Inyo National Forest, California, USA by Michael Thomas

Picture Story

Like many landscape photographers, I am drawn to iconic locations, the grand view and dramatic skies. On a two week trip along the eastern Sierra, I saw quite a few of these. Eventually though, nature throws you weather that makes things a bit more challenging. The day started off with a colorful sunrise over the Owens Valley, but turned grey with some snow flurries. At one point, we headed up into the foothills in search of color and came upon this scene. Since it’s been some time since I made this image, I’m not sure if I was consciously aware how the mountains’ profile echoed the aspens or simply framed the scene intuitively. But I surely recognized it when reviewing the trip’s photos back home. I shared this with another photographer who remarked that he would show it to his much younger traveling companion to demonstrate how it wasn’t necessary to rise at O’Dark thirty to achieve nice landscape photos! I applied only minimal processing in Lightroom, primarily a gradient filter to bring the sky brightness into balance with the foreground.

Most of the interesting photo locations in or near the eastern Sierra are in the 100 km stretch between Lee Vining and Bishop, CA along US 395. I suggest splitting time between these two towns. From Lee Vining, one can quickly access Yosemite, Twenty Lakes Basin, Mono Lake, Bodie Ghost Town and June Lake. Bishop is a good base for exploring Little Lakes Valley, Lake Sabrina, Owens Valley and the Ancient Bristle Cone Pine Forest. If you have the time, Lone Pine, another 100 km or so down the highway, is a good place to stay for visiting the Alabama Hills. Peak color seems to occur in very late September through early October.

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