How did we achieve a extraordinay feat of a New World Record in Distant Landscape? Here it is the complete story!
Getting to be the first to achieve the Longest Line of Sight on Earth has always been a great challenge for us. It is one of the best recognitions for our work, but things were not always easy.
Here it is how we got to capture the Most Distant Picture Ever Taken.
The Beginnings of a World Record…
In early 2014 it was known – although not by many people – that the farthest landscape in the world portrayed from another land point, at least published, seemed to be Denali peak (Alaska) by Larry Chapman. Jonathan Ferranti, the leading expert at that time on this subject, stated this on his website.
Marc Bret, an amateur photographer who loved the contemplation of distant silhouettes and sought to portray the farthest horizons, after finding the commented reference, thought about the possibility of overcoming that from other places on the planet.
It seemed difficult, but not impossible, to think that among other mountains in the world, a contemplation with a longer distance could be resolved and in particular he suspected and verified that between the Pyrenees and the Alps the distance and the topography allowed enough.
He realized that this situation was a clear opportunity and started to look for the best line of sight for the purposes. And, of course, for the best meteorological conditions to achieve it, which however was the main difficulty.
However, he also realized the possibility of a great factor that could be an ally: The sun. Determining the angle of sunrise at dates close to the solstice, he realized that the sun, from certain Pyrenean peaks, appears each year behind some peaks of the maritime alps and specifically found that in a singular mountain, the Tete de l’Estrop from the Canigó, the event would take place on July 13-14 and other summits somewhat more distant also but less singular, at other later dates.. For know it in detail, it used the generation of panoramic simulations through certain web-tools as well as deductions of the azimuth of the sunrise from a certain height above the sea level. We believe that we have highlighted about this throughout various reports.
Then, in contact with other photographers that liked to portray distant landscapes also, he asked him if they wanted to share the possible adventure also. Here began the seed of the group.
Together we reanalyzed the suitable dates for the event. Juanjo Diaz de Argandoña, through a graphic simulation program that he had designed from other calculation sources that determined the position of the sun from certain heights, seemed to be very accurate and confirmed the predicted date of M. Bret as possible for get it, although the consecutive day could be even somewhat better due to refraction.
Potential views from Eastern Pyrenees to Alpes-Maritines and further peaks.
So, this process brought us to the summit of Pic del Canigó: we had calculated that the sun will rise behind Tête de l’Estrop by 06:15:11 am.
First Confirmation: The Cold Dawn of July 13th, 2014.
After a long way up during the night, we arrive to the summit just minutes before sunrise, at 06:00 am.
Great refraction on that morning made the sun to be a little to the left, rising behind the closer Tête de Chabriere. The view was incredible and we were able to capture the farthest picture on Earth by that time, and as well gather important information to fine tune our tool for the next adventures.
So, a new World Record was achieved and we were very happy to start this race again and to have a succesful first attempt on the Alps.
The base was set, the tools were ready and there was still a lot of potential around Golfe du Lion to be unveiled.
We were still thinking that the Sun was the best way to capture this ultra-distant summits. Our experience proved that only in front of the direct solar disk, if the clouds were absent, we could have a guarantee of some success in get it.
But now we jump directly to 2015, a year of great progress.
A little bit further: the morning of Saturday 3rd January, 2015.
The possibility of portraying other mountains of the alps, higuer, more distants and not positioned in front of the sun and therefore largely dependent on the weather, was nonetheless in our minds. M.Bret, thanks to his previous studies some years ago in relation to the visibility factors related to the possibilities of other distant mountains, suspected that one day would be a good date to try to portray the Ecrins from another area of the Eastern Pyrenees. And certainly, the choose day, the long-awaited mountains appeared portrayed although so dimly that he himself confessed that at first glance, contemplation didn’t become possible, but that he nevertheless perceived a great singular mountain of Provence at more than 300 kms, Mont Ventoux, also called Ventor in the Occitan language.
The Sun comes into play: the magical Dawn of May 17th, 2015.
Imagine you capture the sun rising exactly at the horizon during a whole year.
And imagine you do so starting on the 21st of December (Winter Solstice).
Then, you will see that it moves from SouthEast to North (reaching the Northernmost part of the trip exactly on the Summer Solstice, 21st of June) and then back to East and a little south after equinox.
This means that for a defined point in the horizon, if the sun crosses it once, it will happen twice in the same year: in 2014 we captured the sun rising behind the Alps in July, in 2015 we wanted to do so in May.
And we, of course, wanted to increase the distance. If in 2014 we reached 381 kilometers, that time the target was 388 kilometers.
For this reason, we decided to go for a different set of mountains against the sun. These ones will be a little farther and also, luckily, much more photogenic because the previous year, the chosen mountain had not been very centered.
So there we are, top of Canigó, one year later. The sky is not that clear but we just need to see the sun rising just above the horizon line. Hours of trekking and effort evaluated in just some seconds.
And it happened, just exactly as we had forecasted it.
This is one of the farthest sunrises that can be captured from Pic du Canigó, so we were happy for this achievement. Images captured by Juanjo Diaz de Argandoña and Jordi Solé. M.Bret finally opted for another option.
After the succes of the Canigó, now our eyes turned back to the daylight picture from January 2015: if it was really possible to capture the Alps during daytime, then we can go a little bit further (again).
In perfect daylight: the clear morning of February 21st, 2016.
So now we go to early 2016, when cold airmasses and powerful high pressure systems provide the perfect (may be once in a year) conditions for a very long sight, if they happen.
The photography was achieved through the use of a polarizing filter, taking advantage of the morning time when the sun was 90 degrees from the landscape, a purpose fully sought circumstance after contemplating the alps a few hours earlier, at dawn, from another ascended mountain. M.Bret from that commented that the snowy alpine mountains looked like little white dots, like stars withouth zoom.
Longer than ever: the sunrise of July 26th, 2016.
The farthest picture ever taken on Earth was recorded without the direct help of the sun. M.Bret, having analyzed (some years ago) the maximum potential axes of visibility in the Europe and the world, chose the Pic de Finestrelles, from the Vall de Núria (Eastern Pyrenees) to portray the Alps again. He also chose the day that seemed to him that there was a meteorological situation extraordinary for that season and went together with another friend (Marc Larroya) to the summit. After sunrise the silhouettes appeared on the horizon before their eyes, thanks to the good combination of the solar position moment, the atmospheric refraction and the purity of the air, of course.
This is, however, why we got here. Distant photography has a very important part relaying in forecast, analysis and investigation. But it always has a part that is unpredictable.
The thoughts in your mind while you are climbing the mountain analyzed for days that makes you think, “Will it be possible?”, “Are we right?”. We guess this is the real point on doing what be do.
We deal with the known, but the final achievement is always depending on the unknown also.
In comparison with Compact Cameras (which have good image quality and are the lightest) and DSLR (which are heavier but have the best image quality) it seems we have to choose between Quality and Weight…
…and it was the case, until the introduction of Mirrorless Cameras.
Combining a DSLR class sensor in a Compact camera body, these newly introduced cameras can provide the best image quality of all while being just as light as a compact camera.
Nikon’s most affordable Mirrorless camera with a crop (APS-C) sensor and a very interesting price below 1.000 EUR.
Image Quality is promised to be even better than in the D7500, so we have lots of hope with this camera and what could bring in the future.
Full-Frame companion of the Z50, with the associated advantages: reduced Noise – to – Signal ratio and increased Dinamyc Range to capture the best images in contrast situations (like this shot of Gran Canaria island for the Summit of Teide peak)
An smaller version of the FZ72, this time with 12 Megapixel sensor and 30x optical zoom. A really light camera with only 217 grams of weight, makes it perfect to have it in you pocket, just in case an opportunity arises!
Digital SLR feature a bigger sensor than many of the Digital Cameras out there (also bigger than mobile phone cameras). This allows for better image quality and less noise.
The Manual control of Digital SLR Cameras also allow for better pictures in challenging conditions (such as the ones found in the summit of a Mountain at 6AM) with low light, faint distant objects and (usually) wind.
Body-only options with high quality images tested by our team in the most remote areas to achieve world record class pictures.
Crop Sensor DSLR, which is the best evolution (to date) of the Nikon D5100, which has been used several times during the last years by the Beyond Horizons team, to capture sights like this one of the Alps from the Pyrenees.
A camera is nothing with a lense attached to it, and even more in the extremely demanding conditions of a ultra – distant picture.
We have selected some of the best lenses in the market, ranging in prices and portability, to fit your needs in the best possible way
Sigma 18 – 300 mm F 3.5 – 6.3 DC Macro HSM
There is an option to use a Telephoto Zoom Lense, like the Sigma 70 – 300, which is not expensive at all and can provide good details, whilst being also practical for other daily life pictures like trips of portraits.
This is one of the best Lenses for Long Distance Photography in the balance between Budget and Image Quality. The long range of this Telephoto lense allows you up to an (equivalent) of 900 mm. which is more than enough for any landscape and Far Sighting.
On the other side, it is more heavy than the Sigma above, but it compensates that with a great Image Quality.
If you like as well Nature Photography, you will love this Lense.
Benefits: Image Quality, Zoom, Autofocus (more on this later).
With the only addition of Manual Focus (which is, I would say, a more real approach to Photography) a Telescope added to your DSLR can provide the best Image Quality of the products we have highlighted for you.
This comes as a result of the simple optics (usually 2 or 3 lenses, far less than the 9 of a usual telephoto lense) and the Apochromatic Coating and Materials used. This is usually a very valued characteristic in Astrophotography, which we use in our benefit for Long Distance Pictures.
Anyway… what can be better to capture sights at more than 400 Km. away than what it’s use to image the Stars!