Posted by: kerryl29 | July 18, 2022

The Story Behind the Image: Dance of the Aspens

There’s a road in Jasper National Park–the Celestine Lake Road–that is only open to vehicles seasonally. It’s a one-lane dirt road that is open to alternating traffic and crosses several streams of varying depth…if it sounds like a bit of a challenge…yeah, it pretty much is. The road is accessed off the main highway via the Snaring Road, which crosses the Snaring River (via a bridge!), only a half-mile or so off the main road.

I poked around the Snaring River area both times I visited Jasper, in 2014 and 2015. I think I saw a total of two other people during the time I spent at this location, as the spot isn’t particularly well-known. This “desertion factor” allowed me to take my time when looking for compositions, and that was helpful, because teasing out the images proved difficult.

There are several distinct aspen groves in this area and I explored, and photographed, all of them. But one in particular vexed me. It was a fairly dispersed grouping, of about 15 trunks, and set in a meadow, as opposed to a dense forest. The trees were fronted by grasses and low shrubs, which had already turned color–as had the aspens themselves.

It was mid-morning on a partly sunny day–not a time that I would usually seek to photograph, but the sun had been playing peek-a-boo with the clouds, and that had allowed me the opportunity to photograph some of the more intimate spots I’d discovered at this location, including the image you see immediately below.

Aspen Forest, Celestine Lake Road, Jasper National Park, Alberta

This image, of one of the dense aspen groves along Celestine Lake Road, was made when the sun was behind a cloud. I’d actually fine-tuned the composition while the sun was still out, locked the camera down on the tripod, and waited for a cloud to drift into the path of the sun. But this was all after I’d already taken a look at the previously mentioned more disparate group of aspens. In fact, at one point while I was waiting for that cloud, I walked a few hundred feet back up the road to take another look at the first grouping, before trotting back to the tripod when a cloud moved into place.

After making the image above, I returned, with all of my gear, to the first aspen grouping. I literally walked all the way around the entire assemblage, several times, with camera in hand. Something about this setting was producing a feeling inside me that I couldn’t quite identify, but finally, as I was staring at the scene from a particular spot, it hit me: it felt as though the aspens were dancing. The shape and placement of the trunks…the bright colors, heightened, somewhat ironically, when the sun popped out from behind the clouds. The effect was enhanced on the rare occasion when the breeze picked up and the aspen leaves fluttered while the trunks swayed, ever so slightly.

Once the theme was established in my mind, I knew what I needed to emphasize and went about finding the spot most conducive to doing so. When I felt that I’d found it, after some additional time spent looking, I set up and produced the image you see below:

Dance of the Aspens, Celestine Lake Road, Jasper National Park, Alberta

For a look at a larger version of this image, click here. Upon arrival, click anywhere on the image to display the image with its proper dimensions.


  1. I think this is one of your best, Kerry.

  2. I like the intensity of the colour and the idea of the dance. Very timely, Kerry, I am going to Jasper in 2 days. Stoked! No car, so taking tours to get around.

    • Thanks, Jane. Have a great time at Jasper!

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