Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sky Pond

A while ago (More than three months now) I spent a day photographing Sky Pond and the gorgeous Cathedral Spires that are right above this beautiful lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. To get to Sky Pond before sunrise (a little after 6 am), I had to start hiking at 4 am, which necessitated a 2 am start from home. The hike is very nice, even in the dark and I noticed that there were still many flowers next to the trail. When I got above The Loch, some dawn glow started on the horizon and I snapped a quick cellphone image:

Dawn over the Loch

After passing the Lake of glass and climbing up a wet waterfall, I got to Sky Pond which was nicely lit by predawn light.

Sky Pond and Cathedral Spires predawn
D300, ISO 200, 11-16 Tokina f2.8 at 11mm, f8.0, 2.5seconds. Single exposure.

A few seconds later, the spires lit up brightly and the mood completely changed,
The glow of the sunrise hitting the awesome Cathedral Spires in RMNP is reflected in Sky Pond.
9 images stitched from a D300 using 18-55mm kit lens at 30mm, ISO 200, f/14 and 0.5s exposure. A 3 stop grad ND was used on the top row of images.

As you can see there is a red glow in the water and the mountain is lit up very brightly. The color you see is almost impossible to reproduce on a standard monitor and using sRGB color spaces. Only when at home I was looking at these images did I discover that there were several climbers at the foot of the Petit Groupon (one of the spires) getting ready to start climbing. They must have spent the night there which is possible if you get a permit from the park service. These spires are a popular climb. In the screenshot below, you can see the climbers as they appear in the stitched image above when zoomed at 1:1 (click on the image to see the full resolution). There is more info in the original images but this is representative of the detail present in the stitched image above. This also gives you an idea of the scale of these mountains.

I went on to shoot some more panos and individual images (all on the smugmug gallery). This was one that I liked in particular because of the glow on the water.

D300, ISO 200, 11-16 Tokina f2.8 at 11mm, f16.0, 1/5s. Single exposure 3 stop grad ND.

Going down from Sky Pond, one comes along a gorgeous waterfall that is strangely unnamed (at least on all the maps). I had some fun shooting all around it. One image that I liked from there was this image of a gnarly root of a twisted pine I came accros with the waterfall in the background.

D300, ISO 200, 11-16 Tokina f2.8 at 11mm, f16.0, 1/5s. Single exposure, 3 stop ND filter.

From the waterfall, there were also several interesting viewpoints of the spires such as this whirlpool:

D300, ISO 200, 11-16 Tokina f2.8 at 13mm, f16.0, 1/6s. Single exposure, 3 stop grad ND filter.

Or this mossy image:

D300, ISO 200, 11-16 Tokina f2.8 at 11mm, f16.0, 1/8s. Single exposure, 3 stop grad ND filter.

It was quite impressive to see the glow on the water in the little stream (Icy Brook). Around the stream there were many flowers still this late in the season. Here is a shot through an opening in the rocks that I liked.

D300, ISO 200, 11-16 Tokina f2.8 at 11mm, f11.0, 5 handheld exposures from 1/50s to 1/3s.

This is a composite of 5 handheld shots (too lazy to take out my tripod again) that I created using enfuse and hugin (to make sure the images are aligned).

Below The Lake of Glass, one has to climb down a slick waterfall for a little and it was here that I came accross a bevy of late season flowers that I photographed in various ways. Here for example are some bluebells and yellow flowers (forgot their name for now) in a crack in the rock.

D300, ISO 200, 11-16 Tokina f2.8 at 15mm, f8.0, 1/40s handheld.

Or these yellow flowers on a ledge

D300, ISO 800, 11-16 Tokina f2.8 at 15mm, f2.8, 1/500s handheld.

Right below the waterfall there was a gorgeous meadow with many photographic opportunities, several of which I took:

D300, ISO 200, 11-16 Tokina f2.8 at 11mm, f16.0, 1/10s, 3 stop grad ND.

Or this view that includes a piece of wood

D300, ISO 200, 11-16 Tokina f2.8 at 11mm, f16.0, 1/10s, 3 stop grad ND.

This hike is highly recommended even if you are not willing to get up as early as I did. It is gorgeous any time of day.
Check out the entire gallery on my smugmug page.

1 comment:

  1. Incredible pictures...I just hiked this yesterday. Wish my pictures looked half as great as these. This is a great hike. Highly recommend it.