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Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/500-sec., f/5.6, ISO 100

'Snowliage' – Photographing The Collision Of Fall & Winter

In this article we connect with landscape photographer Michael Castaneda (@_mcastaneda_) to learn more about his experience capturing 'snowliage' in California.

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/640-sec., f/4, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/500-sec., f/5.6, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/500-sec., f/5.6, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/640-sec., f/4, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/500-sec., f/5.6, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/13, ISO 250

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/15-sec., f/11, ISO 160

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/8, ISO 160

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/11, ISO 160

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/125-sec., f/10, ISO 250

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/8, ISO 125

When the conditions and timing are just right, parts of California can experience a collision of the fall and winter seasons. The merged weather event, dubbed “snowliage,” creates a wonderful blend of colorful, fall foliage with a fresh, white snowfall. Landscape photographer Michael Castaneda (@_mcastaneda_) has captured the event before, and recently ventured out to document it again. "The colors are just so vibrant," he says, “but then you have this winter feel and it just creates this amazing scene and feeling that you can't really put into words or the reality of your normal experience. It just seems like a dream." We caught up with him to learn more about his recent adventure capturing fall and winter colliding in the Eastern Sierra region of California and how he uses an ultra-hi-res Sony Alpha camera to do it.

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/640-sec., f/4, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/640-sec., f/4, ISO 100

When the fall and winter seasons collide in California, landscape photographer Michael Castaneda runs out to capture it. Learn more about his experience photographing ‘snowliage’

Castaneda normally heads to this region to capture your typical fall color, and it just so happened this time it looked like a storm was coming through. “We were in Mammoth and I actually got bad altitude sickness that night,” he explains. “I hadn’t slept at all but it looked like it was supposed to snow at North Lake, which was about an hour away. We went out super early to chase it and nothing happened. It was just normal fall and I felt horrible. We took a few fall landscape shots and left to go eat breakfast. While we were there we saw the radar showing what looked like a storm finishing up, so we left to drive there. Sure enough, there was snow.”

Seeing exactly what he was aiming to capture, Castaneda determines the spot where he’ll set up his camera and stabilize it on a tripod. Because he does a lot of focus stacking with his work, he likes to use the touch screen’s Touch Tracking functionality to select different focal points or use his Sony Bluetooth remote to autofocus and trigger the shutter. “I've gotten to a point now where my shooting and my editing have become combined. Basically I’m shooting more based on how I edit, I don’t just go out and shoot now. I shoot for how I plan to edit it and I do a lot of focus stacking, so I use the touch screen for that. Then I also use the Sony Bluetooth remote because I can just auto focus with that when I need to quickly take a shot. Also when it’s 30 degrees out, you can just have the remote in your hand and in your pockets most of the time which is nice.”

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/500-sec., f/5.6, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/500-sec., f/5.6, ISO 100

We saw in his What’s In My Bag article from earlier this year that he was using the Sony Alpha 7R III, but he very recently upgraded to the Alpha 7R IV and this was his first real chance to try it out. “Initially I wasn’t sure I wanted the Alpha 7R IV because I thought maybe the files would be more than what I needed, but it quickly took the place of my Alpha 7R III,” he says. “I just love the feel of the Alpha 7R IV and then the images that come off of that thing are so, so detailed.”

He continues, “And I switched between a few different lenses while I was shooting. I used the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master, Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master and the Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. The 24-70mm is my workhorse, and I really love how sharp the 16-35mm is...but the 90mm Macro has actually become my favorite landscape lens. It doesn’t seem like one that would be, but it is. I think it’s one of the sharpest lenses anyone has ever made. When it comes to landscape, it gives me compression when I’m trying to put a person into a scene. I can compress everything I need into it and I do that a lot now with landscapes. I feel like when you first start out in landscape photography you can’t get wide enough, and now I can’t get close enough.”

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/500-sec., f/5.6, ISO 100

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R IV. Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro G. 1/500-sec., f/5.6, ISO 100

This year wasn’t the first time he’s captured California’s snowliage. He also previously traveled to Yosemite where he was surprised by the event. “Last year we went to Yosemite for a weekend and on Saturday we staged a shot for a normal fall landscape we were going to capture the next day," he explains. "We didn’t even know it was going to happen, but the next day probably a foot of snow fell and it was just unbelievable there. It's a very rare occasion here in California to capture that, especially in Yosemite of all places. So the experience is one that you can't really describe. You're walking around and it feels like you're in a snow globe.”

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/8, ISO 125

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/250-sec., f/8, ISO 125

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/13, ISO 250

Photo by Michael Castaneda. Sony Alpha 7R III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/200-sec., f/13, ISO 250

Castaneda says if you want to capture snowliage yourself, you have to be on top of the radar and willing to hop in the car and go anywhere very quickly. “It’s just an incredible clash of seasons and it’s a very rare occurrence in California where a lot of things have to line up. When it does, it’s incredible to experience. You have the white with the yellow and reds. Just the colors and the scenes makes it worth it.”

See more of Michael Castaneda’s work on Instagram @_mcastaneda_.

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