Landscape Photography
of James L. Snyder

Glowing Golden Aspens
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Glowing Golden Aspens
Linhof Master Technika 2000 camera, 120mm Schneider Super-Symmar HM f/5.6 lens, Fujicolor Pro 160S film, 99 megapixels
All Images ©Copyright 2010 James L. Snyder. All Rights Reserved

Glowing Golden Aspens

CA 158 south of Aerie Crag Picnic Area, Mono County, CA, 10/24/2010

On this autumn trip to the eastern Sierra I had been looking for a scene awash in the glow of golden aspen trees. While driving through the different canyons I saw hints of what I was searching for, but the details were always wrong. Finally on my last day in the area I spotted this grove of aspens from June Lake Loop Road south of Grant Lake and the Aerie Crag Picnic Area. Every element was perfect: a solid canopy of gold leaves wet from rain, attractive white tree trunks, a glimpse of Rush Creek, back-lighting through the aspen leaves from sunlight softened by thin high clouds, a pretty forest floor bathed in the glow, and no bright sky in the view; the climbing western flank of Reversed Peak blocks most of the sky from this viewpoint. When a forest is wet from rainfall, the colors of the leaves and bark become stronger or more saturated, in addition to being saturated with water! Thus both the soft lighting and the rain contributed to making these woods especially photogenic. The weather had been windy and rainy all morning. As I parked my car and walked downhill toward the creek, I hoped conditions would cooperate. I looked up to see the clouds were clearing above me and the rain was stopping! To photograph the trees clearly with everything in sharp focus, I knew my camera would need a small aperture and a long exposure - about one second. Would the winds die down long enough to allow this? The weather was improving so I found the best view and prepared my camera. Miraculously - just as I was ready the air, leaves, and branches became completely still and I made this single exposure! I was very lucky; on my way uphill the winds and rain resumed, as they would for the rest of the day. This grove of quaking aspens (Populus tremuloides) is at 7,200 feet above sea level. In the background immediately below the golden leaves, Rush Creek can be seen heading north to Grant Lake. From there the creek continues further north to Mono Lake - the final destination for all waters in this basin.

Glowing Golden Aspens

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