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

Mono Lake, California, Eastern Sierra, Sunset

Mono Lake is a large, shallow saline soda lake in Mono County, California, in the Eastern Sierras. The lake formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in an endorheic basin. The lack of an outlet causes high levels of salts to accumulate in the lake. These salts also make the lake water alkaline.

Mono Lake has two major islands, Negit Island and Paoha Island, plus numerous minor outcroppings.  Among the most iconic features of Mono Lake are the columns of limestone that tower over the water surface. These limestone towers consist primarily of calcium carbonate minerals such as calcite (CaCO3). This type of limestone rock is referred to as tufa, which is a term used for limestone that forms in low to moderate temperatures.

This desert lake has an unusually productive ecosystem based on brine shrimp that thrive in its waters, and provides critical habitat for two million annual migratory birds that feed on the shrimp and alkali flies. Historically, the native Kutzadika’a people derived nutrition from the Ephydra hians pupae, which live in the shallow waters around the edge of the lake.

When the city of Los Angeles diverted water from the freshwater streams flowing into the lake, it lowered the lake level, which imperiled the migratory birds. The Mono Lake Committee formed in response and won a legal battle that forced Los Angeles to partially replenish the lake level.

Tufa Types

  • Lithoid tufa – massive and porous with a rock-like appearance
  • Dendritic tufa – branching structures that look similar to small shrubs
  • Thinolitic tufa – large well-formed crystals of several centimeters

The tufa types vary interchangeably both between individual tufa towers but also within individual tufa towers. There can be multiple transitions between tufa morphologies within a single tufa tower.

The above is pieced together from Wikipedia.

Feature Image Details

The feature image is a panorama composite of five overlapping images stitched together shortly after sunset.

I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 17mm, ISO 100, for 3.2 seconds at F16 with a circular polarizer to increase the shutter time.

The polarizer was a purposeful error that took hours to correct in Lightroom and Photoshop. I should have used neutral density filters, and I have several, but I did not have them with me that evening. After considerable effort with Lightroom adjustments, I was able to get the look I wanted. The 3.2-second exposure did smoothe out the water as I wanted.

Polarizers have an uneven effect on blue skies and stitching multiple images together compounds the problem significantly.

Polarizer Tips

People misuse polarizers. I generally do not use them on sunny days, especially if I have a lot of sky in the image. Why? The polarizer will darken the sky in a very non-uniform manner that is hard to correct even in Photoshop. I used them on this occasion as a last resort.

I often use polarizers on cloudy days and did so on these images. Here are more images from the glen.

Additional Images Before Sunset

The interesting thing about the above image is the Godbeams are in the opposite direction of the sun. You can verify my statement judging from the bright light hitting the distant background. Prior to this, I had only ever seen Godbeams looking towards the sun.

These Godbeams are actually called Anticrepuscular Rays. Looking towards the sun, they are called crepuscular rays.

There were two other photographers at this location before I arrived. It severely limited my composition choices. For the above image, one photographer agreed to move long enough for me to grab that shot.

I could not get as much foreground in the feature shot as I wanted because another photographer was in the way most of the time.

Be first!

All of these images were taken within a 20-minute or so window.

Equipment List

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

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Porcupine Mountains State Park: Lake of the Clouds

One does not have to travel West, East, South, or overseas to make excellent images. The Midwest is tremendously overlooked as a photography location.

One of my favorite Midwest spots is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Michigan upper peninsula.

The park offers 90 miles of trails, beautiful lakes, and numerous waterfalls. It also offers an immense amount of biting insects (black flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and other major nuisances).

The best way to avoid these annoying pests (they are worst in June and July), is to go offseason. Fall and Winter are my favorite times. In the Winter the park offers both downhill and cross-country ski trails.

This post covers Autumn opportunities.

The park has three main sections: Lake of the Clouds (plus the shoreline), the interior, and the river (waterfall) section. This post covers the Lake of the Clouds section.

One can drive to the top, hike a short distance, and take the same shots as millions of others, or one can go off the beaten path. The feature image is decidedly off the beaten path.

All of these images are from mid-October. They represent what you can look forward to.

Off the Beaten Path

My wife Liz and I, along with one other person, shared that glorious sunset.

To get to that spot, one can hike along the Escarpment Trail from the main Lake of the Clouds parking lot or one can take a 30-45 minute uphill trail that I would rate as moderate. It can be a scramble in some places and it is hard to locate. The trail is near a mine on the left as one is heading up towards the main Lake in the Clouds parking area.

The spot is excellent at both sunrise and sunset. For the former, you need to allow plenty of time.

I advise taking the trail during the day so you know exactly what to expect. Here are more images from this fantastic location.

The above two images were early morning. Liz and I hiked up at sunrise. Unfortunately, the clouds were just a little late. They would have turned pink at sunrise but they blew in after sunrise.

Main Lake of the Clouds Area

I took that image from the main viewing area at sunrise. It may look secluded, but it isn’t and it won’t be.

Here is a view from the opposite direction.

That image was well before dawn. I count 13 people in that scene but there were at least another dozen downhill that you cannot see. More came before sunrise and shortly after sunrise, there were at least 60 people.

The spot is large enough to accommodate everyone. I am merely pointing out you better expect lots of other people no matter how nasty the weather. I have been to this spot when it was rainy and windy with at least a dozen others all hoping for a break in the clouds.

Equipment List

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Top 100 Nature Photography Websites

Feedspot just featured me in their list of Top 100 Nature Photography Blogs & Websites To Follow in 2018.

There is a nominal charge of $2 per month to track whatever sites you wish to follow and see new sites as they come on board. I consider it worth it.

Coming up next: More Michigan Autumn images.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Mission San Xavier Del Bac – Tucson, Arizona

If you are in the Tuscon area, be sure to check out the Mission San Xavier Del Bac. It’s a historic Spanish Catholic mission located about 10 miles south of downtown Tucson, Arizona, on the Tohono O’odham Nation San Xavier Indian Reservation.

Feature Image Details

Tilt-shift lenses really shine for architecture. I rate them a “must have” even though I am primarily a landscape photographer.

I love historic buildings like this mission.

I used the tilt-shift lens on the interior as well.

I used the 24mm tilt-shift lens for all of the above images. I was very close to the subject in the above shot. It’s a detail you can spot in the second image on the lower left.

For the following image, I made use of my Canon 100-400 MM F 4.5-5.6 L Lens at 400mm.

Look at the feature image and spot the bells.

Pay attention to details like this, but you will need a big lens to capture the scene.

Equipment List

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

If you are looking to buy a tilt-shift lens, I highly recommend the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Lens.

It is a newer, more versatile lens. I have both. Although 24mm was perfect for these images, it is often not wide enough. One can always crop a bit but it is very difficult to add what is not there.

If you are choosing between the two, get the 17mm lens.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Death Valley: Aguereberry Point and Aguereberry Camp – Christmas Eve Fog

Death Valley National Park is a phenomenal study of erosion, weather, geology, sand dunes, salt formations, and huge spring wildflower blooms on rare occasions.

Aguereberry Point is one of my must-see areas in the park.

The point’s elevation reaches 6,433 ft and is named for Jean Pierre “Pete” Aguereberry, a Basque miner who was born in 1874, emigrated from France in 1890, and lived at and worked the nearby Eureka Mine from 1905 to his death in 1945.

The road to the top is very rough. The park recommends a high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle. I took the trip on numerous occasions in a regular car, but you better be comfortable driving in some very unpleasant looking spots, and you better not make a mistake navigating the ruts. I saw two jeeps with flat tires, undoubtedly driving too fast or not paying attention.

The road is a bit hair-raising the first time you go to the top. After you have done it once the next time seems easy or at least easier. There is no place to turn around once you start the climb.

The feature image is from a magical trip on Christmas Eve. It was completely fogged in on the way up, with some snow falling, and I was wondering what the hell I was even doing. Towards sunset, the fog lifted.

There is no view until you reach the top.

Feature Image Details

The feature image is a single shot, not a composite or focus stack.

Here are some additional images. All the ones with fog or snow were taken on Christmas Eve.

The above image is a focus stack of three images. I was inches away from the rock. The stack is at the point closest to me, then in the middle of the rock group, then at infinity.

That image was taken at another time, one Spring.

Don’t overlook the details. There are numerous opportunities for colorful lichens on marble. These kinds of images look best in quiet light. I took that image after sunset.

Aguereberry Camp

Those not interested in taking the road up to the top can make it to the Aguereberry Camp, “Pete” Aguereberry’s homestead, and the nearby Eureka Mine, relatively easily.

The road all the way is brutal deadpan so you must drive slow and watch for rocks. There are no ruts or real danger of bottoming the car if one is reasonably careful.

This is what’s left of Aguereberry Camp.

I took that car image one morning shortly after sunrise. Anyone recognize the car?

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

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Death Valley: Golden Canyon Sunset and Moonrise Images

Death Valley National Park is a phenomenal study of erosion, weather, geology, sand dunes, salt formations, and huge spring wildflower blooms on rare occasions.

This post covers the Golden Canyon, a three-mile point-to-point trail that is the flip side of Zabriskie Point. The elevation gain is about 613 feet. One can walk a portion of the trail and there are alternative loops instead of going point-to-point and reversing.

We did portions of this trail on numerous occasions. Whereas Zabriskie Point is a sunrise image, the Golden Canyon is primarily a sunset view.

Feature Image Details

The person in the golden garb adds a nice sense of scale. I could have easily edited him out, but I like the effect.

Golden Canyon Full Moon Rise at Sunset

That’s the backside of Zabriskie Point on the right and the Red Cathedral on the left. The moon came up behind a layer of clouds which evened out the light.

To be precise, this was one day before the full moon. The best day to photograph a “full moon” at sunset is one day prior. At sunrise, it is one day after the full moon. The reason is ambient light. On the day of the full moon, it’s too dark.

Golden Canyon Pointed Clouds

I was hiking out of the canyon with my wife Liz and these amazing pointed clouds appeared. The above image was just before sunset. Right after sunset, those clouds turned pink.

Golden Canyon Pink Pointed Clouds Sunset

There were only a few minutes between the preceding two images. I surmise there were very strong high winds moving the clouds around.

The location was slightly different as we were walking out.

Details, Details

There are beautiful rock formations in the canyon. Do not get so distracted from the grand view that you miss these beautiful details.

The camera angle for the above image was straight down.

Note the lack of shadows. Harsh sunlight would have killed the image.

I lingered so long in the canyon after sunset taking pictures like these, that I accidentally happened to be in a perfect spot to get the moonrise image above.

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

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Death Valley: Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes Sunset

Death Valley National Park is a phenomenal study of erosion, weather, geology, sand dunes, salt formations, and huge spring wildflower blooms on rare occasions.

This post covers Death Valley Sand Dunes, specifically the Mesquite Flat dunes.

The dunes are easily accessible, just minutes from Stovepipe Wells. They are a very popular spot. It is nearly impossible to find undisturbed ripples anywhere near the parking lot where the tallest dunes are.

The dunes area is vast. I parked a mile away to get this image. The only time the tallest dunes will be without footprints are at sunrise following a very windy evening. Even then you better be the first one up and far away from the lot, or people will be walking in from of you, messing up the shot.

Feature Image Details

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

Share!

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock