Mono Lake, California, USA by Wade Thorson

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Picture Story

I made this image at Mono Lake in the Eastern Sierras of California. The lake has a high mineral content and is partially fed by underground springs. These springs have bubbled up and created unusual formations under water. The lake level has lowered over time, due to drought and ground water pumping, to reveal these curious ‘tufas.’

I spent the entire night shooting tufas with various light sources. As night came to an end, the pre-dawn light began to take effect. I saw what looked to be ancient dinosaurs sticking their heads out of the water. The scene had a sort of Loch Ness Monster feel to it. It was mid-October and the evenings were clear and cool. The moon phase was at full, and after a whole evening of moonlight, began so set behind me. This offered some natural light on the tufas that I could take advantage of. I got out my medium telephoto lens and set up a long exposure. I settled on 15 seconds and adjusted my ISO to get the proper exposure. This smoothed out the water into painterly strokes, yet maintained a relative sharpness in the tufas themselves. The calm morning brought very little wind so the reflection of the formations could still be seen.

I wasn’t long before the sun rose and I packed up for the night. Although I came away with some interesting images, this one stood out due to its simplicity. I will always remember this evening as the one I spent with monsters.

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