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 a Canon 11-24 F4.0 L lens at 11mm, F16, ISO 250.
- 11MM is ultra-wide. I am just inches away from that billiards table. My camera is level. Either the floor or the billiards table isn’t. I suspect the latter. The front windows are square.
- Depth of field is incredible with this lens at 11mm but it does not extend from a few inches to infinity. I took many photographs and blended them manually so everything is sharp.
- The inside light and that outside light are vastly different. I had to take many exposures and blend them. I had Lightroom do this for a starting point but the results were not good. I then blended in portions of other exposures in Photoshop, again manually.
- This shot is heavily backlit. The sun is shining in causing flare. I edited out the flare in Lightroom. The backlighting also required editing care so the light falloff on the walls from the wall looks natural.
Sometimes when I refer to my images, I say things like “this is an easy shot, just be there”. This is not one of those times.
Meals at All Hours
You can’t get that kind of service today.
That is another complicated image. It was also taken at 11mm and blended as described above. Let’s hone in on some details.
The Finest Typewriter
I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at f16. For the above image.
That’s “The Smith Premium Typewriter” left behind gathering dust.
Now let’s check out the state of the art communications system.
Bodie Hotel Communications
That image may look straight-forward, but it’s not. I used a perspective-control Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L Tilt-Shift Lens: blending various exposures. Exposure blending was necessary due to severe light falloff from the windows.
I used a tilt-shift lens to avoid bending the vertical lines. I wanted the walls of the room square from that placement.
That is what a guest room at the hotel looked like. Once again the 11-24 mm lens came into play at 11 mm.
The above three images were taken at 15mm, 14mm, and 11mm respectively. I am just inches away from the scales and other interesting items in the shot immediately above.
- For the interiors, you need wide angle lenses. The wider the better. The above images show why.
- 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. That will come into play in other interiors.
- 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.
Wheaton and Hollis Hotel at Sunset
In case you missed it, please see Bodie – California Ghost Town – Wheaton and Hollis Hotel – Sunset.
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.
There is much more coming up: Sam Leon’s saloon, the morgue, the Methodist church, a Shell gas station, the schoolhouse, the barbershop, other buildings, and milky way shots at night.
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Mike “Mish” Shedlock