Behind the Image: 6000 Feet

A look behind the scenes of my thought process when creating my image, 6000 Feet, of the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming, USA

In July of this year (2017), my family went on a group tour out west, traveling with forty-some other people; we began our journey in Salt Lake City, Utah, arriving early in the morning and spending the day exploring before meeting up with the rest of the group later that evening. From there, we rode the bus north towards Yellowstone National Park, the highlight of the trip. Since I have chosen to write this three months later, I am sure details are missing, but the overall point of this article is not the story of me going out west. You see, as we were traveling towards Yellowstone, we had driven past the Grand Teton Mountains, stopping at a cabin nearby for a day as well. It was on this portion of the tour that I had managed to capture my two favorite pictures from the trip: 6000 Feet and The Chapel of Transfiguration.

For this article, I would like to tell you the short story behind the image entitled, 6000 Feet

My love for the mountains began around a year ago upon witnessing the works of Ansel Adams and Alexandre Deschaumes. The way they both managed to capture the mountains, their enormous size contrasting with their rugged beauty, simply blew me away. But it was not until I witnessed the Grand Teton Mountains for the first time with my own eyes that my admiration was solidified. I knew from that moment onwards that I needed to revisit these mountains as often as I could or simply live very nearby, awakening to their vastness every morning. I should probably focus on college for right now though, so I shall instead live within the moments I had captured.

The story is short, sweet, simple

We were on the bus heading past the mountains towards our cabin in which we would be staying when I came across the scene. Before even seeing the mountains themselves, I had previsualized the photograph I wanted to capture. If I could get that single image – if no others the entire trip – I would be pleased with myself. Of course, I got more than just this image.

As we passed the mountains, I noticed the beautiful cloud formations up above, threatening the dry ground with rain. I needed to capture this, for the mood was too great to ignore. So without further notice I whipped out my camera, looked through the viewfinder, and began my work. If I remember correctly, Melanie was seated aside of me doing the same thing. She is simply too lazy to edit and release any new work of hers, despite my encouragement. Boo!

Working with the exposure level indicator through my viewfinder, paired with my general knowledge of the Sunny 16 Rule, I nailed my exposure. I was confident that I got the shot that I wanted. Still, I continued to shoot as we drove along, taking a few “backup” shots just in case I messed something up.

I’m glad I took those backup shots

This was one of the first images of the scene, straight out of my camera. The only thing I did to the image was strip it of color and export it as a .jpg file with some sharpening for your viewing pleasure. Notice that annoying glare that covers a beautiful portion of the mountains? It may be tough to notice now, but upon bringing the exposure down a bit, it really harms the beauty of the image.

An unprocessed black and white photograph of the Grand Teton Mountains; this was the frame taken just moments before the one turned into 6000 Feet.

In conclusion…

This image means the world to me, for more reasons than I can explain to you, my dear reader. In short though, this image was the first I had taken of the Grand Teton Mountains. Embodied within it is my love for the mountains, my admiration of the west, my fascination with nature. I chose to print it as a small 4x6, frame it, and sit it on the desk in my dorm. Every time I look at it, I am flooded with emotion. Most importantly, I remember the most amazing trip I have ever taken. I remember all the love felt, all the laughs we had, all the great times that I was blessed to spend with my family.

I hope you enjoyed this little story, as I plan to turn this into a series for some of my favorite, most memorable shots.