Spacegirl Blues

From nearly 10 years ago on Mono Lake. Even though I arrived at full dark, there was a person on the ‘best bit’ of shoreline so I set up elsewhere. I was so nervous I could barely function. It’s one of those landscapes so famous that I put enormous pressure on myself to do it justice. That made me forget the most basic things about landscape photography and overall I’m a little disappointed with my output from here.

This is one of the good ones though. It was before the sun crested, but there was a kiss of pink on the mountain tops. The wind was starting to kick up, so I had to choose my battles - the reflection was the added bonus so I didn’t dare go too long with the shutter speed. And I was on the worst tripod on earth and so it wasn’t as stable as it could have been. Anyway…those tufa sculptures are amazing and I didn’t diminish them too much. One of these days I’ll go back and do better.

Specific Feedback Requested

Color balance - how does it look? SOOC it is VERY cyan in overall cast so I adjusted it as best I could to what I remember from a decade ago. Is it too soft? I did what I could to sharpen, but if there’s camera movement there isn’t much to be done.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Olympus E-30 DSLR
Zuiko D 12-60mm lens @21mm (42mm equiv.)
f/5 | 4 seconds | ISO 200
rickety tripod

Lr processed to bump exposure and adjust white balance. Added clarity and a good deal of contrast with a curves adjustment. Graduated filter in immediate fg to keep focus on the fufa formations. Also emphasized warm tones in highlights & mids with some gentle color grading. Sharpening & nr. Photoshop to remove some bright pebbles in the immediate foreground.


Kris, the deep blue is what first caught my eye. Not having been there, I can’t comment on the color balance, but it looks reasonable. The tufa, the reflections and the distant peaks all stand out well and look nice and sharp at small and medium size. At the largest size, there may be a subtle reduction in sharpness, but that only means that you don’t want to make a 6 foot wide print and then stand up close for viewing.

Thanks Mark. I wish it was sharper, but what can you do without a time machine?! That year they got so much snow that Mammoth Mountain (just a few miles away) was open all year round. People were skiing in shorts & t-shirts in August! I was there in early June and we couldn’t get above about 8,000 feet. Drive up a pass and put on the brakes because there’s a wall of snow! Fantastic bit of country.

I’m certainly no landscape expert, but it’s a beautiful shot and I’m drawn to the reflections. There’s a lot of blue there, but I like blue! Looks reasonably sharp to me.

Thanks Terry. I went back and forth on the blue, but it really was intense there for a bit so I left it like this.

Hey Kris, Beautiful shot. It almost looks 3-D. I’ve been past there many times and you were lucky to not have high winds. If you are ever in the area again, go south on I-395 to Lone Pine and explore the Alabama Hills. They are at the base of Mt. Whitney and not visible from the town. The Alabama’s have been in western films from the 1920’s on. Tremors was filmed there as well as Stagecoach and many more westerns. Well worth the look.

Hi Kristen … a lovely composition incorporating the tufa, background ridgeline, and the reflection. The deeply saturated blue reminds me very much of my days shooting Kodachrome … can’t comment on whether it’s too blue or not as I wasn’t there to witness this amazing scene.

With a time machine we could see now whether or not you could have had the ridgeline unbroken by the tufa … but changing position and/or tripod height may not have resulted in such a perfect reflection. I only mention this as it’s something that I have to keep reminding myself to do when I’m out shooting.

PS: @Merle_Cook I’m heading North to the Alabama Hills next week to explore and photograph … won’t be going as far North as Mono Lake this trip though unfortunately.

Jon, Just north of Lone Pine is a road ( L.P.Gas road or something like that ) that goes to the East to the Owens River. Before the river is the old train station. It is a now a residence. As you reach the river and look back, it makes a great shot with the old train station and Mt. Whitney in the background. At least it was there 20 years ago when we left California. Happy hunting.

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Thanks @Merle_Cook :slight_smile: