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Bent Jeffrey and Alpenglow, Mokelumne Wilderness

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 5 June 2010 in Landscape & Rural.

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I've always been drawn to the harshness of nature. Tell-tale signs such as this wind-bent Jeffrey pine atop a ridge near the summit of Carson Pass in the high-Sierra reveals the severity of winter winds. This particular pine had caught my eye and as sunset neared, I played with many compositions but I had felt something was missing to make the image complete.

That "something" finally arrived in the form of alpenglow as the last light of the setting sun bathed the Elephants Back (elevation 9,585 feet) with its lovely warm light. I simply placed the two elements (the pine and the peak) side-by-side and had my image. A twilight wedge was beginning to form and can be seen quite prominently in the bottom left of the frame. I opted to use my 70-200 mmL lens to aid in compressing the scene.

On the technical side, this is a single exposure with just a bit of fill light added in Adobe Camera Raw to allow for some detail in the lichen-covered foreground boulder and the pine. The new Camera Raw (v. 6.1.0) is indeed an upgrade from previous versions and Fill Light (along with Recovery, Noise Reduction and Sharpening) has been improved tremendously. I can now confidently lighten my underexposed shadows without the fear of solarization and ugly luminance noise (to a point).

This area is part of the Mokelumne Wilderness and fortunately Highway 88 allows close access to many of these incredible locations. Fourteen inches of fresh snow had fallen overnight allowing for the fresh appearance of the peak, but unfortunately most of the exposed areas where these trees were growing revealed no signs of this new coating as the high angle of the sun melted the new dusting.

In another month or so, this area will be alive with summer wildflowers!

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 3/5 seconds F/16.0 ISO 100 73 mm

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