A Mountain Autumn

Fall on the Wasatch Back (new)

The particular charm of a mountain autumn, for me, is the way winter sneaks in around the margins. For virtually every autumn in the mountains that I can remember, the riotous foliage colors are perking along nicely when along comes the first cold storm of winter. Well, not exactly cold, but coolish enough to put a bit of snow on the highest elevations, and drape the reds and oranges with white for a couple days, at least. It is such a great reminder that every season is a moving target, on the way in and on the way out at the same time.

This photograph captures that transition nicely. On the back side of the Wasatch Range in northern Utah, the oaks and maples are saturated with their reds and oranges, the aspens are in a slow transition from green to gold, while the high country gets a white blanket and scudding dark clouds. The contrast is perfect. This scene is at Cascade Springs in Wasatch Mountain State Park. The departing storm clouds let in a moving patchwork of sunlight, allowing the photographer to just wait and cherry-pick as highlights shift from this hill to that valley to the other ridge, and back again. This composition, with highlights on the foreground and distant horizon, with shadow in the middle, seemed the best to me. (pricing schedule C)

“A Mountain Autumn” – Exhibition at Park City Library

Lost Prospector Trail in Autumn; mountain autumn

It’s up! Further To Fly Photography is pleased to announce the opening of “A Mountain Autumn,” an exhibition of 40 photographs celebrating Fall in the forests of Park City, the West and the World. The exhibition in the Park City, Utah, library runs from September 15 through November 25, 2017, and is open to the public during library hours.

Photos in the exhibit are from Tom Horton’s portfolio of nature and landscape photography and are from the past 10 years’ work. They are glicée prints of various sizes up to 40 inches by 30 inches, handmade by Tom on archival canvas and watercolor paper.

Early Snow, Wasatch Range - Brighton, 2016
Early Snow, Wasatch Range – Brighton, 2016

From the Artist’s Statement at the show: “The wistfulness of a passed Summer is unknown in mountain towns. In August, we begin stealing glances at the hills and forests. When the maples show hints of sunset-red and and the oaks are Halloween-orange, we sense the main event is coming. While the aspens blaze yellow, we clean house, fill the wood bin, and set out the good china for our guests (and ourselves). Our pace quickens and our hearts turn over. Life starts another chapter.”

Survivors - Kamas, 2016
Survivors – Kamas, 2016

Works in the exhibition are available for sale directly from Tom Horton. Tom is donating 15% of gross sales during the exhibition to the Friends of the Park City Library, a citizen’s support group for the library. Email Tom with this contact form,

Kate Mapp, Curator, Park City Library
Kate Mapp, Curator, Park City Library
Sunspots - Park City, 2016
Sunspots – Park City, 2016
On Treasure Hill - Park City, 2016
On Treasure Hill – Park City, 2016
Under the Aspens - Park City, 2016
Under the Aspens – Park City, 2016


The Subway, Zion National Park

Zion Subway

“Slot” canyons — of which the Subway is one — are the darlings of southwestern US geography. They are narrow defiles carved in layers of sandstone hundreds of feet deep — so narrow that it is difficult to walk through them in places, and so deep that sunlight may reach to the bottom only a few minutes a day when the sun is directly overhead. They are often in remote wilderness locations, and require heroic hiking, climbing and/or swimming skills to navigate. Slot canyons attain their unusually tall and narrow forms due to flash floods that carry tons of fine sand that can grind though the soft sandstone relatively quickly.

One of the finest of these is “The Subway” in Zion National Park, so named because the flume at the bottom has an oval shape reminiscent of a train tunnel. True to its kind, it is very hard to get to, a long distance from trailheads on very rough, sometimes dangerous trails. The photographer is awarded an extra penalty, not only having to pack in heavy gear, but to do part of it in the dark so that the light on scene is just right. Attacking The Subway in the fall is a great choice, not only because the midsummer heat is absent, but because colorful fall leaves adorn the stream and canyon bottom. (Pricing Schedule B)

Fall on the Wilson River

Fall on the Wilson River

Like all temperate rain forests, water pours out of the northwestern US into the Pacific Ocean in dozens of surging rivers, driven by deluges of rain — and therein lies the problem for the photographer. These rivers are often choked with mists and overcast skies that greatly limit their possibilities for revelation. Sooooo, some patience is requires to sit out the frequent storms and wait for some sunlight to filter through — and then amazing things can happen with the interplay between mist and clarity, between sun and shadow. Show up when the autumn season splashes some reds and yellows around to contrast with the conifers and the moss, and it gets even better. Patience is the answer.

This scene along the Wilson River in the Tillamook State Forest of Oregon is exactly what I mean. It was available for perhaps 15 minutes, probably less. It required a lot of waiting around for the right conditions, followed by an immediate burst of activity to capture the background mists before the sun drove them away. Not to mention that with ample rain supply, these rivers are cold and deep, and navigating their steep banks can be downright dangerous. Whew! Survived another one. (Pricing schedule D)

Grand Teton After the Storm

Grand Teton After the Storm

It took two nights sleeping in the back of the car in the parking lot on top of Signal Mountain to get this shot. I hope you like it. Two nights, because the first morning the dawn was still socked in by rain and the Grand Teton peaks couldn’t even be seen. By the second night the storm had faded out and dawn that morning was perfect. Morning mists were rising from the valley floor just as the sun caught the high peaks. It takes perfect timing and a healthy measure of luck to get this kind of shot, and if you spend the night too far away from the perfect spot, the probability of success can be discouraging.

Of course, this is a national park and camping outside of a campground is against the rules. Technically, I could get in trouble, but in many, many nights sleeping in the car that has never happened. I’m pretty sure that the park rangers have better things to do at midnight than roust out persistent photographers — like getting some sleep of their own. Believe me, I would much rather be nestled in a nice campground on a soft mattress in a comfy tent. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and never fun sleeping in the car. “You call this camping? No way.” And that’s how I rationalize this wanton, rebellious act. (Price Schedule B)

Bid on “Wasatch Autumn” at National Ability Center Gala!

Wasatch Autumn

Further to Fly has donated “Wasatch Autumn,” a 48″ x 38″ exquisitely-framed photograph, to the National Ability Center’s Red,White and Snow fundraising gala March 5th at the Montage Resort in Park City. Preview this work at the NAC auction online site. The event always sells out quickly, but you may bid online if you missed the ticket sales.

Wasatch Autumn

Wasatch Autumn

Who wouldn’t love to head out on a photo expedition and know that you’re going to come back with awesome shots? I’ve had my share of those; I even published a list — “The Top 8 Places in the World Where You Cannot Take a Bad Shot.” But there are also the opposite experiences, and this image is about one of those.

I have struggled forever, it seems, to capture the essence of Aspen trees in a photograph. With their narrow white trunks and peculiar dancing leaves, Aspens are one of the icons of the mountains, and every mountain person lives in tune to the seasonal cycle of the Aspens. So, why are my image archives littered with years of what I consider failed Aspen photos? I don’t know — it’s just one of those bumps in the highway. But in autumn of 2015 a cold storm blew in and I found myself in tune with the forest and the storm and the colors for about a day and a half. “On a roll” is an apt description. This is my favorite Aspen image from that time. (Price Schedule A)

Boulders at Little Cottonwood, Utah

Little Cottonwood Boulders

When I was in college, around 1970, I would lug a 4 x 5 camera and big, ugly tripod around the mountains trying to be Ansel Adams. Not that I’m dissatisfied, but that didn’t quite work out — life intervened. But now I am back at it, and that’s what makes this photo special to me. It is nearly 50 years old, one of the few I have remaining from that camera and that era, but it is every bit the same as I remember that day. Originally it was an Ektacolor negative, and about 10 years ago I had it scanned and converted to a digital file which turned out huge — about 450 megabytes.

The fall colors in the oak leaves, the high relief of the granite boulder, the blue air — it all has a nice harmony. This spot in Little Cottonwood Canyon has many visitors, but most are not interested in the beauty — they come for the “bouldering.” Yes, around here are many large granite boulders with steep faces on which mountain climbers like to try out their risky moves. They fall only a few feet, and may get bruised but not maimed for life. I guess there is a certain beauty in that. (Price Schedule D)