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Mt. Katahdin Reflecting in Sunday Pond

A close-up of "Mt. Katahdin Reflecting in Sunday Pond" by Aaron Priest: an ultra-high-resolution VAST photo.
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494 megapixels! A very high resolution, large-format VAST photo of Mt. Katahdin and Sunday Pond; fine art landscape photograph created by Aaron Priest in Baxter State Park, Maine

Mt. Katahdin Reflecting in Sunday Pond

Baxter State Park, Maine

Camping in the woods of northern Maine doesn’t offer many amenities, but for those willing to wake early enough, the sunrise views are worth it! Mt. Katahdin reflecting in Sunday Pond near Baxter State Park is one such iconic view. Baxter Peak, the middle summit, is the highest point in Maine at 5,267 feet above sea level and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

I brought a fellow photographer and pitched a tent near the edge of this small pond for a couple days, exploring the area and shooting panoramas and timelapses. A large storm front blew through overnight making for some epic timelapse material in the moonlight and very wet gear! By dawn the clouds had nearly all vanished and we watched the sky turn to a vibrant blue as the fog lifted. The crisp, fresh air provided a clear view of the mountain without any haze and its stillness left a mirror reflection in the pond.

Happy with the timelapse material we had captured, I dried the camera, switched lenses, and cautiously carried my Panoneed robotic panning head and tripod into the bog. I was careful to stick to moose and deer paths through the bog to not damage any of the fragile bushes and moss. I positioned the camera to shoot a 360° panorama of the whole scene with the dew on the spider webs, the mountain’s reflection, the sunrise through the trees behind me, and a small cabin in the woods. I chose a 70mm focal length to give me about 1,500 megapixels for plenty of resolution. With the tripod fully extended and the camera a little over 7 feet in the air, an aperture of f/16 gave me enough depth of field for the ground to be in focus. I metered the landscape and decided to shoot a bracket of 7 exposures to capture the full dynamic range of light from the brightest sunlit tree to the darkest rock in the shade. It took about 20 minutes to capture all 945 photos.

Post-processing this VAST photo back at the computer took several weeks. It was a real challenge to stitch with such dramatically changing light throughout the scene. I had to edit and blend each row independently as well as some specific images to get a perfect panorama, because portions of the sky and pond were darker than others with the sunrise. Some of the clouds had drifted too during the several minutes it took to capture all the individual frames, and they had to be aligned by hand as well. The finished product is a symbol of what draws visitors to the Katahdin region year after year.

Camera settings: 70mm, f/16, ISO 200, and 7 exposures spaced 1.3 EV apart from 1/1250 to 1/5 second.

Stitching data: 135 positions x 7 brackets for a total of 945 photos.

Equipment used: Nikon D700, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, Promote Control, Panoneed robotic panning head, and Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod w/ leveling base. RAW conversion to 16-bit TIFF via Lightroom, exposure fusion with Oloneo, aligned via AutoPano Giga, and blended in Photoshop.

Date & TimeJune 16, 2013:  6:51am
LocationBaxter State Park, Maine
Coordinates45.802911, -68.893010
Focal Length70
Shutter Speed1/80
Number of Exposures938

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Your print comes with two certificates of authenticity hand-signed by the artist and the printmaker: one that you will affix to the finished piece and one that remains standalone. Additionally, your print's provenance is tracked and verified using state-of-the-art digital technology. Learn more.

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Acrylic glass display

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Total Pixels493,578,929
Horizontal Pixels42,961
Vertical Pixels11,489
Aspect Ratio3.74 : 1
File Size2,820 MB
Width @ 300ppi (perfect)11.93 feet
Height @ 300ppi3.19 feet
Width @ 150ppi (near-perfect)23.87 feet
Height @ 150ppi6.38 feet

Date & TimeJune 16, 2013:  6:51am
LocationBaxter State Park, Maine
Coordinates45.802911, -68.893010
Focal Length70
Shutter Speed1/80
Number of Exposures938

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Photo id: 10267