The peaks of the Cascade Mountain Range are not especially tall but like most mountainous regions fall weather can be dicey.
Broken Top Mountain is one of many Central Oregon peaks in the Three Sisters Wilderness area. This glacially eroded stratovolcano has an altitude of 9,100 feet (2774 meters). In its crater lies a lake, No Name Lake.
I had been up this way just a week earlier to photograph sunrise. Unfortunately my best images from the session were flawed (my focusing error). I was back on this morning for the second attempt.
It had snowed the night before making the five mile rutted road drive challenging. The hike to the crater is about 3 miles each way. I donned my shoe spikes, turned on the headlamp, strapped on the backpack and pointed myself towards the crater entrance.
I reached the lake in plenty of time. Sunrise light wouldn’t arrive for another 30 minutes. Determined not to make the same mistakes I made on the previous trip, I established a standing spot and began my usual ‘get ready’ workflow.
I wanted to create an image that portrayed a cold and unsettling scene. I used the amphitheater-like crater surroundings as a kind of structural vignette. My hope was to force the eye over the lake and up the crater slope.
It was windy and very cold. Working small dials with gloves is never a pleasant experience but I was determined every image would be tack sharp. I mounted a wide angle lens, then the camera to the tripod leveling everything. I used my headlamp to illuminate my hyperfocal point and manually focused.
I wanted the water on the lake to appear wind blown and icy. With some testing I found a two-second shutter speed seemed to capture just enough surface movement. With the tripod securely anchored I timed my exposures to coincide with wind gusts.
The final image was just what I had hoped for, a tack sharp photo depicting a wind blown, cold, mountain environment.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor