DAY 5 – Sunday 17th – We grabbed a few short hours of sleep and met at the car just after midnight. On checking into the hotel, we were warned about leaving food in the car because of the bears. However, I did not expect to see a mother brown bear and her cub in the garage under the building opposite. On calling out about the bears, the guys in the car though that I was joking, but we got a great view of one of the bears just 20-30 feet away. Little did we know that a couple of minutes before returning later in the morning, those same bears were in our own car park and sniffing around where we would be parking the car overnight.
Anyway, Paul headed off to Convict Lake and we discussed camera settings and how to keep our night vision when we reached the location. Paul found a great location on a bridge over a small lake with mountains in the distance. This served to provide a great backdrop and we set about capturing the night sky in the dark. Mark captured some great shots, but mine were a little lacking.
With the night shots done and the rain starting to dampen the shoot, we packed up and headed back for some well needed sleep.
In the morning we headed over to checkout Mono Lake but the weather was not looking great. So, we headed over to Bodie. The tourist attraction is a deserted gold mining town but what makes it different is that the town’s population allegedly left with very little warning before a bad winter storm and the town remained untouched. Many of the wooden and tin sided buildings are as they were left and this includes their contents. I provides a really eerie window that looks back in time to the gold rush years. The town includes a wonderful church, gas station, bank vault, school, the mining buildings and much more. The walk from the town to the graveyard is littered with old mine working gear, the shells of old rushed vintage cars that are now devoid of their internal workings and other interesting items which provide interest.
What made this trip extra special was the weather. The trip has been extremely unseasonal, with Death Valley cooler than normal and some amazing cloud formations over the valley. However, as we turned off the main road and onto a washboard track over to Bodie it began to snow. Now, the Town is closed from visitors during the winter because the road is covered in snow and ice and it is too dangerous to navigate. When we arrived, the town was covered in a blanket of white snow and we quickly got to work. The snow would ‘not’ be around for long and we were on a time limit to beat the melting snow.
I had noted the church on the way into the town. The bell tower was covered in snow on one side and this contrasted with the deep browns of the wooden structure. The sky was a blow out of white and I just might plan to try to drop in a realistic (but false) sky on my return and to tick off another Photoshop skills lesson. However, I really like the image as it is. Another image that I really like shows an old pickup truck in front of one of the buildings. I plan to work on that one when we get home as well.
We spent a couple of hours at Bodie and I captured a number of shots of the buildings. I experimented with different framing but I was again shooting a little too narrowly and without enough negative space. Paul picked this up and educated me and this will be something to keep in mind for the following days. I’m still heading home with some great images and my photography is definitely getting better through Paul’s expert guidance and by working with Mark as we talk through things together.
With the snow pretty much gone, we packed up and headed back to Mono Lake.
Back to Mono Lake. This was an opportunity to build on the lessons learned from the previous visit and I came away with yet another of my favourite images of the trip thus far. My earlier image was quite blue and I really like the effect. This one was shot wider with better use of negative space and the image colouring is closer to the real scene. The Big Stopper filter from Lee Filters came into great use and I went home with a smile on my face. Mono Lake was proving to be another brilliant place to shoot.