Climbers on the classic traverse of Matthes Crest, Yosemite National Park, California (click for larger view)
Exploring the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California is a magical experience. The Range of Light, as John Muir affectionately called it, is essentially in my backyard (just a few hours drive away) and I try to make the most of it throughout the year. Winter is a fantastic time to discover the vast solitude that awaits the backcountry skier, late spring and summer provide ample opportunity to backpack to secluded lakes and hidden valleys, and autumn, my favorite time of year, is perfect for sharing the lofty summits with good friends.
Many of the peaks in the range average over 13,000 feet and the views stretch far and wide. Photography in the crisp, clear alpine air needs no polarizing filter to faithfully reproduce the deep indigo hue that looks as if it must have been tweeked in Photoshop. My go-to lens in these high and wild places is the Nikkor 16mm, which has a wide field of view, provides maximum depth of field with extremely close focusing, and is very compact making it especially easy to climb with.
Climbing photography is challenging as vantage points are often limited and safety always comes first. But the heightened sense of awareness that is a requirement when scaling the peaks has a dual benefit - that of visual clarity. Great shots have a way of presenting themselves, and capturing those images is often just a matter of living in the moment.