Light River, Hamilton, CA, USA by Chase Hirt

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I woke up at 6:30 AM to catch the sunrise poking through the dense layer of morning fog, and I discovered this striking scene as I was wandering along the open fields of Colgate University. The crisp layer of frost on the grass and fallen leaves caused by an unusual early October cold-snap perfectly complemented the mid-morning sun's bright reflection on the winding river and the subtle glow on the autumnal trees softened by the mystic, enveloping layer of fog.

As the sky was a bright, misty white toned to a muted sepia by the rising sun, I focused on capturing the contrast of the golden leaves of the trees standing out from the hazy surroundings. Walking back and forth, I settled on framing the two most prominent trees on either side of the composition with the winding river providing an anchoring center line between the grass and distant trees on the opposite bank. In terms of post-processing, I kept the framing straight out of camera and worked with the RAW file in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to really bring out the faded green and yellow tones. I decided to allow the steaming river to remain relatively bright to emphasize the morning sun’s power and radiance. As a native Californian, when I arrived at Colgate as a freshman last year, I was amazed by changing colors of fall. Now in my sophomore year at Colgate University, fall remains a wonderfully enchanting novelty, but, this time, I decided to break out my camera to capture and preserve its fleeting beauty.

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