Sunday, May 6, 2012

El Capitan

El Capitan is one of the signature mountains of west Texas.  It might even be THE signature mountain of all of Texas.  It is a beacon visible for many miles across the desert and the views of it from above and below are spectacular.

El Capitan marks the end of the Guadalupe Mountains.  The mountians end here in a vertical cliff that is "V" shaped with the pint of the "V" being El Capitan.  See from above  it is like the prow of a ship, hence the name.  It is impressive.  It's neighbor is Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in the state of Texas.  Today both are part of Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

The mountain and the park are a hidden gem of the park system and a favorite photograph destination.

The Guadalupes, or Guads as we call them, rise up out of the desert and reach an elevation of just under 9,000 feet.  From the salt basin to its west that is over a mile of elevation gain.  Dramatic vistas, desert canyons, sand dunes, salt flats, and hidden in the mountains, aspen, pines and maples. 
Here is what I would call the normal view of El Cap.  This is taken from the second rest area in Guadalupe Pass and right beneath the peak.  I arrived at the park on a very clear sky morning and decided to go with this location as I could fill most of the frame with the mountain and not have too much sky.

It helped that the winds were calm too as this location is often far too windy for large format work.

I went with the longer lens (210mm I think-I don't make notes he says sheepishly......) and tried to get that first light on the peak.

The light was warm but not that awesome orange glow I was hoping for.  I shot a couple of sheets but but the time the cliffs were all lit, I knew the best was already over.

I packed up and started down the mountain toward the salt flats and my mind was already on a plate of huevos rancheros in Dell City.........

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