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Winter Harbinger

Winter Harbinger
Photo Information
Copyright: Evelynn Smith (Evelynn) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2025 W: 741 N: 3285] (14454)
Genre: Landscapes
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-10-08
Categories: Sky
Camera: Canon 400D Digital Rebel XTi, Canon 17-85 IS, @ ISO 200
Exposure: f/8, 1/500 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Autumn At Trek Nature [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-10-18 16:02
Viewed: 4562
Points: 60
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I loved the cloud patterns this particulr morning and took lots of photos. However they were a harbinger of a very large winter storm that hit the following day burying everything and reducing visibility to zero.


The Plains cottonwood (Populus deltoids occidentalis) is the great tree of the American prairies. No other tree approaches its stature on the grasslands that sweep five hundred miles from the ninety-eighth meridian to the foot of the Rockies.

The Plains cottonwood is also the largest broadleaf tree of Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming. This tree grows from the eastern plains to 6500 feet in elevation, and possibly higher in canyons of the eastern slope of Colorado. Fairly young trees have a straight columnar trunk with a rounded crown; old trees are massive with heavy, wide-spreading branches. It can occasionally reach 6 feet in trunk diameter. The largest recorded Plains cottonwood grows a few miles north of Boulder, Colorado.

The cottonwood is short-lived; few exceed one hundred years by much. After a century or so limbs begin to die naturally. The thick bark sheds off over a period of a few years, leaving bare white limbs, the massive skeleton of the tree. The wood is fairly soft and weak. Sometimes the core of the tree completely rots away before the living tissue under the bark is destroyed, especially if the tree is damaged by fire or loss of a limb. Wind or decay will eventually bring the limbs, and sometimes the entire tree, to the ground. High winds blowing out of the mountains sometimes blow over live trees as well as dead ones, the weak shallow roots snapping off. When an entire tree is blown over the wreck is mighty indeed since the limbs shatter, scattering wood fragments of every size in all directions. Old-time westerners know not to hold a picnic under a cottonwood with dead limbs, wind or no wind.

Occasionally cottonwood trees can reach an age well over one hundred years. Paul Cutright, when preparing his book Lewis and Clark: Pioneering Naturalists , found two large and very old cottonwoods in an otherwise treeless location in Montana where Captain Clark had camped by two cottonwood trees. If they were the same trees, they were over 170 years old.

From early June to mid-July female trees release clouds of cottony or silky white fibers that carry the tiny brown seeds from small green capsules in clusters hanging from the twigs. Some years produce much heavier crops of this "cotton."

Though the wood of this tree is moderately weak, it was the only wood available to early settlers on the plains and was sometimes pressed into use as timber. The vegas -- horizontal roof beams -- of the adobe dwellings characteristic of the southwest are sometimes made of cottonwood. Fine examples are the vegas of the reconstructed Bent's Fort near La Junta on the Arkansas River. Cottonwood is easy to carve and cottonwood root is the traditional material for the Kachina dolls of the Hopi of northern New Mexico, while drums are made of hollow logs. Cottonwood provides food for beavers (both bark and leaves) and stems for beaver dams and lodges. Deer and elk browse the twigs.


rcrick, lovenature, vanderschelden, eqshannon, Adanac, robindb, Alex99, uleko, nikosrio, cataclysta, jconceicao, horia, ellis49, matatur, albert, crs, oanaotilia, tomszat, tuslaw has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To SunToucher: Thanks for the CritiqueEvelynn 1 10-20 13:08
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Evelynn,

Wow this is just stunning, what an amazing view. The depth of field is just fantastic, the colour of the tree is really beautiful, superb view and so well captured, simply excellent congratulations, t.f.s

Kind Regards Rick :)

Hi Evelynn
This is really a nice composition. I love all the colours and especially the cloud. I like the way the cloud opens up the sky and shows off the colourful tree. The tree is a real beauty, so tall and stately.
TFS Janice

Hello Evelynn,
In hoc signo vinces
Beautiful tree, this Plains cottonwood especially in these autumn colours. It would nice if you could share it in his normal dress as well. Take care, this is no expectation:-)
I do love these 'small' mountains in the background as well.
Finally very good light!

Super Ev! Our colours here are mostly yellow this year with only a touch in between...beauty..it is my fav season with exception of following...

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2008-10-18 19:09]

Hello Evelynn,
They are one tough tree, and this is a wonderful autumnal image, your the MAN, whoops WOMAN.

Hi Evelynn,

Each element of this picture is perfect from the cottonwood with its lovely colour to the clouds, the foreground and the mountains far off. Strong composition with good DOF. A picnic under that tree would be tempting.


  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-10-18 22:54]

Hi Evelynn.
Amazing in every respect shot. You have selected a moment (state of weather, state of nature) as well as the POV brilliantly. All is amazing: cloudy sky (it is fantastic), remote mountains (their image is crisp and sharp), impressive tree and superb rich colours of the leaves and grass. Bravo. Excellent job.

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-10-18 23:29]

Hello Evelynn,
The thoughts of a snowstorm makes me shiver, whilst the bright autumn colours in your image look lovely, sunny and warm!I often long for the warm tropics but I'm sure I'd miss our seasonal variations a lot! This is a beautiful composition and I like the interesting cloud formations. Lovely light and colours too.
TFS and best wishes, Ulla

Hello Evelyn.
Wonderful sharp detail with exellent focus.
The colours are rich and well saturated.The sky is great.
Excellent work.

Hi Evelynn, superb autumnal composition with fantastic golden tree and great sky, wonerful mountaion landscape in BG, splendid colors, very well done, BRAVA! have a good Sunday, ciao Silvio

Hi Evelynn
Fantastic sky and great autumn scenery. Beautiful colors, perfect compoosition with a tree and cloud on the left side. Also good exposure
I like it very much

Hello Evelynn,

Fantastic picture.
Excellent definition with good detail.
Colours and composition are superb.

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2008-10-19 1:54]

Hi Evelynn

Another splendid fall photo from you and a gorgeous shot of the scenery there.
Indeed the clouds here are really great and the lines they create add a lot to your composition. Further more, aside the beautiful tree of course, i really love the mountains in the back - both the ones completely covered with trees and the farthest ones with snow.
Overall, a superb presentation and post.

Bravo and TFS

Hi Evelynn,
this could be a wall hanger, it's very beautiful.
The colours are amazing, specially the three who is glowing.
The sky with the pattern are also something extra.
And I like the deep in your well composed picture.
Great work.

Such a beautiful autumn naturescape in not so usual but highly pleasant square format Evelynn, good exposure indeed my friend, TFS and cheers,

Hello Evelynn,
An other great autumn photo,with beautiful colours and a very nice clouds formation
Well done and kind regards

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-10-19 3:53]

Hello Evelynn,
Everything in this photo is in the right place: tree, mountains, clouds: a perfect POV and composition. Together with the excellent DOF this is a fantastic photo in very beautiful colours.

Hi Evelynn,
The texture and patterns of the sky are wonderful! This lonely yellow tree makes a fine composition with beautiful mountains in background. Lightning, exposure and colors are wonderful! Thanks,

  • Great 
  • crs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 469 W: 0 N: 922] (3551)
  • [2008-10-19 12:40]

Hello Evelynn,

There are fantastic colors in this landscape. The yellow orange tree atract viewers attention from the first instant. The well rendered sky and the clouds give a fine depth to the image.

Thank you for sharing,

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2008-10-19 23:00]

i saw those clouds on the thumbnail, and I just had to look.
I was not surprised to see your name on this beautiful scene.
I don't think I have ever seen clouds like that.
Quite amazing!
I like the way they dwarf everything below.
That beautiful cottonwood provides a good anchor for this scene.
TFS. : )

  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-10-20 10:50]

Hello Evelynn! Fantastic landscape shot very well composed! The sharp details and the perfect exposure make it a real winner. Well done!


Hi Evelynn,
(taking of my glasses and moving my eyes away from the screen and closer to my keyboard)
As a sucker for impressive skies and single trees this photo ticked all my boxes. And, with such a stunning back drop of the Tetons who cannot love the this view and your photo. I just have to say that I like everything about this photo.

P.S. (Glasses back on my nose) there is some noise visible in the sky.

Hi Evelynn,
This is stunning, like SunToucher I love every aspect of it, even with a bit of grain in this gorgeous sky. Superb colours, composition, details and really amazing landscape, Many thanks for sharing this excellent shot!!
best wishes,

  • Great 
  • hibou Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 217 W: 1 N: 331] (1629)
  • [2008-10-20 16:08]

Hello Evelynn,
What a great shot...only one word can discribes our picture ... PERFECT... TFS

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  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2008-10-20 18:18]

Hello Evelynn,
What a spectacular tree surrounded by such a beautiful and diverse landscape. You really know how to fill every inch of your photo with interesting aspects when composing a shot.
The colors are are amazing and the lighting is perfect. Your notes on the cottonwood tree were fascinating. We have cottonwood trees around here, I wonder if they are similar to this one?
This time of the year I'm particular busy with church and school activities so I'm struggling to keep abreast on my critiquing and posting. TFS.

  • Great 
  • Selmik (67)
  • [2008-10-20 19:59]

Hi Evelynn,
stunning! Perfect combination of the fall colored tree with white-blue sky as a background.
Many thanks for sharing this beauty!

Hi Evelynn

I think this type of picture has become very much you or as Niek stated to me - your signature - it is very definitely your signature picture. I don't have to look at the name to know it is instantly you.

fantastic colours, great composition, though I would have preferred the tree closer to the left third - but that is me - wonderful light, and even has some mountain in it as well... just great.


Cloud formation is a wonderment that first catches my eye in this beautiful capture, it leads the eye right into the rest of this gorgeous scenery that the Tetons as to offer. Gorgeous-gorgeous-gorgeous! Very nicely done.
Paul :)

  • Great 
  • GaryT Gold Star Critiquer [C: 102 W: 7 N: 236] (160)
  • [2008-10-30 13:52]

I like this one very much. Lighting range is remarkable. Gary

another striking pic, TFS Ori

Hi Evelynn,
Only with a glorious sky like this can one devote so much of the frame to it..
And get away with it. Love this comp, it works so well here.
The color and light is excellent, and the shadows cast add a good sense of depth.

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