The Digital Photo Guy

Eastern Sierras Trip – 2010

by on Oct.03, 2010, under Monday Morning Tips, Photos

If It’s Wednesday, It Must Be Mono Lake

Once again, I tried to cram in too much in a week. After attending California Photo Festival in Los Osos for a week, my wife and I drove over Tioga Pass Road to visit Bodie, Mono Lake, Ancient Bristlecone Pines Forest and Alabama Hills in six days with a geriatric cat and a recalcitrant battery charging system in the RV. There was also the issue of unseasonably hot weather (90F-105F) and 10,000 foot peaks that sucked all the air out of me. But, the views and photos were worth it.

Bodie – The Town That Refuses to Die

Bodie State Historical Park is one of the best ghost towns in the west, if not the US. It’s hard to believe men, women and children built this gold mining town at 8000+ feet. They lived there through searing summer heat and arctic like winters where snow drifts can be 8-12 feet deep.


These next three were previously posted but are reposted for those who missed it the first time. Two are of newer models available from Bodie Rent-A-Car while the third is a retired, older model.


Mono Lake Sunrise

Mono Lake (pronounced like Mona Lisa but with an “o” at the end) is a strange place guarded by calcium carbonate sentinals called tufa. The water is too alkaline to support fish but the lake still teems with life.


Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

John Muir, Ansel Adams and Galen Rowell are but three California naturalists and photographers who sought to capture the spirit and wonder of this National Forest. For every person who has ever complained that life is hard, a winter at 14,000 feet in the White Mountains of California with 4000 year old bristlecone pines will surely teach them what “hard” really means.



Alabama Hills

The Alabama Hills, outside Lone Pine, CA has been the set for many western and sci-fi movies. It’s Hollywood connection notwithstanding, these hills are marvels of nature. Under the right conditions, just before sunrise, a warm alpenglow is cast on the distant peaks of Mt. Whitney, Lone Pine Peak and other Sierra Nevada giants.


Each of these locations can take days and weeks to properly photograph so don’t try to hit them all in a week. I knew exactly where I wanted to be each morning and evening and sacrificed new opportunities to fit everything into six days. If you’d like to join me for a photo workshop in the Eastern Sierras, send me an e-mail and I’ll notify you when one is scheduled.

During the entire two week trip, I used the Canon 40D and 7D with the 24-105L IS and Sigma 10-20/3.5-5.6 for about 90% of my photography. I broke out the 300/2.8L IS for just two shoots. Nearly 100% of the outdoor photos were on a Gitzo tripod while 100% of the indoor model shoots were handheld. When you have $3000 worth of studio lights, handholding is a cinch.

Most of the photos were lightly touched with Topaz Adjust to bring out some color and increase contrast. Otherwise, my basic workflow was Crop, Levels, Sharpen.

:, , , ,

9 Comments for this entry

  • Betsy

    Very nice photos Lee.

  • Doug Gill

    Lee, your photos are great! I really enjoyed seeing them and would like go out the Eastern Sierras sometime. I have to many places on the western side but not on the eastern. I think the sunrise and sunsets photos are my favorite. I like the colors in the sky and the dark foreground showing some detail.

    • Lee

      Hi Doug,
      Thanks, I really enjoy the Eastern Sierras but there’s so much to see that I tend to cram too much into each day. Next time, we plan to just do Bodie and Mono Lake or Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and Alabama Hills, That will give us 2-3 days in each area.


      • Don

        Your photos are great! I spent one very cold December morning shooting the sunrise. It was a chilly 4 degrees, but well worth it as the photos came out great.
        And I know what you mean about so many places to take pics and so little time.

        • Lee

          Thanks Don,
          I’ve never been out at 4F. That’s a bit too cold for me. As they say, we artists must suffer for our art! Yeah, right.

  • Tony King

    Thanks for sharing your Eastern Sierra images.I’ve enjoyed camping and photography for 30+ years in the Eastern Sierra and still get excited everytime we start heading up Hwy 395 to our favorite areas. It seems I still find somewhere or something new everytime we go there.

    • Lee

      Thanks Tony,
      You must be familiar with how fickle the weather can be in that area. We missed the fall colors by a few days this time. I’m hoping to go next year and spend 2 weeks in the area, waiting for the right time.

  • Kathy McAvoy Jahraus

    beautiful photos, love “Indigestion” and its swirling shirls and color gradations-and the title.

    • Lee

      Thank for reading, Kathy. I looked at that tree from several different angles (except over the edge of the trail, LOL) and straight on seemed to work best. The colors and details popped using Topaz Adjust. My initial title was, Escargot but decided Indigestion was better.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!