A look at my work from behind the curtain
Waiting for the moment pays off in the Catalinas
Catalina State Park resembles a mammoth resting at the foot of the mountains that bear its name.
A dozen hiking trails criss cross its 5,500 acres of foothills, canyons and washes.
Shopping centers across busy Oracle Ave. are dwarfed by the park and its mountains, making them appear as insignificant as last year's fashion.
The Catalinas themselves are the most prominent of the five mountain ranges that surround Tucson and contain the highest average elevation, including Mount Lemmon, which rises a staggering 9,157 feet above sea level.
I haven't hiked every trail in the park, but those that I have walked afford a super up close look of the majestic Catalinas, especially at sunset, as I learned when I took a late afternoon hike along Nature Trail.
Being a novice hiker with one arthritic knee, Nature Trail, seemed an easy 0.9 mile path, even
with a few pounds of photo gear on my back and a camera and tripod slung over my shoulder.
That all changed when I came upon the hill that my Alltrails ap said was almost 70 feet tall.
Seventy feet doesn't seem like much,(think of climbing the staircase of a 5 story building: 1 story equals 14 feet, experts say), but with the load I was carrying, it seemed like 700 feet.
I made it to the top, ok, but in the process, I burned a lot of energy and lost precious time; the soft afternoon light was beginning to fade.
But then I remembered what the renown National Geographic photographer Sam Abel once said:
“One of the things that I most believe in is the compose and wait philosophy of photography. It’s a very satisfying, almost spiritual way to photograph. Life isn’t’ knocking you around, life isn’t controlling you. You have picked your place, you’ve picked your scene, you’ve picked your light, you’ve done all the decision making and you are waiting for the moment to come to you.”
So that's exactly what I did. I walked a bit down the hill and found a spot where the trail wound into a landscape dominated by the mountains. And I waited.
As the sun dropped to near the horizon, the Catalina Mountains lit up, going from muddy grey to a muted yellow orange.
That moment is captured in the image, “Magic Mountain,” available on my website, www.ejschweit.com. It captures the majestic Catalinas; dwarfing, in both size and color, the rest of the landscape, like the mammoth that it is.
Techincal info behind the shot
Camera: Sony A7r
Lens:Sony/Zeiss 70 to 200 f/4
Focal length: 70 mm
F/stop: f13 for max depth of field
Shutter speed: 1/6 of a second to accommodate low ISO
ISO: 50 for least possible noise.
Processing: Lightroom Classic; “burned” edges to emphasize color, texture of mountains
Tip: Wait for sunset, then wait longer. In the mountains, the light can change quickly. Be prepared, with settings dialed in, camera position selected, etc. The best light can change in seconds; you won't get a second chance