Dragon Peak (12,995ft/3961m) and an unnamed alpine lake at sunrise with a brush turning fall colors in the foreground. By mid-September, fall colors are typically well underway in the High Sierra. In the higher elevations, the weather is cooler, and Fall arrives earlier than at sea level.
On the morning of this shot, I had to get out of my tent, ignore the pounding headache and nausea that accompanies altitude sickness, the near freezing low 30s degree temperature, and 35 mph winds with bitterly cold 50 mph gusts to get in position to have a chance at this shot. With high winds, I was not even sure that a decent photograph would even be possible. You can imagine the will-power needed to get out of a warm and relatively comfortable sleeping bag to do something that might very well not pan out. In the end, whether the shot was a failure or a success, the experience alone is worth it. I don't feel more alive and inspired, anywhere on Earth, but in the mountains.
To get this shot was complicated. The photo you see before you is a composite of five individual exposures. Typically, in situations in which the background is brightly illuminated by one-to-two stops higher than the foreground, two exposures are necessary--one for the background and foreground. But due to the closeness of the foreground elements, I had to focus stack to get all of the leaves in focus. The greater ISO and shutter speed was to compensate for the fact that the leaves were never still due to the wind. The foreground frames are composed of four exposures, each whose focus point is ever farther in the frame; each exposure was taken at ISO 1250, f/11, 1/100s. The background exposure for the mountains was taken at ISO 64, f/11, 1/4s. Both groups were at 24mm focal length. The five total exposures were merged together in Photoshop and the resulting composite was edited in Lightroom.
Captured using a tripod mounted Nikon d810 with Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G lens.
Unnamed Lake, Upper Spur of the Golden Trout Lakes trail, John Muir Wilderness, Inyo National Forest, California, USA. Elevation: 11,200 feet.
September 14, 2018.