A Chainsaw and a Ladder

marie-lakes-waterfall-ansel-adams-wilderness

Taken near the Marie Lakes, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Eastern Sierra, on July 3rd, 2013

There are a few pieces of photography equipment I consider indispensable when I’m in the backcountry: a camera and tripod of course, and a few filters and accessories. Who would’ve ever thought I’d wish for a chainsaw or a ladder to be part of my kit? While backpacking in the Sierra high country I found myself in the Marie Lakes Basin as a stunning sunset erupted over Mt. Lyell. I had scouted this cascade earlier in the day and thought it would make an excellent foreground element for a photo. When time came to shoot I found my compositions limited by the rock I was standing on (another six inches to the right and I’d have fallen into a crystal clear pool of Sierra snowmelt), and thus I was forced to include some bushy trees, thrusting their way up between myself and the horizon. Now I would never ever go so far as to actually saw a tree down to improve a photo, but in my imagination that night the wood chips were flying as I clear cut those conifers to give me an unobstructed view of Mt. Lyell, Yosemite, and the sunset to the west.

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5 replies
  1. Ken Jones
    Ken Jones says:

    I’m just an amateur with little training, so take this for what it is worth. I totally disagree with you about those trees. If you mentally picture the shot without those trees in the center, you see a strip of grey mountains with a bright light on top. The stream becomes a leading line into the grey mountains. Good but not fantastic. With the trees, they break up the grey line and diffuse the light. The action packed, softly lit stream flowing from beneath the trees becomes the subject and the photograph goes from good to fantastic.

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