Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sunrise from Mount Marcy

Mount Marcy
Capturing the sunrise from the summit of a High Peak requires a bit of planning and an early start. I always pay close attention to the weather forecast, as it can be a complete bummer to spend several hours hiking in the middle of the night only to arrive to a socked in summit.

For this particular shot, my good friend Seth Jones and I left the trailhead at the Adirondak Loj at 3:30am. A few inches of fresh snow above Indian Falls slowed our ascent and we didn’t quite make it to the top by sunrise. We were high enough to capture some great images though. The clouds on the horizon created a beautiful red sunrise and reflected some of that light back down on the mountain around us.
To create the starburst effect from the sun you want to use a small aperture, in this case I used f/16. I shot at ISO 100 to capture the greatest dynamic range in the scene and limit noise. Those two settings and the low light required a shutter speed of 1/5 of a second, making shooting on a tripod a necessity.
The bonus for the day: Carving turns in the bowl on the summit of Mount Marcy and enjoying a bit of fresh snow on the ski back to the Loj.

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Brendan Wiltse is the Science & Stewardship Director for the Ausable River Association and a professional conservation photographer. He holds a Ph.D. in Biology from Queen's University in Canada. While not out on the water studying Adirondack lakes and streams, he is often roaming the Wilderness with his camera and dog. You can view is photography at

7 Responses

  1. Rick says:

    Outstanding! Thanks for sharing your efforts.

  2. Jim Leach says:

    Beautiful image. Thank you.

  3. Thatcher says:

    Thanks Brendan –
    Your interesting foregrounds always add
    so much more depth to your images.

    • Thanks Thatcher. In my mind the foreground is just as, if not more, important than the distant mountains and sunrise. It grounds the viewer and gives the image a sense of scale and place.

  4. Kimberly says:

    Thanks for the photo tips! Love your ambition to climb that early in the morning! But obviously worth the extra effort. Stunning photo!

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