This image has been gnawing on me for years now, waiting to be revealed. Taken from a group of photos I took near Como, Colorado while working on the American Meadow Garden, I have always felt I had stumbled upon something special when I found this long abandoned road leading into a grove of aspens in fall color.
Every time I would go back to the photo I would recall the clean white mountain light turning golden, turning me golden, as it passed through the trees and washed bright over the land. And every time I went back to try and render the feeling I couldn’t get it. Now, with a better understanding of my digital toolbox, I am getting closer.
Closer, but not final. I have two states of this image and am indecisive as to which is “better”. Having promised to get at least one image and one blog post done every month, and it now being the last day of February, I am postponing my final decision and showing both.
Here is the second state, cropped to a panorama, more golden, more glow.
In both photos I have used the Clarity control of Adobe Camera Raw in different amounts to reduce hard edges without blurring; and in both I have done all sorts of other tweaks to blacks, highlights, and color levels. I have tried to live with each for a couple days to see which settles in me, and find each make me happy to look at them.
I can’t decide, so – postpone the final decision.
I also played with an abstract expression of the leaves, hoping I accented the blacks just enough to give these specks of gold some rhythm and structure.
And I can’t resist the calendar view of this grove of trees under the crisp blue Colorado sky. Note the abandoned road to orient the first photos.
Now onward. I have decided to be indecisive. Move on…