Lone Pine Peak is one of my favorite mountains in the Eastern Sierra. Its perfect triangular shape and numerous craggy ridges make it photogenic from virtually every angle. And while I have photographed the mountain dozens and dozens of times, it wasn’t until I moved to Lone Pine in May 2022 that I gained a deeper appreciation for the peak and its multifaceted character.
Seeing Lone Pine Peak from my backyard on a daily basis inspired me to create a series of portraits of this beautiful mountain showcasing its various moods. I knew that perhaps the most important shot in the series would be the one that captured the positive wash of emotions I feel whenever I look at the mountain: awe, happiness, lightness, and wonder.
I began to visualize an image that would convey these feelings. The shot would have to be taken at sunrise. There is a magic to this time of day when possibilities begin to become reality. It’s also when Lone Pine Peak’s striking east face is illuminated by the light of the rising sun, making it glow. The shot I envisioned would also need to be colorful (but not overly dramatic), and have an uplifting sense of light and air. In short, I would need to photograph the mountain during a moment of pure radiance.
With this vision in mind I set about photographing Lone Pine Peak as often as I could. And though I created some strong photographs, none quite worked for this vision. That is until January 2023 brought some of the best photography conditions I’ve ever seen to the Eastern Sierra. A series of winter storms kept the mountains coated with fresh snow, and dynamic weather patterns created spectacular light on a near daily basis. With these conditions I sensed an opportunity to create the photograph I was looking for.
On a brisk morning in the middle of the month I drove to one of my favorite vistas of Lone Pine Peak and set up my equipment. The day began crystal clear and 30 minutes before dawn the mountain was already awash in stunning rosy alpenglow. As sunrise approached, wisps of cloud appeared in the sky as though painted there by some delicate brush. There wasn’t a breath of wind, and I stood there in the silence waiting to see what would happen next.
The sun rose over the mountains to the east and cast a delicate pink light over the scene in front of me. The shadows in Lone Pine Peak’s valleys were reflecting the blues of the sky, creating a perfect color palette. I double checked my focus and exposure, then pressed the shutter button, finally capturing the image I had long hoped to get.