The 2017 Adventure – Day 19

General Thoughts

Day 19 – Saturday October 14, 2017

Sunrise outside Bishop, CA � jj raia

Had absolutely no plan for a sunrise spot but I did pick up a brochure on the Bishop area from the National Forest Office in town that had a map. I noticed a dirt road that followed the Owens River (?) to a reservoir and thought since the area was basically flat, I would have good views of the Sierra Crest to the west with possible river or lake as foreground. Well, the river was never really near the road and mostly surrounded by bushes, so you couldn’t see it unless you were higher up and as I mentioned, it was basically flat. Never did reach the reservoir as the time was getting close for the peaks to get the first rays and I didn’t want to waste any more time and settled on some large boulders and yellow rabbitbrush that seemed to frame the crest well and ended up using them as foreground. If it wasn’t for them, the morning would have been a bust. As the sun reached further down into the Owens Valley, I came across a small lake surrounded by rabbitbrush and found a spot where the light was at the right angle while looking at the mountains. I’m pretty sure it was David Muench who wrote or said that the best light comes over your shoulder; and that’s where it was for that shot. Many of the tips you hear or read about will usually at some point come back to help you out. 

Afterward, I continued my southerly route to the Ancient Bristlecone Forest of the White Mountains. Since it was mid-day, long views had rather dull lighting, so most of the pics I took were of the beautifully weathered bark of the trees. Only hiked about a half mile of the 4-1/2-mile loop as it was at a pretty high altitude, which does not work well for me, and I wanted to continue on toward Lone Pine and the famous Alabama Hills. Didn’t have much time for scouting there but did get to Mobius Arch and tried to get a sunburst as the sun sank lower in the sky, but that proved difficult since it was so strong. Either it was too strong or behind the arch too much to get the sunburst. There was also a small thin arch just in front  “famous” arch that was totally ignored, but I felt I had to do something with it so it wouldn’t feel left out.      

Small Arch – Alabama Hills, CA

Of course there were no clouds in the sky again, so I headed off to my car for a lovely Chicken Teriyaki dinner while I waited for it to get dark and try for some Milky Way shots. Turned out there were just as many folks there at night as there were during the day!! But with everyone doing their own thing, you just had to hope that during your shot, no one turned on their headlamp or flashlight. And some one was propped right next to the arch who said he could not turn off his camera back display, so every shot from that sequence needs to Photoshop him out. And other folks had green or red headlamps that lit the arch in whatever color headlamp they had while others just didn’t care one way or the other if they impacted your shot. Anyway, got some decent shots without light painting and was a little disappointed, but when the offenders left, three of us remained and we collaborated in lighting the arch in various ways. In the end, I got a shot closer to the arch with the Milky Way And one image lighted from the right and the next lit from the opposite side that should merge well. We all had a good time making our shots and me lighting things including the one guy with a real torch of a flashlight. A good way to end the day before turning down the sheets for the night.

Mobius Arch – Alabama Hills, CA



The 2017 Adventure – Day 18

General Thoughts

Day 18 – Friday October 13, 2017

Well, it’s hard to judge when last night ended and today began because so much went on after my dinner at Nicely’s ended with a slice of great blueberry pie. I had planned some Milky Way shots while here, but felt it getting colder and I assumed it would be much colder several thousand feet higher in Yosemite’s High Country. Either way, I needed to make the trip up the Tioga Road to Tioga Pass and either find a place to spend the night, or head to Olmstead Point where the iconic tree and boulder lay waiting for my arrival. When I reached the park, the temperature gauge in the car was reading mid-twenties, but luckily at Olmstead Point, there was no wind so I decided to give it a try. As I scrambled in the dark to the tree, I easily found the Milky Way and amazingly, it lined up right between the tree and boulder!! All I had to do was get the correct exposure, line things up within the frame and make sure the focus was correct. I had to use a smaller aperture, rather than wide open at f/2.8, to keep the tree and stars both in focus. The two main obstacles were light painting the boulder correctly, and airplanes screwing up the shot leaving a telltale line across the stars. Eventually, I was finally able to light the boulder from the right and left sides to avoid black blobs of unlit rock in the frame, by first lighting the right side, and then gingerly scrambling to the left side before the shutter closed.

Olmstead Point – Yosemite National Park, CA © jj raia

After I was finally satisfied all the elements for a final image were accomplished, I packed up and drove to a place outside the park to avoid “being towed”. But waking up at 4:00am, now with the half moon out to provide some general lighting, I decided to drive back and photograph the spot illuminated by the moon. Using some of the intrusion lines in the granite, I hoped to make a composite using those lines in a final image. But after taking the initial shot, the line I chose was already clearly visible!! No need for special processing afterward, it was all done on sight except there are actual stars in the dslr version rather than the iPhone image seen here taken when it was much brighter. Because I saw what I thought was fog in Yosemite Valley (seen here as the tiny white spot to the left of the bump of Half Dome) I decided it was worth the many miles of extra driving to photograph the valley in fog. But disappointingly, the fog turned out to be smoke from controlled burns in the valley!! But I did take some shots of the valley at the point of discovery, and again at Siesta Lake who’s waters were so still, the lake looked like a mirror. It turned out that between the shots at June Lake, Mono Lake, the two night shots and those of Siesta Lake, I was very happy photographically with the last 24-hours. But was not happy with the lack of sleep, which necessitated a 15-minute power nap on the Tioga Road to recharge and avoid driving off a cliff on the way back down to the valley.

So onto Bishop with a reservation in hand for a much needed shower and bed. Not much color left in the aspens in this area compared to the abundance around June Lake, so not too much in the way of photography. Only two more nights of car camping left until my flight back home on Tuesday. The question remains of where to go tomorrow as I make my way back to LA where this all began.