Barely There

mt-whitney-moon-alabama-hills

Behind the Scenes of this Photo

Taken from somewhere in the Alabama Hills, Eastern Sierra, California on February 17th, 2018.

On a clear weekend in mid February a friend and I camped in a place that is endlessly fascinating, the Alabama Hills. Aside from being one of the oldest and most interesting rock formations in the US, the ‘bama Hills serve as an excellent vantage point to gaze at California’s high peaks. Williamson, Russell, Langley, Le Conte, Lone Pine Peak: these mountains dominate the skyline for dozens of miles in any direction. And of course, you have the tallest of them all, Mt. Whitney. Although Whitney is tucked back in, nestled in its mountain throne, and doesn’t look quite as imposing as the more easterly summits, one only has to zoom in with a telephoto lens to see the magnificence of the peak, along with its two attendant needles.

On this trip I wasn’t really planning to do any serious photography, but after checking with my favorite app, PhotoPills I saw that a tiny crescent moon (4.3% full) would be setting over Mt. Whitney, as seen from one of the dirt roads in the area on February 17th. I thought it would be cool to shoot an extreme telephoto image of the crescent as it sank behind the mountains, and positioned myself to do just that.

But after the sun went down and the sky began to darken the moon’s disc became easily visible. What a gorgeous sight that was: the tiny sliver of sunlit moon blazing like a beacon in the sky, then the paler, more subtle disc making itself visible like a visual aftertaste. Knowing the sky would be pitch black by the time the moon actually sank behind the mountains (meaning I’d lose the silhouette of Whitney), I lined up this wider shot, capturing the crescent moon, the full moon disc, the inky blue sky, the silhouette of the mountains, and even a few of the brightest stars. This is a single shot, no compositing, taken with a Nikon D850 and 200-500mm lens at:

ISO400
f/5.6
2 sec
320 mm

See more beautiful Sierra Nevada photos here.

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