There's a story behind this image. My wife Joyce and I had been staying at a bed-and-breakfast in the small southwest-Colorado town of Ouray. At breakfast, I mentioned to another guest that I was a photographer. He asked if I knew about Last Dollar Road. When I replied in the negative, he gave me directions to it and asked what kind of car I was driving. When I told him I was driving my 2005 Subaru Outback, he said, "No problem." What he didn't take into account was the fact that it had snowed five or six inches the previous night. That was not obvious from the elevation of Ouray, but as we climbed higher and higher along the unpaved road, the snow got deeper and deeper -- never beyond the capabilities of the car, but close. There was no way I was going to risk pulling off to take photos, despite the temptation, until we got to the pass, where there was a broader turn-off. A short distance from there, I climbed a small point of rock to the vantage point from which I made this image.
But that was just the beginning. The scene before me was awe-inspiring, and I was determined to photograph it. But in the bright glare of late morning, the contrast between the brilliant snow and deep shadows was daunting. And I wanted to capture a broad sweep of the landscape. So, visualizing the final print, I decided to use both HDR and stitching. I turned the camera to "portrait" orientation and shot from six different angles, overlapping about 30% from image to image. At each angle, I made five different exposures. So the final image is composed of 30 separate images. But the results are worth it -- there is excellent detail in both shadows and highlights, and the overall detail in the image is very satisfying. If you look closely, you can just barely see some of the road we drove on after we left the pass, in the bottom-right corner.