Bodie – California Ghost Town – Wheaton and Hollis Hotel – Sunset

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.

Access

  • 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.

Photography Notes

  1. For the interiors, you need wide angle lenses. The wider the better.
  2. I heavily made use of a Canon 11-24 F4.0 L lens often at 11mm.
  3. My second most-used lend was the 17 mm Tilt-Shift lens, for perspective control.
  4. My third most frequently used lens was a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens
  5. 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

  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
  4. Chemung Mine – Ghost Town – Masonic California – Milky Way
  5. Chemung Mine – Ghost Town – Masonic California
  6. Bristlecone Pines – Patriarch and Schulman Groves – Milky Way – Inyo National Forest – California

Equipment List

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

Chemung Mine – Ghost Town – Masonic California

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 11-24 F4.0 L lens at 11mm for 1/320th of a second at F16, ISO 800.

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.

Starburst Tips

To produce a nice starburst effect, position the sun so that it is just peeking out the edge of an object. The light bends around objects as well as the diaphragm blades in the lens.

Tree branches work well and are my typical object. In this case, I use the beam of a ghost town building.

The Canon 11-24 mm lens produces an exceptional starburst.  The number of rays is lens-dependent, more specifically, diaphragm dependent. An even number of diaphragm blades in the lens will produce that many rays. An odd number of diaphragm blades will produce double the number of blades.

Both of the above starburst images were taken with my Canon 11-24 mm lens which has 9 diaphragm blades, thus 18 rays in the resultant image, some obscured by clouds.

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
  4. Chemung Mine – Ghost Town – Masonic California – Milky Way

Equipment List

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

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If you like this article, please share by email or use one of the share buttons beneath the article.

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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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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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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If you like this article, please share by email or use one of the share buttons beneath the article.

You can also follow me on Twitter! I have both an economic forum and a photography forum.

  1. Photography: MishMoments
  2. Economics: MishGEA

MishMoments is a subset of MishGEA. Those interested in photography only should follow MishMoments.

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

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Death Valley: Wildflowers, Ashford Mill, Harmony Borax Works, Rhyolite Ghost Town, Sourdough Saloon

This post covers historical sites in and near Death Valley with some additional wildflower images.

Feature Image Details

The feature image is a single shot, not a composite or focus stack taken at Ashford Mill, a former mining town settlement in Inyo County, California.

The next image shows what’s left of the mill.

The original mill at the site was built in 1914 by brothers named Ashford. The ore was processed here from the Golden Treasure Mine 5 miles to the east in the Amargosa Range, and processed for further smelting.

Wildflower displays in Death Valley are few and far between. “Super blooms” occur every ten years or so. I was there for the “super bloom” in February of 2016. As “super blooms” go, this one was mediocre. In a true “super bloom” there are huge waves of purple and yellow and more densely packed flowers.

Yet, compared to the typical year, this display was magnificent.

Flowers in Mud Cracks

Harmony Borax Works

The Harmony Borax Works is located in Death Valley at Furnace Creek Springs, then called Greenland.

After the discovery of Borax deposits here by Aaron and Rosie Winters in 1881, business associates William Tell Coleman and Francis Marion Smith subsequently obtained claims to these deposits, opening the way for “large-scale” borax mining in Death Valley. The Harmony operation became famous through the use, from 1883 to 1889, of large Twenty-mule teams and double wagons which hauled borax the long overland route to the closest railroad in Mojave, California.

Darwin Falls

Darwin Falls is located just west of Panamint Springs via a 2.5-mile unpaved road. There is no formal trail. A mostly-level, one-mile walk to the falls involves rock scrambling and several stream crossings. I would rate it as easy.

This small spring provides most of the water for Death Valley.

Rhyolite Ghost Town

The Rhyolite Ghost Town is a boom and bust story related to gold mining.

The above link provides a fascinating story of a town that went from boom to bust in a decade. It had a stock exchange and a red light district that drew people all the way from San Francisco.

In 1906 Countess Morajeski opened the Alaska Glacier Ice Cream Parlor to the delight of the local citizenry. That same year an enterprising miner, Tom T. Kelly, built a Bottle House out of 50,000 beer and liquor bottles.

The Bottle House was restored by Paramount pictures in January 1925.

The ghost town of Rhyolite is on a mixture of federal and private land. It is not within the boundary of Death Valley National Park.

Tom Kelley’s Bottle House

Tom Kelley’s Bottle House Side View

The bottle house is now fenced in with a locked gate. A caretaker unlocked the gate for me one afternoon, but mid-day is not a great time for images. The first image shows the porch in the shade. For the side image of the bottles, I used a polarizer to cut glare from the sun.

Polarizers work best at right angles to the sun, and I am pleased by the overall quality in some brutal light.

Union-Pacific Railroad Car Ruins

Cook Bank

That is what’s left of the once booming Cook Bank.

For the above image, I used a Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Lens to maintain proper perspective.

Notice the straight lines on the sides. Tilting a lens up to fit things in, results in buildings (trees, whatever), that appear to be leaning in.

Sourdough Saloon

Sourdough Saloon is in Beatty Nevada, just minutes from Rhyolite.

If you want to dine in a smoke-filled ash-heap, be my guest. I found the place intolerable. I took one step inside, then left. Nevada has few smoking restrictions and this is typical.

That said, I love the iconic look of the place. Also, I was very fortunate to have a jeep in front instead of a parade of cars.

I took that image shortly after sunset. The ambient light and the lights of the saloon balanced out nicely.

As a general rule, nighttime images like this often look best 15-30 minutes after sunset.

Equipment List

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

If you missed them, please check out my previous articles.

  1. Death Valley: Zabriskie Point Sunrise, Manly Beacon
  2. Death Valley: Dante’s View Sunrise
  3. Death Valley: Artist’s Palette
  4. Death Valley: Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes Sunset
  5. Death Valley: Badwater, Salt Polygons, Devil’s Golf Course
  6. Death Valley: Golden Canyon Sunset and Moonrise Images
  7. Death Valley: Natural Bridge, It’s Another World
  8. Death Valley: Aguereberry Point and Aguereberry Camp – Christmas Eve Fog

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock