Behind The Shot: Revival

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington
Behind The Shot: “Revival” By Kevin Russell— Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington

Photo By Kevin Russell

I’ve always been fascinated with Mount St. Helens, the mountain, the history and the landscape surrounding it. I was five when it erupted last, and I still remember seeing the ash falling from the sky like snow. Since that day I’ve had the pleasure of hike various trails on all sides of the St. Helens and summited it once, so I have been able to see all the damage caused by its eruption back in 1980. Along with the destruction it caused, I’ve also been able to witness the recovery that has happened in the area surrounding the mountain since that day. I have been into photography for about five years now and have many images of this amazing landscape. Looking through them, I can see change in just the five years I have photographed it.

On the night of the 36th anniversary of the eruption, I set out after work with a friend to capture some more images of it from the north side. The forecast was for mostly clear skies and about a three-quarter moon to work with for light. As we worked our way up Spirit Lake Highway we stopped at a few places to shoot and ended our night near Johnston Ridge where I captured this image. I hadn’t expected to see any wildflowers as it was still early in the season, but was pleasantly surprised to find some paintbrush and lupine blooming. This clump of paintbrush caught my eye, so I set up my Manfrotto tripod and attached my Nikon D7100 with Sigma 10-20mm F4 lens on it. Getting low and close to the paintbrush I knew this would take two images, focus stacked to capture the flowers and the mountain sharply. I first focused on the flowers at F6.3, ISO 640, 30 seconds, 15mm. After I took my desired composition I readjusted my focus for the mountain and took the same shot again. I later blended the two in Photoshop to get the final result you see here. Looking at the screen on my camera I knew I had captured an image I was proud of. The bright moonlight really lit up the landscape and the flowers, so I had no need for artificial light.

Just 36 years ago this landscape had been completely destroyed, covered in ash and rock, trees toppled, homes and bridges destroyed, and 57 people lost their lives that day. As I stood there on the anniversary of that fateful day and looked around seeing trees and shrubs growing again and wildflowers sprouting up all around me I knew that “Revival” would be the perfect name for this image.

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