Mt. McKinley Panoramic

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Denali, Photos, Travel 1 Comment

Mt McKinley Panoramic

As part of this blog, I hope to share some of what went into an image, the story behind the photo if you will.  I figured what better photo to start with then the current image in the mast head, Mt McKinley Panoramic

Denali National Park is one of my favorite places to photograph.  It has the largest Moose in the world, amazing Caribou, and my favorite subject, wild wolves.  There is more to Denali then just big mammals;  the landscape opportunities are wonderful as well.  From the delicate little tundra flowers to the massive mountains, there is something for all tastes.

But, by far and away the most impressive part of Denali is Mt. McKinley.  It is usually referred to as Denali or as “The Mountain” by most Alaskan’s.  Unfortunately, I have never seen the most amazing part of The Mountain captured effectively in a photograph, and that is it sheer size and vertical relief.  You will never forget the first time you see Mt McKinley up close – it is amazing just how far above the surrounding landscape the mountain rises.  I have often been told it has the greatest vertical relief of any mountain in the world, which is some 17,000 feet or more depending on where you stand.  It by far exceeds much larger mountains such as Mt. Everest because they typically have much higher base elevations.

Seeing The Mountain is no easy feat – it is too bad more visitors to Alaska don’t get to experience this thrill.  Denali is so large it creates its own weather, so most summer days it is shrouded in clouds, even when the rest of the Park is in sun. 

I usually visit Denali National Park a couple times each summer.  On this day, I had just arrived at the Park when a nice high pressure system began to build in the evening.  I knew I might have a chance for a shot at The Mountain.  I tried to grab an hour or two of sleep before getting up at about midnight.  I needed to begin early so that I could be at this location (Reflection Pond) by 3:00 a.m. or so for the wonderful first morning light and alpenglow. 

I must confess I didn’t realize the nearly full moon would be visible.  Our long days of sun in the summer also mean very limited full moon viewing; in fact it had risen only an hour before to the left of the mountain, disappeared behind it only to barely emerge on the right side on its way down, as captured in this image. For me, the moon added an interesting element to the overall image.

I don’t own a panoramic camera, this image is actually made up of three separate images captured with a Canon 1Ds and a Canon tilt / shift lens.  I will write more on this equipment and techniques in the future. 

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