This tree is hiding in plain sight.
It stands just off the side of the road on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, and I passed by it several times a week, dozens of times in all, over the course of several weeks last summer.
I should probably explain, and remind you that this is part 2 of the story behind my image “Diptych, Touch the Earth, Touch the Sky,” currently appearing on my Home Page.
Over this past summer, I decided that I needed regular field practice for my camera technique, more than just the occasional weekend or evening that I had been getting out with my camera. As it happens, I live fairly close to Rocky Mountain National Park. During the summer, the days are long enough that it is possible for me to drive up to the park after work and have one to two hours of daylight – indeed, prime golden hour sunset sidelight – to shoot. From my front door, I can be at the top of Trail Ridge Road – around 12,000 feet – in about 45 minutes on a good day. And so for several weeks during the longest days of the summer, I would spend two, three, or four days a week in the park.
On the way up Trail Ridge Road, there is a stretch of a mile or two at the treeline where there are these fantastic, gnarled, windswept trees set against backdrops of hard, solid rock or perched on top of sky-hugging ridge lines. They have white, bleached trunks and, when the light bounces around just right up there, take on their own glow as the sun lights them up on its way down. They are fantastic.
But here’s the thing.
Despite the fact that Trail Ridge Road is highly traveled by volumes of camera-toting tourists in the summer, I hardly ever saw anyone stopping to photograph them. Maybe they were too excited to move on and get to the wide open tundras and spectacular mountain views up the road. Or maybe they just didn’t see them the way I did. The few times I did see other people stop to photograph these trees, I think it was because they saw me photographing them first and then wanted to photograph what I was photographing.
As I said, this particular tree was hiding in plain sight, probably not more than twenty yards from the side of the road. Passed by hundreds or more people every day during the high season in the park. And hardly noticed by most of them. But I noticed it. If you’re a photographer, or even if you’re not, take the time to notice your surroundings, and don’t be afraid to follow and explore whatever catches your eye.
And of course, this image became the second panel of my eventual diptych. Next time, Part 3 of the story behind my image “Diptych, Touch the Earth, Touch the Sky.”