Bodie Ghost Town – Barbershop, Boarding House, Firehouse

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 but worth it. 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.

Feature Image Details

I used a Canon 11-24 F4.0 L lens at 20mm, F4.5, ISO 6400 for 61 seconds. Stars will streak beyond about 20 seconds so I shot them separately with a star tracker then merged the images.

The formula for determining when stars will stop looking like points if governed by the formula e = 400/FL.

E is the exposure time in seconds. 400 is a constant from experience and FL is the focal length of the lens in mm.

The result of this image would be 20 seconds. My exposure was 60 seconds.

Barbershop Interior

Boarding House

We did not have access to that building. I took the above shots through a window.

They were taken with a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 16mm and 19mm continuing the streak of very wide angle images.

Firehouse

Additional Bodie Images

  1. Bodie – California Ghost Town – Wheaton and Hollis Hotel – Sunset.
  2. Bodie – California Ghost Town – Wheaton and Hollis Hotel – Interior
  3. Bodie Ghost Town – Boone Store Shell Station and 1927 Dodge Graham Pickup Truck
  4. Bodie Ghost Town – Sam Leon Saloon

The first two articles discuss the importance of very wide angle lenses and tilt-shift lenses for photographing Bodie and the interiors of buildings in general.

Wide angle lenses were used again in this set.

Eastern Sierra Area

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.

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

Bristlecone Pines – Patriarch and Schulman Groves – Milky Way – Inyo National Forest – California

The term Bristlecone pine covers three species of the pine tree (family Pinaceae). One tree is over 5,000 years old (think 3000 BC) making it the oldest living thing on the planet. They grow in harsh conditions, at high elevations in areas with little rainfall, where hardly anything else grows. The bristlecone pine is extremely drought tolerant due to its branched shallow root system, its waxy needles, and thick needle cuticles that aid in water retention. In good soil, it will quickly rot.

The wood is very dense and resinous, and thus resistant to invasion by insects, fungi, and other potential pests. The tree’s longevity is due in part to the wood’s extreme durability. While other species of trees that grow nearby suffer rot, bare bristlecone pines can endure, even after death, often still standing on their roots, for many centuries. Rather than rot, exposed wood, on living and dead trees, erodes like stone due to wind, rain, and freezing, which creates unusual forms and shapes.

The bristlecone pine has an intrinsically low rate of reproduction and regeneration, and it is thought that under present climatic and environmental conditions the rate of regeneration may be insufficient to sustain its population. Many bristlecone pine habitats have been protected, including the Inyo National Forest’s Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains of California and the Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

These images are from the Patriarch and Schulman Groves in the Inyo National Forest. The visitor center is in the Schulman Grove, and the road is paved all the way. The Patriarch Grove is 1,000 feet higher, unpaved, and very slow traveling, It takes about an hour to go 13 miles. The most important things are to have good tries and drive slow.

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 9 and 13.

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.

The Feature Image is from the Patriarch Grove. The next image is from the Schulman Grove.

Both images were taken right at or just after sunset. I use Photo Pills to place the position of the Milky Way correctly.

General Tips

  1. Literature says you need a high clearance vehicle to get to the Patriarch Grove. You don’t. You do need good tires and patience.
  2. Expect to take an hour to go about 13 miles.
  3. The elevation at the top is 11,000 feet. It can be 90 degrees forty miles away and 50 degrees at the top.
  4. Expect wind, especially at the  Patriarch Grove.
  5. The sun dips behind mountains at least an hour before official sunset. Get to the top early.

Photography Notes

  1. I did not photograph the largest trees. Rather, I selected trees that I could easily isolate against a clear sky.
  2. I use the term “easily isolate” loosely. These trees are moving in the wind. It takes a high ISO and proper exposure just to counteract the wind. And it can be a real pain in the ass masking out branches and needles even if you do stop the wind motion. Expect to spend a lot of time on images like these if you adopt my technique.
  3. In high wind conditions, it is not realistically possible to get a sharp image of the trees and the stars in one shot with normal techniques.
  4. To combine images like I did, you do need to be proficient at masking techniques.
  5. At 11,000 feet the air is very clear. This is a dark sky area. Take Milky Way panoramas and learn how to blend them.
  6. I used video lights to help light both images.
  7. Mars produces a nice starburst at F4 exposed for 1.5 to 2 minutes.
  8. Milky way detail at F4 and ISO 1600 is far better than anything you can get with normal all-in-one-shot techniques.

Mono Lake – 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

Equipment List

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

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Coming Up: 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.

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  2. Economics: MishGEA

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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

Monument Valley: Yei Bi Chei Milky Way and Sand dunes

Monument Valley is a Navajo Indian tribal park on the border of northeastern Arizona and southeastern Utah.

It’s a beautiful place but access is difficult without a guide and guides are costly. The restaurants do not serve or sell alcohol but you can bring it and have it in your room.

There is only one trail that does not require a guide. Even then, the main trail is sunrise to sunset. This makes life difficult for anyone seeking night-time images.

If this sounds problematic, remember, this is their land, private land.

Feature Image Details

The Rokinon is actually a pretty crappy lens in numerous ways. It is manual focus only. The corners are not sharp, wide open. It is not usable, in my opinion, at F1.4 or F1.8. F2.0 is questionable. Others disagree.

Importantly, I have seen many stories where the focus is off entirely but only on one side of the lens. Mechanically, the lens is sloppy. One photographer exchanged his lens three times before he found a good one.

Why would anyone put up with this?

Interestingly, if one can find a good model, it is arguably the best lens ever made for night photography. The reason: coma.

Coma is an image aberration that makes points of light look like bat wings. A Canon 24mm lens that costs four times as much has terrible coma. The Rokinon way outperforms Nikon as well.

Lenses that make stars that look light bat wings instead of points of light are not suited for night photography. The Rokinon is the best coma-corrected lens around.

Exposure Rule

The maximum length of time one can expose night images without stars streaking can be calculated by using this rule: e = 400 / Fl.

E is the exposure time in seconds, 400 is a constant derived from experience, and Fl is the focal length of the lens in millimeters. In this case, we get e= 400/24 = 16.67 seconds. I round to the nearest 5 seconds, thus 15 seconds.

For this shot, I took a series of six images at 15 seconds and stacked them in Photoshop. Stacking reduces noise.

For more on stacking, please see Joshua Tree National Park – Arch Rock – Geminid Meteor Shower.

Blending

The Milky Way image is a blend of an image taken at night with a second one taken right at sunrise the next morning.

The sunrise shot is an eight-frame vertical panorama merged together in Lightroom. One of the frames was used in the Milky Way image above.

I hired a guide for the night image. The next day, I hired a guide for the sunrise image.

More on Rokinon

Focusing the Rokinon 24mm lens is a real pain. Night images are best at infinity, but finding infinity on the Rokinon is a process. If you turn the lens to the infinity mark you are 100% guaranteed to get lenses that are not in focus. They will not be usable at all.

Rokinon Focusing Procedure

Focus on the moon, wide open, F1.4. A crescent moon is best. Adjust the exposure so the moon highlights are not blown out.

Minute focusing variations make a difference. When you are sure you have it correct, tape the focusing ring so it can never turn. This is trickier than it sounds. It is very easy to move the focusing ring while taping it. It took me three times.

Also, make use you do not tape over the aperture ring. That’s manual too, and I did tape over it once. After you have lightly taped it over, go back out and take another image of the moon. It should look as good as the best you have. Then tape the whole thing so it can never move, again making sure you do not tape over the aperture ring.

As modified, the lens is only usable for night photography. But that’s all it was ever good for in the first place.

Rokinon 14mm F2.8

If the above is too much of a hassle, and it probably should be, forget the whole thing.

Buy a Rokinon 14MM f2.8 Lens.

The 14mm Rokinon lens is still manual focus, but it is not entirely manual. The aperture is electronic. It is coma corrected, again way better than Canon or Nikon. And it is way cheaper than the Canon and even the Rokinon 24mm lens described above.

The lens also has a hard stop, right at infinity (focus ring turned until it cannot turn anymore), and that hard stop is accurate. It has other issues, primarily with straight lines that affect day photography, but it is another go-to lens that pros use at night.

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

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Badlands National Park Pinnacles Overlook: Sunset, Panorama, and Milky Way Images

These images are from a trip to Badlands National Park in September of 2017.

We went to the Pinnacles Overlook area on three evenings. My last post described a lucky double rainbow. Here are some additional images from the same location.

Feature Image Details

People pull up to the Pinnacles Overlook parking lot, walk down the steps take a few shots and walk away. One of the best area to photograph is just up main park road. There is no parking, you have to walk up the road. That’s where this set of images is from.

Pinnacles Panorama

That is a panorama stitch of seven images, stitched to make a single horizontal image.  The focal length was 32 mm.

I overlapped the images greatly. At least half of every frame was in the next frame. This makes it easy for the stitching programs to align the images properly. It also ensures the center of each image is what goes into the final composite. The center of the lens always provides the best resolution. You get super-sharp images this way, also very large file sizes.

Milky Way

That is a composite image taken in the waning moments of sunset with the milky way about three hours later.

Pinnacles Sunset

The above image and the panorama image were taken on the same evening.  This image was taken with a Canon 11-24 F4.0 L lens at 15 mm. I am right on top of that formation in a very steep and precarious spot, somewhere up in that ridged area visible in the feature image and Milky Way image. Some of the places I wanted to get too were simply too steep.

Equipment

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

Additional Badlands Articles

  1. Badlands National Park – Double Rainbow at Pinnacles Overlook
  2. Badlands National Park – Castle Trail and Notch Trail Images

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock