Dawn Spreads Over Harpers Ferry

Reading Time Approx: 2 minutes

The view from outside the derelict Hilltop House hotel is quite spectacular but it’s also a surprisingly difficult one to capture on camera. You can see the two rivers, the Potomac and the Shenandoah meeting and carve a path through the surrounding mountains. In person it is both impressive and wonderfully relaxing, but representing what the human eye sees is not just a matter of matching the field of view.

Not only is the human brain very good and de-focussing irrelevant elements, but it also uses additional sense inputs to color your perceptions. So it’s not just what I see when I’m standing there, it’s the sound of the wind and the birds, the smells, the temperature. All of these things together create the image that my eyes “see”. How then to replicate that in camera?

I have struggled with that at this location for years. Even the simple act of composing the shot is limited by the geography. What you can’t tell from this image is that there’s a steep slope right next to where I’m standing, so I can’t easily step a little bit to the left to change the angle of my shot. And although I’m high up compared to the rivers, there are lot of rapidly growing trees right below me that encroach on the shot… maybe I should take a stepladder with me next time…

Sometimes I zoom in to avoid that, but I really wanted to capture the whole vista so I didn’t do that this time. I was hoping that the rock outcropping in the bottom right part of the image would be more of a foreground interest, but that didn’t really pan out. What I was able to bring out in the edits though was the warmth of the sun as it crept around and over the mountains.


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