Chemung Mine – Ghost Town – Masonic California – Milky Way

The Chemong Mine, founded in 1909, is located near the ghost town of Masonic, CA. It was torn down and rebuilt three times. The structures were eventually abandoned in 1939. By the 1950s the nearby town of Masonic was abandoned also, leaving Chemung to fade quietly into the dust.

Feature Image Details

I used Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera coupled with a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 16mm. It’s a composite image. The Milky Way was taken separately but this is the correct position of the stars.

I use an iOptron start tracker to take long exposures without the stars blurring. The camera slowly rotates with the stars. I have a second EOS 5D Mark IV Canon body with Canon’s low-pass filter removed, invalidating my warranty, but granting me an extra stop of light. With the iOptron star tracker, I can easily take 2-minute exposures without the stars blurring. The end result is milky way images with far more stars than the naked eye can see.

But if you are tracking the stars, the land is blurry because it isn’t moving. One needs to blend images if using a star tracker.

These images were taken on September 12.

In late August and September, the Milky Way is nearly vertical. The core of the Milky Way is visible only for a short time after sunset this time of year.

In April, the Milky Way takes on a rounded appearance and is visible only very early in the morning (think 3AM or so). In summer the Milky Way is diagonal.

The core of the Milky Way is not visible from October through February.

Additional Chemung Mine Images

If you are visiting the Mono Lake area and the ghost town of Bodie, this ghost town is right in the area and worth a visit. Unlike Bodie, there are no hour restrictions. At your own risk, you can enter the buildings.

Bodie is far better preserved and there are many more buildings. But the hours at Bodie are restricted and you can only enter the buildings on a private tour.

Mono Lake Area

  1. Mono Lake, California, Eastern Sierra, Sunset for my favorite Mono Lake image of the trip.
  2. Mono Lake, California, Eastern Sierra, Sunrise
  3. Panum Crater Shadows, Eastern Sierras

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Coming Up: An Ancient 5,000-year-old Bristlecone Pine forest followed by the Ghost Town of Bodie.

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5 thoughts on “Chemung Mine – Ghost Town – Masonic California – Milky Way

  1. The first photo is top notch. Love the Milky Way in the shot. Difficult to see Milky Way where I live due to too much light pollution.

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  2. Great shots. It looks like in the first shot the town was photographed during the golden hour. Did you use light painting on the second two shots?

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    1. Excellent observation by David. The first and third shots were indeed taken in the last waning moments of sunlight.
      The middle shot was light painted. My wife Liz was freaked out being out there alone at night. I moved the car up at the top of the hill for the middle shot. The road was rutted but drivable. She would not have liked it one bit being down at the bottom of the hill by herself.

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  3. Mish,

    How does the iOptron star tracker work? Do you lock in on 1 star and then the device automatically tracks that one item?

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    1. All brands of the star trackers work the same way.
      In the Northern hemisphere, you align the sighting tube (small telescope actually), with the North Star. That is not perfect alignment but it is easily good enough. There are also phone apps that will show you with concentric rings around the North Star just where to place it in the scope. I have found that the sighting tube alone, without the telescope, gives great results for a couple minutes. The longer the exposure and the greater the magnification the more accurate one needs to be. I typically use a 24mm lens. The device itself slowly rotates around the North Star at the correct pace.

      Since the device is tracking the stars, the land will then be blurry. So the moment you start using such a device, you are also committed to blending images of the stars with a separate image of the land.

      Once you are at that point you realize the best thing to do is get a perfect image of the stars alone and blend it in. So I look for a clear spot to capture the Milky Way.

      I can tell with an app Photo Pills where to place it. I will not put a Milky Way image in a shot facing North.

      Others have different techniques, the one I describes will get the highest quality images for sure. One needs to be good with masking techniques – a necessary skill anyway, once one uses a star tracker. It is not that heavy. I used it at Delicate Arch in Arches NP for a very nice panorama, not yet posted.

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