Posted by on Dec 12, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

The first sight of the Mono Lake Basin when approaching from the north occurs after cresting Conway Summit (8,138 ft above sea level).  The view is spectacular, as illustrated by the photo below.  The elevation of the lake is about 1,756 ft lower than Conway Summit.


 Mono Basin Viewed from Conway Summit

I arrived in Reno, NV about 3:00 p.m. PDT on Friday, October 12, rented a car, and headed south on US 395.  The distance from Reno to Mono Lake at Lee Vining, CA is 142 miles.  The drive took about three hours, including a stop in Carson City for a delicious curried chicken dinner at a nice Thai restaurant.  I drove over Conway Summit well after sunset and therefore did not experience this view of the Mono Basin at that time.

The photography workshop with Stephen Johnson began the next morning.  After presenting the schedule for the next four days and talking about what we can expect during the workshop, Steve took us to the Mono Lake Visitor Center to learn the geological history of Mono Lake and why the lake is so important to several species of migratory birds.  After lunch we went to Panum Crater, one of many volcanic craters in the region, and began taking photographs of the amazing rocks within the crater and views from the rim of the crater.  We spent perhaps an hour at Panum Crater and then went to the South Shore Tufa Grove, where we remained until after sunset.  Returning to the Lake View Lodge in Lee Vining, CA, we grabbed a quick supper and then gathered in one of the rooms to view and discuss some of the photos taken during the day.

Each of the subsequent three days followed a pattern of rising well before dawn and staying out until well after sunset.  The sites chosen for our photography were different each day.  In addition to sites along the Mono Lake shoreline, we spent time along Lee Vining Creek (the key tributary for Mono Lake), at the abandoned mining town of Bodie, at Lundy Lake, and in Rattlesnake Gulch, where the huge rocks can be found.  When we weren’t shooting water and rocks, we were shooting aspen trees displaying their full autumn glory.

At Rattlesnake Gulch

I took about 300 photographs during the workshop.  Each time we returned to the Lake View Lodge, I transferred all of the day’s RAW image files from the CF card in the camera to the hard drive in my laptop and then imported the images into Adobe Lightroom for processing.  Thus I was able to limit my workload to only 40-50 images at a time, which is quite manageable.  When I set up this web site, I decided that I would limit the number of images in the Mono Lake collection to 50, so I proceeded to select the 50 best shots.  Having organized the images in Lightroom into folders, one folder for each day of shooting, I could select the best 10-15 shots on each of the four days to narrow the selection down, ultimately to the 50 best.

Stephen Johnson is an excellent photography workshop leader and teacher.  I look forward to enrolling in additional photography workshops with him in the future.

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