Grand Tetons National Park – The Trees

A row of fir trees grow amongst a thick stand of aspen, all in their fall colors, Grand Teton National Park
A row of fir trees grow amongst a thick stand of aspen, all in their fall colors, Grand Teton National Park

As I said in an earlier post, the trees were the real stars of the show on my recent trip to Grand Teton National Park. Fall colors were bursting from every leaf, and the mixture of coniferous and deciduous gave the changing leaves a nice backdrop from which to pop.

Composing coherent tree photos is not easy. It is the epitome of finding patterns in chaos. In some cases I was able to juxtapose the shapes and colors of tall, white, narrow trunks with the round colorful leaf canopy as seen in the photo below. Given that I wanted to stack the trunks against one another to create a continuous pattern of lines, I shot this one from a distance with a telephoto lens.

A stand of trees in full fall color, Grand Teton National Park
A stand of trees in full fall color, Grand Teton National Park

There are other occasions where I want to be closer to the trees, and seek patterns just in the trunks. In the following photo I was inside an aspen forest, and really liked the character of the boulder that these trees were growing around. But the real thrust of this photo is again a linear pattern created by the trunks.

This photo took quite a while to compose, as I wanted to avoid conjoining trunks in order to maintain that clean linear pattern throughout the photo. As you can see in the background, the distant trunks were carefully placed in between the tree in the foreground, so as to avoid any overlapping.

Fall colors dot a grove of aspen, Grand Teton National Park
Fall colors dot a grove of aspen, Grand Teton National Park

Weather played a part in my tree photographs, as it did with the grand landscapes as well. After a storm passed through, I had a nice rainbow to play with for over an hour. Moving up and down a riverbed, I found this stand of trees that I could compose the rainbow behind. I was careful to run the rainbow up into the right corner of the photo, to create a strong corner.

A rainbow forms in the midst of a moving storm, Grand Teton National Park
A rainbow forms in the midst of a moving storm, Grand Teton National Park

Of course there were those foggy mornings as well. When I took this photo, I was up above the Snake River, and watched for a while as the changing fog moved like a living thing among the trees and distant hills. Landscape features were hidden, revealed, and back again, as if controlled by a grand magician working his craft.

Bright fall colors show through the dense fog that shrouds the landscape, Grand Teton National Park
Bright fall colors show through the dense fog that shrouds the landscape, Grand Teton National Park

I’ll leave you with one of my favorites – Aspen Embrace. There were many things I loved about these two photogenic trees. Not only does the aspen look like it is hugging the lone fir, welcoming it into its grove, but texturally, I love the stark, solid fir needles against the ethereal aspen leaves. Here the composition was straight forward – I only cropped it to a more traditional 4×5 aspect ratio as I felt the subjects’ spacing worked better with that framing. (Careful observers will note that this fir tree also makes an appearance in the first photo above.)

A fiery aspen wraps its branches around a lonely fir, Grand Teton National Park
A fiery aspen wraps its branches around a lonely fir, Grand Teton National Park

Even though the nearby forest fires cause some smoke issues on the first few days of my trip, the timing of the fall colors couldn’t have been better. I’d love to spend more time in this part of the country next fall – there were definitely a lot of great opportunities there.