Friday, February 27, 2015

Mono Lake

After the photo tour ended in Death Valley (I will get to some images from there eventually), I made my way up the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range. I arrived at Mono Lake mid afternoon to scout around for some possible compositions. I literally blew into the Visitor Center looking for direction to get to the tufas (the formations seen on the foreground), only find the center closed for the winter. I had passed signs saying the highway was closed to trucks and RVs due to high winds just north of here. As I got out of my car, I could not stand up! It was blowing that hard. The last time I encountered winds that high was during Hurricane Isabel some years ago. I found a note saying visitors could get information downtown. The town is about two blocks long, so finding the place was not hard. Armed with a map and directions I made my way to the lake's edge.

Thankfully, the wind was not so bad at the water's edge. My initial reaction was that finding a composition I might like was going to be challenging. Mono Lake is perhaps the oldest body of water in the US and has no outlet. The water is twice as salty as the ocean. The tufas are carbonate formations made from fresh water bubbling up from the lake bottom over long periods of time. Over the years, much of the flow of water into the lake had been diverted to cities in southern California. As a result many of the tufa formations are now on dry land instead of in the water. After a large environmental fight, more water is now being allowed to flow into the lake and the water level is to rise back to levels in the 60's (as I recall). With the ongoing drought in California I guess it is going to take longer to refill than some would wish for.

I had hoped to perhaps do some star trails at night but the moon was near full, eliminating that option. The high winds were associated with a front that insured cloudless skies.  As is often the case with landscape photography, one must make the best of what is offered. So I hit the rack early in order to get up early in hopes of some early morning color. Perhaps less than 2 or 3 minutes of this color was it before the sun edged over the horizon with harsh light.

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