Mount St. Louis Moonstone in Autumn Colours

For any landscape photographer, the autumn season is a magical time of the year. With the leaves changing colours altering the landscape dramatically, it’s literally a photographer’s playground.

This year while I went to a few different places to see the leaves, it was one of the more unexpected places that I saw the most striking of colours. Contrasting greatly with the greenery of the slopes, the surrounding trees with their orange, yellow, and red leaves made this location a secret gem that I don’t think many people would ever have expected it to be.

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 82mm

Mount St. Louis Moonstone is a ski resort located north of Barrie. Visible from Highway 400, you could easily drive past it if weren’t for the changing colours of the leaves beckoning photographers to come and take their photos. And that’s just what they did this past weekend as I was heading north on the 400. A small detour made this photo tour well worth the time.

It was undoubtedly a great spectacle to see because of two reasons:

  1. The greenery of the slopes contrasted greatly with the surrounding leaves that this further accentuated the vibrancy of the colours.
  2. I came here shortly before sunset, which gave me great lighting on the leaves, making for some special moments.
Nikon D800, 1/60 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 130mm

Because this is a ski resort, the ski lifts added another element to the landscape that worked really well. Normally we may not associate ski lifts with the autumn season but they really go hand-in-hand here, don’t you think? It’s no secret I actually really like this combination, as I’ve done this in the past whenever I’ve come across ski lifts; just take a look at my photos from Sunshine Ski Resort in Banff, and while I know I took one from another ski resort in Ontario, the actual photo escapes me at the moment.

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/13, ISO 100, 200mm

Standing from the base of the mountain, I equipped myself with a 24-70mm f/2.8 and a 70-200mm f/2.8 to get these photos. Since the ski lifts and trees were fairly far away from me, the latter telephoto lens came in handy quite a bit. Focusing on the very top ski lift terminal, I was able to bring in the coloured leaves to the foreground in the photo below.

Nikon D800, 1/125 sec., f/11, ISO 100, 180mm

Had I more time on my hands, I would have loved to walk up the slope to the top of the hill and see the view from there. I’m sure it would have been a great view. Instead, I walked from one side of the hill to the other and got a different perspective on the hills and the magnificent colours that surrounded the slopes of Mount St. Louis Moonstone.

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 56mm

While an overview picture really shows the area and the colours, the tighter photos where I focused on select elements of the landscape brings in more details. For example, the photo below has the trees with their bright orange and yellow on either side of the photo really brings out the lush green slope in the middle.

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 190mm

The ski lifts as they go up the slope gets hidden amongst the shadows of the trees. This deepens the bluish tint, which contrasts even more with the orange and yellow leaves surrounding it.

Nikon D800, 1/125 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 200mm

And finally, after seeing the curvature of the wooden fence below, I knew I had to get that into the frame somehow. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s just something about wooden fences that screams autumn scenery to me.

Nikon D800, 1/125 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 70mm

I loved this detour I made over the weekend. It actually made my trip up north worth while since my intended destination didn’t yield as colourful a picture as the ones I took here at Mount St. Louis Moonstone. Just an hour and a half away from Toronto, this ski resort may very well be a stop that I have to make every fall season. It’s just a shame I wasn’t into skiing or snowboarding!

Every year the colours are different in their vibrancy and colour range. The results are heavily dependant on whether the temperature drops quickly or drastically. This year, the autumn season started off fairly warm, which—depending on whom you ask—could be a good or bad thing. With the gradual temperature drop, the colour of the leaves weren’t as vibrant or bright as they could have been had the temperature dropped suddenly. When this happens, the leaves typically fall to the ground well before they reach their peak colours, making it harder to spot the orange-red colours of the leaves still intact on the trees.

Nonetheless it was the perfect weekend for a road trip, so that’s exactly what I did this past weekend. I took a drive up north to see if the colours were closer to their peak than here in the city. To help you with the colour changes, I use the ever-so-handy Ontario Colour Leaves Report. They update this every couple of days so it’s a great way to see what the regions are like in terms of their colours.

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