Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The day after October 17th

with 24 comments


October 17th was the only day in our 12-day trip that I didn’t take any nature pictures. We did cultural things in Santa Fe like visiting the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Art, both of which we walked to from our conveniently located hotel. We visited a former Austin friend now living in Santa Fe whom we hadn’t seen in two decades. We visited our used laundry and made it clean.

As if to compensate for the photographic day off, on October 18th, which happened to be the Lady Eve’s birthday, I had one of the busiest and best photographic days of this trip or any other. Although in the 1970s I’d spent weeks in the Santa Fe area, neither then nor on brief visits in later decades do I recall ever having driven up Hyde Park Rd. (Highway 475) into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains northeast of the city, where people go skiing in the winter. That’s where we spent our morning, and a glorious morning it was.

As the road climbed we began to see isolated aspens (Populus tremuloides) or small groups of them whose leaves had turned their famous yellow. The top picture, taken during a brief stop at Hyde Memorial State Park, is an example of that.

And then we drove higher and eventually got to a place where suddenly a whole mounded hillside of yellow-leaved aspens loomed into view, as the second photograph shows.



For a different sort of “mound,” consider the frozen puddle
I found at my feet during one photo stop in the mountains.



© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 25, 2022 at 4:30 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Nice finds!

    Eliza Waters

    November 25, 2022 at 8:24 AM

  2. Perfectly splendid aspen cluster!

    Alessandra Chaves

    November 25, 2022 at 9:09 AM

  3. The frozen puddle looks more like a rock.

    Alessandra Chaves

    November 25, 2022 at 9:10 AM

  4. These autumn colours are a feast for the eyes. They would be impressive even if the sun was hidden behind the clouds.

    Peter Klopp

    November 25, 2022 at 9:55 AM

    • Fortunately for us and for my pictures we had a clear blue sky, although we had to wait for the sun to get high enough to brighten the land.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 25, 2022 at 10:09 AM

  5. Glorious photos from what must have been a glorious day. The aspect of the first photo I like best is the even scattering of leaves on the ground beneath the trees. They balance the image beautifully, holding it together. The arc of the layers in the second photo are attractive, too. I’m thinking the thin line of beige separating the yellow and green might be trees that have lost all their leaves; it would make sense that trees near the top of the mound would be subject to more wind.

    As for ice, a friend alerted me this afternoon to the snow that moved into her area. Given this, your trip may have been perfectly timed.


    November 25, 2022 at 7:26 PM

    • A glorious day indeed: nine more posts—and there could easily have been more—will show pictures from it. The leaves scattered on the ground in the top photo caught my attention, too, more after the fact than at the time of taking the picture, at least consciously. In general, it did seem that aspen trees higher up and therefore more exposed to wind had already dropped most or all of their leaves.

      What a difference a month makes. This week snow and ice hit some of the places we drove through: Fort Stockton, Van Horn, El Paso, Lubbock, Midland.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 25, 2022 at 8:16 PM

  6. […] of Santa Fe in a quest for fall foliage, especially from aspen trees (Populus tremuloides), as you saw last time. Stands of bare aspen trunks also constitute a photographic talisman,* with seemingly every nature […]

  7. Oh, that yellow hillside put a smile on my face – must have been wonderful to see it glow in the sun.

    Ann Mackay

    November 26, 2022 at 6:07 AM

  8. Wow, those really are some incredible views. I’ve never seen fields of aspens in color like that. Looks like you had a great trip.

    Todd Henson

    November 27, 2022 at 12:41 PM

    • Yes, it was a great trip. Unintentionally we hit peak fall color in northern New Mexico, which added to the pleasure of the geological formations we’d been seeing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 28, 2022 at 4:40 AM

  9. Beautiful fall color finds! The frozen puddle is a neat abstract.


    November 27, 2022 at 12:49 PM

    • Austin has fall color on a small scale, so I relish whatever chances I get (or take) to see the broader scale available in colder places. I saw a few snow-covered mountains but the frozen puddle is the only ice picture I took on the whole trip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 28, 2022 at 4:44 AM

  10. I’m so glad you got to experience our beloved aspen trees in all their beauty.


    December 1, 2022 at 8:51 AM

    • Me too. Our timing was right, though I hadn’t planned it. In contrast, the peak fall color we saw at Lost Maples (three hours west of Austin) this past Sunday was intentional; I’d been following foliage reports from there, and this weekend seemed like a good time to pounce.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 1, 2022 at 9:32 AM

      • How nice that you are getting to enjoy a prolonged (nearly two months long!) display of fall foliage. It makes me think of a Mutts cartoon we cut out of the paper which shows an autumnal landscape with a quote attributed to George Eliot:
        “Delicious autumn. My very soul is wedded to it. If I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”


        December 1, 2022 at 10:03 PM

        • We were following George Eliot’s advice, at least on a limited geographic scale and with Texas and New Mexico standing in for the whole earth.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 1, 2022 at 10:34 PM

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