Mono Lake is a saltwater lake located at the foot of the eastern Sierra, just outside of the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. Most of the shoreline is managed by the state of California, but the area most frequented by photographers, the South Tufa area, is under the management of the US Forest Service. The lake is highly alkaline, and subsurface springs (you can see them along the shoreline) feed the lake high amounts of dissolved calcium. The results are the tufa formations, which have been exposed as lake levels dropped.
I stayed in the nearby small town of Lee Vining, CA. It’s a nice base for also visiting Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite NP, the Twenty Lakes Basin and the June Lakes Loop. I only spent an evening and the following morning at Mono Lake and was fortunate to experience great light at both. I suggest visiting in early fall to also photograph the aspens of the Eastern Sierra.
One of the traps I often fall into while shooting landscapes is to stop at the first good view I encounter, set up my tripod and wait for the light to change. Fortunately for me, my wife is often with me and enjoys exploring. On this occasion, she came hurrying back and said I really needed to see the spot she found. Boy was she right. The lake was perfectly still, and the reflections and distant mountains had me thinking that I had stumbled onto a small scale version of the Salar de Uyuni.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor