From photographer Winston “Rocky” Rockwell: We’ve had a pretty dark, dreary, wet winter thus far, and I confess it’s rather limited my photographic opportunities. But recently we got a break in the weather, a rare sunny weekend in January. Not one to pass up the opportunity, I grabbed my camera and headed for the hills… literally!
With the foothills of the Cascade Mountains almost in my back yard, it’s a pretty short trip, and 45 minutes from home, I found myself in 4-wheel drive making my way up a snowy forest service road above the Sauk River valley. It was truly a winter wonderland of snow-covered evergreens, punctuated by the stark, bare branches of alder and maple, beautifully illuminated by a brilliant winter sun.
As I rounded a corner, I noticed a thin spot in the trees, and through it, a view of a distant peak beckoned. I pulled over to the side of the road and stepped out into the powder snow. A few steps off the road brought me through the gap in the trees onto the edge of a high bluff overlooking the Sauk, and across the valley, the snow covered peak of Mt. Pugh. The valley was in shadow, and mountain was partly obscured by drifting clouds, the peak outlined in white against a bright blue sky. I set up my tripod, slipped on a graduated neutral density filter, and snapped some photos.
Every once in a while, when a particular image suggests it, I venture into the realm of Ansel Adams, the famous landscape photographer known the world over for his stunning black and white images of the great American west. I’m certainly nowhere near Adams’ league when it comes to this kind of thing, but his work does inspire me to at least try to emulate his style on occasion.
When I got home and looked at this image, something told me it would be a good candidate for black-and-white conversion. The original was pretty, and the blue sky was brilliant against the white of the snow, but the spirit of Mr. Adams moved me to process the image in the style of his alpine photos. And as pretty as the blue sky was, I find this version by far the more eloquent of the two, and I can understand the magic of Ansel’s work…
You can see more of my photographs at www.northwestnaturalimagery.com. Here are the camera and settings used to capture this image:
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 24-105mm
Focal length: 40mm
Shutter speed: 1/40 second
Filter: 3-stop graduated ND
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