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Brilliance, Mono Lake, Eastern Sierra

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 23 October 2010 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

Arriving at Black Point in time for the final sunrise of my Eastern Sierra fall workshop is an exercise in commitment. It's about a 30 minute drive, much of it on a dirt road that gets progressively narrower and rougher (and even claimed one tire this year). When the road ends we still have a half mile, cross-country trudge across volcanic sand and a 50-yard slog through soupy sludge before we arrive at the lakeshore. And since I like to have my groups in place 30 minutes before sunrise, we do all this in frigid, pitch dark. But I'm happy to say that this year everyone was up to the task and we were amply rewarded.

While I've never been disappointed at Black Point, there's so much going on visually that it can be a bit overwhelming at first. In the foreground are sandbars and limestone outcroppings that stretch like random stepping stones as far as the camera can see. On calm mornings the water is smooth as glass; on breezy mornings its chop can be smoothed to soft gauze by long exposures. Even on the clearest mornings clouds often hang on the eastern horizon, and sometimes an ethereal mist hugs the lake's surface.

Organizing all this into a coherent composition takes a bit of time. In this image I decided to opt for symmetry, with equal parts sky and reflection. I balanced the visual weight of the curved sandbar in the foreground by turning the sun's first rays into a starburst (small aperture and brilliant point-source of light) for the top half of the frame. I took great care to avoid having anything cut off by the edges of the frame, a particular problem with so many objects in the water. A 3-stop reverse graduated neutral density filter helped moderate the bright sky at the horizon.

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Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.

Demo from Villeneuve d, France

Fantastic capture !!
A magic sky !

23 Oct 2010 12:56pm

Mici from Toronto, Canada

Beautiful and magical

23 Oct 2010 2:19pm

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

This is beautiful! I love the composition, with the sand bar and rocks leading in....

23 Oct 2010 4:23pm

Julie from Easton, United States

Breathtakingly beautiful Gary! Well done!

24 Oct 2010 2:34am

Elora from Genoa, Italy

Amazing shimmering light. Love it!!

24 Oct 2010 7:58am

Tamara from Aarschot, Belgium

Fantastic view and very beautiful light here... Also the reflections are great ! Have a nice sunday Gary :)

24 Oct 2010 9:05am

Punit from Somewhere in, India

Great view - nice light and superb sky - clouds.

24 Oct 2010 12:55pm

MOHAMMAD from BANDAR ABBAS, Iran

Great landscape

24 Oct 2010 5:13pm

Sylvie49 capture image from Anjou - Maine et Loire, France

Very beautiful.

24 Oct 2010 6:59pm

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

wonderful scenery - love the composition with the sandy line through the water pointing the way nicely! nice control of the light as well!

25 Oct 2010 2:12am

Marianne Bush from United States

Stunning image, Gary. Have been to Mono Lake several times but never to this place. Pure magic ;-)

26 Oct 2010 5:43pm

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

The sharpness of the sun star and clarity of the sky are so beautifully embraced and matched by the softness of the reflections and water...you are sop right about reflections, Gary... This is wonderful!!

26 Oct 2010 8:42pm

Ramon from AUXERRE, France

Amazing ! !

26 Oct 2010 9:21pm

Wild Mustang Photography from Carlisle, United States

Beautiful composition and amazing color!!!!

27 Oct 2010 2:58am

Michelle from Elverson, United States

Beautifully done as always Gary!

27 Oct 2010 12:18pm

Donald Hamburg from New York City, United States

Gary: I never thought that my flat tire would live in cyberspace forever. That morning at Black Point was spectacular beyond description. Your photo only begins to tell the story of that special place. Your fans should buy your book just to see the cover shot taken from this place.
Donald

27 Oct 2010 10:43pm

steve loos from hollister, United States

Gary the vibrance and clarity of this image are fantastic. I wonder how you manage the balance between the dark clouds to the left and bright clouds and sun to the right? Amazing.

28 Oct 2010 1:24pm

@steve loos: Thanks, Steve. A simple dodge and burn in Photoshop is usually the best way to even tones like this.

Marie from FRESNES, France

quelle belle lumière dans ce paysage !

3 Nov 2010 9:40am

Didier DE ZAN from somewhere, France

Very beautiful

10 Nov 2010 6:19am

Vaido from Võrumaa, Estonia

Perfect composition, this curved sandbar is just excellent here!

11 Nov 2010 12:09pm