I finally had the opportunity to photograph snow on the summit of Mauna Kea during my February visit to the Big Island of Hawaii. After over a decade of trying, it was nice to finally be able to experience being at the beach in the morning and then driving up to the snowy summit in the afternoon. I’ve visited the summit during previous trips. It is a straightforward drive, but getting out of the car and walking around at 13,796′ above sea level is the real challenge. From the highest drivable point, it is only a few hundred yards and slightly up hill to the true summit. I put on every piece of clothing that I brought to Hawaii, including, thankfully, my winter hat and set out from the parking lot about an hour before sunset. Each step in the snow was a challenge, but after a short time I was on the summit. I was immediately drawn to this wind sculpted ridge slightly south along the summit ridge, especially since it did not appear to have any footprints. Once I settled into place with my tripod, I waited for the golden light less than an hour later. I got cold, especially my hands. I noticed the sunlight was causing some glare spots on my image, so I held my hand on the side of the lens to block the direct light. It’s amazing how quickly the sun sets at the equator. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 28mm f2 ZE lens, and 3-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter. This image is a single-exposure which required a minimal amount of processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
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