Year End Countdown # 1 — Mountains And Mist
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And, now for my personal favorite image of 2015. It comes with a dilemma. I have two versions of this image and I cannot decide which one I like more. One version is prettier, in my opinion, but the other is much more dramatic. So, I’m going to show both versions.
I took this photo on the third night that we were in Svalbard. That night was memorable for a lot of reasons not the least of them being that it was the night we waited for the polar bears to decide whether to descend from the ridge overlooking the fjord that we were moored in. It was also memorable because of the setting, in my opinion, the most spectacularly beautiful of the entire voyage. Dinner that evening ended around 9 or so and afterwards, Claude Wegscheider — who suggested that I go on this trip and to whom I am eternally grateful — and I retired to the open stern of the boat. We stood there and talked for several hours. We were both totally taken by the scenery. We were moored near the face of a glacier. The glacier receded back into the mountains, apparently for miles. One side of the glacier was bordered by a receding chain of mountains, at least four of them, and they marched backwards to the horizon. It was a spectacular sight, made more so by the extraordinary sun that would not set and that illuminated everything in patterns of light and shade. I retrieved my camera, and Claude got his, and we began photographing the scene.
And, then, something amazing happened. As we stood there, the mountains were infiltrated with mist. At first, just a little bit, and then, great torrents of mist surrounded the mountains and began descending towards the glacier. The mist poured downwards, almost like a slow-motion waterfall until it partly obscured the mountains but left their jagged summits exposed. And, I captured the scene with this image.
To me, this image evokes everything that I love about the arctic, its almost surreal beauty, the majestic quality of the light, the ever changing weather, and the amazing contrasts of ice, mountains and sky.
Months later, and more or less on a whim, I reprocessed this image as a black and white photo and I was astonished by the result.
To me, the scene is no less beautiful, but it has become far more dramatic. The mist, particularly, is a more dominant feature in the black and white image, and it makes the scene look quite a bit more mysterious.
But, either way, this is my favorite image. Every time I look at it, and I look at it a lot, all of the memories of that voyage come rushing back to me. Is it possible to be homesick for a place that I’ve only been to for two weeks in my life and that is as inhospitable as any place on earth? Definitely.
Image made with a Canon 5Diii, 70-200 f4 L IS zoom lens @ 81 mm, aperture preferred setting, ISO 200, f11 @ 1/640.