They say that variety is the spice of life and if that’s true then we had one spicy workshop in the Eastern Sierra! From the moonscapes of Mono Lake and the Patriarch Grove to the lush alpine terrain of the Little Lakes Valley, the scenery was all over the place. And of course the weather gave us its own surprises as well. Rain, wind, heat, snow, clouds, and even some missing oxygen molecules added to the ever-changing tableau of conditions we saw over the weekend.
The group met in the early afternoon in Lee Vining and then went out to shoot sunset at Mono Lake. Mixed cloud cover gave us interesting light and decent color to capture. After a quick dinner break in town we were back at Mono Lake for our first night photography shoot. Although crystal clear skies were quickly swallowed up by encroaching clouds the moonrise helped pump some interest back into the heavens.
Our first sunrise of the workshop was spent at the fantastic and bizarre Rattlesnake Gulch. Don’t worry about the name, it’s actually not a gulch at all. Similar to the Alabama Hills and Joshua Tree, except perched in the hills above Mono Lake, Rattlesnake Gulch is full of bizarre and beautiful rock formations.
After breakfast we convoyed down to Silver Lake, where although the aspen trees were still a deep green, we spent among them photographing smaller scenes and abstracts. That afternoon and evening we hiked into the magnificent Little Lakes Valley, where a steep but short hike leads to world-class alpine scenery. Unfortunately our sunset was completely cloudless, but the stillness of the air and the reflections in the lakes led to a beautiful evening nonetheless.
The next morning we drove high into Bishop Creek Canyon to photograph the peaking fall color at North Lake. Although we were again left wanting for clouds we did see a rosy burst of alpenglow on the high peaks. And with the blazing foliage there were no shortage of smaller scenes to photograph as well. From North Lake we made the short jaunt to the middle fork of Bishop Creek, where the outflow from Lake Sabrina cascades downhill through a gorgeous setting of granite, conifers, and aspens.
That afternoon our group made the long but worthwhile journey to the Patriarch Grove of Bristlecone Pines near the top of the White Mountains. Such a surreal setting, with the Earth’s oldest living trees seeming to grow out of the rocks themselves. After a beautiful, nearly-stormy sunset our plans for Milky Way photography were thwarted by thickened clouds so we headed back to the hotel. Glad no one puked on those winding roads.
We spent our final morning of the workshop at the Owens River, which provides unbeatable views of the Sierra to the west and the White Mountains to the east. Thick, dramatic clouds overhead only let slivers of light through, punctuating the landscape with impressive burst of atmosphere. After one last hearty breakfast at Jack’s we said goodbye to one more fantastic group!
Thank you so much to Gary, Joe, Bill, Steve, Keith, Paul, Carlo, and Carey. You guys made the workshop a ton of fun for us. Hope to see you all again soon, and be sure to check out all the sweet shots from the group!