Serenity, Mono Lake, California, USA by Tom Elenbaas

The serenity of dawn at Mono Lake in Eastern California is beyond words. An ancient lake (thought to be about 1 million years old – one of the oldest in North America) it is some two and a half times saltier than the ocean and covers about 65 square miles. California established the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve in 1981 to preserve the calcium-carbonate tufa towers. Although the South Tufa Area is normally overrun with photographers and other visitors throughout the day and well into the night, on the morning this shot was taken there were only a couple of other tripods sharing the shoreline with me. For all practical purposes I had the place to myself. The most common shot from Mono Lake is of the tufa formation known colloquially as the “Battleship” and I certainly took my share of images of the sun rising behind its spires throughout the morning. But I was struck by this small tufa outcropping and its adjacent cluster of weeds sitting just offshore. The beautiful orange glow of dawn was shimmering in the calm lake waters and silhouetting the distant mountains along California’s border with neighboring Nevada. I chose to compose the shot with the tiny tufa tower and its reflection taking up just a small corner of the frame yet, at the same time, dominating the composition. I used a 2 second exposure to calm the waters while still maintaining some of the texture of the ripples. Sony a7Rii, Sony FE 24-240 f/3.5-6.3 OSS lens @ 90mm, f/11, ISO 100.

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