Mount Tom Sunrise

Sunrise strikes the peak of Mount Tom in the Eastern Sierra

On my most recent trip out west, I had not originally planned to revisit Mount Tom as I already had a pretty decent image of the mountain at sunrise. However, I arrived in Bishop, California a bit later than I had intended (about 9:00 PM) and didn’t have sunlight left with which to scout prospective locations for the next morning’s sunrise. So, I needed a location I knew well enough to be able to arrive before sunrise and get set up in the dark. Based on the various sunrise-quality prediction apps I use, the best bet was for a location that looked southwest-ish. Mount Tom, from near Highway 395, fit the bill. 

What I didn’t plan for was a vehicle parked on the side of the highway in such a way as to block access to a dirt road that would lead to where I wanted to be to take my shot. I have no idea it was just bad luck that someone broke down at that particular spot, but I think it more likely that someone was intentionally blocking the access to the road to prevent people from possibly getting stuck in the winter snow that was still around at that altitude (just above 7000 feet). 

In a bit of a panic due to the approaching sunrise, I was resigned to having to park in a popular overlook at the side of the highway and figure out a composition from near that location in the minutes I had before the sunrise would light up the clouds and the top of Mount Tom. 

I just made it. I had just enough time to set up my tripod and my pano head and work out how many rows and images per row I would need to capture the composition I saw before me when the clouds started to catch fire and I could make out the sunrise starting to move down the peak of the mountain.

To create this final image, a total of 32 individual images were used. The total scene was captured as a two-row panorama composed of 8 vertical images per row. To render sharpness throughout the entire depth-of-field, every individual image was shot twice at two different focus points, adding up to 32 images in total. This technique maximizes details captured in the image and allows for wall-sized prints to be made without loss of quality.

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