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Mono Lake Revisited…again!

Well, yes–my last post was on Mono Lake–but I visited again and witnessed the most amazing sunset and sunrise moments in my life.

I do know that I need to do more research on what conditions make for a more vivid color show at sunset and sunrise…my hunch is that storm clouds and conditions calling for weather changes do make a huge difference!

Just over a week passed from the photos I took at Mono Lake the previous week, to these views.  It is a common spot to find photographers and many famous artists have captured the glory of this locale. I was joined by about 4 serious photographers on this night. The scene constantly changes with various flashes of color and the changes in the clouds.  There is not a single place in the 360 degree view that is not worthy of remembering. A good example–is watching a professional photographer from the Bay Area running with his tripod from one spot to another.  That is how much you want to be able to capture every moment. Here are a few of the more memorable shots from an amazing sunset session.

Changing Flashes

All glowing

Western View

Finishing off the show was the most fire ball of light on the Western horizon…

Last fire light

Following this show of light, I was on such a “high” in total amazement of what I had witnessed over the course of less than an hour.  Decided if there is such a thing as “Photographers’ High” I had the pleasure of experiencing it. Was wide awake until well after midnight and had my alarm set for sunrise.

Didn’t think I could see anything as wonderful as the night before–however, I was not disappointed by any stretch of the imagination by a spectacular sunrise.

First light

Calm waters

Spectacular reflections

Space Age View

Distant colors

The last part of the extraordinary sunrise is when the first rays of the sun hit the highest peak. The color is in fact red and glows for a few minutes. For the true meaning of the art of photography that is “all about the light” this is one of the few times it is so visible. After a few minutes, the color of the sierra peak returns to the normal wonderful color–but still you can remember what it looked like!

Golden Hour Moment

So thankful this wonderful treasure is no longer on the closure list for California State Parks. To be a supporter, you can join the Mono Lake Committee–it is over 16,000 members strong. I was able to visit the information center and bookstore, located in Lee Vining and will now proudly be sporting a “Long Live…Mono Lake” on my license.  www.monolake.org

My heartfelt thanks to all of the individuals that have dedicated their time and resources to keep this fabulous place for many generations to come!

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Winter at Mono Lake

In order to celebrate the holidays with my family, I had to get to Southern California from Sacramento.  Although the Sacramento International Airport does have a brilliant new terminal with both Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue flying out of it–it took me 1.5 hours to get through security and to the gate, when I flew Veteran’s Day weekend.  This didn’t include having to park a car and take a tram.  So–let’s say, 2 hours to get to the gate, 1.5 hour flight–wait for baggage and get a rental car another hour easily–that is 4.5 hours.  So, I decided to drive:)  Renting a big car in LA–SUV, because I can’t stand having little bitty car is another expense I saved driving!

The most direct route is I-5 and I could make it in about 5 hours.  Easy…and very boring.

Last weekend, I saw a Tweet that said that Highway 120 was open. This is a highway that connects Yosemite National Park from the Valley at 4000 feet through Tioga Pass at 9953 feet to Highway 395.  Being able to access the High Country in Yosemite was inviting.  Plus, another benefit of driving Highway 395 is that I would have to go right past Mono Lake.  Since my destination was LA–I would also have to go through Lone Pine, which is the base of Whitney Portals and Alabama Hills.  That will be another post…

So, instead of taking 361 miles via I-5, I saw a sign as I reached highway 395 that said Los Angeles 399 miles–that was after I had already gone over 100 miles to get there. Reached my brother’s house with 471.7 showing on the mileage.

Mono Lake State Park was slated for closure, but fortunately came off the list a short while back!

Lee Vining is the town closest to the South Tufa viewing area.  This was my first winter visit, and not my last for sure!

My first shots are from sunset on Tuesday. Not much color to speak of and very few clouds in the sky to be found–but still such beauty and captivating!

Parking Lot View

Seeing double?

Off in the distance

The temperature on Wednesday morning as I drove back to get sunrise shots was 12 degrees. No wind, but quite chilly!  My first attempt at night photography…

In between night and day!

Mellow Morning

Winter Grass

Helpful headlights

Have a wonderful holiday season–may it be filled with joy, friends, and family–plus your camera!

Lensbaby Fun!

Haven’t really dedicated much time for my Lensbaby lately, so this week made a point of doing just that.

Visited the American River Parkway and caught a few views…

Road less traveled

In California, we are falling into Winter and signs are everywhere…

Piles of leaves

A Winter Tree with a majestic blue sky background

Empty Tree

Visited Old Town Sacramento this week and switched to my Composer with Double Glass and a Star Aperture.  This aperture makes single points of light into a “star” which seemed fitting for the holidays.  Yes, I do know too much of one thing can be overkill, but let’s just say I had a happy reunion with my Lensbaby!

One of my favorite aspects is how the mundane can be turned into magic…a view from the passenger side.

Shotgun!

This is just the lights from cars on Interstate 80…kinda fun view, IMHO!

Actually a view from inside Joe's Crab Shack

Any point of lights will shift with this aperture.

A view from an Old Town window…

Reflecting Light

One last view of a more traditional source!

A bit in Focus

Hope your holidays are merry and bright and filled with those you love!

Fall Finds in Apple Hill

Just about an hour up the hill from Sacramento lies many apple orchards and vineyards, fondly known as “Apple Hill.”  Was thrilled to find some latent fall colors on a trip just before Thanksgiving.

Still needs time to change

Love to take the back roads and enjoy the views…stopped by to catch this row of colors…managed to get it without trespassing–so would have liked a closer view, but had to respect the gate. Figured, I wouldn’t want folks traipsing down my driveway.

In a line

Must confess–not a pano, just cropped from the original view…

Darn long driveway

This is the invitation to stop and take a moment to relax and enjoy!

Table for Four

Also stopped at Boeger Vineyard to enjoy their grounds. Lovely views of the last of fall.

Remnants of rain

The last few

Many folks just come to picnic and enjoy the views.

Reflections

Love the sense of humor…although I didn’t see any puppies ready to be thrust upon unsuspecting parents. Maybe they are in the back?

Sign me up!

Looking forward already to the blossoms of spring!

Winter Frolic at Lake Tahoe

Last weekend had the wonderful trip to the North shore of Lake Tahoe, at Incline Village. In order to get there from Sacramento, there are a few mountain passes–there were chain requirements as I looked at the forecast–but decided to brave the elements. My new Ford Escape 4WD did great–no chains were needed!

With snowy passes, I hoped a shed I had photographed 6 years ago would still be standing–and it was!  You need to know where to look for it, as it is nestled in the trees and a bit off the road. Winter is the easiest time to view it.

1.8 miles from Northstar entrance

Passed these trees on the way to the lake and had to come back for a closer look.

A little holiday cheer!

Frozen in Time

The best thing about storms are when they are coming and going.  This image was taken on the highway to Mt. Rose, almost 8,000 feet elevation.

Cloud height

Missed a day of shooting due to a migraine, but did venture outside to a place about a mile up the road from the condo.  Actually, the vantage point is the parking lot of the Ski resort, Diamond Peak. Found the creek the day before and knew I wanted to visit near sunset.

Quiet and still

This was the best surprise of the day. I turned around and there was an unexpected find…

Setting Sun

I had to make sure that my car was hidden behind the branches, cause I knew I didn’t have time to go move it!

One thing I know, I am really enjoying shooting snowy locations and winter is just starting, so I am hopeful to have more treks to the snow:)

Fall In Yosemite

Reflection View

Visiting Yosemite National Park is a treat.  This year, I have a National Park Pass that I plan on enjoying to the fullest–the inaugural trip was a one day trek with our local Meetup Group. 6a.m. to Midnight is worth it!

There were still patches of fall colors and the reflections were stunning.  Not a cloud in the sky–so had to be a little creative.

Spotlight of Sun

One of the secrets of Yosemite is Fern Springs, located in the Valley and just a small pullout area to park.  Photographers know where and what it is–the smallest waterfall in Yosemite–6 inches for each step.  This visit was before all the leaves filled the spring, so a reflection of the towering trees was visible.  Fall colors are delightful and in spring–the Dogwoods are blooming.  The next two photos were taken the next weekend–you can see the difference a few days and even 24 hours can make!

Surrounded by Trees

Filled with Fall

No reflections visible now!

And a bit of snow…this view was shared in my previous post as well.

Less than 24 hours later...a magical view!

A favorite spot of mine ( and many, I am sure!) is across the road from Fern Spring along the Merced River…

Framed by Fall

Merced River

Merced River Flowing

An advantage of being a passenger–is having your camera at the window.  Just seems like Fall flew by to me!

Window shooting!

A few trees are ready for winter…

Bare Trees

Yosemite–Winter Wonderland

Had the pleasure to spend two Saturdays in Yosemite the past 2 weekends.

These views are from the past weekend. Normally, my posts are in chronological order–but snow in such a majestic locale trumped the Fall pictures from the weekend before.

Folks say that if you want to get shots of snow in Yosemite, you need to be there when it snows, or it will melt.  I was fortunate to be in El Portal, about 2 miles from the entrance on Highway 140.  Didn’t plan on going back into the park on Sunday, but once I saw the snow dusted hills at 2,000 plus feet, I hoped there would be more at 4,000 plus feet, in Yosemite Valley. 20 minutes later, I was in awe of the beauty surrounding me.

For these shots of El Capitan, I trudged across a snow-covered field and tiptoed through slippery rocks in a creek. I planned on getting wet, because I knew the shot I wanted would require me being low to the ground. Had on rain boots and rain pants, so the rest of me stayed dry. (But cold!)  Kudos to Gary Hart and his daughter, Ashley–who let me follow in their snowy footprints. Going to a remote area with risky terrain alone, would not have been smart.  Would not have gotten these by myself!  To view amazing images, see Gary’s website: http://www.eloquentimages.com and his blog at http://www.eloquentnature.com.

Zooming with my 70-200mm

Sunshine appears

These two views, are similar–but I like them both and couldn’t decide which one to share!

Snowy rock floor

Little more clouds...

One of the most famous locations, is the shot from Tunnel View…a photographers paradise!

Few dedicated togs shooting Tunnel View

I stayed here for about 30 minutes. The valley would get covered in fog and then the skies would clear–just amazing to watch the transformations and the variations that appeared!

Rolling Fog

More blue skies

A favorite location for photographers and less populated than the more iconic views is Fern Spring.  This is the smallest waterfall in Yosemite–about 6 inches for each step.

Fall still present

One last view, showing the battle between the seasons…

Glimpse of Fall

This year, I invested in a National Park Pass. Have 11 more months to enjoy visiting our National beauties.  Hoping to visit Yosemite again in December:)  More winter scenes to share.