Mount Blanca: 4th Highest Peak in the Rockies
Mount Blanca is another surprise attraction I encountered while waiting for ideal lighting to photograph Great Sand Dunes National Park. After shooting at Zapata Falls, I headed into Blanca, the nearest town, somewhat annoyed that I had to go out of my way to fill my gas tank. My annoyance turned quickly to appreciation as I spotted this scene!
Photographing Mount Blanca, the fourth highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, was exciting already but what really thrilled me about this scene was the old barn in the foreground. That barn, surrounded by still bare trees, with the majestic Sierra Blanca Massif formations setting the backdrop were all perfect elements for a black and white landscape!
This image was created by making an exposure fusion of 5 bracketed images (shot using a tripod) processed with Photomatix Pro. I chose exposure fusion rather than tone mapping, as for a typical HDR, because I found the look to be more natural, while still giving me the tonal contrast range I was seeking. For the same reason I did not use the black and white tone mapping adjustment preset in Photomatix to convert the photo to black and white.
Instead, I imported my color exposure fusion back into Lightroom where I tweaked the the TIFF file further until it was as perfect a color shot as I could get. Then I used that tweaked color exposure fusion image to make my black and white conversion using Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2. I am overjoyed with the level of control Silver Efex gives for black and white conversions. I began using the #006 High Structure Smooth preset in Silver Efex, and then made further global and local adjustments from there. I finished this shot in Silver Efex Pro2 with #20 sepia toner, burned edges, and an image border with a rough transition. I’m very happy with the finished result.
For those who wish to know more about Mount Blanca, according to Wikipedia: Blanca Peak is the highest peak of the Sierra Blanca Massif, located at the southern tip of the Sangre de Cristo Range in Colorado. At elevation 14,345 feet, it is the fourth highest peak of the Rocky Mountains, and the eighth highest peak in the contiguous United States. The first recorded ascent of Blanca Peak was August 14, 1874 by the Wheeler Survey, part of an expedition led by George Montague Wheeler to survey a western portion of the United States.
As for me, I’m content to have seen Mount Blanca from the point-of-view in this photograph. Not only did my perspective include this interesting old barn in the foreground, but this vantage point also allowed me plenty of time to get to Great Sand Dunes National Park for photographing in late afternoon light!
As Seen by Janine: Eyes of the World Images