The Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town.
Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. The town is named for Waterman S. Body (William Bodey), who had discovered small amounts of gold in hills north of Mono Lake. In 1875, a mine cave-in revealed pay dirt, which led to purchase of the mine by the Standard Company in 1877. People flocked to Bodie and transformed it from a town of a few dozen to a boomtown.
Only a small part of the town survives, preserved in a state of “arrested decay.” Interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods. Designated as a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park in 1962, the remains of Bodie are being preserved in a state of “arrested decay”. Today this once thriving mining camp is visited by tourists, howling winds and an occasional ghost.
- Winter hours 9am to 4pm (November 4th to April 15th)
- Summer hours 9am-6pm (April 15th to November 3rd )
In the winter, you may need a snowmobile to get in. The road is not plowed.
The only access at sunrise, sunset, and the interiors of the building is by permit. The cost is steep. My wife Liz and I went on a photography tour at $800 a pop.
The tour gave us access at sunrise, sunset, and the interiors of the building at mid-day. We went with Jeff Sulivan. Michael Frye also does tours at Bodie.
I was not that interested in instruction. Rather, I paid for access. If you need help, and many did, the instructors are there.
Jeff Sulivan did help me light paint an image at night that I may not have gotten correct on my own accord.
These tours are worth it, especially if you need tips and guidance.
Feature Image Details
I used Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera coupled with a Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Lens. This is a straight-up image.
It’s not easy to explain precisely how a tilt-shift lens works unless you have seen the movements of an old large-format camera that could tilt or shift the focal plane while keeping the camera fixed.
It’s easier to describe the effect. When you point a camera up to take a picture of a tall object, the edges point in. The tops of trees and tall buildings appear to bend to the center of the image. The shift function provides a range of correction to prevent this undesired artifact.
We got lucky. There were good clouds at sunset. Then in the evening, for night photography, there were no clouds at all.
There were about a dozen on this tour with a couple of instructors. I was off on my own for this shot. I am certain I am the only one who captured this opportunity, but I do not know what I missed elsewhere. Light like this seldom lasts long.
- For the interiors, you need wide angle lenses. The wider the better.
- I heavily made use of a Canon 11-24 F4.0 L lens often at 11mm.
- My second most-used lend was the 17 mm Tilt-Shift lens, for perspective control.
- My third most frequently used lens was a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens
- For details, I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens but I could easily have gotten away without it.
You get the idea: wide angle.
Eastern Sierra Area
- Mono Lake, California, Eastern Sierra, Sunset for my favorite Mono Lake image of the trip.
- Mono Lake, California, Eastern Sierra, Sunrise
- Panum Crater Shadows, Eastern Sierras
- Chemung Mine – Ghost Town – Masonic California – Milky Way
- Chemung Mine – Ghost Town – Masonic California
- Bristlecone Pines – Patriarch and Schulman Groves – Milky Way – Inyo National Forest – California
Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.
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This is just the beginning of my Bodie series. Much more coming up.
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Mike “Mish” Shedlock