Friday, March 22, 2013

Contender Bill Sharpsteen

While each of American Landscape contest Contender Bill Sharpsteen’s submissions stand on their own, together they show the diversity of the American Landscape

This Article Features Photo Zoom
Mt. Muir

Location: Mt. Muir, Seirra Nevada, California

When did you take the photograph? 2010

Equipment: Canon 5D Mark II, 28-70 f/2.8L lens

Describe how you got this photo.
I hiked up the Mt. Whitney trail, starting at 2 a.m. to get at the 12,000' Trail Camp in time for the sunrise and this shot of Mt. Muir reflected in a small pool. In some ways, it was pure luck that I hit the spot just as the sun was hitting the ridge above me. I didn't have too much time to get the picture before the sun got too high and would light up the rocks in front of me, which I think would have ruined the composition. It was 6 a.m. at the time. I had to get off the trail to find the right spot where the pond and foreground rock ran diagonally to give the picture a little tension and lead the eye from the reflection of the peak to the peak itself.

Did you use any special techniques?
I did very little post-processing of the picture. I added some contrast, sharpening, and warmth along with a vignette. I also used the noise reduction in Lightroom very minimally.
Why is this scene of the American Landscape special to you? This picture is special because thousands of people pass this spot on their way to climb Mt. Whitney, probably never knowing they're looking at another fourteener, plus most of them don't even see this kind of incredible light. So the shot represents to me an opportunity to show a place in a new, often unseen way. And I think that's one of the best things that a good landscape picture can do.

Trona Pinnacles

Location: Trona Pinnacles, California

When did you take the photograph? September, 2012

Equipment: Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS lens, Canon EOS-1DX

Describe how you got this photo.
I wasn't terribly successful—the promised meteor shower didn't really happen—and as we were driving away the next morning, we stopped at some signs describing how the pinnacles were formed when I looked back and saw how the backlight was striking the pinnacles and the mountains behind them in a gauzy sort of way.

Did you use any special techniques?
The color version didn't convey the feeling I had when I shot the picture, so I converted it to black and white with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, adding a warm tone and vignette.
Why is this scene of the American Landscape special to you? This is special to me because it conveys some of the mystery that you find in the desert. It seems to so sterile at times, especially in the middle of the day, but there are fleeting moments when it takes on an ethereal feeling that's so unique.

Do the photos you entered go together to tell a story, or do you think they work best individually? If together, what story about the American Landscape do the photos tell?
I always intended these pictures to stand on their own. The pictures I took before or after aren't interlocking in such a way that tells a single story. What I try to do with a single image is bring the viewer a feeling of that it was like to stand at that landscape when I was there with my camera – the sense of place.

But in a way, they do tell the story of just how diverse the American landscape is. From desert to mountain to ocean, there's so much to photograph.


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