Leaving Lembert Dome, Dusk. Yosemite National Park, California. July 30, 2007. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Hiker leaving the summit of Lembert Dome at dusk. Tuolumne Meadows, with the Sierra crest in the background. Yosemite National Park, California.
I shot this last summer on an evening when I had just finished photographing the Sierra sunset from the top of Lembert Dome in the Tuolumne Meadows area. The “good light” had seemingly ended and I had packed up my camera, lenses, and tripod and was heading down from the peak when there was a wonderful bit of post-sunset warm, soft light… just at the moment when this lone hiker crossed this section of the granite come below me. Not having time to set up my tripod and other gear properly, I simply grabbed three frames at very low shutter speeds, and I was very pleased when I found that one of them actually turned out beautifully. In this case, I was shooting hand held at such low shutter speeds that I had to rely on the image-stabilization feature of the lens I had on my camera at that moment.
(Update#2: Since I posted this color version I was contacted about licensing the use of a black and white version of the photograph in a print journal. There are, I think, a few lessons in this shot and this experience.
- First, not all landscape photography is done at a sedate and leisurely pace, pondering for many minutes the intricacies of composition and so forth. Sometimes things happen so quickly that you must depend upon instincts and react quickly to a situation that only lasts a moment. In this case I could not possibly have anticipated the light or the appearance of the lone hiker – when I saw this conjunction of subjects I had no time to set up a tripod.
- Second, sometimes traditional landscape approaches (tripod, small aperture, etc.) won’t get the shot and the adaptability of your gear may save the day… or evening. I pulled out my camera and handheld the shot using the lens that was already on the camera with image stabilization and a rather low shutter speed.
- Third, it probably isn’t news to any one, but sometimes an image that you conceive as color may turn out to work well in black and white, and vice versa. Be flexible.
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