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Tree and Clouds, Sierra foothills near Folsom

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 13 January 2010 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

More vicarious living through photography....

Here in Sacramento we're in the midst of our January gloom, day after day of flat gray skies interrupted only briefly by periods of drizzly rain. Sigh. This is actually pretty nice weather for photography, but the tedium does take its toll after a while. So I rejuvenate with images of spring--first poppies, and today this picturesque foothill scene.

I live in the flatlands near the convergence of the Sacramento and American Rivers but have many non-photographic reasons to be in Folsom and El Dorado Hills, just east of town. Camera or not, on these trips I usually forego the freeway in favor country roads that dip and twist over and around the nascent bulges of the Sierra foothills. The extra five or so minutes my detour adds is more than compensated by the peace it fosters.

On these drives I'm always on the lookout for photo opportunities, sometimes consciously, but most often I'm not aware that my photo radar is up until something snaps me from my reverie. That's how this tree first made its way into my conscious world. I love distinctive subjects that stand out against their surroundings and knew at some point I'd make a photo here.

On this spring afternoon the mission was solely photography as my camera and I meandered the hills searching for opportunities. Gravitating inevitably in the direction of this tree I was immediately struck by the motion of the cumulus clouds, which sent patches of sun and shade scurrying randomly across the green hills.

In the back of my mind I'd visualized capturing the hill illuminated with the rest of the scene in shadow, but instead was delivered an inverted version of that vision. So I guess the lesson here is to keep your mind open because Mother Nature rarely delivers exactly what we order, but she always delivers something, leaving it up to us to find it.

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Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.

Didier DE ZAN from somewhere, France

WOnderful landscape and coposition beautiful colors

13 Jan 2010 5:43am

Dulcie from Danville, CA, United States

Very simple fresh light-giving and beautiful.

13 Jan 2010 7:58am

SunFe from W., Poland


13 Jan 2010 9:02am

Tamara from Aarschot, Belgium

Makes me think of a well-known Windows Vista theme ! Very well done :)

13 Jan 2010 9:38am

@Tamara: Thanks, Tamara. I hear that a lot about this image. :)

Vitor Martins from Lisboa, Portugal

Simple and amaizing. Great composition and light.

13 Jan 2010 12:13pm

Elora from Genoa, Italy

Looking at this photo really boosted my mood. Thanks for putting some sunlight in my very grey day!

13 Jan 2010 1:48pm

KriKridesign from Cully, Switzerland

Do you know the "teletubbies"?
look like a teletubs landscape...Something surrealist in your image...Love it!

13 Jan 2010 2:12pm

Shahryar from Isfahan, Iran

great capture ,beautiful landscape :)

13 Jan 2010 3:05pm

Self-Indulgence from Chicagoland, United States

The cloud making the shadow on that hill is just wonderful with all the sunshine around it. I love driving through clouds, seeing them move, passing through the shadows into the light and looking up to see which fluffy cotton ball is responsible! Nice.

13 Jan 2010 3:38pm

Fred from Manila, Philippines

Windows should buy this from you! This is wallpaper material if you ask me. I love the clarity and the realistic hue of the colors!

13 Jan 2010 4:25pm

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Very much like a gorgeous painting.

13 Jan 2010 5:13pm

Michelle from Elverson, United States

Beauty at its finest.

13 Jan 2010 8:10pm

Giovanni from Milan, Italy

Gorgeous view and lovely composition!!

13 Jan 2010 8:15pm

✿ Anina ✿ from Auckland, New Zealand

WOW! This is beautiful! The one hill is totally covered in the shadow of the clouds - amazing!

13 Jan 2010 8:33pm

Judy from Brooksville, Florida, United States

This reminds me of our son-in-law's Single Tree acreage northeast of Dallas ... a gorgeous, simple capture; another 'less is more' type image.

13 Jan 2010 9:34pm

Lambspun from Madison, Maine, United States

When we took our daughter to college in California we came across many of these same types of shots.....clouds casting shadows in weird places in the distance....changing the colors of the fields around us. We captured like this some amazing shots. This one is exceptional with the lone tree :)

14 Jan 2010 1:01am

@Lambspun: Thanks, Lambspun. It's overshadowed by the more spectacular scenery, but California has lots of subtle beauty too.

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

wow! what a lovely and free flowing landscape - so smooth and near perfect! the lone tree is a perfect hook for the eyes to get into the shot and the colours are brilliant!

14 Jan 2010 1:41am

Don Smith from California, United States

This image reminds me of a line I read in a Galen Rowell book where a sherpa says, "some people come and look, so few really see." How many would drive right past this scene? This is really a beautiful image - congrats!

14 Jan 2010 3:52am

@Don Smith: Thanks, Don.

Kraig from Cincinnati, United States

I really enjoyed the overbalance of sky versus ground in this photo. I think it sets off the "distinctiveness" of the sole tree even more. Beautiful.

14 Jan 2010 4:33am

@Kraig: Thanks, Kraig. Interesting observation on the balance of the frame. Many people struggle with where to put the horizon line--I simple decide which is more interesting, the foreground or the sky, and emphasize whichever one wins. The more I like one or the other, the more I exaggerate it. Of course it's the foreground hills and trees that make this image, but the sky makes it unique and gives it a sense of openness.

B. Thomas from Arlington, Texas, United States

Looks like the wallpaper on the computers at our high schools - Windows. (Everyone has their own wonderful photos on the MAC's.)

14 Jan 2010 6:00am

Julie from Easton, United States

Almost looks like an artist painted this! Very nice!

14 Jan 2010 9:18am

Stefan from Thiersee, Austria

Great landscape, wonderful clouds, perfect composition!

14 Jan 2010 10:32am

Sean McCormack from Galway, Ireland

A simple, but beautiful photo Gary. I love when Mother Nature provides these. Simple colours, nice shapes and an uncluttered focal point. A lot of people think the decisive moment is for people, but often, like this, timing makes the shot.

15 Jan 2010 3:06am

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

This has such a wonderful illustrated look to it- almost like a painting! The light on the hills is amazing!

15 Jan 2010 4:06am

Bill Brown from California, United States

Magnificent capture, Gary! I can't wait for spring to get out in the foothills. I did get out this past Wednesday when the sun finally broke through.

16 Jan 2010 4:40am

Scott F. Schilling from San Martin, United States

Gary - this is fantastic composition work and you have captured the fantastic colors we have in spring/late winter with the green grass, wildflowers, and fantastic skies!! Awesome!

17 Jan 2010 4:03am

Meysam from Montreal, Canada

It looks like one of Microsoft Windows desktop photos!

17 Jan 2010 6:38pm