Mission to Mission Peak

Mission Peak Sunset

Mission Peak Sunset, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

On Thursday evening Steven, Eric, and I took the “steep trail” up the flanks of Mission Peak (above Fremont, California). Steven’s goal was to set his camera up to take continuous 30 second star exposures over night. He planned to retrieve his gear the next day. The concept worked, the camera was still there, and the time lapse imagery, particularly the “Dazzler” section, makes for fascinating viewing. Check out the airplane trails in this star stack of Steven’s.

On the hike we came across some toads, a snake skin, and some mortar holes to pound grain used before there was a Silicon Valley. Mosquitos bit, I got a few touches of poison oak, and the steep trail lived up to its name. All in all, par for the course for a dramatic night hike in California in the summertime.

What I enjoy most about Mission Peak is the paradoxical sense of being both present and remote. The city is spread about below like a glittering river of lights, but the slopes of the mountain are serene and for the most part empty.

These two shots are HDR—High Dynamic Range—composites, each from five bracketed exposures. I put the bottom layers together using Adobe Photoshop’s Merge to HDR Pro. Mostly, this didn’t give me the tonal values I was looking for—so I manually layered in the earth and sky over the autoblend HDR backgrounds. My idea was to present the contrast I’ve mentioned between the remote and serene slopes of the mountain and Bay area civilization, apparently remote below—but actually only a few miles away.

Old Fence, Mission Peak

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