Day three of my recent Visionary Wild workshop came with a prediction of freezing temperatures at sunrise, and that had me on the lookout for frost. I thought the open fields of Cades Cove would be our best chance, so we headed out early that morning so we could be at the gate when it opened, and hurried towards a spot my fellow instructor Tillman Crane said would let us see the sun rising over the mountains. The frost was incredible, with delicate crystals and structures from the night’s freezing temps. We knew we have to work fast because the sun would melt this incredible scene all too quickly.
I decided to use the Sony FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM lens that Sony had lent me for the trip because I wanted to fill the bottom half of the frame with the incredible detail of the frosty grass and still show the mountains in the distance. This lens is incredibly sharp, and I knew it would hold all the detail in frost crystals across the frame at f11.
When I’m making a picture, I’m usually thinking of what it will look like as a large print, and as a result, some of the things you’d experience at say 16×20 inches or larger are lost on the small view we get with social media platforms. So I’ve included a detail section that shows the frost detail that will be evident when this is printed. It’s this detail that drives my choice of lenses to produce the detail and resolution I’m used to from my years using large format film.
I also did a virtual split neutral density on this by using a darker frame made at 1/90 second , about 2.5 stops darker, for the topmost part to hold some color and tonality in the sky.
Technical: Sony A7RII with Sony FE 12-24mm f2.8 GM lens, 12mm f11 1/15 sec 100 ISO