How the Art Happens - Winter Melody

March 27, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Winter MelodyWinter MelodySnow covered Aspen trees on a Colorado hillside inspire music.

Winter Melody

I pass by this grove of aspen trees several times each day. When I look at them from this angle, directly across Washington Gulch and from slightly above the trees, they remind me of a musical score. I am very happy that Gunnison County road and bridge department has created a pull-out right where I need it. Most winters I still have to climb the snow banks to get a good point of view.

I set out to capture "Winter Melody" many years ago. I have photographed this stand of aspens in every season and in every type of weather. I have several versions that I like. They are all in a panorama format because to include more image below the trees would introduce a lot of boring sagebrush or white hillside. Above the trees, you begin to see the Pitchfork housing development which completely kills the mood of the image. 

The winter version above captures the essence of the musical score much better than any other season. The delicate branches and trunks help reinforce the idea of music. This took me several "mistakes" before I realized that the trees had to have just the right amount of snow hanging on the branches. Less snow made the scene too contrasty and a little too stark. The dusting of snow really enhances the delicacy and softness of the scene.

To capture the dusting of snow required several trips after snowstorms with poor results. Either the snow had blown out of the branches or the sun had hit the grove melting the fresh snow. Slowly, but surely, I was putting the image together in my mind by making lots of weak photos that did not tell the story the way I envisioned.

On January 12, 2009, everything finally came together. I got the photograph that I had been trying to capture for nearly 20 years. There was enough snow to cover the sage and the hillside. There was the perfect amount of fresh snow hanging in the branches. The sky was overcast and the sun had not risen so there were no ugly shadows to distract from the musical arrangement of my favorite aspen stand.

I have printed this image in color and monochrome. The black and white version seems to state the idea a little better but there really is little difference since there is very little color in an aspen tree. I have presented this image as a gallery-wrapped canvas print and also as matted and framed prints. I love the canvas version but it requires a wall with color. It looks awful on a white or off-white wall. The matted and framed versions are a lot less picky since the frame and mat provide a buffer for the nearly-white image.  Check out a framed version of "Winter Melody" here.

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Crested Butte, Colorado photographer, Dusty Demerson creates fine art photography displayed as prints and canvases and provides private photo tours in and around western Colorado.

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