A year ago I signed up for a photo workshop in the eastern sierra of California with photographer Gary Hart. I knew that I would have the opportunity to see and photograph amazing landscapes but I wasn't sure how much I would learn because I already considered myself a competent photographer. By the end of the workshop Gary had taught me how to see beyond what I already thought was a good eye for composition and how to be patient while seriously work a scene. Those two lessons went beyond my expectations and going forward will make me a much better photographer. It's more than just having a good eye. It's actually taking the time to really analyze every part of your composition and having the patience to find the unlimited opportunities in every shot.
The week started in the Alabama hills just outside of Lone Pine, CA. This area is full of rocky outcrops and looks like the perfect landscape for a western movie......in fact, if you research the area online you will find that a number of movies were filmed there. The hills sit at the base of Mount Whitney and provide endless photo opportunities. We climbed 10,000 feet to a summit area for climbers attempting to scale Mount Whitney where we shot waterfalls in the rain. unfortunately, conditions were not favorable for good shooting. The rain stopped as we descended down the mountain range which enabled us to get some great shots of a rain cloud making its way across the desert.
On Tuesday we began our day back in the Alabama hills for sunrise shooting. I focused my efforts on panoramic shots of the mountain range and managed to get some real winners.
Later that morning we packed up and headed for Bishop, CA to spend the evening shooting night skies at 10,000 feet in the bristle cone pine forest. Bristle cone pines are some of the oldest trees on earth with some dating back 5,000 years. The night was windy and a bit cold, getting down into the 30's. The skies were overcast but cleared as the night sky opened up above us allowing for some great photo opportunities.
On Wednesday morning we were up early to shoot fall colors at North Lake, just outside of Bishop. It's a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains and flanked by golden aspens. After spending a few hours shooting the lake and surrounding streams we packed up and headed for Lee Vining, CA. Lee Vining overlooks Mono Lake, an iconic landscape that features large Tufa towers. Tufa is a variety of limestone that grows out of the lake. It is hard and extremely sharp and unlike anything I have seen before.
We arrived before sunset and set up hoping for color enhanced skies as day moved into night. It didn't happen, so we went back the next day for sunrise and the light show was nothing less than spectacular.
On Thursday evening we traveled into Yosemite to Olmsted point to shoot Half Dome at sunset. It was a small hike to a huge slab of granite that overlooked the valley and provided a great view of Half Dome. As the sun set, the skies lit up like fire, mixing pinks with intense reds and blues. I got some great shots. I have seen some fantastic sunsets in Wisconsin but have never seen the deep red color that I witnessed that night.
On Friday it was off to Lundy Canyon for more fall color shooting. I spent the morning shooting close ups of the aspens.
Later that day, on my way back to Reno, I stopped at the Bodie historical site. Bodie is a mining town that thrived in the late 1800's and had a population as high as 8,000. The town has been preserved and is in very good condition. I suggest you research it online because there is a lot of great information about it. It's incredibly interesting.
Saturday was a full day of travel, taking three planes to get back home.....exhausted but extremely lucky to have experienced the prior five days. I had a wonderful time, met some amazing people and got to watch and learn from a truly great photographer.
Although I took some 500-600 pictures I can't wait to get back out and re-discover some of my favorite Wisconsin shooting spots.
Think I’ll head out on Sunday....