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Mt Bachelor Sunset, Oregon, USA by Steve J Giardini

I enjoy taking photos in the backcountry during the winter. There are fewer people (even at iconic landmark locations) and the extra effort makes the resulting image so much more satisfying.

Of course photographing in winter conditions does presents some practical challenges. For instances; leveling the tripod in deep snow, adjusting camera settings with gloved fingers, and keeping the camera within its operating temperature specifications!

On the day I took this sunset photo of Mt. Bachelor the ambient temperature in the parking lot was 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 Celsius). I strapped on my snowshoes and backpack and headed up Tumalo Mountain 3 hours before sunset. The exertion required to trek the 2 miles and 1500 feet of elevation kept me warm.

As is usually the case, most folks were headed down the mountain as I was heading up. The well traveled trail made the physical effort a bit easier until I reached my destination and began the off trail walk through soft, mid-shin deep snow.

As sunset approached the ambient temperature began to drop. It was now 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 Celsius). My Nikon D800’s low operating temperature is 0 degrees F (-18 C) according to its manual.

I’ve learned from experience it is a good idea to keep a spare battery close to my body to keep it warm. I put one in my pocket and started to take test exposures. After 30 minutes I was ready for sunset. A light wind made the it feel colder. I’m not sure how cold.

The waiting was over. The sun was setting behind the mountain and it was action time. I switched to the warm battery and using the interval timer function set at 30 seconds let the camera do its work.

As I snowshoed down the mountain with my headlamp trained on the trail I began to rewarm!


Camera Nikon D800
Lens Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
Aperture f/11
S/S 1/4sec
ISO 100
Additional Notes 0.9 GND filter, Really Right Stuff TVC-34 w/BH55 tripod, F-Stopper Gear Tilopa pack
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About Author 

Steve Giardini

Steve J. Giardini is a professional outdoor photographer. He resides in Bend, Oregon, one of the most beautiful places in the USA. An avid outdoorsman, you will often find him high in Cascade Mountain Range or anywhere he can combine his love of hiking, backpacking, kayaking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and bicycling with his passion for landscape and nature photography. Steve sells nature & landscape photo prints, licenses digital files and conducts workshops & private photo tours.

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