Posted by: kerryl29 | January 30, 2023

The Story Behind the Image: The Mountain

On my first trip to Alaska, on a day in the late summer of 2018, the better part of a day was spent on the Denali National Park bus, burrowing deep into the interior of the park. I was, shall we way, a bit outspoken about the bus experience, but it was the only actionable way to penetrate any distance into the park’s interior on a day pass. So, it was endured. And, ultimately, the process led to the desired result: the opportunity to view The Mountain from a relatively nearby vantage point.

I have described that day’s events in some detail previously on this blog, but the focus of this brief entry is on one particular image: a portrait of The Mountain that I converted to black and white because I thought it worked so well in monochrome.

The short story of the experience is that we took the Denali bus all the way to the Eielson Visitors Center, a one-way trip of roughly four hours. There we disembarked. The Mountain was not visible when we arrived but after 30 minutes or so the clouds seemed to be in the process of lifting. A decision had to be made about whether to get back on the bus and return back to the entrance or to wait at Eielson to see if The Mountain became visible and arrange to take another, later bus back to the disembarkation point. We chose the latter. It turned out to be a good call because, after another 30 minutes or so, The Mountain became partially and then fully visible and remained so for the the duration of our time at Eielson; we were on the ground there for several hours in all.

When the clouds parted sufficiently for the entire Mountain to become visible, I photographed the subject in countless ways, using every lens in my bag. That included my telephoto lens, by which The Mountain itself, its foothills and the low-hanging clouds that continued to fill its valleys, could be isolated in complementary layers. Since little color, apart from the sky, was visible, a black and white conversion seemed like an obvious choice. And the final version, which highlighted these layers and showed off the freshly deposited snow blowing off the peaks, epitomized Denali for me.

The final product is below.

The Mountain Black & White, Eielson Area, Denali National Park, Alaska


  1. Gorgeous image, Kerry — perfect for B&W. I wasn’t following your blog in 2018, so just now read your account of the Denali bus with some interest. Not sure whether I’ll ever get there, but if I do this is good intel.

    • Thanks, Steve!

      If you do find yourself seriously considering a trip to Denali, be sure to see if the bus strictures have changed. Even since the time I wrote the piece that you read, circumstances have forced some significant changes. The road has been closed, due to a landslide near Polychrome Pass a couple of years ago, and the buses only go to…I can’t remember exactly, but something like mile marker 44, while they’re in the process of completely changing the road’s route. The construction season in central Alaska is, for obvious reasons, very short, so I don’t know when the new route will be completed and the full length of the road reopened to bus traffic. The impediments have been in place, to some degree, for at least three years now and I doubt the road will be finished in time for this year’s season.

      But the point is, whenever they reopen the road, there very well could be new rules and schedules and norms in place that will impact travel in the park and, in terms of ease of moving around, the situation is almost certainly going to get worse, not better. That will be bad for photographers and sightseers, at least superficially, but probably good for the park ecosystem and the plants and animals that make up that ecosystem.

  2. That is definitely a stunning image, always interesting to hear the circumstances, and I’m glad you’re on the side of “glad I got it when I could” and not “I wish I’d gone for it while it was possible”! (I will never be able to think of Sevilla without feeling the latter. Doh!)

    • Thanks!

      Yeah, no doubt that, to the extent possible, I like to avoid the regret of “wish I hadn’t passed up that opportunity” syndrome.

  3. Dramatic.

    • Thanks, Jane!

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