The Mountainscapes are intended to carry on the spirt of my photographic heroes, who came to the mountains before me and in whose footsteps I am following.
I like to shoot with Canon. The camera is well shaped and all the buttons are well located and easy to create muscle memory with. Holding the camera feels like playing an instrument. They also make very nice zooms. I look for the best quality optics I can get my hands on, and try to keep the lens on the camera anytime I am out of doors with it. This helps keep sensor dust to a minimum. I carry a polarizer to cut the haze and for the sky - sometimes it's awesome, sometimes I regret it when I overdo it. I carry between 5 and 8 camera batteries and I charge them with a Brunton 26 watt solar panel - a big one and not quite small enough to charge as you walk - but it has the necessary kick to charge lithium ion batteries.
A key feature for me is lens stabilization. This feature is built into certain modern lenses - it allows the camera to record an image at slower shutter speeds with less shaking. The effectiveness of the technology combined with the extraordinary low light sensitivity of modern digital sensors has made it possible to shoot handheld in almost any lighting conditions. This is significant in that nowadays a tripod can be streamlined out of the equation on uneven, mountainous terrain.
Another technology I use extensively is Adobe Photoshop. They have created software that merges multiple images together - the Photomerge Tool. If the view I am shooting is larger than a single 35 mm exposure, I shoot multiple overlapping exposures and put the pieces together on my laptop. The software has evolved to become absolutely seamless, and images can be merged in different combinations to produce subtle differences of perspective that fascinate me. I use this technique to create my largest works and some are as many as 28 photographs merged together.
Gratitude & Inspiration:
Vittorio Sella participated in two expeditions to the Himalaya at the turn of the 20th century - to eastern Nepal in 1899 and to the Karakoram of Pakistan in 1909. His large format camera was capable of shooting onto 30 x 40cm glass plates. These early expeditions were in the spirit of adventure and world exploration, and I think his photographs reflect this. It's hard to fathom what must have been necessary to get to these places back then, much less bring back images that captured their otherworldly power to such a degree that they continue to inspire mountaineers to this day. His work forms the cornerstone of Himalayan photography.
A name that needs little introduction and the teacher of a generation. The zone system outlined in his manual “The Negative” opened the door for me as a young photographer. His signature style was f64 – using the smallest aperture of the lens for unlimited depth of field and great image sharpness. Ansel was able to photograph America’s national parks in the 1940's with such technical virtuosity and feeling that his work has become intertwined with these places as a symbol of America's national heritage.
Galen Rowell I see as a pioneer of “alpine style” in American mountain photography. The 1970's saw the development of the lighter 35mm single lens reflex and a corresponding ethical shift in mountaineering toward lighter endeavors with smaller, more self contained teams. With the more portable SLR and his storied tool of choice - the Nikkor 20 mm f4 - Galen could get the camera just about anywhere. Other examples of this evolution are Doug Scott’s magnificent photo essay from the top of Everest with Dougal Haston and John Roskelleys photos of Rick Ridgeway on the northeast ridge of K2.
Shiro Shirahata is a Japanese photographer whose specialty is documenting the significant peaks of Asia as though for an encyclopedia. His heydey in America was the 1980′s when his two folio books “Nepal Himalaya” and “Karakoram” were translated into English. The images catalogue the great mountains as characters in a giant portrait album. The thoroughness of getting each and every one of them to sit still with the clouds swirling around and the technical perfection of his medium format images make his work a culmination of Himalayan expedition style.