Sunlit Golden Aspens

Sunlit Golden Aspens

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

In 2004 Ruth and I made only a one week photo trip to Wyoming, Colorado and Montana. This photograph was made in the Kebler Pass area of Colorado. It was a beautiful sunny day and the aspen trees were at the height of their autumn colors.

In this section of the vast aspen forest, the golden leaf canopy was full to overflowing. The bright mid-morning sun illuminated the edges of the white trunks with lots of fill light from the dried grasses and leaves on the ground. The scene was set, the lights were lit but where was the photograph?

There are times when there is beauty all around me and great lighting, yet I don’t see a composition where everything comes together to make a strong image. This was one of those mornings. After about two hours of looking I finally came upon this scene. I used my Schneider 800mm Apo-Tele-Xenar lens at f/64 for a 2 second exposure on Velvia 50 film pushed one stop for speed. I took an identical second exposure as a backup.

The processed transparency was gorgeous but I knew it would be very difficult to print. I wanted to convey a sense of enveloping light, print the white trunks with luminosity and shape, show texture and detail in the black branches and show the varied density in the golden canopy. A very tough job to get everything done simultaneously.

So the print sat in a box for 10 years until 2014 when I had finally figured out a special way to make contrast masks which allow me to pull this off. Bright saturated yellows are particularly difficult to print without the yellows losing definition and shape.

The Cibachrome prints have the tonal and color qualities I had hoped for. The prints are luminous and uplifting, as if the trees are reaching out to the light from above.

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