of the most beautiful trees I had ever seen, white trunks and golden leaves simmering in the morning light, crunching underfoot in one of the most peaceful, beautiful moments I've had in the mountains.

This shot took a few tries to get right- there was a slight wind so leaves blowing in the foreground didn’t make for an optimal composition and the aperture needed to keep everything in focus meant I needed a longer shutter time, adding to the difficulty of a tripod-less shot. In the end, I took two photos: one focused on the foreground, and one focused on the background, and blended the two with a focus-stacking software in order to get the depth of field I wanted. The lighting conditions were perfect- soft, early morning light and low UV conditions were not what I had expected for this trip but I certainly was grateful for them! The use of a CP filter brought out a bit more depth in the sky.

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