How I Got That Shot - Wayson Wight's Ostler Peak Sunset

Wayson Wight (waysonwight.com) creates dramatic imagery across the Western United States, in a fine art tradition.  Based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, he has taken images from the towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the stretching coastlines of the Pacific Ocean.  Wayson’s goal is to create photographs that inspire the viewer to take the time to get out of the city/office/home and experience wild spaces in their own way. He sells his work primarily to private collectors as limited edition, fine art pieces.

Wayson:  "I’m no different than anyone else; I’ve got things that I enjoy in life. Some of my very favorite activities are outdoor photography and backpacking. Either one is a great deal of fun alone, but combine them, and I have created some of my favorite memories.  One such memory was the sunset I was able to photograph of Ostler Peak in the High Uinta Mountain Range earlier this summer.

BACKGROUND

"Although I’d backpacked in the Uintas before on many occasions, I had never been to this particular area before. I had very basic ideas of an image I’d like to create from the area, but as with any nature photography, you take what the location and the light gives you. After about a six and a half mile hike, a friend and I arrived at this particular meadow during the harsh contrasting light of mid-day. I immediately saw the potential of the meandering creek as a foreground to the powerful-looking Ostler peak in the background. We set up our camp not far from this location, and I took out the camera and began to look for the very best compositions. I always try to remind myself to "get greedy" when framing a scene. After a lot of trial an error, I had found a composition that incorporated all the elements I was looking for: a solid leading line in the foreground, the subtle reflection of the peak in the still water, and a nice balance of the major elements of the scene.

APPROACHING THE SHOT

"This was mid-day and I was 99% sure this was the location I wanted to spend my valuable sunset at, but as I said earlier I try to stay greedy when it comes to creating images, so with the idea of finding a better location we set out to explore the area further. We hiked up another 45 minutes to Amethyst Lake, which was beautiful and breathtaking, but it didn’t work well with the way the light was coming in. After an hour or two of searching it was clear the meadow scene was the best chance I had for a memorable image. We dropped back down with plenty of time for me to recompose the scene worry free because of my earlier work during mid-day.

"At this point creating the image was relatively straight-forward. When shooting reflections, I usually use my 2 (soft) stop Singh-Ray Graduated Neutral Density filter, as typically the reflection is two stops darker than the sky. With the camera on tripod, I set my 10-second timer, while looking through the viewfinder, I staged the GND filter where I wanted and snapped the image in one exposure.  My post-processing workflow included adding contrast, boosting clarity, sharpening, some minor exposure corrections and adding some saturation.

LOOK FOR NEW LOCATIONS

"My most rewarding images are ones created without another photo for reference. I encourage everyone to not only shoot the iconic locations (ie. Mesa Arch in Canyonlands) but challenge yourself with discovering lesser known places with unique compositions. A shot like this represents the facets of outdoor photography that keep me inspired: solitude, a sense of adventure, an opportunity to get far away from civilization, and an opportunity to discover new and amazing locations."

WAYSON'S EQUIPMENT FOR THE SHOT

Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: Canon 17 - 40 mm f/4
Settings: ISO 100, f/11, 1/25th of a second
Other: Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod, PhotoClam Ballhead, Singh-Ray 2SS GND Filter

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