Oxbow Aspen

Oxbow Aspen

20×24 prints are $1,500
30×40 prints are $3,000

2003 was a great year for my aspen photography. Ruth and I began in the middle of September, photographing at McClure Pass, Colorado. The aspen leaves hadn’t fully turned from green to yellow so we went elsewhere, checking out other areas of Colorado without much success. We returned to McClure Pass on September 27 and found that the trees had good color but were still not at their peak.

This image was photographed from the edge of the road that goes up to the pass and these trees are in the apex of an oxbow bend in the road, thus the name. The road is elevated above the trees and because it bends around the entire scene it creates a very unique lighting situation. It was an overcast day so the light was soft and enveloping. The trees in the front were receiving warm toned light reflected off of the aspen trees behind me but the trees in the background, especially those on the left side, were receiving bluer light from another direction.

While I was setting up the camera I met a local photographer who was using a 4x5 view camera and we had a pleasant conversation about photography in general and he told us about the vast aspen forests in the Kebler Pass area, only 45 miles away. After I took this photograph we went there, opening a full week with perfect weather and foliage conditions, ending up with a number of worthwhile images.

I used a 240mm lens for this image and used the falling front of the view camera to avoid tilting the trees. The exposure was f/22-1/3 for two seconds on Velvia 50 film. When I saw the developed film weeks later I was pleased with the image but knew it would be quite difficult to print. It wasn’t until 2015 that I finally printed it.

It really was a humdinger to work on. The color balance of the aspen trunks is all over the map and the varying contrast levels of different parts of the image is problematic. Determining the right contrast level and color balance required making many full size prints. I spent four long days working on this image before I could pull everything together and was finally satisfied with the results. It has a unique beauty to it that is imbued with mystery and perhaps a bit of puzzlement.

Format: Large (horizontal)
Location: Colorado
Reference key: oba