There's nothing sweeter than a plan that goes according to plan!! For a couple of years now, I've known that the Art & Marketing Departments at National Geographic prefer predominately blue images for the cover of their single 'official' calendar, both the large wall and the weekly 'engagement' calendars.
With that in mind, I've shot numerous national parks and other places in 11x14 aspect ratio, with title/masthead space, with 'blue' as the dominant color. Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, Havasupai Falls . . . these were a few of the more well known places that skewed blue quite nicely.
But last summer, at a lesser known reflection lake in Mount Rainier, after a bit of a hike, I came across pure magic, although initially it didn't appear that way. As you can see from the image, lenticular clouds were streaming over the summit of Mount Rainier at between 60-80mph. We were some eight thousand feet below but when we arrived at the lake, a light wind rustled the not-yet mirror surface.
For landscape photographers, hope springs eternal but alternate plans are always hatched!! Lemonade comes from lemons they say. In order to try and get a reflection to register on the wind-marred surface, I used 14 f/stops of neutral density filtering & a circular polarizer to allow for a 133 second exposure. No sooner had I clicked off two images (almost five minutes at those exposures!!), the light wind settled and an absolute mirror filled the entire lake, leaving my friends and me gasping with delight and scurrying to nail the shot while conditions lasted. I grabbed three more with long exposures before shooting more traditional exposures without all the filters.
As it was, the longer exposures created a gorgeous effect with the streaming lenticular clouds over the summit while the lake and surrounding trees stayed absolutely still and calm.
So this is what you'll see next year on the National Geographic calendars!! The title, font and placement are going to be different; this was a mock-up using this year's layout that I sent, somewhat cheekily, to my editor. I have a feeling it may have won the day!!
I've been at this for quite a few years now, but it's still a pretty exciting, goose bumpy moment when you score an NG cover.