Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Aspens turning yellow

with 31 comments

Aspen Trees Turning Yellow on Mountain 0834

From Albuquerque we drove north and arrived in Durango, Colorado, on the afternoon of September 25th. After checking into our motel, and with several hours of daylight left, I decided to drive north on US 550, and am I glad I did. The dots along that route on the AAA map weren’t lying about the scenery as we slowly climbed into the San Juan Mountains. Before long I had my first chance ever to see some of Colorado’s aspen trees, Populus tremuloides, turning yellow. The biggest and brightest stands were initially up in the surrounding mountains, but I used my longest lens to bring the trees (visually) closer.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 20, 2014 at 5:32 AM

31 Responses

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  1. Nice angular composition and beautifully complementary colors. Interesting contrail too. 🙂
    We have aspens here also, but not in the huge stands you get to see when traveling in the west.

    Steve Gingold

    October 20, 2014 at 6:12 AM

  2. Very nice indeed. Beautiful colors. And, there’s some crazy geology going on there as well! D

    Pairodox Farm

    October 20, 2014 at 6:25 AM

  3. Wonderful shot with the eye being led long that ridge with the colour intensifying as the trees become closer. It must have been an amazing sight!


    October 20, 2014 at 6:28 AM

    • It was, for someone who grew up with fall foliage in New York but who rarely gets to see autumn color on a large scale now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2014 at 7:56 AM

  4. Beautiful, but I am still laughing about the contrail comment.


    October 20, 2014 at 7:10 AM

  5. It appears that even quite small changes in elevation can affect color change. It’s delightful, the way the trees on the upper portions of the ridge have goldened, while those just slightly lower remain green. When I lived in Salt Lake City, there were aspens galore in the canyons. I used to hike Big and Little Cottonwood, not only to see the aspens, but also to listen to them.

    The way the trees fringe the rocks reminds me of the various fringes along the edge of flower petals and leaves.


    October 20, 2014 at 7:16 AM

    • In the late 1990s I spent a few days in Salt Lake City, so I appreciate what it must have been like to live there and have ready access to aspen-filled canyons in the fall.

      In reply to the first comment on this post I noted that the cottonwood tree is Populus deltoides, a relative of the aspen that lives in Austin, among many other places.

      Interesting how your imagination changes scale and likens the tree/rock fringe to the fringes of petals and leaves.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2014 at 8:16 AM

  6. Not only are the trees beautiful. The massive rock layers are impressive.

    Jim in IA

    October 20, 2014 at 7:41 AM

    • Those massive rock layers did it for me, too, and added a new element to the fall foliage pictures I anticipated taking.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2014 at 8:17 AM

  7. Drove the same route in April/May 1996….

    Herman van Bon Photography

    October 20, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    • Let’s hope you get to go back someday in the autumn and see the changing of the leaves there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2014 at 12:27 PM

  8. More aspen, please!!


    October 20, 2014 at 1:55 PM

  9. What a memorable image. I saw Quaking Aspens in New Mexico years ago and would love to see them again.


    October 20, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    • It took me decades to make it to yellow-leaved aspens for the first time. I hope we both get a chance to see them again.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2014 at 7:12 PM

  10. What a striking composition you’ve achieved here. I loved the diagonal horizon line of the flaming golden trees, dissecting the blue sky from the dark textured shale rocks. Very special!

    Mary Mageau

    October 20, 2014 at 7:56 PM

    • Thanks, Mary. Although the landscape dictated this diagonal composition, I found it worked well here, and I see you do too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 20, 2014 at 9:55 PM

  11. Beautiful colours. 😍

    Raewyn's Photos

    October 21, 2014 at 2:19 AM

    • Thanks, Raewyn. Speaking of colors, WordPress seems to have objected to the colors in your emoticon because I just rescued your comment from the trash folder.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2014 at 4:41 PM

  12. Stunning!


    October 21, 2014 at 9:22 AM

  13. A most unusual perspective that creates a fascinating image – Beautiful.


    October 23, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    • The motto of the state I grew up in (New York) is Excelsior, meaning “upward,” and that works here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 23, 2014 at 3:43 PM

  14. Love this dramatic image, Steve. So, the trees were farther away, but look closer because of the lens you used? That is interesting. It is neat to see the trees contrasting against the rock forms.


    November 5, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    • There was no way to get close to these trees because they were up too high on the slope of the mountain. I put on my longest lens, a 70–200 mm with a 1.4X converter (meaning that the lens gets converted to a 98–280 mm zoom), and took what pictures I could from down at the level of the highway. Like a telescope or binoculars, a telephoto makes things look closer to the camera than they are, and it also radially compresses distances, making faraway things seem closer to each other than they are.

      The rocks certainly added lots of extra visual texture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 5, 2014 at 10:30 AM

  15. Trees are a good reminder that God’s timeline is perfect.


    November 12, 2014 at 8:31 PM

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