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The 97 Switchbacks at Night

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

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Taken on August 21, 2011