Every so often, the light, wind and snow come together just perfectly enough to create a scene that looks otherworldly. A strong storm was moving in over Rocky Mountain National Park this past Saturday that provided the perfect conditions to produce what I refer to a Bierstadt lighting. Clouds swirled over Hallet Peak as the intense first rays of sunshine filtered through the blowing snow off the Continental Divide.
The light was changing quickly and only lasted a short time before the sun began to be blocked out by the passing of ever more clouds in the sky. I chose to isolate Hallet Peak from it’s neighboring peaks to highlight the drama going on in the sky and around Hallet. Isolating Hallet Peak allowed for me to showcase the drama unfolding this morning. The resulting image of Hallet this morning seemed to take on an owed to Albert Bierstadt.
Albert Bierstadt’s name is familiar to many visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park as well as Colorado. Bierstadt Lake only a mile or so from where this image was photographed is named in this nineteenth century painter in his honor. Bierstadt travelled the west painting dramatic canvases of the high peaks and breathtaking mountain vistas. Bierstadt travelled to Estes Park during his second journey through the west in 1863.
If you have ever viewed one of Albert Bierstadt’s paintings in person, they are quite a site to behold. Bierstadt often painted on very large canvases. The Hudson River School painter emboldened the scenes before him and often took liberties in exaggerating the scale of the mountains and the drama and weather surrounding them.
In many ways, Bierstadt’s dramatic style is mirrored by today’s landscape photographers. Like many of today landscape photographers, Bierstadt’s style was often panned by critics as being unreal and over the top. Modern day landscape photographers often here similar critiques. On mornings such as this one, it’s easy to see what inspired Bierstadt’s love of the west and his desire to showcase it’s dramatic beauty.