Behind The Shot: ‘Mount Whitney From Russell Plateau’ HDR panorama by Brandon Riza – Central California

Stitched panorama of Mount Whitney from Russell Plateau AutopanoGiga software SNS-HDR Pro HDR composite California

Stitched panorama of Mount Whitney from Russell Plateau

I spend quite a bit of time above 12 thousand feet, and one of my favorite stomping grounds are the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains in central California. The Mount Whitney massif, a chossy multi-trillion-metric-ton chunk of granite and the highest peak in the Lower 48 states is always fun to climb, and it's always photogenic. There are many routes up it, and there are many satellite peaks around it.

On this particular occasion, a partner and I were headed up Mount Russell, a 14,100-ft peak directly to the Northeast of Whitney. When we had ascended to 12,800-ft and arrived at the beautiful and still snow-swept plateau below the Russell/Carillon Pass, the spires of the Mt Whitney Crest greeted us. I walked to the edge of a cliff that falls away into the glacial basin extending out below Mount Russell and shot a 360x180HDRi of the scene, my tripod perched rather precariously on the edge over the void. Keeping myself out of a few of the constituent shots required some…gymnastics.

This is a crop-in on that larger image, (16000x8000 to be precise) and of course does the real thing no justice. The next best thing to being there is this interactive tour produced from the 360x180HDRi. (Here is another version for iOS users - For the real effect, watch it from inside your freezer…) This photo is a crop of a 7 EV-spread 360x180, tonemapped HDR composite (total of 84 images) shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III mounted with a Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG lens. I used an Induro Carbon CTO14 tripod with a Nodal Ninja M1s pano head. The frames were tonemapped in SNS-HDR Pro and the 360x180 was compiled with AutopanoGiga.

More (normal) photos and interactive summits can be seen on my website at www.brandonriza.com, including an interactive tour of all the summits in the Main Group of the Teton Range (to my knowledge, that's a first), shot during a three-days traverse. And if you'd like prints of any photos on my site, please contact me. Proceeds will help fund my next Alaska expedition. - Brandon Riza

Equipment and settings: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG diagonal fisheye lens on an INDURO CARBON 8X CT014 carbon fiber tripod with a Nodal Ninja Ultimate M1-S pano head - panoramic composite of 84 images using SNS-HDR Pro and AutopanoGiga software

Find a long form article on how to put together Riza's "Supersized Panorama Stitching" here. Follow Riza on Facebook and Flickr. His video work can be found at YouTube and his portfolio can be found at his website, www.brandonriza.com. Email him there for prints and information on his many climbing tours.

Brandon Riza mountain climbing tour legs overhanging cliff

Cliff overlooking Mount Whitney California

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