Why do we keep taking photos of the same subject over and over, even though our archives likely contain the very plant or animal motif many times over?

Is it because we always hope for a technically improved or aesthetically more pleasing image? Possibly. But I think more often than not it’s done simply to immortalize the beauty of the moment—of a particular bird or flower at this particular moment in time, performing a particular act, or glowing in a particular light. At least that’s true for me.

So it was on this particular autumn day not long ago that I added to the already rich stock of snapshots of certain Colorado celebrity trees at Mueller State Park in neighboring Teller County, one of the destinations we like to explore at this time of year because several hiking trails lead along or through the groves of the trees in question—Quaking Aspens (Populus tremuloides). Their cyclical chlorophyll conversion results in the flame-colored appearance of the (mostly) flame-shaped trees that draws countless leaf peepers.

The annual aspenpaloosa is an immersive sensory experience: seeing the colors change from green to mostly yellow, occasionally orange, rarely red; watching the leaves quiver on their stalks or spiral slowly to the ground, or listening to their rustling in the breeze; inhaling the musty aroma of decaying, or the pleasant perfume of desiccating vegetation reminiscent of stored sunshine and soil; feeling the crunch of crumbling cellulose underfoot. And if one is brave and wants the full sensual spectrum, a dry aspen leaf with its crunchy, cracker-like consistency and earthy flavor is also available for tasting.

To enlarge a photo, click on it. 

We didn’t have to resort to munching the foliage of one of Colorado’s best-known tree (which, incidentally, isn’t the state tree—that honor goes to the Colorado Blue Spruce). Instead, we picnicked on the sun-warmed earth under the canopy of myriad musical leaves preparing their marvelous metamorphosis into the substrate of next year’s growth.

While jotting down these reminiscences exactly one week after our excursion, I was sitting in a campground on Colorado’s eastern plains under the canopy of cottonwood trees, the prairie equivalents of the mostly montane aspens. No less spectacular in their autumnal displays than their relatives farther west, they are getting far less coverage. To remedy this neglect, I hope to honor them in a future post, which might be a few weeks away, as I’m taking a short break.

Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying the miracle each deciduous tree performs each year, be it the autumnal version in the northern hemisphere, or the vernal variety in the southern.

69 thoughts on “Aspenglow

  1. When my mom and I would return to place after a few years and take more photos of it despite already having plenty, she would joke that she already had photos of it but “not with this camera” 😂 I too find myself taking endless autumn photos; no matter how many aspens I’ve seen, they’re just so pretty!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liebe Tanja,

    wie immer außergewöhnlich schöne Fotos, die kann nur jemand machen, der Liebe für das was er sieht im Herzen trägt. Und wie tröstlich, dass die Natur, verlässlich Schönes zeigt und nichts dafür verlangt auch wenn eigentlich die ganze Welt Kopf steht…..

    Liebe Grüße aus Frankfurt + meinem Steinpilz-Eldorado dem Hunsrück Ira

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ich danke Dir, liebe Ira.
      Bei all dieser Schönheit kann frau gar nicht anders, als Liebe für die Wunder der Natur zu empfinden, oder? Sie gibt uns tägliche Geschenke und wir ignorieren sie oder beuten sie aus. Hoffentlich ändert sich unsere kollektive Einstellung noch rechtzeitig.
      Ich hoffe, Ihr genießt weiter Euren Hunsrück-Herbst.
      Herzliche Grüße,


  3. Autumn’s beauty is irresistible. It is almost as if we don’t quite remember JUST how beautiful it is, and snap away to remind ourselves later. But the photo never quite captures that immersive feeling, so the cycle repeats itself. 🙂 Enjoy your break!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve rarely seen the aspens in their full glory — only for one year in Utah. But I’ve seen the cottonwoods in Kansas, and they are equally gorgeous. I took as many photos as I could at the time, and if I’m ever lucky enough to go back, I’ll even more. Autumn color is like the ocean, or fire: always changing, yet always compelling.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Tanja, for re-awakening happy memories of our visits to the US. Invariably we crossed The Pond in autumn (aka ‘fall’ to you guys! 🙂) and were always blown away by the extraordinary colours of both Aspens and Cottonwoods. Truly a magnificent spectacle, one which your eloquent text and beautiful photos have vividly brought to mind.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Our travel experiences in the US, over a period of around a quarter of a century, were overwhelmingly pleasant. Looking back on them today – as my body aches and my confidence wanes – I can’t quite believe that we ever did what we did. Great places, lovely people, the joys of wide-open spaces, the open road and the teeming wildlife. Ah, happy days!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve occasionally been asked why I keep taking pictures of the same species. My usual answer is that the individual plant is different, the light is different, the background is different, I’m different. At the same time, I recognize that I resonate to certain ways of looking at subjects, so to try to avoid falling into a rut I’m always on the lookout for new ways to photograph familiar subjects.

    For once I can look at your photographs and say that I experienced similar things just this past week. In northern New Mexico the aspens and the cottonwoods were turning yellow, something I obviously took photographic advantage of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your answer reflect my feelings exactly, Steve. Thank goodness for digital photography. I remember the days when a roll with 24 or 36 photos would have to last through a week-long vacation, or longer.

      I’m glad you were able to experience autumn among aspen and cottonwoods. It might be a let-down for a New Englander but, not for us Southwest denizens.


  7. What you said is just perfect to my way of thinking. Those moments of beauty are something to look forward to and treasure anew each year. It’s crazy, but at this time of year when I’m hiking (or just leaf gawking) I feel like I can breathe better, or deeper, or something like that! 😉
    I have only been to your neck of the woods in the summer, but Colorado friends speak of the Aspen Time much like you do.
    May we enjoy as many of these moment as possible,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Julie,
      I don’t think it’s crazy at all, but being in nature and being touched by its splendor is undoubtedly good for our mental and physical health, so I can completely relate to your experiences. And I certainly second your wish.
      Take care,


  8. Thank you so much for sharing your Autumn beauty! Each area of our planet has its own particular loveliness but Colorado in the fall is something special.

    I think you hit on the root of why some of us take photographs of the same subjects repeatedly. Since the advent of the camera, the medium has evolved into a sort of “external hard drive” for our human memory system. To be sure, much experimentation takes place with “altering” the memories, whether in attempts to “improve” our recollections (e.g., adjusting light, contrast, composition) or for the sake of “art”.

    All I know is, if I have my camera with me and a deer steps into the path in front of me – “click, click, click”! I may have hundreds of images of a deer archived, but they are not THIS deer on THIS day at THIS place!

    Have a wonderful New Week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Apologies for the belated response, I have been taking a break. And many thanks for your comment. I think you are perfectly right about wanting to immortalize THIS deer (or bird, flower, butterfly…) on THIS day at THIS place. It never grows old.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Linda always wants to head west this time of the year to see the wonderful color changes, especially the aspens in all their splendor. Really like that last image of the yellow leaves against the evergreen backdrop!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Apologies for the belated response, I have been taking a break.

      I’m glad to hear that you would consider coming west instead of east in the fall. Some people from New England might be underwhelmed by our aspens’ displays, but we are very fond of them. 😊


  10. I saved this post, to enjoy again and again….. so I could also add that I tend to photograph the same scene over and over again because so much of it is shaped by the lighting, which is forever changing.
    Just so you know… I didn’t ignore this. I returned to enjoy it again and again… 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Gunta,
      Thank you for your kind comment. I’m so glad you enjoyed the beautiful glow of these special trees.
      I would never expect you to read and comment on each individual post, even though I appreciate it tremendously when you do. 😊🙏
      Warm greetings,
      Tanja (I will get back to reading and commenting on your blog posts soon, have been taking some “time off”).


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