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)
Acclaimed forest landscape scenes from the western US to as far afield as Botswana, Slovenia, India, China, Cambodia, Russia populate the gardens exhibit hall from September 15 through October. Prints in various sizes and media are available for acquisition, as well as souvenier exhibit poster and note cards.
“The world’s diversity is expressed nowhere better than in the varied beauty of forests around the world,” notes Tom, owner of Further To Fly Photography. “We see forests ranging from primal wilderness to urban tracts that wind through some of the largest cities.”
The exhibit consists of 29 photographic prints on two kinds of media, satin canvas and watercolor paper. All the works have descriptive captions.
Red Butte Garden is a well-known regional facility that combines and arboretum, gardens, exhibits, educational activities, concerts and other events in a beautiful foothill setting on the University of Utah campus. It is open daily from 9:00 am to 7:30 pm in September and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in October.
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.
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.”
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,
We are trying very hard to understand and appreciate fire in the forest. Nature’s life cycles are wise beyond human intellect, according to human intellect. Emotion rules, however, and the burned forest always seems a mistake, a loss, an epic tragedy. After the smoke clears, the embers die, and the rain settles the dust, there is nothing but black and gray. We fear that as the forest succumbs, so our lives will play out into ash, and of course that is our unavoidable destination.
Like nature’s version of “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” fire ends with rain. Water from the sky calms the conflagration and lays the destruction bare, and we see the forest for the first time. So much better, with the logs down and the vegetation missing, to finally know what has gone missing. Even with new shoots ready to begin the cycle again, the forest will not rise to its former majesty in our lifetime. A new generation will know the forest again, love it again, and lose it again.
(Photography near Lizard Point, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA, September 2016.)
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)
Life in villages and small towns has occasional crystal-clear moments when one scene says it all. This scene spoke to me that way. Sorica is a small hillside village in central Slovenia. It is rather remote by local standards, along a narrow road and over a big hill from the beautiful Bohinj Lake area, popular with tourists. Past Sorica is another hour of lonely, hilly driving to the relative metropolis of Tolmin.
In the late afternoon the church at the crest of the hill catches the last yellow rays before the sun disappears behind the dark green and brown ridges. The bright white walls and mustard panels stand out against the gloom like a beacon. The gathering evening mist sets it aglow. Through hours of dark forest, you have arrived. (Price Schedule C)
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)
The subject was colors — the yellows, reds, and oranges of autumn in the mountains — but how was I to know that one of the most striking shots of the day would be strictly black, white, and shades of gray?
Transiting Guardsman Pass in the Wasatch Range, I always take my photo equipment because you are sure to see some worthwhile mountain scene — especially in fall when the colors run riot. That’s exactly what absorbed me when a sideways glance revealed this compelling composition of clouds closing in on the pass. Life in the mountains — drama with silver linings. (Price Schedule F)
Personally, when I am after scenes of natural beauty, I just hate to have to put a man-made object in the frame. But thankfully, the beauty usually wins out and I take the shot anyway, as with the little strip of highway in this scene. “Redwood Highway” is the name of US Highway 1 in northern California, as it snakes its way through these unbelievable groves, making the title of this photo a bit of a pun. (Price Schedule F)
I don’t know what it is with forests and me. Their dark depths and disquieting mystery always thrill me, but I find the feeling so difficult to capture in a photograph. The redwood forest of the California coast is the most thrilling, and the most frustrating. I have spent hour after hour stalking redwood trails and come back with very little in the way of good photography. Sun, fog, dawn, dusk, I’ve done it all. And I’ll do it again. But occasionally, something clicks. This scene from the Jedediah Smith redwood grove near Crescent City is one of my favorites. (Price Schedule E)
We all see them, the old Chinese scroll paintings depicting soaring, foggy, peaks with ancient pines, waterfalls dropping into mountain lakes, and we know it is the exaggerated fantasy allowed in art. But it’s not — it is real, and China’s Yellow Mountain, Huangshan, is the source of much of it. It is China’s most popular national park, and to visit is to know the country’s culture in a new way. For one thing, China’s engineers know how to build scary-but-safe trails on the faces of huge cliffs, and dare you to walk on them.
The overnight visitor learns that every pinnacle, crevice, cliff and promontory has its own weather. The wind and cloud that careens through the mountains interacts with every feature differently. Thus, when I went out early one morning into the storm covering the dramatic Huangshan gorge known as the West Sea, I knew not to give up. As I hiked along a narrow ledge, conditions got lighter but not better, and I began to think about turning back to a warm cup of tea. But Huangshan had other plans. I rounded a bend at a canyon overlook and the clouds swirled in the wind, allowing brief glimpses of one of China’s most fantastic landscapes. (Price Schedule B)
I spent a week in Sikkim and West Bengal, India, expecting and attempting to photograph natural wonders such as the Himalaya, the river gorges, and Mt. Katchenjunga. Unfortunately, I hit a week of intense air pollution and the vistas disappeared. But a new inspiration appeared — the velvet, verdant, atmospheric scenes on the tea fields. Something about Darjeeling tea favors the steepest slopes surrounded by dense forests, forcing the plantation staff and visitors alike to work hard at staying upright as they move around. Here, a lone tree in the middle of a plot on the Glenburn Tea Estate has mastered the task.
This composition reminds me of a rule among artists — a rule so pervasive that it has been highlighted by many books and teachers: The “Rule of Thirds,” which instructs to avoid symmetry in a composition by placing objects a third of the distance between borders, never halfway. In other words, never center a main subject. This composition, however, is nothing but symmetrical, flying in the face of this rule. I have shown many commentators various alternative arrangements of this photo, and all agree that it is an exception to the rule; it clearly works best when the tree is centered. (Price Schedule B)
Several tree species in the American West have superstar status – Coast Redwood, Giant Sequoia, Bristlecone Pine, Monterey Cypress among them. But the mainstay, workhorse, bastion tree of the region is the Douglas Fir. Beautiful in its own right, it grows at seacoast, mountaintop and everywhere in between. Here it creates a sense of mystery on a foggy morning at Cape Arago, Oregon. (Price Schedule F)
You have probably seen dozens of swooning landscapes from Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park. Heaven knows I’ve taken my share, but this is the one you have never seen before.
Schwabacher Landing is at the end of a dirt road where the Snake River sends little side channels through the woods and creates terrific reflections of the centerpiece peaks of the Tetons, the Cathedral Group. Photographers can position themselves for the classic reflection shot and not even have to unplug their heated coffee mugs from the SUV. But if you don’t like to follow the crowd, and I don’t, you start walking upstream, alone, looking out for bears (if you’ve forgotten your bear spray, don’t even think about it), until you come across this secret little pond. There, you point your camera north, to a different mountain. This is my reward. And now it’s yours. (Price Schedule A)
I happened upon this busy member of the weasel family on a trail near Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National park. It was around dawn and he seemed to be finishing up a night of hunting, looking for one more snack. Martens scour the forest for rodents, birds, eggs, snakes, anything — it’s all fair game. This Pine Marten was oblivious to me and led me on a crazy route up and down trees, in and out of hollow logs, even digging through layers of pine needles looking for a juicy insect. His high-energy quest wore me out in no time, but fortunately I came away with a good shot. Pine Martens are cute, of course, and a smaller close relative, the ferret, is widely kept as a pet. (Pricing Schedule F)
Komodo Dragons, the world’s largest monitor lizards, are princes of popular animal horror, perhaps a close third to sharks and poisonous snakes. With nasty teeth and a plodding, determined pursuit of their prey, they seem to be the closest thing we have to living dinosaurs. They are not venomous, contrary to popular myth, but their bite transmits large bacteria loads to their prey. They can bring down a large water buffalo with a bite, following it for a month until it drops from disease.
They range much further than their namesake Komodo Island, to many other Indonesian island include the large island of Flores. On my visit to Rinca Island, I hoped to catch a glimpse of the malevolent Komodo Dragon on the march, but wasn’t certain if I would even find one. Fortunately, with the help of a good guide with a big stick, I found all I could ask for. This big female with the constantly probing tongue seemed especially menacing. (Pricing Schedule G)
Conservation experts report that within 10 years, there may be no more elephants left in Kenya. The overwhelming reason is poaching motivated by the illicit China ivory market. Chinese culture has prized ivory carving for centuries and has developed a huge industry of artisans and markets. Elaborate carved ivory gifts are a favorite of Asian business and government leaders. The well-documented Chinese business invasion of Africa has provided cover for the accelerated poaching and export of illicit ivory, hence the dire predictions.
Meanwhile, recent decades of animal behavior research is placing the elephant among the most intelligent and sentient non-humans. They exhibit complex social behaviors including cooperation, altruism and grief. There is a popular belief the elephants are the only non-human animals that shed tears, however that has not been documented well. But who could blame them if they did? (Pricing Schedule G)
Where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean in northern California’s Redwood country, a small lagoon reflects the story of these great trees. This little assemblage of grass and lilies is just yards from the shore.
The fog lifting from the far hills is vital to the redwood forest, cooling their great hulks and bringing water to their upper stories. We think of Redwoods as growing right down to the water’s edge, but that is rare; they prefer hills and streambeds a bit inland. The foreground trees are not redwoods but Douglas Fir, which doesn’t mind the salt spray, and, with half a chance, will grow just about anywhere. (Pricing Schedule D)
Karst terrains are some of the most atmospheric and beautiful on Earth. The Ha Long area of northern Vietnam, where limestone towers and cliffs rise suddenly out of the sea, is one of the most remarkable of these. Dozens of major movies that needed the drama and mystery of these forest-encrusted towers have been filmed here.
Capturing Ha Long’s majesty in photographs depends a lot of the weather of the moment. This day, with a heavy haze obscuring detail, pointed the way to long telephoto shots and monotones, working with the ever-receding layers of ridges to distant horizons. (Price Schedule D)
More beautiful photographs have been overlooked than have ever been taken. One of the main ways this happens is by becoming too focused on where you are going, and ignoring where you came from. You have arrived at your subject and taken the obvious photograph. You are walking away with a satisfied feeling and suddenly, shockingly — they place you just came from is revealed in a wonderful new light that you have never seen before. This has happened to me so many times that I have made it a habit, on the way to somewhere, to stop every now and then and look back to where I came from.
That’s the way this shot happened. I was driving back to Yellowstone National Park in late evening after a good day shooting in the Tetons. At the Lewis River Falls I happened to check my rear view mirror and see this glorious scene. Lucky, I’m tempted to say, but it wasn’t — it was habit. (Pricing Schedule E)