The Crystal Crag


The Crystal Crag Above Lake Mamie

(F16 15sec ISO 100 70 - 200mm lens at 130mm)

The Crystal Crag is a dramatic granite monolith that can be viewed from many locations within the Mammoth Lakes Basin in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Its summit tops out at 10,364'. It is not only beautiful to look at, it also offers a Class-3 climbing route which draws climbers from all over the world.

I arrived here just before 530AM. It was still completely dark, fairly calm and a tad bit on the chilly side. The sky was clear and filled with stars. The moon was up, but luckily was only a 53% Last Quarter moon so the illumination was not overbearing and was not washing out the stars. Actually, I think the amount of illumination was perfect. Here is a photograph I made at 549AM. This is actually the second composition I made on this morning. The first one was not to my liking so it never made it out of my digital darkroom. I like the one I referenced above (Fall Colors - Lake Mamie, Orion above the Crystal Crag) very much - I'm a sucker for including Orion in my night sky photographs.

Back to the image at hand - (The Crystal Crag above Lake Mamie.) I made this image a few minutes before 7 in the morning. I used my 70 - 200mm lens to get in tight. This is framed up at a focal length of 130mm. I released the shutter at 2 minutes after sunrise. The coldest temperatures of the day usually occur just before sunrise and linger a little after. No exception on this morning, I was really struggling to keep my hands and fingers warm and was starting to think more about a delicious cup of hot black coffee than the beautiful scenery before me.

This was a really pretty morning. I only wish that there had been some clouds to add some interest to the sky (but that's out of my control.) If you have read any of my previous blogs you may remember one of my photography adages "make the most of what you got." That's what I tried to do here. I was really liking the light. At this time of day the light phase was somewhere between the blue hour and when I would expect to see alpine-glow on the higher ridges. There was just enough shadow to add a little mystery to the forest. The reflections looked sharp and the shoreline detail was perfect.

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