When we travel in our beautiful Western states; a visit to any nearby stand of Aspen trees is a must. The grand Aspens are always a favorite with photographers, hikers and travelers. The Aspens are members of the Poplar family and can be found throughout North America but seem to thrive in great numbers in the West. They seem to enjoy the great outdoors, are happy with a moist soil and can often be found near wetlands, streams and rivers.
Normally, a visit to the Aspens in fall is regarded by photographers as the best time, yet I have found that they are lovely any time of year. As with all Poplars, their wood is soft and the bark white in color. They can grow to a height of 20 to 50 feet and their branches spreading to 30 feet. They have a quick moving root system and tend to grow in clumps. The trees come back quickly after a fire because their root system is protected underground and tend to spread out over large areas. The root system is actually a single living organism and can be several thousand years old. Through storm or devastation, the root system will survive. The healthy Aspen grove will have both mature, young and middle aged trees. The cycle of life can continue. It is also interesting that Aspens maintain chlorophyll in the bark which allows them continued growth year round. The space between the trees allows sunlight to reach the forest floor and a wide range of shrubs and small plants grow happily throughout the clump. Beavers love Aspens because of the soft wood, the make a damn fine dam.
It is these clumps that make them so attractive to photography. The multitude of trees and whiteness provides for great images. Wildlife also enjoys these stands for cover, protection and food. I have often found Moose moving about the Aspens, enjoying a low branch of leaves. Its food and cover is utilized by elk, bear, deer, and numerous smaller creatures and birds. A stand of Aspens in fall are just plain beautiful. The leaves turn a bright yellow and light up the entire area. The sunlight changes the look of the tree as it moves across the sky. The quaking of the Aspens, for which they are so well known, comes from their large round-like leaves in close proximity and the friction, leaf upon leaf, in the wind. In reality, they are just rustling leaves but do so in such a harmonious tone. This is similar to a brook that babbles. The sound is very soothing.
I once tried photographing wild turkeys running about amongst the trees. This was an impossible chore as they moved rapidly around in circles going no place and never standing still. There were a very noisy group and one has to wonder if they had any clue. It was best if I just stopped and watched the humor of the whole affair.
When photographing the Aspens, be sure to use all that is available to you. Even when the leaves begin to fall they bring color to the ground, perhaps to a rocky stream, basically coloring an entire area. Utilize, utilize, utilize. It is suggested that photographers use a polarizing filter and so they should. It is also a good idea to view the Aspens after a rain storm, they are photogenic all wet and dripping. The true beauty of this tree is the colored leaves and the white bark, they are visually appealing. Walk around the stand of trees, see what you can see, what is unique, and never stay in one place. The next time you are traveling and come across these beautiful trees, stop and enjoy the view. Take a leisurely stroll through the stand, touch the bark, take a look at the leaves and watch them quake. It will be nice, release stress, you will find comfort.