Currently, there is more “drought drab” than any other color, but soon there will be eye-popping reds, exciting yellows, and the other glorious colors of fall at San Diego’s Padre Dam! The Dam is only a small portion of the Mission Trails Regional Park, but it’s the portion to visit if you’re a photographer.
The area around the Dam has the most things to photograph because the water attracts fauna and the flora flourishes. The trick for fall photography is to time your visit after the first good rain and before the trees lose all their leaves/color.
Currently, there is very little water at the dam, and what there is is a nasty green! If you wish to use fast shutter speeds to “freeze” the water as it spills over the rocks, or use your ND filter to smooth out the water with a timed exposure, you’ll have to await the rains. If capturing the colors of fall is your goal, you only have a short wait; watch the trees in your neighborhood and as soon as they start to turn, get thee to Padre Dam!
Regardless of where you choose to go for your fall colors shot, do it during the “golden hours” in the morning or evening! Early or late, if the sun is low on the horizon, it will add color to your colors!
Of course, if your preference is to photograph birds and small mammals, and nature in general, the time to visit the park is as soon as school is back in session!
If you’re not familiar with the trails and the overall layout of the Park, stop by the Visitors’ Center at: One Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119, to get a quick overview. While there, ask the rangers if there is anything unusual --like a big mammal-- around that would merit you hunting with your camera.