Wilderness 50

Sunset, Upper Red Pine Lake, Lone Peak Wilderness, Utah

I'm honored to be one of 50 photographers chosen to be part of the Wilderness 50 Exhibit which opened September 3rd at the Natural History Museum of Utah on the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. 50 photographs by 50 photographers were chosen from over fourteen hundred photographs submitted by four judges; Tom Till, James Kay, Stephen Trimble, and Rosalie Winard. The show is a commemoration of the signing of the Wilderness Act as well as a celebration of the beauty and diversity of Utah's wildlands, and runs thru December 14th in the Sky Gallery on the museum's top floor.

Pfeifferhorn Sunrise

Pfeifferhorn Sunrise, Lone Peak Wilderness, Utah

This image accompanied my third blog post ever, back on February 1st, 2009. It was also my second most visited post at the time I switched to the new website. Sadly I’ve lost the original text and the comments. The image is from July 2006. It’s another view from another summer, from the summit of the Pfeifferhorn, this time at sunrise.

The original text described the situation: I had come to the alpine ridge prepared to spend the night in hopes of taking advantage of two golden hour photo sessions. My intent was to spend the night on the unnamed peak just west of the Pfeifferhorn and photograph the imposing west face of the Pfeifferhorn at sunset. After about five hours of hiking with a full pack, I realized I hadn’t given myself enough time to reach that unnamed summit, and decided to stay put on top of the Pfeifferhorn to photograph the sunset.

A bit later I decided to stay put for the night.  Not a great place to camp, barely enough room for one body to lie flat without being jabbed by rocks, but I didn’t want to pick my way off the summit cone by headlamp, and I did want to be able to just roll out of my one-man shelter to photograph the sunrise. It was a lousy night sleep as the wind howled and I worried about the flashes of lightning I’d seen to the west, over the Oquirrhs, before turning in.

As it turned out, the night’s weather blew in a lot of clouds which made the sunrise much more colorful than the previous night’s sunset. I was glad I had made the effort to treat myself to two edge of day photo sessions, high in the Lone Peak Wilderness. My original post had a great closing line. I wish I could remember it, something about finding unique photographic perspectives on mountain summits. The effort always seems to be rewarded.

Lone Peak from the Pfeifferhorn

Lone Peak from the Pfeifferhorn, Lone Peak Wilderness, Utah

Fractured granite on the Pfeifferhorn summit frames the scene to the west, towards South Thunder Mountain and Lone Peak.  From this vantage point the Wasatch looks more like the Sierra Nevada, with the high headwall of Hogum Fork blocking any view of civilization a mere eight miles west. Beams of light through broken clouds add to the drama on a mid-August afternoon atop the third highest summit in Salt Lake County.

This image was originally captured on 35mm Fujichrome Velvia in 1998. Wow, I can’t believe it was that long ago!? I’ve always liked the content of this image, but the weak color of this color transparency kept me from doing anything with it, back in the day when I had cibachrome prints made from my slides at the lab, and I was still years away from publishing anything on the internet.

With the advent of the digital dark room I can give new life to images like this, images that have a certain something that keeps them out of the trash bin, but not enough interest to make it into a portfolio, often by conversion to black and white.  The lack of any bright colors and the high contrast light (tamed at capture with a Singh Ray grad ND filter) made black and white conversion the obvious choice.  After the initial black and white conversion I used Photoshop layer masks to lighten the foreground rock and darken the sky to give this image some oomph.