Wind River Mountains, Wyoming
(Click to view large)
Continuing on with images that may be included in my “best of” for 2015, is this image from deep in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. I chose to spend my final night of this backpacking trip at Vista Pass where there was a small lake and some nearby open spots in the forest. Despite the name, the view from camp or near the lake wasn’t as incredible as the name “Vista” suggests. I’d allowed some extra time that evening to photograph so I had to either eat dinner early or not eat until after dark. Dinner in the dark is fairly common when out shooting but this time I had time to eat before wandering the area above camp. The sky was grey and featureless so I wasn’t in too much of a rush to finish dinner. I noticed a small point behind camp that I thought would provide a more unobstructed view so once dinner was finished, I headed up the hill. Almost immediately, the sky began to break up enough for light to pierce through the clouds and on to the mountains. I don’t remember much of the next hour:)
Low angle light illuminated the peaks in front of me in various fashion over the next hour. Individual peaks became orange while others fell into a shadow, then other peaks lit up, then another variation. This transition of light to shadow played out before my eyes with increasing intensity and variations, and created a visual display that I couldn’t believe was happening. There were 2 other backpackers that came up to the same spot as the light show began and after a short conversation, I told them I couldn’t talk any more. I made some clicking noises with my camera and they sat in silence over the hour and we all just watched in awe.
This was definitely an experience I won’t forget but does this translate to a top image? I mentioned this in my previous post, how time allows one to separate a strong personal experience from an image. It would be easy for me to include this image as one of the year’s best based on experience but viewers of a photograph didn’t have the experience the photographer had. After some time has passed, memories fade but nothing in this image has changed. The same incredible display of light is shown, the same peaks, the same shadows are all as they were when I watched with my eyes. But what about this image can draw the viewer in? How can the viewer have an emotional connection to an image when they’ve never seen this in real life? Can I show this image to someone without explaining a single word? I ask myself these questions, and many more, to help choose an image I think represents my intentional expression.
There are several elements in this image that distinguish it from the many other photos I took that evening. Instead of talking about a more technical aspect of photography, I’ll just say there are variations to this scene that create an entirely different image. Maybe color would be a better choice because we see color with our eyes and not in grey tones. Maybe there are other variations of light that further illustrate the terrain, showing more depth. Maybe the image should have light on the peak instead of a peak being black. Again, more questions I ask myself when choosing an image that represents my expression.
What would you change in this image?
Thanks for reading and here is a shot of the 2 backpackers I sat in silence with until the sky became like cotton candy:)