Moonset Over the Eastern Sierra

A waning gibbous moon sets over the snow-capped Eastern Sierra mountains shaded a glorious blue in pre-dawn light.
A waning gibbous moon sets over the Eastern Sierra and the Alabama Hills

After several days of storms and dreary cloudy skies, the morning of March 22nd dawned clear and crisp in the Alabama Hills region near Lone Pine, California. When I was planning this years’ trip out west, an image of the moonset over a snow-packed Eastern Sierra was a primary target. I knew I needed a morning where the moon was just past full (in the early waning gibbous stage) because a full moon would set behind the mountains too early for the pre-dawn light to set the mountains aglow.

I figured my first opportunity in March would be on the 21st, but that morning was completely clouded out. Luck was with me the next morning, however, and I got exactly what I had been envisioning during the months of planning I put into this trip.

I also shot a version of the image just as the rising sun was setting the peaks aglow:

The rising sun to the east casts the peaks of the Eastern Sierra mountains in a fiery orange glow below a setting waning gibbous moon.
The peaks of the Eastern Sierra are set aglow by the rising sun.

Both of these images are multi-row panoramas shot with the Fuji GFX 50s medium-format digital camera and the Fuji GF 250mm f/4 lens. The images are composed of 3 rows of 14 images each. The earlier image was shot with exposures of 5 seconds at f/8 and ISO 200, while the latter image was shot with exposures of 1/10th of a second at f/8, ISO 100.

I have created a YouTube video illustrating the assembly and post-processing of the images: https://youtu.be/S-dPrN8P9z0

I did not record any video of myself while I was actually shooting the images as I was set up near an occupied campsite and didn’t want to startle whoever was there with the noises of a crazy man talking to himself in the pre-dawn darkness. If you happened to be camping on the morning of March 22nd in the elevated campsite near the northern end of the Alabama Hills where Movie Road turns to the north toward Moffat Ranch Road, you’re welcome.

The final size of each of these images is an impressive 835 megapixels, capable of producing images well over 20 feet in length with no resolution scaling at all. Here are a sampling of 100% crops from the top image:

A 100% crop showing the amazing amount of detail present in these images.
The Peak of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States

A 100% crop showing the amazing amount of detail present in these images.
Cyclops Arch in the Alabama Hills

A 100% crop showing the amazing amount of detail present in these images.
The moon captured setting over the Eastern Sierra

A 100% crop showing the amazing amount of detail present in these images.
The trail of an animal left in the snow low in the Eastern Sierra

If you are interested in buying a print of one of these images (or any image you see on my website), please feel free to contact me using the Contact Link in the menu to the left.

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