Golden Cottonwoods

Golden Cottonwoods

20×20 prints are $1,500
30×30 prints are $3,000

As I was driving in southern Colorado, I stopped at a beautiful spot near the road. I parked underneath a grove of large Cottonwood trees near a mountain river. The sun was beginning to rise high in the sky—it was around 11:00 am, and the day was starting to get quite warm, after heavy frost the night before.

I spent most of an hour admiring the trees and the blue mountainside which was behind them. There was a light breeze which came and went, so I explored the area using my Hasselblad. The trees were at the bottom of a very narrow, steep canyon, so there was a substantial amount of reflected fill light illuminating the shaded sides of the trunks—even allowing for the rather severe backlighting of the golden yellow leaves.

I only photographed the trees from one or two positions but because of the wind, and the accompanying uncertainty as to the degree of subject motion, I took about 4 or 5 photographs of each view. I always try to anticipate the motion of the wind and simultaneously study all of the small branchlets in the photograph but it is always hard to be certain that everything remained still during the exposure—especially since I always pre-release the mirror, which then blacks out the view through the lens. It is usually necessary to wait for the back-and-forth motion of the branches to pause between the cycles of their oscillations to find the optimum moment for the exposure.

The dark, strong graphic forms of the trunks work with the bright yellow leaves to give a feeling of luminosity and rejoicing.

Format: Medium (square)
Location: Colorado
Reference key: gc