When posting my nominees for best photos of 2021, I realized that I hadn’t posted some of my favorites before. That’s especially true for images I made this fall. We traveled to Yellowstone, Colorado, Utah, and the Oregon Coast, with little break in between trips, and not much time to process everything and post the images.
For me, one of the special treats this autumn (among many!) was the opportunity to photograph autumn aspens with snow. I did write about our brief trip to the eastern Sierra in early October, where I got to photograph some colorful aspens coated with snow. And then we got to do that several more times in Colorado.
We arrived in Colorado later than usual – on October 9th. Often the fall color is on its last legs by then, but this year we found lots of aspens that still had yellow and orange leaves – and even some green ones. And forecasts called for several snowstorms over the next week, with relatively low snow levels. It seemed like a perfect setup for catching colorful aspens draped with snow.
The only difficulty was driving through that snow. The main roads were well plowed, but reaching some of the best spots for aspens required navigating unplowed dirt roads.
And the mud was even worse. Some of the lower-elevation dirt roads became slick with mud after the snow melted, and were impassable without four-wheel-drive and aggressive mud tires.
So there were times we just had to turn around and go somewhere else. But we were able to reach many wonderful spots, and had a great time photographing hillsides full of colorful aspens layered with snow.
And one morning when there was no fresh snow we found something perhaps even more intriguing. Low-lying clouds and below-freezing temperatures created freezing fog, which coated some of the aspens with frost. I’d never photographed frosted aspens before, so that was an extra-special treat.
Here are a few of my favorite images from our week in Colorado. I love photographing this transition season, when autumn slides into winter.
— Michael Frye
P.S. There’s still time to help me pick my best images of 2021! You can look through the nominees and vote for your favorites here. And thanks to everyone who already voted!
Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.