Sunrise over the grand sierra, Inyo County, California
This is one of my two favorites from 2019’s work. Whitney is at the right, summit in the cloud. After many years of visits, I finally figured out where I needed to stand and how to go about making the best of the winter sunrises which are so good here. There’s a lot of orchestration involved. Like many of my others, it’s a stitch, requiring many seconds to complete the one row of exposures. The sequence before this one had too little light on Lone Pine Peak's great ridges, and the sequence after it had too much — meaning the window of light on the mountains was at most 40 seconds long. But the light in the foreground was entirely separate and coming and going with the movement of smaller clumps of cloud obscuring the sun in varying degrees. So the combination of the right foreground light and the right background light was about 20 seconds long, barely enough time to expose the sequence. But then you have to have a full sky, with shapes that complement the shapes of the land and also fill the frame with a perfect balance. After a lot of pushing and pulling on the tonality, all the pieces have fallen into a harmonious balance with a lot of different shapes and yet a strong overall design. The color adjustments and tonality adjustments required for this sort of thing are generally quite extensive. I find it to be very reminiscent of the Thomas Moran paintings of the American West, of which I am very fond. I took the liberty of removing the few man-made scars, to let this great “Earth gesture”, as Ansel called it, be itself, unmolested.