Posts Tagged Aspen trees

A Delicately Tough Tree

I’ve committed to trying to post at least once a week now that I’m retired and have set a project of going through the 32,000 plus images on my hard drive. That’s a noble objective, to be sure, but things do get in the way.

Things like going out in the field and getting more images and practicing photography techniques that I need to work on.

Last week at the Grand Canyon I was reminded how much I love Aspens. There’s something very attractive about these trees. Sure, the white bark and quaking leaves are attractive, but there’s something more. Something that I’m still trying to figure out.

Much of it comes from the aspen forest being not individual trees, but a living organism, with many trees connected through a series of underground runners. The saying in the nursery business that I’ve heard is that you don’t buy an aspen, you buy an aspen grove. I’ve seen this with captive aspens in my yards. There are always shoots coming up in the least convenient places. Yes, a grove of aspens is the way Ma Nature intended it, so we should let them grow that way where they’re most comfortable, I guess.

Aspens do some cool things.

In the fall they turn a sparkling, brilliant yellow. Mostly. Some of them for some reason turn to a lovely orange. This orange interspersed with the yellow adds visual interest and makes you think about what could cause that.

In the spring, the electric green of freshly-sprouted aspen leaves is a thrill to observe. In the right light it looks like the forest is alive with green flame.

Aspens are tough, too. They can take a lot of punishment and survive. I’ve seen aspens with trunks twisted in a circle by snow and wind, then continuing to grow toward the sky. Some show the lifelong marks of thoughtless people, people who see the aspens as perfect candidates for scratch pads, carving their names or initials in the bark. Years later, those scars remain and show who passed before (and who didn’t treat these stately trees with respect). Once in a while you’ll find a real artist has attacked an aspen. I found a carving of someone’s horse in a tree a while back. Interesting.

Even when they die and fall to the ground, aspens are interesting. Some host lichens, some host critters, but they decay in stately and interesting ways that draw one’s attention.

Aspens are the first trees to recover after a wildfire. As we traveled through areas at the North Rim where a wildfire had destroyed thousands of acres, we saw thickets of six-foot-tall aspens, already starting the process of reforestation.

I’m toying with the idea of doing an aspen portfolio, a series of photographs of one of my favorite trees. If I do so, I’ll make it into a downloadable e-book you can grab if you want it. It will take me a while to get this done because I’d like to use all new images. I’ll get it done, but it will take a while. So stand by and keep reading. Here are some aspens I saw last week:

 

There are a surprising number of multiple trees growing from the same or near the same root system. These twins were framing a pinyon pine and I thought I’d capture that view. (As always, click to see the full size image.)

Twins Stack

Twin Aspens

 

 

This is the orange we see far too rarely with aspens in the fall.

Orange Aspens

Orange Aspens

 

Fallen aspens offer life support for lichen, critters, etc.

Lichen Stack

Lichen Stack

 

Those who came before left their marks.

Who has passed before?

Who has passed before?

 

 

Aspen Horse

Aspen Horse

 

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Desert Whirlwind 3

I love aspen trees.

I love them when they’re young, when they’re old, when they’re green and, especially, when they’re decked out in Autumn colors. Generally, aspen leaves turn yellow. On rare occasions, they turn orange or red or coral pink. That’s a real treat.

As we drove over Boulder mountain on our race back to Zion NP, we came across some red aspen leaves. Of course we had to stop and photograph them. I did a kind of general landscape shot, then a closeup of some of those great red leaves. I hope you like them as much as I do. (Remember to click on the images to see them full size and with decent color.)

Aspen Forest

Aspen Forest

Aspen Leaves

Aspen Leaves

Then we made it to Zion. I haven’t been here for a long time. Passed through a couple years ago, but I was in a hurry to get somewhere, so I barely stopped to look around. On the way in, I remembered that it was about 35 years ago to the month that I took a photo workshop with my friend Duck. That workshop was with photographer John Telford, who pretty much owned the desert in those days. We came to Zion and did some amazing photography, and that’s when I got hooked. Hooked on both the desert and on photography. So I guess this is a sort of pilgrimage for me.

Stopped in the upper park and I got this photo of one of the spires Zion is so famous for.

Zion Scenic

Zion Scenic

More to follow,

Bob

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Now that I can breathe again…Everything looks better in black and white

Whew, It was close.

I got home from the Grand Canyon workshop with old friends and started to process the photos. The chill went straight to my heart. My hard drive was failing and I hadn’t had a chance to back it up. I tried everything and couldn’t get any images on or off the drive. As the initial panic subsided, I realized that it looked like a heat problem. Now heat problems are no simple fix, but I found that if I turned the drive off for a couple hours I could move a few files across to my backup drive. Then things would stop, I’d turn the drive off for a while and go again. Got everything on the backup drive as I waited for my new automatic backup drive to get in from B&H. I then transferred everything to the new drive, it automatically backed everything up and I’m good to go again. And I can breathe again. I’ll do even more aggressive backup after this, but for now things are good.

One nice thing about the Grand Canyon workshop is that with the small group we had, we could all pick favorite places to return to and new places to explore. I chose the one-and-a-half mile corral because I’m not completely pleased with my first shots of it. Of course, it’s different now, ranchers are grazing cattle in the area, so the grass is ‘mowed’, and the original framing I used doesn’t work. But the new framing works just fine, I think.

The new place we went to was on the Pariah Plateau. It was a bit of a challenge to get there, but well worth the worry about getting stuck in deep sand and getting chased by wildebeests (we didn’t actually see any, but I’m pretty sure there were some there). We did get chased by a couple of photographers, but they ran out of steam about the same time we did, so things worked out.

Today’s fotos remind me of the Simon and Garfunkel Central Park concert recording where they changed a part of the lyrics to “Kodachrome” to “Everything looks better in black-and-white.” I agree. To a certain extent.

I liked the clouds at the corral, but the wind was blowing the aspen leaves around, so the middle is a little soft. But basically, I think the foto works.

One-and-a-half corral

One-and-a-half corral

The location below, on the Pariah Plateau, was stunning. Filled with little desert gardens like the one below, all sorts of tortured, twisted rock, and a stunning sky (some of which you’ll see in later posts). I like this as a black-and-white, dropping the red of the sandstone to near black to provide contrast with the little sand garden.

Desert Garden, Pariah Plateau

Desert Garden, Pariah Plateau

There’s quite a bit from the Grand coming up, keep checking back every few days.

More to follow.

Bob

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I love aspens

They’re just about my favorite tree. I’ve photographed about a million of them and still haven’t got enough. In fact, I ‘m thinking of producing a book/portfolio of aspen photos.

We spent several hours wandering through an aspen forest today. It was spectacular. The trees were small and many had twisted trunks. To add to the good fortune, it is fall on the Kaibab Plateau, so the aspens are just turning. There were several pockets of coral pink leaves to offset the standard yellow, the trunk details were stunning and the weather was sublime.

Why do I do photography? Refer to the above paragraph.

Here’s a little of what I found:

Fall Aspens, Kaibab Plateau

Fall Aspens, Kaibab Plateau

Of course, if I can find a little detail, I’ll photograph it.

Aspen Leaf

Aspen Leaf

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Where I live, Part 1

I know that my quality time is spent in the desert. I’ve never been able to figure mountains out. They’re awfully busy, they’re frequently closed in (more than two trees per square miles starts me worrying), and they’re just confusing.

I’ve found out, however, that there are a few things about the mountains that I can start wrapping my head around and as I start understanding those few things, I start ‘getting’ the mountains.

Aspens, for instance. I love aspens. They’re beautiful trees. They give a great show in all four seasons, from the electric green of the newly-opened leaves in the spring to the eerie white-on-white of the winter, the trees always have something to offer. I can hardly go by an aspen grove without making an exposure.

I’ve been in those confusing mountains in the last few weeks, and have found some nice aspens. (As always, click on the images to see them full size. Then you can click on the arrow that appears midway down the right or left side to scroll through the images.)

Aspens, Vedauwoo

Aspens, Vedauwoo

These display a fairly common phenomenon with aspens: multiple trunks. I’ve seen up to five at once. All the aspens in today’s post are nice and straight, but I’ve seen trees with trunks that loop around 360°. Cool.

Ma Nature's Rock Garden

Ma Nature's Rock Garden

Aspens are fairly delicate trees, but they grow in some of the oddest places. Just west of Barber Lake in the Snow Range, there’s a one-time rockfall that has stabilized and has been around long enough to grow a nice selection of lichen on the rocks. Add a few aspens to that and you have a lovely little rock garden. Ma Nature can give us a visual treat now and then.

Ma Nature's Rock Garden #2

Ma Nature's Rock Garden #2

Of course, being generally stark white, aspens lend themselves to black-and-white photography. Black-and-white is the hardest photography of all to do right. I’m fairly happy with these images, but can see I need to keep working on them to get them right. That’s the wonder of photography: There’s always something to strive to get better at.

More to follow.

Bob

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