Stephen Girimont

Stephen Girimont

Owner, The Intimate Landscape, Fine Art Prints

Mount Tom Sunrise

"...I needed a location I knew well enough to be able to arrive before sunrise and get set up in the dark..."

On my most recent trip out west, I had not originally planned to revisit Mount Tom as I already had a pretty decent image of the mountain at sunrise. However, I arrived in Bishop, California a bit later than I had intended (about 9:00 PM) and didn’t have sunlight left with which to scout prospective locations for the next morning’s sunrise. So, I needed a location I knew well enough to be able to arrive before sunrise and get set up in the dark. Based on the various sunrise-quality prediction apps I use, the best bet was for a location that looked southwest-ish and Mount Tom, from near Highway 395, fit the bill.

"Mount Tom Sunrise" - Sunrise strikes the peak of Mount Tom in the Eastern Sierras.

What I didn’t plan for was a vehicle parked on the side of the highway in such a way as to block access to a dirt road that would lead to where I wanted to be to take my shot. I have no idea if it was just bad luck that someone broke down at that particular spot, but I think it more likely that someone was intentionally blocking the access to the road to prevent people from possibly getting stuck in the winter snow that was still around at that altitude (just above 7000 feet).

In a bit of a panic due to the approaching sunrise, I was resigned to having to park in a popular overlook at the side of the highway and figure out a composition from near that location in the minutes I had before the sunrise would light up the clouds and the top of Mount Tom.

I just made it. I had just enough time to set up my tripod and my pano head and work out how many rows and images per row I would need to capture the composition I saw before me when the clouds started to catch fire and I could make out the sunrise starting to move down the peak of the mountain.

The final image presented here is a 2-row, 8-images-per-row panorama, combined with a 2-image focus stack at each position to capture the full depth-of-field while using an aperture of f/8 for maximum sharpness. So, in total, 32 frames went into the making of this image. The camera used was the Fujifilm GFX 50s with the Fuji 63mm f/2.8 lens at the afore-mentioned f/8. Each exposure was 1/4 of a second, which exposed the sky quite nicely, and underexposed the foreground by about two stops, which I knew from experience would be easily recoverable in post processing.

The final image comes in at just over 111 megapixels and I love scrolling through all the detail in the foreground rocks and trees and moving on to the details in the snow and rocks along the mountains in the background.

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