Tag Archives: autumn

Cottonwood Trees, Gravel Road

Cottonwood Trees, Gravel Road
A gravel road passes cottonwood trees in fall color, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Cottonwood Trees, Gravel Road. Near Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. October 22, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A gravel road passes cottonwood trees in fall color, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

By the time I made this photograph, the day almost seemed to be winding down. We had gotten up before dawn and made our way to the start of a long gravel road, where we paused to photograph as the sun came up. It was one of those almost unplanned moments — no specific landscape in mind, but there was the rising sun, so we stopped and found that we could photograph a range of subjects in that light. Then we headed on down this road, eventually arriving at one of our possible goals, where we took a hike to a high place with a panoramic view.

By now it was getting on toward the middle of the day — mostly the non-shooting hours for photographers in many cases — so we headed back the way we came. As we drove we came to this flat with good-sized cottonwood trees spread along a small gravel road heading off toward the uplifted terrain of Capitol Reef National Park. The autumn color of these trees was irresistible… so we didn’t resist! We stopped, got out, photographed for a while , and then were back on the road.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Cottonwood Trees, Autumn

Cottonwood Trees, Autumn
Cottonwood Trees, Autumn

Cottonwood Trees, Autumn. Southern Utah. October 26, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A grove of autumn cottonwood trees in Utah red rock country

After a few days “in the field” in a remote southern Utah location with a group of friends, I left our camp and headed back out to what passes for civilization in this part of Utah. Truth be told, by the end of the day I arrived in a quite civilized place! After driving a bit I ended up in the town of Boulder, where I was to meet my cousin and her husband to share dinner and conversation. But I arrived a bit early, so I decide to explore a bit first.

I headed right on through Boulder and onto the Burr Trail route, following it for a few miles to an overlook where the road descends into a long canyon. I arrived at close to the perfect date to see brilliant colors from autumn cottonwood trees in this valley — although the color peak may have come a few days earlier, I like the combination of colorful trees and the skeletal shapes of partially bare trees. This little valley has a flat bottom, and the trees grew across its width and right up the red rock cliff on the opposite side.


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.

Oak Leaves, Reflections, Spring

Oak Leaves, Reflections, Spring
Oak Leaves, Reflections, Spring

Oak Leaves, Reflections, Spring. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 24, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Autumn oak leaves, reflections of sky and sandstone cliffs on stained rock

This was a wonderful autumn day of exploration, re-visiting a familiar place, wandering with friends, and photography. We drove a short distance down a back-country road from our campsite to get to the start of a canyon, beginning in a spot where there is little in the surrounding landscape to indicate what is hidden here. We left our vehicles on the flats at the edge of a shallow valley and dropped into it. The valley quickly narrowed and it wasn’t long until sandstone walls towered above as we traced the meandering course of the stream that had cut this canyon. We travelled slowly, making detours as the spirit took us, and halting to concentrate on photographic subjects we discovered along the way.

Eventually we arrived at a sort of “half-subway” (referencing a well-known Utah landscape subject that is far from this spot) where the creek rounded a bend in a narrow section of the canyon and has cut away rock back underneath the overhead walls. At the lower end of this section we arrived at a wider flat area, though the canyon was still quite narrow, and we paused to eat, talk, make photographs, and ponder. Across the bend in the creek a smooth rock wall dropped down from beneath a thickly vegetated ledge to the banks of the creek, and water seeped from cracks below the ledge, providing enough water to keep the rock constantly damp, and autumn leaves from an oak tree on the ledge were scattered on the rock.


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.

Evening Aspens, Kaibab Plateau

Evening Aspens, Kaibab Plateau
Evening Aspens, Kaibab Plateau

Evening Aspens, Kaibab Plateau. Near Grand Canyon, Arizona. October 18, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A grove of autumn aspen trees at the end of a meadow on the Kaibab Plateau

Back in the early autumn of 2014 I headed off to southern Utah for some significant time photographing — first on my own in the area around Kanab and points a bit east of there, then up to Capitol Reef to meet a friend for a few days, then out into a relatively off-the-grid area south of Escalante to photograph with another group of photographers, with a quick stop after that in the town of Boulder, and then west to Zion to meet family members for a few days. Whew! On my first day in Utah I ended up at a motel in Kanab, where I settled in by late afternoon. I originally figured it would be too late for photography, but I found myself with a few hours late in the day and no plans made. I looked at a map and saw the road heading south toward the north rim of Grand Canyon (where I had never been before — it is a long story) and thought, “what the heck, I’ll go to Grand Canyon!”)

I headed out of Kanab with a very amorphous plan to follow the road south, perhaps getting to the rim by sunset if I was lucky. I crossed the valley and began the climb up to the Kaibab plateau where, to my surprise, I found late season aspens along mountain meadows that still had some color. In the dusk light I stopped — I couldn’t help myself! — and made a few photographs of these slender, tall, and straight trees against the backdrop of bare aspens and the conifer forest beyond. (I eventually did get to the rim… but it was already deep in dusk when I arrived.)


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.

The Aspen Palette

The Aspen Palette
The Aspen Palette

The Aspen Palette. Sierra Nevada, California. October 16, 2011. © Copyright 2011 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Colorful eastern Sierra autumn aspen groves along US 395.

This is another photograph from a few years back that I rediscovered while reviewing many, many photographs for a project that I’m working on. I made the photograph in mid-October along highway 395 in the eastern Sierra, where the autumn colors had finally worked their way down from the higher regions toward the valleys. This large grove of aspens is a fall favorite of mine. The sub-grove extend mostly from left to right across the scene, and the genetically related trees of each group seem to change colors at different times and to end up with different coloration — and when my timing is just right and the season cooperates, almost the entire palette of possible aspen colors can appear here at once. In this photograph we have brilliant reds at the bottom of the frame, blending through orange toward yellow/gold, with a few still-green trees and even a few that have lost most of their leaves.

As I worked on this photograph recently I realized that I made it at a time that seemed much different in California. The two preceding winters had brought record levels of precipitation, the high country had opened late with snow remaining much later than usual, and there was water everywhere. This October visit to the eastern Sierra came near the end of the second wet summer, and it looked like we were about to be in for another wet winter, with early season storms. Then the tap was shut off, and we experienced three years are terrible drought. These trees and others in the range are now under a great deal of stress, and the past autumn was a bit of a strange one. And now, in the fourth year, the Sierra is still experiencing far below normal snowfall and far above-normal temperatures.


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.

Fading Autumn Color

Fading Autumn Color
Fading Autumn Color

Fading Autumn Color. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. October 11, 1013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Eastern Sierra aspen trees near Conway Summit transition from full color to bare trunks

As I’ve worked on a project recently, I have been going through virtually almost all of my photographs of Sierra Nevada fall color, and along the way I have rediscovered photographs that I had forgotten or, in some cases, never really looked at seriously before. I know many photographers who have this same experience of wondering why they missed certain images when they made them, and then only “found” them much later when revisiting their archives. (I have some theories about how and why this happens, but I’ll save them for another time.)

There are some bands of aspens running up a narrow valley in this area of the eastern Sierra. I had seen them many times before but either they were not in the right condition, in poor light (their location makes light challenging), or I was unable to stop. On this particular visit I managed to find a place from which to view them, and the trees were at that wonderful stage when some leaves are in peak color but others have fallen, and the beautiful white trunks become more visible.


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.

Round Valley Cottonwood Trees

Round Valley Cottonwood Trees
Round Valley Cottonwood Trees

Round Valley Cottonwood Trees. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. October 6, 2014. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Autumn cottonwood trees beneath the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada, Round Valley

I’ve long been captivated by this area at the base of the Sierra Nevada’s eastern escarpment not far from the town of Bishop, California. As you drive south near here you descend a very long grade toward Bishop, and at the bottom of the grade the route crosses a very large valley where the eastern edge of the range seems to retreat far to the west, and a broad valley rises from the lowlands towards much higher peaks. But along the northern edge of this valley the escarpment lives up to its name and is quite sudden and steep.

The valley seems agricultural, with cattle often grazing on the grasslands among the large cottonwood trees. In the late afternoon, and especially in fall when the trees change colors, the backlight coming over the crest lights the trees from behind and from the right point of view they can stand dramatically against the shadowed eastern slopes of the range.


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.