Aspen Thicket, Eastern Sierra

Posted on 21 October 2014 | Comment

Aspen Thicket, Eastern Sierra

Aspen Thicket, Eastern Sierra

Aspen Thicket, Eastern Sierra. Near June Lake, California. October 11, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Fall color in a dense aspen thicket along an eastern Sierra creek

The exact location of this grove probably doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t seem necessary or even useful to reveal it here. With just a bit of looking about you can find many groves that are equally interesting all over the Sierra Nevada at this time of year, but especially on the east side of the range. I had seen this grove from a distance in the past, and once or twice before had thought to approach it on gravel roads. In fact, it is possible that I actually did visit or drive past at some point in the past. But for no particularly logical reason, on this trip I spotted it again from a distance and decided to go there and poke around.

In addition to its relative inaccessibility and lack of popularity, this grove has a couple of other things going for it. Many of the Sierra aspens tend to be somewhat small and not always straight. Such trees do have a special charm and I photograph them all the time. However, to be honest, sometimes California aspen photographers can be just a bit jealous of those groves of giant, straight and tall trees that seem to be more common in some other western states. This grove has those trees — tall and straight and towering above. In also has one of the densest examples of undergrowth that I’ve seen in the Sierra. My initial idea was to walk deep into this grove in the late afternoon as the light diminished, but I quickly figured out that this wasn’t likely given the dense bead of overlapping fallen tree trunks, thick brush, and thorn plants. So instead of trying to get through that jungle, I changed my mind and decided to make it the subject of the photograph instead.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Aspen Tree in Transition

Posted on 20 October 2014 | Comment

Aspen Tree in Transition

Aspen Tree in Transition

Aspen Tree in Transition. Hope Valley, California. October 9, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Aspen tree with leaves beginning to change from green to yellow

This fall I think I hit the timing just about perfect for aspen color, as I visited areas between Lake Tahoe in the north and Bishop Creek Canyon to the south. The colors were generally intense in the middle elevations, not completely gone yet at higher elevations, and beginning to come on strong down lower, where the aspens mix with cottonwoods and other foliage. By moving a bit north or south, or to higher/lower elevations, I was able to find just about every stage of the fall aspen color transition, from groves that were still green, though every phase of intermediate color, to bare trees that had already lost their leaves.

I was also reminded, yet again, that the specific spots you go to find Sierra fall color probably don’t matter as much as staying alert, thinking about the conditions, and watching for color wherever you happen to be. Yes, there are a few especially notable places. But it turns out that there are absolutely wonderful trees to photograph almost anywhere you travel at this time of year. This tree is perhaps a case in point. I was, in fact, in one of the prime aspen color areas near Lake Tahoe. However, on this evening, when the sun was dropping behind ridges and the light was softening, I simply happened to pull over at a wide spot in the road near some creek. I got out of my car to look at the trees, which were much like the trees filling the rest of this long valley, and it happened that one of them exposed the skeleton of its branch system against a background of mostly green leaves that were just starting to change. I’m quite certain that it would be nearly impossible for me to find this particular tree again — but why would I? It is just one of the uncountable trees in the range, and everywhere among them there are beauties to be photographed.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Morning, Riverwalk

Posted on 19 October 2014 | Comment

Morning, Riverwalk

Morning, Riverwalk

Morning, Riverwalk. Chicago, Illinois. August 2, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Two men on the Chicago Riverwalk in the early morning

Let me begin by telling a story on myself. The last time I was in Chicago, which was some years back, I was there for a conference related to my work as a college faculty member. I flew in to town, went straight downtown, and spent three or four days engaged almost entirely in conference stuff at the hotel, mostly eating there with the exception of one dinner out in a place I’m sure I could not find my way back to. It was November, and at one point I thought I would go out for a walk. Silly California boy! I believe that I walked out one hotel doorway and made it as far as the next one before the cold and wind convinced me to think of a different activity. The point of all of this is that I really did not see the city and, in fact, I was so unaware that I managed to get my directions off by about 90 degrees.

This has happened to me elsewhere, most notably in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. I normally have a very good sense of direction, but when I arrive at Tuolumne, to this day my world rotates (incorrectly) by 90 degrees. In the case of Chicago, the problem for me was that I got the idea that the Chicago River headed through town in a southerly direction — and, as any Chicagoan knows, that is absurd… it goes east. Perhaps if I had actually gone out and walked the Chicago Riverwalk, like these two guys, on that earlier visit I would not have spent the first day or so of this visit trying to rotate my mental map by 90 degrees!

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

East Madison Street

Posted on 18 October 2014 | Comment

East Madison Street

East Madison Street

East Madison Street. Chicago, Illinois. August 2, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Afternoon light on East Madison Street, Chicago

We had been in roughly the Millennium Park area for a good part of this day, wandering around and looking at stuff and visiting a museum, and we were (if I recall correctly) heading back toward our hotel in the late afternoon, planning to perhaps take a break before figuring out where to go for Chicago style pizza. (One goal on this trip was to have both Chicago and New York pizza. After all, pizza research is a solemn duty.)

I’ve noted elsewhere that Chicago’s tendency to combine tall downtown buildings with more open space allows a lot of beautiful light to reach down to ground level and it sometimes permits clearer views up and down streets. As we walked past this intersection, marking the end of East Madison, the late light was coming straight up the street from the west, though slightly hazy and soft atmosphere, striking the sides of buildings and silhouetting people and vehicles on the street. This was light to stop for!

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

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