View Full Version : Tuckerman Ravine Sunrise - 3/14/2009

03-14-2009, 05:37 PM
This was supposed to start with pictures of the moon setting over Boott Spur. We did the calculations and timing. I was at HoJo's at 5:05 AM and the moon was not visible - not because of clouds (there were none) - it was behind Boott Spur already.

So, the saga began in Maine leaving the house at 2:00 AM - a few stops for cash, gas, and food - then to PNVC to get dressed and ready for the cold air - and the wind. It was windy in the parking lot! On the trail at 3:06 AM headed to HoJo's by headlamp. I wanted to be there by 4:45 to have plenty of time before the moon went below the ridge. A slight detour was necessary since I went right at the Lion Head winter trail (well groomed) when I should have gone straight.

I knew something was wrong when I crossed a bridge constructed very differently than any of the bridges on Tuckerman Trail. Got to the Huntington Ravine Warning sign and turned around - and found my way to HoJo's getting there at 5:05 AM. The time was good - I knew I would get cold just standing around - but no moon - so, I would be standing around. Tried to take some star movement pictures and they did not work out well. I will have to do some studying and trial in warmer weather to see how to do that.

As the sun was about to come up you could see an undercast all through Pinkham Notch. The sun was lighting up the undercast from below which gave it a wonderful glow and colors. It was too dark for the camera to auto focus on anything - and too dark for me to see anything well enough to manually focus. Plus, with a 300mm f2.8 lens I needed to be in the f2.8 range to get enough light - but that meant the depth of field was very narrow. Any photographers here have ideas how to solve this without turning up the lights? I could have used warm photography gloves! My hands took a beating with the cold and the wind. At HoJo's the wind gauge was regularly hitting 20 MPH.

The full set of pictures are at http://public.fotki.com/bradbradstreet/hikes/2009-hikes/2009-03-14-hojos/

Here are a few of interest

Undercast looking just south of Wildcat


Boott Spur ridge and headwall panorama

Headwall close up

Headwall panorama

South wall ski trails
Hillmans did not seem to be very stable

03-14-2009, 07:50 PM
Definitely worth heading out at 3AM to witness this! How come Corey wasn't keeping you company this morning?

03-15-2009, 06:51 AM
Definitely worth heading out at 3AM to witness this! How come Corey wasn't keeping you company this morning?
Corey was recovering from his Mt Pierce hike day. And he was off to visit friends from school in Maine for the weekend.

03-16-2009, 07:21 AM
Brad, nice pics of the alpenglow on the landscape! I'd conidser it a success to get those images and enjoy that scene.

Concerning the night work, learn to focus by using the barrel of the lens. In normal light, focus carefully on a distant object and make a note of where the lines on the barrel line up. While you were focused on Boott Spur, you could have made a note on the alignment. Then you can do the same at night.

A headlamp with a red LED option is perfect for this work.

I would use large overmitts and a cable release, which I bring right into the mitt. Once my dials and focus are set, I can shoot without taking my hand out into the cold. If you have a set of mitts that you "sacrifice", cut a small slit through which you can poke your finger and thumb. You can also bring the cable release in through this hole.

At night, I find that the "tungsten" setting for white balance produces the truest color of the sky at night.


03-16-2009, 08:45 AM

Thanks for the note. The Boott Spur ridge early in the shoot being in focus was pure luck. Being I had never used the lens before it was not the place to try things - in the cold. I should have done as you suggest - gone out and tried the manual focus in the daytime beforehand. A good lesson.

My headlamp worked well (on the 3rd set of batteries) but i made a note I do need a better LED one with variable settings and a red light option. I may be using my REI dividend money to get one next week.

I was using a very heavy, sturdy tripod as I knew it would be windy up there. And I always use a cable release when on the tripod. So, that part I had. Once set up and taking a series of pictures I can do that with my winter gloves on. Changing the camera setting I was down to a light weight liner and that is where I got cold. They do not stop the wind coming through. Another good lesson. On some of the pictures I was running at about 2 minutes. The cable release has a lock setting to just hold the shutter open when on bulb. That was good hand warming time.

Interesting comment on the tungsten setting. I will go back to some of the original RAW files and look at them differently. I normally see that making an image very blueish and have not used it.

I did not get the pictures I wanted. But, I learned a lot - which is good. I will work on Corey to see about heading back up there tomorrow morning to see what the clouds are like.

03-16-2009, 02:28 PM
Well, tomorrow morning might be interesting back at HoJo's again for sunrise. Different weather web sites talk about mostly sunny to cloudy - it varies. So, maybe we will be higher than the undercast. "We" are planning on giving it a shot again - camera - many lens - spare batteries - monster 300mm zoom f2.8 of my son's - tripod - and Corey along for the fun. Oh, and some snacks too.

KD Talbot
03-16-2009, 04:53 PM
It was well worth the time, effort and cold hands to get those shots. Thanks for sharing!


03-16-2009, 05:37 PM
Oh, did I mention it was cold out there? Yup, sure was. So, we are going at it again tomorrow again.

Patrick, I have played with the lens a bit and will approach things differently if we have the same kind of conditions.

03-16-2009, 06:35 PM
Sounds good! A 300mm f/2.8?! Sweet!

Here's a shot from the Quadrantid Meteor Shower in early January, 2009. I used tungsten for WB.


The stars are out of focus just slightly on this on. I've since made an adjustment. The trees are blurred from wind.

The tungsten setting only works, in my experience, once it's completely dark. At sunset and for some time thereafter, tungsten looks really weird.

happy trails :)

03-16-2009, 07:22 PM
Well, it also looks weird just after moonset.:cool:

03-16-2009, 07:27 PM
Sounds good! A 300mm f/2.8?! Sweet!

I just checked the Sigma web site. That one lens weighs in slightly over 6 pounds! No wonder the pack was heavy.

03-16-2009, 07:35 PM
brad be safe and good luck with the weather and pictures

and dont make any wrong turns