Landscape Photographers-Sleepless in the Saddle


Bristlecone Pine Sunrise

My mind can’t fathom the age of these trees. Some of them, they say, were alive when the Pharaohs ruled Ancient Egypt and during the times of Buddha and Jesus too.

For 5,000 years and all that came before is now dead. The Bristlecones, alone, live and have witnessed it all.

They are tenacious too. Surviving nearly 5,000 years living above 10,000 feet on steep rocky slopes and constantly windblown into magnificent ancient works of natural art.

It’s so great for me to be out and able to capture images like this to share and to enjoy myself. Although… I must tell you, landscape photographers lose a lot of sleep to be in spots like this at the right time for the possibility of capturing something remarkable.  May I whine for a second…?

The Hard Life of a Landscape Photographer

Our working hours are an hour before sunrise and sunset to an hour after, and very late at night for astrophotography. It’s conceivable that a sunrise shoot could suffer from lack of sleep particularly if astrophotography is involved the night before.

This night I was up shooting the milky way here in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest until about 1 AM. Even though I was good for more, I wanted to be half fresh for sunrise so bagged it and hopped into the back of the Jeep for 4 hours sleep.

The annoying alarm on my iphone wakes me with the slightest tinge of grey in the sky. I’m immediately up and out into the trees with tripod and camera to find shots like this one.

This HDR Photo

It took five exposures, 2 stops apart to get the full dynamic range of this scene (-4, -2, 0, +2, +4). these were merged in Lightroom using the Photomatix merge-to-32-bit plugin.

This was a tricky one to process and I had to start over twice because the haloing around the branches in the sky got to be unacceptable. What happens is that I get too aggressive with contrast, clarity and/or fiddling with colors, hues and gradients more than I should.  Everyday something new is learned through the mistakes I make.  C’est la vie.

Showing 2 comments
  • Fotoziemka

    Great HDR. Most photographers use it in a wrong way and the photo starts to look artificial. But here it’s done well.

    • Captain Photo

      Thank you for noticing! For my HDR I use the more realistic method of 32-bit processing instead of tonemapping. I found it so difficult to control tonemapping and the crazy images it produces when not handled right.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Contact Captain Photo

Want to get in touch? I love hearing from my readers.. Cheers!

Footbridge over the highway into Lady Bird Johnson Grove