Would you believe that I photographed this with a pop video being filmed just over my left shoulder? Seriously.
Preparing for the first of my two Eastern Sierra workshops last fall, I had driven down a day early to scout the conditions and get in a little of my own shooting. I had so much fun photographing Lundy Canyon that I didn't allow myself any margin for error at South Tufa, my sunset destination. But I'm so familiar with South Tufa that I didn't feel the normal urgency to arrive early, and I made up a little time by taking the dirt road shortcut along the shore rather than the easier paved drive on Highway 120. No problem.
So imagine my surprise arriving at South Tufa shortly before sunset to find the parking area brimming with big rigs, motor homes, vans, cars, and a bevy of bustling workers. Skirting a roaring diesel generator at the top of the trail, I followed a six-inch diameter umbilical cord of cables all the way (about 1/4 mile) to the lake. The trail exited to a beach swarming with more people, video cameras, director's chairs, massive speakers, and a towering bank of bright lights. At the vortex of all this activity was a gyrating Japanese girl who looked and sounded like an Asian Britney Spears.
Darkness was falling fast, but, bolstered by artificial light, the video crew was clearly undeterred. As interesting as all this was (it really was), the sky was beautiful and time was short, so I slipped behind the action to the next cove. I often like to shoot South Tufa several coves over, where I can get a view to the east, but on this evening the best sky was north and this is where I stayed.
The biggest problem with this location was finding a composition without shadows cast by the video lights. It took me a while to find something that worked, and as you can see by the exposure settings, by the time I shot this it was quite dark, far darker to my eyes than the image reveals. One bonus of shooting this late is the way the long exposure smoothes the water, which was actually fairly choppy. Just one more lesson in letting your camera's vision trump your own.
The video shoot wrapped up shortly before I did. I couldn't believe how quickly they cleared out of there--the beach was almost completely empty of equipment as I walked through, and even the parking lot had started to empty by the time I made it up there. I never did find out who this girl was, but I don't think she's on anyone's radar here in America. Given the magnitude of the production, I imagine there are teens in Japan who would be quite mystified by my decision to opt for a Mono Lake twilight shoot over watching this pop diva's performance. I guess it's all about priorities, and I have no regrets. :)
* Website: Eloquent Images
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