Mono Lake January 2012

I had been wanting to get some sunrise shots from Mono Lake for a while and finally got up there a few days ago.

Since I’m not an early riser, I was going to have to make it a late night. I left San Diego about 10:30pm and parked at Mono Lake, South Tufa Trail-head  about 5:45am; It was still dark and about 17°f.

I made my way down to the south end of the lake and to say I was amazed by the scenery would be an understatement. This was the first time I had seen the tufa towers and the lake up close.

The first shot was taken while it was still pretty dark out. Mist was starting to rise off of the lake and the sky was just starting to lighten up.

First Shot at Mono Lake

30 sec exp; f/10; ISO 100; 50mm; Nikon D80

I was setting this next shot up as the second shot,


13 sec exp; f/16; ISO 100; 26mm; Nikon D80

When I glanced back over my shoulder and saw this:

Tufa Reflection with Mountains and Mist in Background

30 sec exp; f/20; ISO 100; 18mm; Nikon D80

The sun wasn’t up yet, so I was able to get these at a longer exposure. The white on the tufa is salt; Mono Lake is a salt water lake.

Mono Lake, Early Morning

30 sec exp; f/25; ISO 100; 40mm; Nikon D80

As the sun came up, colors started to change…and exposure times started to shorten.

Sunrise on Mono Lake

1 sec exp; f/22; ISO 100; 18mm; Nikon D80

Sunrise, Mono Lake

1 sec exp; f/25; ISO 100; 48mm; Nikon D80

One more with the sun shining on the mountains in the background.

Mountains from Mono Lake

1/2 sec exp; f/20; ISO 100; 55mm; Nikon D80

I had a great time shooting Mono Lake. It was cold and there was ice forming on my camera as I got back to the truck,  but it was worth the long drive and low temps.

Here’s a little info about Mono Lake and the tufa towers:

The tufa towers are calcium carbonate limestone that forms when certain chemical conditions are met, and only grows under water. In 1941, Los Angeles water and power diverted most of the creeks and rivers that fed Mono Lake south to meet the needs of the growing communities. The result was the lake started to dry up and the water turned salty. By 1995, the lake had lost over 40 vertical feet of water and the remaining water had doubled in salinity. Since then, programs have been put in place to help preserve and restore Mono Lake.


6 thoughts on “Mono Lake January 2012

  1. Wow!……..those are really some GREAT shots Joe! Thanks for sharing. I also enjoyed the brief history lesson….amazing!

    • Thanks Shutter

      It was a great place to shoot!
      I got lucky… a cold morning with no wind.

      I was hoping for a firey sunrise, but the quiet reflections, mist and nice blue hues in the low light were a fair trade!

    • This was a great day!
      I see the sun go down way more often than I see it rise and this morning was a great change of pace.

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