I have something to celebrate: I've finally uploaded some images from the Sierras trip I took a while back. I divided them into two galleries: one for the Sierras and fall foliage, and one for Bodie State Historical Park (the best preserved ghost town in the country). Bodie deserves a gallery all to itself.
I know I said it before, but I was very impressed by the Sierras. I've seen the Rockies, I've gazed at the breathtaking wall of the Tetons, I've been over the Alps in my misspent youth. But the Sierras rank right up there with all of them for sheer overpowering size and - in late fall, with the change of seasons fast approaching - menace. The weather was terrible most of the time I was there. It rained. A lot. The snow accumulated on the mountaintops. I sat in the car at likely shooting locations, hoping for a break in the clouds and listening to the raindrops drumming - loudly - on the roof of the car. By the end of my trip I was a bit disgusted and disheartened, not really expecting to have much to show for it in terms of fall foliage.
The contrast of fall color and forbidding mountain gives a more dramatic image.
What I found, after an extended time sitting looking at the images I took, was that it's not necessarily a bad thing if the sky is completely overcast. We all know that stormy weather can result in fabulous, dramatic images. With just a little luck and the occasional gleam of passing sunlight, even downright bad weather can make great images. When I first looked at the gray mountain in the above shot, I cringed; now, I love it!
Mono Lake is dramatic anyway; with stormclouds and a drop of sunlight in the right place, more so.
I stopped by Mono Lake, famous for its strange tufa rock formations (and now for its arsenic-loving lifeforms), three times during my trip. I'm nothing if not persistent. Twice it just rained on me. The third time, it was dry at dawn but overcast with really heavy, threatening clouds moving in over the mountains. And then a rare gleam of sun hit one of the rock formations long enough to get a shot. Redemption! I'd love to go back sometime in good weather. Or good stormy weather. In fact never mind the weather, just give me good light.
Bodie is bodacious for photographers, a real playground for anyone with a camera.
As you can see, the weather was radically different the afternoon I went to Bodie, It was a mixture of blazing sunshine and rolling, fast-moving cloud, and in the thin high mountain air I got really burnt. But it was worth it! I've always wanted to see and shoot a ghost town and Bodie is the ultimate experience, a fascinating glimpse into the past. I'd definitely like to go back, although I'm making a mental note to do the sunscreen thing next time.
I've always loved black & white photography, and the texture of wood lends itself particularly well to that.
Bodie offers a little bit of everything: landscape shots, gold rush-era buildings, people watching (it's packed with tourists in good weather and on holiday weekends), and endless opportunities for close-ups such as the above wood detail. The entire site is littered with artifacts: old cars and trucks, wagons and buggies, bits and pieces of mining equipment and tools. All of it is photogenic, and the only limits are the crowds and your imagination. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
And speaking of gifts: may your holiday season include lots of those, too!