Grove of Bare Aspen Trees. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. October 3, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
A few autumn leaves linger on a grove of bare aspen trees, eastern Sierra Nevada
No, I’m still not done with my photographs from autumn 2015 in the Sierra Nevada! This year I first photographed this grove in late September, much earlier than would normally be the case. Even then many of the trees had already lost their leaves, seemingly in response to the fourth serious drought year in the Sierra. The drought affected trees in a variety of ways, ranging from early color change to simply dropping leaves without a color change to seemingly going dormant. (Other trees that were less stressed seemed to change later than usual, perhaps in response to later warm temperatures resulting from climate change.) I was less than satisfied with those first late-September photographs of these trees, so I thought more about them after returning home and made a plan to return the following week and refine my ideas.
And that’s just what I did. I made this photograph one week after those first images. This time I spent less time at the grove since I already had a fairly clear idea of what I was trying to produce. Given how few leaves there had been the week before, I was somewhat surprised to find any color still left here — but I was also happy that there was some! Bare and near bare late-season aspen trees seem compelling to me, for reasons I cannot quite put my finger on. Is it that they signal the fine, incontrovertible end of the warm season? Or is it that they signal the certain arrival of the beauties of winter? Perhaps there is something about these bare trees standing in groups and their promise of new life the following spring? When there are still just a few colorful leaves remaining, as in this scene, somehow the effect seems even stronger.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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