Landscape Photography
of James L. Snyder

The Grandest Oak
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The Grandest Oak
Linhof Master Technika 2000 camera, 120mm Schneider Super-Symmar HM f/5.6 lens, Fujicolor Pro 160S film, 54 megapixels
All Images ©Copyright 2010 James L. Snyder. All Rights Reserved

The Grandest Oak

CaƱada de Pala Trail by Los Huecos Trail, Joseph D. Grant County Park, Santa Clara County, CA, 2/20/2008

Here is my favorite oak tree - the grandest one known to me - in soft late afternoon sunlight against a brooding winter sky. The trunk is six feet wide near the base and the branches reach a height of about 90 feet! In this northward view we see the oak dormant in all its gnarled intricate glory! For centuries the tree has thrived atop a tall remote hill, which is now part of Joseph D. Grant County Park near San Jose, CA. Few visitors venture this high (2,610 feet above sea level) and far from the park's entrance, and so the tree continues to safely enjoy its solitude. I had admired this grand old oak on several occasions but waited until this beautiful winter afternoon to make photographic portraits of the tree under a dramatic sky. As the sun began to set and the clouds darkened, the scene took on a soft painterly character. At right, 3 1/2 miles away is the southern peak of Mt. Day at 3,737 feet above sea level. Grant Park is home to both grassland and oak-woodland communities, typical of much of California. The oak community here includes such species as the Blue, Black, Live, and Valley Oaks. This grandest oak is likely Quercus lobata, commonly called a Valley Oak. The sturdy trunk of a Valley Oak may exceed six to nine feet in diameter and its stature may surpass 98 feet in height. The branches have an irregular, spreading, and arching appearance that produces a profound leafless silhouette against the winter sky.

The Grandest Oak

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