Apparition (2019)

I’ve just published a collection of eighteen new images from my winter travels in Wyoming, Utah, and California. Check out the rest here if you’re so inclined:

Most photos I make fall into two categories: ones that I’m initially excited about and sooner or later end up disliking; and ones that I’m at first lukewarm about and which slowly grow on me.

But there’s a third category: every once in a while, when I’m making a photograph, I just KNOW. I already know that I love it, and I know that I’m going to love it for years - possibly for the rest of my life. These are the ones that would make it into a retrospective book after a lifetime of work, provided I’m lucky enough to continue photographing and living that long. I’m typically alone when making these photos, as that’s when I tend to do my best work. I’m often cursing aloud in excitement as well.

This was one of those images for me. In fact, it may be my favorite I’ve yet made in nearly a decade of photographing. My time in Yellowstone last month was primarily spent focused not on geothermal features or wildlife, but on the way these mists interacted with the snowy trees. I had a hell of a time coming up with a good title for this one, as those close to me can attest. I saw a lot of possible interpretations of the image–a lot of stories that these trees could tell. What do you see?

For instructional purposes, not because gear matters:
Canon 5D Mark IV, 70-300mm L
300mm, ISO 100, f/11, 1/160s


Easy to see why this would register as an image you would instantly love Alex - it’s absolutely beautiful - love the almost mono tone, and it’s dripping with atmosphere.

Had a good look at your new collection as well - I saw your IG post earlier, but took a proper viewing this evening on a larger monitor - great set of work - This one, Desert Snow, and Crescendo particularly blew me away. Thanks for sharing your work - it’s hugely inspirational.

Great image and great work on the series. Most enjoyable viewing.

I knew this was great from the moment I saw a ~10x10 pixel version of it on IG… and then a slightly larger thumbnail on your computer… and now finally full size!

The atmosphere is wonderful. The thing that draws me the most is the contrast between the snowy tree on the left to the dark trees on the right, which are brought out even more by the fog.

Congratulations! That must feel awesome.

Very atmospheric, Alex. I am still trying to figure out what lights that tree on the left. The arrangement of the trees look like they are standing around something and that something is lighting up the tree.

@Adhika_Lie, that’s interesting - you mean like it’s being lit from below, behind the mists? It was just late morning sunlight, but now that you mention it, it does seem a bit like it’s lit unnaturally (or supernaturally.) It was just that the black ones were in shadow and the white one was at the right angle to catch the light through the trees surrounding the scene.

@Brent_Clark, it does feel awesome having a new solid favorite! I tried not to give too much away with that joke IG story, but some people at least did blow it up and see it was 3 trees! It looked so unreal on the LCD, the way the dark trees contrasted with the white one and how the vapor separated them.

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@Mark_Price - I can never quite go B&W, as I prefer a more silvery look and I feel B&W looks brown by comparison. Thanks for taking a good look at the new collection on a proper monitor! I feel this one in particular just gets lost on the small screen. The three trees read, but there are a lot of neat details. Crescendo is another favorite of mine from the bunch - I was actually with @Brent_Clark when I shot it! I’m happy to hear the work is inspiring for you. There is certainly a lot of work out there that inspires me.

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@Harley_Goldman - thanks for checking it all out, appreciate the comment!

Alex, yeah a good description might be a campfire like the two trees in the shadow is standing on the 6 o’clock, the lit tree on the left is on the 9 o’clock and the background is the 12 o’clock. I don’t think that it’s a bad thing at all. It would be nice to have the two trees in the shadow to have a rim light look to them to emphasize that but that’s probably not the story you are trying to tell.

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Alex, this is a very easy image to love as you suggested. Your collection for 2019 Winter is quite stunning, thanks for sharing!

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Wonderful image Alex. I’m very happy for you. The mists and light all came together to give you this great composition. It does have an out of this world appearance.

I also had a chance to look at your images and really liked “Winter Rider”. It’s a more subdued image but very appealing none the less.

Well this is definitely a phenomenal shot! However I really liked that “Crecendo” and “metropolis” that you just added!

Beautiful set of winter images, all interesting in different ways. They’re very inspiring, someday I’d love to go photograph winter in Wyoming. I’m fond of “Gift of Light” because I’m working of a series ( of paintings & photographs ) about the Eastern Sierra and it’s always great to see someone else’s take on Mt Whitney.

@Alan_Kreyger Thanks Alan!

@Igor_Doncov Thanks Igor! This was one I had wanted to have done for inclusion in the article, since I have a behind-the-scenes cell phone shot of the wider scene that would illustrate my point. I’m glad you like Winter Rider. For me any subsequent images I make of that tree will pale in comparison to the original Rainbow Rider, so it was mainly included for fun. But you’re right that it’s subdued, the thick snow and the fact that I did nothing in PS (ACR only) helped with that.

@Jose_Torres Thank you Jose! Crescendo is my second-favorite of the new collection.

@John_Scane Thanks John! Just be prepared to be snowed in if you do winter in Yellowstone. I’ve got a soft spot for the Sierras and Whitney in particular, being that they were the first mountains that really interested me a decade or so ago when I got into all this. The light in Gift of Light was pretty awesome for a couple hours after sunrise. It was funny seeing a nearby photographer leave disappointed after the “color” was over and miss that sort of light.

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I have never been in snowy conditions like in your photos, seeing them makes me forget all the discomfort involved :wink: . Yeah, Mt Whitney always has some gifts in store for the patient. Last trip it snowed and gave the Alabama hills a nice powdery coating at sunrise, made for some different shots that I really like! Look forward to seeing more of your work.

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The light, shade and shapes have had me mesmerised for days!

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