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.
This is the end of the line… until now.