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Just a taste of fall with the quaking aspens

Every fall for the last several years, I have endeavored to shoot some fall colors amongst the quaking aspens of the west. I’ve been fascinated by these incredible trees ever since seeing them in person during a family trip to Aspen, Colorado where I was able to experience them near the Maroon Bells. The bark of these trees, which are often massive clonal colonies of a single interconnected root system, has a fascinating quality that makes them appear to almost bend light around the trunks. It’s as if they glow at the edges.

The day job keeps me very busy and is not very conducive doing photography trips even on weekends, and this year has proven to be no exception. Last year I was able to squeeze in marathon 860 mile road trip starting at 1PM on a Saturday and ending the following Sunday evening. You can see those photos in my fall color Flickr set.

This year on another road trip I was able to capture just the very beginnings of fall in the Sierras. By and large the aspen groves were still green, with just a few tiny bits of green and even smaller bits of orange. I visited the Bishop Creek area, heading to South Lake, North Lake and Lake Sabrina. Here are a few of the tiny bits of color I found.

Backlit Green and Gold

Backlit Green and Gold

This was a group of aspens showing early color at North Lake. I liked the way the still green aspen branches framed the more yellow ones behind.

Aspens in the spotlight

Aspens in the spotlight

Along the road to South Lake was a patch of yellow along the side of the road in front of a bunch of talus. The contrast was striking. There were thousands of insects flying around.

180 degrees of green and gold

180 degrees of green and gold

During this week I had rented the Canon 8-15mm f4L fisheye lens. This lens on the 8mm side provides a 180 degree field of view. A nicely curved aspen trunk seemed to invite the the curved fisheye image here.

Unfortunately for 2011, this is likely the extent of my fall color shooting. Next year, I hope to take a month and head into Utah and Colorado to find some of the epic aspen groves. With a little luck perhaps I will even see Pando, the “Trembling Giant”, a clonal aspen colony that is possibly 80,000 to 1,000,000 years old and currently is estimated to be the largest organism on Earth.

October 10, 2011 - 5:34 am

Kristen Murphy - Awesome colors!

Thanks for the link to Pando; that was really interesting. I hadn’t known aspens grew that way.

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