Saved by Black and White

November 09, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

The iconic West Spanish Peak35 mm, 1/100 sec, f/9.0

Sometimes photography is a game of chance. You scope out a good location, load up your equipment, head out for sunset, and wait for the light show. If you're lucky, the light and clouds intersect with the landscape and you get to see, and hopefully capture, something truly amazing. Other times, it just doesn't happen. That's what happened to me on this evening in the Cuchara Valley for Spring Break 2015. I wanted to get a vivid shot of pink or orange alpenglow on the snow on the West Spanish Peak, hopefully with some nice clouds behind the mountain to catch the golden light. Instead, the clouds vanished as the sun went down, and the mountain was lit up with yellow light. It was a beautiful scene in person, but makes for a pretty boring photograph (the image below was my best attempt at creating something in color-not very exciting, right?).

I had captured close to 50 frames of the mountain that evening while hoping that the light would magically transform as the sun dipped further below the mountains to the west. I was ready to delete the lot of them, but them I came across some truly stunning black and white photographs of snow-covered mountains with the clear blue sky rendered almost black in the background. I decided to try out something similar on this image and was stunned with the results. Over time, this is becoming one of my favorite images. To me, the West Spanish Peak is too imposing to really be beautiful in a photograph of the mountain by itself. I think the best images typically show the mountain wrapped in clouds or as a backdrop to a lake or aspen grove. But in black in white, lit up by the sunlight streaming in from the west, it seems to take on an iconic, majestic character.


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