The 97 Switchbacks at Night

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    The 97 switchbacks of the Mount Whitney Trail - at night.

    In August 2010 I climbed Mount Whitney. The exhausting zigzag of the infamous 97 switchbacks on the way up got me thinking: What if this part of the trail was photographed as someone carried a lantern on this trail at night?

    On August 21st, 2011 after 9 months of planning and testing films and exposures and with some great luck I achieved this idea on a single frame of Fuji Provia 100 film. The exposure time here was 4.5 hours with a Mamiya 7II camera. The color is what the Provia film rendered in the starlight and moonlight.

    Thank you to my friends who helped carry gear and the lantern!

    The light trail you see from the lantern is about 2 miles long, spanning some 1600 feet of elevation gain. The elevation where this photo was taken is 12,265 feet above sea level. The top of the light trail is 13,600 ft and the low point is 12,000 ft. The trail stops at Trail Crest, the point where you can finally see over the Mount Whitney Crest into Sequoia National Park.

    Mamiya 7 II
    43mm f/4.5 lens at f/5.6
    4.5 hours
    Fuji Provia 100F
    Drum scan by James Beck Digital

    Read about how this photo came to be here: blog.kurtlawson.com/?p=952

    View 20 more comments

    1. cody is rad 25 months ago | reply

      Best ever. Congrats on such a great work of art. I truly appreciate the hard work in carrying all of this gear to get this picture.

    2. eoind 25 months ago | reply

      Great idea and fantastic execution. Congratulations on achieving something so unique.

    3. dropletcafe 21 months ago | reply

      Incredible shot!!!

    4. IronRodArt - Royce Bair ("Star Shooter") 20 months ago | reply

      The lantern added a wonderful, broad stroke of white!

      You are invited to submit this unique photo to the Into the Night Photography group. And because this is a by-invitation-only group, you can be assured that your high quality work will be an inspiration to others! To insure the quality of this group, future submissions may be up to 3 per day, and must continue to pass an administration review.

    5. maguire33@verizon.net 18 months ago | reply

      Oh, this is just mind-boggling. Stupendous.

    6. transalper 17 months ago | reply

      what a celebration of friendship and creativity. congratulations on a wonderful project.

    7. VibroOne 16 months ago | reply

      Cool and he did the hike in enough time.

    8. smokejumping 15 months ago | reply

      This is absolutely an amazing idea, with a top achievement.

    9. mrphidef 13 months ago | reply

      wow, great effort and skill to pull this off. kudos for the hard work

    10. Katzprints 10 months ago | reply

      Very cool shot!

    11. rianklong 10 months ago | reply

      Wow, this is absolutely epic! Brilliant really; thanks for sharing!

    12. sawtoothphoto 5 months ago | reply

      that may be the coolest star trail pic ever, epic

    13. Phil Arachno 4 months ago | reply

      Incredibly beautiful light-painting! Art at it's finest!

    14. cowlishaw 3 months ago | reply

      I have to be honest here. I rarely comment on photos, mostly just lurk, looking for different examples of photos taken from different cameras. I'm pretty impressed with this image while having looked at thousands and thousands. I like it... Good job! Great Job! Bravo! :)

    15. Kurt Lawson 3 months ago | reply

      Thank you Nathan! And thank you to the others who have been periodically discovering this image. Cheers!

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