It’s always a challenge an hour before sunrise figuring out whether or not it’s worth shooting and what location is going to produce some wonderful photographs. It was cloudy today – very cloudy, with a good chance of socked in overcast. But there was enough of a break that I felt it was worthwhile. It turned out to be a bonanza of opportunities!
It’s just a short drive up through Deer Valley Resort to Empire Pass and on to Guardsman. This time of year sunset is late – around 7:30 a.m. So there are always bike being unloaded from cars for the ridge ride.
Today I started at Empire Pass, scaring away a pair of deer hunters in a pickup. Shooting was good – very good. But it would get even better. Leaving Empire I passed another photographer with two tripods setup shooting south. The sky to the west over Guardsman looked especially inviting.
I stopped at four or five different locations, all producing great shots. But all of a sudden I turned around and looked east. The sun was piercing through the clouds shooting a bullet of light to Earth.
After shooting some closeup verticals of a single ray, the sky all of a sudden lit up with a series of sun rays.
The key to the photographs, though, is HDR – high dynamic range. This photograph is actually a series of three shots, each one exposure stop apart. It’s a simple HDR, processed with Photomatix, that worked very well – capturing the brilliance of unlit golden leaves with the menacing dark sky.