Posts Tagged ‘Sierra Wave Cloud’

Best Photographs Of 2014

December 18th, 2014

2014 The Year In Review

The Year 2014 was one of my most prolific since I started photographing 39 years ago when my father, American wilderness photographer Philip Hyde, gave me a Pentax K1000… Many people don’t realize that I have two of my own portfolios of images on Philip Hyde.com at the bottom of the dropdown menu after 26 portfolios of drum and flatbed scans of Dad’s classic color transparencies, as well as black and white prints, originally captured on medium and large format film. For a brief background on my travel and adventures in childhood and after read, “About David Leland Hyde.” A big thank you to Jim M. Goldstein for founding and again hosting this showcase every year since 2007. See details for participation and enjoyment, “Blog Project: Your Best Photos From 2014.”

The year 2014 also proved fruitful for me in words, both spoken and written. Besides working on longer projects and posting two feature length blog posts a month, I began writing for magazines again after a hiatus of more than a decade. My feature article, “The Art of Vision: Learn to Connect with the Landscape Like the Great Masters Ansel Adams, Minor White, Philip Hyde and Others,” appeared in the march print issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine and under “Locations” on the website. Many expert photographers and writers praised the article for its emphasis on craft and seeing rather than technical concerns and equipment. Read the conversation and insight by these industry leaders in my blog post announcing the feature story, “The Art of Vision: Outdoor Photographer Magazine Article By David Leland Hyde.” I also gave the Keynote Speech at the Escalante Canyons Art Festival in October, which drew the largest attendance of all keynote speeches in the 11-year history of the festival. I also gave or planned for 2015 a number of other smaller speeches at Colleges and Universities.

All “lucky 21” of my top photograph picks this year were single image capture, though I do blend images to capture highlight and shadow detail when necessary. However, this year I have used no blends so far, no HDR, only a few masks, did not move or remove objects, except for detailed retouching and otherwise optimized the photographs only with curves and a few other minor layer adjustments. This is essentially how the classic straight photographers printed in the darkroom, but in the digital workflow I make editing adjustments with much more precision than possible with any film process.

This year I kept 21,154 images as opposed to only 8,142 in 2013; 10,525 saved in 2012; 5,783 in 2011; 3,684 in 2010 and 8,877 in 2009 for a grand total of 60,178 since I went digital. Part of the increase is due to exposure bracketing for images that may need it. Totals are not easy to find before 2009, except in some years when I made no photographs. By comparison, my father in his 60 +/- years actively photographing full-time, made an estimated 50,000 large format film photographs, approximately 80,000 medium format images and another 20,000 tests or family snapshots with 35 mm film. While Dad would make at most 10-16 images a day in a subject rich area with the expenses and limitations of large format, I sometimes make as many as one or two hundred images on a big day. I am highly selective at times, but I also like to work the angles. I’m not usually shooting away hoping to get a few good pictures by sheer odds, an approach my father poked fun at, the majority of my photographs are potentially saleable. That is what I plan to focus on doing more of with my own work in the next several years. I already sell as many of my own prints as Dad’s, but his darkroom vintage gelatin silver prints, Cibachrome and dye transfer color prints blow my little ol’ chromogenic or digital prints away in dollar volume.

See many of the photographs below larger in Portfolio One and my Sierra Portfolio on philiphyde.com now. Later you will see that I am just beginning to build my own website. To see more David Leland Hyde photography, see the blog posts, “Best Photographs of 2013,” “My 12 ‘Greatest Hits’ Of 2012,” “Best Photos of 2011,” and “My Favorite Photos Of 2010.” To find out more about limited edition archival prints see the popular blog post, “David Leland Hyde Archival Prints Pre-Launch,” or for sizes and prices go to Portfolio One or Sierra Portfolio.

Please help me improve by sharing in comments which two or so you like best and two or so that you like least…

1. Sunrise Sierra Wave Cloud Over Lone Pine, Sierra East Side, California. I drove six hours to Lone Pine arriving at 2 a.m., but awakened energized only four hours later, looked out and saw the entire sky was blazing red with a huge Sierra Wave Cloud directly overhead. I immediately drove East toward Death Valley enough to include Mt. Whitney, the mountains and the Sierra Wave Cloud in one frame.

1. Sunrise Sierra Wave Cloud Over Lone Pine, Sierra East Side, California. I drove six hours to Lone Pine arriving at 2 a.m., but awakened energized only four hours later, looked out and saw the entire sky was blazing red with a huge Sierra Wave Cloud directly overhead. I immediately drove East toward Death Valley enough to include Mt. Whitney, the mountains and the Sierra Wave Cloud in one frame.

2. Clearing Sunset Near Vista Encontada, North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. I exceeded the national park speed limit to get to this unnamed stop after photographing Point Imperial with the sun still above the horizon. I set up my camera and tripod as quickly as possible as the light was fading to dark fast. The howling strong wind required me to make a number of exposures before I got a sharp one.

2. Clearing Sunset Near Vista Encontada, North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. I exceeded the national park speed limit to get to this unnamed stop after photographing Point Imperial with the sun still above the horizon. I set up my camera and tripod as quickly as possible as the light was fading to dark fast. The howling strong wind required me to make a number of exposures before I got a sharp one.

 

3. Secret Cove, Ponderosa Pines, Lake Tahoe, Tahoe National Forest, California. This place is hard to find and a significant hike, more than two miles, from the highway. The interesting rock arrangements and opportunity to capture near, middle and far away scenic elements, kept me photographing here nearly all day.

3. Secret Cove, Ponderosa Pines, Lake Tahoe, Tahoe National Forest, California. This place is hard to find and a significant hike, more than two miles, from the highway. The interesting rock arrangements and opportunity to capture near, middle and far away scenic elements, kept me photographing here nearly all day.

4. Sun Rays Through Cloud Layers, Pacific Ocean, Cardiff-By-The-Sea, California. My friend Ralf and his daughter Mia and I were photographing her cousins and brothers surfing, when the sun, clouds and sunlight began to put on this epic show. I was using shutter priority to keep the surfers sharp, but shifted into manual, low ISO, small aperture settings for a series of landscape photographs.

4. Sun Rays Through Cloud Layers, Pacific Ocean, Cardiff-By-The-Sea, California. A friend of mine and his daughter and I were photographing her cousins and brothers surfing, when the sun, clouds and sunlight began to put on this epic show, while it was also getting dark fast. I had been using shutter priority to keep the surfers sharp, but shifted into manual, lower ISO, smaller aperture settings for a series of landscape photographs. That’s when the daughter started asking me about what tripods do for photographs…

 

5. Twilight, Mist Patterns, Round Valley Lake, Greenville, California. This photograph I made near dark and lightened it some in Photoshop. Images made around the dusk hour often exhibit shades of translucent blue like this.

5. Twilight, Mist Patterns, Round Valley Lake, Greenville, California. This photograph I made near dark and lightened it some in Photoshop. Images made around the dusk hour often exhibit shades of translucent blue like this.

6. Clay Rainbow Near Old Pareah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. No trip to the wilderness Southwest is complete without getting stuck in the sand and mud. I had to get stuck and unstuck by myself many miles from pavement to earn this photograph. Besides that, making the image was straightforward with just a little saturation added for spice, though I actually de-saturated the red after curves contrast made it a bit overdone.

6. Clay Rainbow Near Old Pahreah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. No trip to the wilderness Southwest is complete without getting stuck in the sand and mud. I had to get stuck and unstuck by myself many miles from pavement to earn this photograph. Besides that, making the image was straightforward with just a little saturation added for spice, though I actually de-saturated the red after curves contrast made it a bit overdone.

7. Logs And Reflections, Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California. This photo was among many I found walking around Manzanita Lake during the evening sun angle when the lake surface appeared to catch fire and glow with the most intensity.

7. Logs And Reflections, Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California. This photo was among many I found walking around Manzanita Lake during the evening sun angle when the lake surface appeared to catch fire and glow with the most intensity.

8. Lower Spooky Gulch Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. I wanted to get into Coyote Gulch, but did not want to backpack overnight. This slot canyon and two others near it, including the Dry Fork of Coyote Gulch, provided plenty of interesting sandstone canyon sculpture without fighting the crowds at Antelope Canyon or The Wave in Arizona.

8. Lower Spooky Gulch Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. I wanted to get into Coyote Gulch, but did not want to backpack overnight. This slot canyon and two others near it, including the Dry Fork of Coyote Gulch, provided plenty of interesting sandstone canyon sculpture without fighting the crowds at Antelope Canyon or The Wave in Arizona.

9. Dawn Mist And Canoe On Millpond, Graeagle, California. Woke up in the dark to make this one. The mist accumulating on the surface of the Millpond peaked just as I began to see and decreased with the progression of daybreak. I made a few exposures when it was darker with more mist, but the mist patterns in this were more interesting, while less lightening and noise reduction is needed on this image.

9. Dawn Mist And Canoe On Millpond, Graeagle, California. Woke up in the dark to make this image. The mist accumulating on the surface of the Millpond peaked just as I began to see and decreased with the progression of daybreak. I made a few exposures when it was darker with more mist, but the mist patterns in this were more interesting, while less lightening is needed on this image.

10. Old Mission, San Juan Capistrano, California. I made this one, as I do many photographs, from the tripod platform Dad built on the roof of our family Ford 150 Econoline travel van. You cannot see over the mission wall from street level.

10. Old Mission, San Juan Capistrano, California. I made this one, as I do many photographs, from the tripod platform my father built on the roof of our family Ford 150 Econoline travel van. You cannot see over the mission wall from street level.

11. Bicyclists Rejoice, Murals, Balmy Alley, Mission District, San Francisco, California. I agree with Nina Simone that an artist’s responsibility is to reflect the times. I show the general mood and place where the murals are, without recording any of them specifically, but rather, transforming their combination into a telltale scene. I intend to draw attention to the neighborhood and encourage people to go see this incredible, often political art. I clicked one frame before the bicyclists came happily along and idealized the composition. Riding bicycles will become more and more a sign of the times in the future.

11. Bicyclists Rejoice, Murals, Balmy Alley, Mission District, San Francisco, California. I agree with Nina Simone that an artist’s responsibility is to reflect the times. I show the general mood and place where the murals are, without recording any of them specifically, but rather, transforming their combination into a telltale scene. I intend to draw attention to the neighborhood and encourage people to go see this incredible, often political art. I clicked one frame before the bicyclists came happily along and idealized the composition. Riding bicycles will become more and more a sign of the times in the future.

12. Farm Workers, Strawberry Fields Near Oceano and Guadalupe, California. I stumbled upon this field of workers and others picking strawberries and cabbages on the way to the Oceano Dunes, some sections of the dunes are called the Nipomo Dunes and Pismo Dunes in each respective town the dunes reach across. By seeking out the wildest part of the Oceano Dunes I also discovered several other subjects I had been thinking of photographing in the future. The vantage point of the top of my van came in handy again here.

12. Farm Workers, Strawberry Fields Near Oceano and Guadalupe, California. I stumbled upon this field of workers and others picking strawberries and cabbages on the way to the Oceano Dunes. Some sections of the dunes are called the Nipomo Dunes and Pismo Dunes in each respective town the dunes reach across. By seeking out the wildest part of the Oceano Dunes, I also discovered several other subjects I had been thinking of photographing for some time. The vantage point of the top of my van came in handy again here.

13. Broken Windows Detail, Abandoned School, Mare Island, California. I’m seeing abandoned buildings and homes all over the West, in cities and in rural areas. I made this image from the public roadway, as the condemned school was on property owned by a private corporation who bought it from the US Navy. The school was on part of the defunct Mare Island Naval Base.

13. Broken Windows Detail, Abandoned School, Mare Island, California. More signs of the times. Watch your step in ruined buildings. Watch out above too. I have been dive bombed by birds, charged at by ferrel cats and made to jump by mice and rats. I notice abandoned buildings and homes all over the West, in cities and in rural areas. I made this image from the public roadway, as the condemned school was on property owned by a private corporation who bought it from the US Navy. The school was on part of the defunct Mare Island Naval Base. To see the photograph large

http://www.philiphyde.com/#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=3&p=27&a=0&at=0

14. Freeway Curves, Vallejo, California. I like the curves and shapes found in many of the giant concrete bridges, ramps, columns, buttresses and beams of our interstate highway system. Photographing freeways is dangerous and sometimes tough on the lungs in rush hour. Often high contrast separates the shadowy under sides of roadways from bright surroundings, yet shadows add curves and other interest.

14. Freeway Curves, Vallejo, California. I like the curves and shapes found in many of the giant concrete bridges, ramps, columns, buttresses and beams of our interstate highway system. Photographing freeways is dangerous and sometimes tough on the lungs in rush hour. Often high contrast separates the shadowy under sides of roadways from bright surroundings, yet shadows add curves and other interest.

15. Oakland Harbor From Yerba Buena Island, San Francisco Bay, California. This side of Yerba Buena Island is a challenging place to make photographs as there is no place to park and the construction crews for the new Bay Bridge want to keep people away from the construction zone. However, I managed to squeeze out a few images of Oakland across the Bay receding into the mist.

15. Oakland Harbor From Yerba Buena Island, San Francisco Bay, California. This side of Yerba Buena Island is a challenging place to make photographs as there is no place to park and the construction crews for the new Bay Bridge want to keep people away from the construction zone. However, I managed to squeeze out a few images of Oakland across the Bay receding into the mist.

16. California Highway One From Above, Big Sur Coast, Pacific Ocean, Los Padres National Forest, California. The color version of this is beautiful with a sapphire blue ocean and gold illuminated plants on the cliffs, but I feel the black and white version somehow transports us to another time with the help of winding two-lane State Highway 1. Climbing several hundred feet above the highway also gives this a unique perspective. I had to watch out for Poison Oak, which is prolific in Big Sur. In the end I was not careful enough and drove home with the rash on my face, forearm, ankle and calf.

16. California Highway One From Above, Big Sur Coast, Pacific Ocean, Los Padres National Forest, California. The color version of this is beautiful with a sapphire blue ocean and gold illuminated plants on the cliffs, but I feel the black and white version somehow transports us to another time with the help of winding two-lane State Highway 1. Climbing several hundred feet above the highway also gives this a unique perspective. I had to watch out for Poison Oak, which is prolific in Big Sur. In the end I was not careful enough and drove home with the rash on my face, forearm, ankle and calf.

17. San Juan River Canyons From Muley Point Overlook, Utah. Muley Point was one of Dad’s favorite photo stops. The dirt road and remote location weeds out many travelers. However, the views are great of Monument Valley and into the San Juan River canyons, offering all kinds of photographic possibilities.

17. San Juan River Canyons From Muley Point Overlook, Utah. Muley Point was one of Dad’s favorite photo stops. The dirt road and remote location weeds out many travelers. However, the views are great of Monument Valley and into the San Juan River canyons, offering all kinds of photographic possibilities.

18. Leaning Alders Abstract, Indian Creek Near Taylorsville, California. I made a number of variations on this, a few closer in, some including the shore, a few horizontals. This version stands out the most. The color version of this same composition looks nearly identical to the black and white, except for the large floating stick in the lower right that is brown in the color image. The Alder tree trunks are dark gray either way, as well as the water being the same slate gray in either color or black and white.

18. Leaning Alders Abstract, Indian Creek Near Taylorsville, California. I made a number of variations on this, a few closer in, some including the shore, a few horizontals. This version stands out the most. The color version of this same composition looks nearly identical to the black and white, except for the large floating stick in the lower right that is brown in the color image. The Alder tree trunks are dark gray either way, as well as the water being the same slate gray in either color or black and white.

19. La Jolla Caves, La Jolla Shores, California. A friend of mine’s kids were doing flips off rocks into the ocean at a place called Deadman’s, to the side and above La Jolla Caves. I photographed boys doing flips and a couple flops. Photographed the cormorants on the cliffs as well as the beautiful and frightening cave entrances at cliff base.

19. La Jolla Caves, La Jolla Shores, California. A friend of mine’s kids were doing flips off rocks into the ocean at a place called Deadman’s, to the side and above La Jolla Caves. I photographed the boys doing flips and a couple flops. I photographed the cormorants on the cliffs as well as the beautiful and a bit spooky cave entrances at the cliff base.

20. Burney Falls, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, California. I have wanted to visit Burney Falls for a long time to see if I could photograph it significantly different than my father did. He photographed it in all seasons, but his most known image of the falls he made in winter with the foreground deciduous trees bare and few leaves on any other shrubs. I was happy to find that there are many viewing areas and many angles from which to photograph the waterfall, including from downstream, from front, side and from several different levels above the 129-foot drop.

20. Burney Falls, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, California. I have wanted to visit Burney Falls for a long time to see if I could photograph it in a different way from the many my father did. He photographed it in all seasons, but his most known image of the falls he made in winter with the foreground deciduous trees bare and few leaves on any other shrubs. I was happy to find that there are many viewing areas and many angles from which to photograph the waterfall, including from downstream, from front, side and from several different levels above the 129-foot drop.

21. Spring Showers, Table Mountain, Sierra Foothills Near Oroville, California. Many of my best images I drive right by and then turn around to go back and make the image. This photograph was located on a part of the highway with narrow shoulders and steep drop offs on either side of the road.  This meant the nearest place to park was a good half-mile down the road. I felt this one was worth hiking a mile, but I also had to watch for some time the sun going in and out of the clouds to pick the best moment when the trees would be lit, but also when they cast at least some shadow, which I feel adds interest.

21. Spring Showers, Table Mountain, Sierra Foothills Near Oroville, California. Many of my best images I drive right by and then turn around to go back and make the exposure. This photograph was located on a part of the highway with narrow shoulders and steep drop offs on either side of the road. The nearest place to park was more than half-mile down the road. I felt this one was worth hiking a mile round-trip, but I also had to watch for some time, the sun going in and out of the clouds to pick the best moment when the trees would be lit, but also when they cast at least some shadow, which may add interest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sierra Eastside Adventures: Bishop, Mono Lake and Bodie

May 14th, 2010

First An Update on Philip Hyde at Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light Gallery

By 5 pm Friday, May 7, thanks to hard work by the Mountain Light Gallery staff, the Philip Hyde Exhibition was up. Kevin, the gallery operations manager and I started laying the show out at 7:30 am. The layout went quickly, the hanging took longer, but in one day Kevin and Janet, the framer, put more than 50 large 16X20 matted prints on the wall.

Sierra Wave Cloud, Mono Lake, Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 1967 by Philip Hyde. Nationally toured to major museums, libraries and other venues as part of “At Mono Lake Exhibition” that helped raise awareness that the City of Los Angeles was depleting this one of a kind lake and threatening endagered and unique bird and aquatic species. The people of Los Angeles led the response to the campaign to restore the water supply of Mono Lake. Today the lake is rising steadily toward its historic elevation. Mono Lake is already 12 feet higher than its low point in the early 1980s.

That evening Bishop hosted a local art walk that had not been scheduled when we booked our show. Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light Gallery was open and many people coming through could see the prints of Philip Hyde up and getting their final leveling, enough to get interested to return the next night for the opening reception. Galen Rowell’s daughter Nicole Rowell-Ryan and her husband Ray Ryan drove up from the Central Valley and we talked about Galen Rowell and Philip Hyde. As the art walk began, Janet invited me to stop by the Pilates studio where she teaches body work. The Pilates studio had a group playing live music: hammer dulcimer, banjo, guitar, acoustic base and good singers. I told everyone about the Philip Hyde opening the following night. It was heart-warming to find out that many people had heard of Philip Hyde. The banjo player even had a copy of Slickrock at home.

The opening at Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light Gallery on Saturday night started out slow, but after about an hour the gallery filled with people. Barbara Laughon, Mountain Light Gallery public relations, said that the turnout was even larger than when they had a contest of photographers from the area and the gallery workshops. I spoke for about 30-40 minutes about Mom and Dad, their travels and the part Dad’s photography played in the establishment of a number of national parks and wilderness areas of the American West. The talk seemed well-received and people stuck around afterward to ask questions and chat. Camille in sales said that she was very busy ringing people up all evening. She said that evening they did not sell any Philip Hyde prints but one had already sold before the prints even made it to the premises.

Night Soft-Focus Industrial Photographs

Night Shadows, County Yard Near Bishop, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Hand held Nikon D90.

By a little before 10:00 pm I said my goodbyes and hit the road. I felt a little sad to be leaving having had an enjoyable time meeting everyone. I drove about an hour up to Mono Lake to catch the sunrise the next morning. On the way up the big grade between Bishop and the Mammoth Lakes turnoff, I spotted the same Mono County Construction Yard I had noticed on the way into town on Thursday night. The steel machinery and industrial forms were interesting lit up at night. I stopped and jumped the fence to make some hand-held-soft-focus-night photographs. Fortunately either the surveillance thought I was harmless or they were not paying attention as I made over 20 images.

Mono Lake Back Roads

I drove through Lee Vining to the Mono Basin National Forest Visitor’s Center to check the hours. It did not open until 9:00 am, which would give me time to photograph in the early morning. I drove back a few miles south of Lee Vining to the turnoff for South Tufa. In the dark I must have missed the turnoff because I drove for many miles until the road entered a woods and was climbing noticeably. Once I turned around, in a few miles I saw Mono Lake Mills historic marker on the right. I pulled off and noticed a small road going down toward Mono Lake. The main road seemed to parallel the lake shore and never get any closer.

At first I thought I would go just a short distance to find a secluded place for the night. However, the road smoothed out and headed straight for the lake shore that I could now see more distinctly in the distance under star light. I drove toward Mono Lake for some time, but then the road veered to the right to parallel the lake shore again. I decided to stop, hit the hay and find out what to do in the morning. The next morning I could see that the road I was on did seem generally to go to the lake even though it jogged back and forth in other directions a few times. The road gradually became alternately rougher and more sandy, it had turned into a 4X4 road, not meant for an old Ford Van with two-wheel-drive. I kept going until the track started down steeper into the Mono Lake basin. By then I was getting bogged down in the sand even going downhill. I imagined that coming back up would be next to impossible. The one consolation was that strangely enough I had good cell phone service way out there. I imagined that I would probably spend most of the day either digging myself out of the sand or calling a tow truck. Hopefully there was one in Lee Vining.

Morning Shadows, Mono Lake, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Hand held Nikon D90. I have been visiting Mono Lake for over 40 years but this was the first time I photographed it.

The track became even smaller and degraded into mainly sand. I kept looking for a good place to turn around but found none where the ground was hard enough in a large enough area for the van. Finally there was a wide place that looked like it had enough foliage on top of the sand to provide enough traction to turn around. It did not. I got about half way turned around and the back wheels started to dig in. Fortunately in the van I carry a small Army issue shovel that my parents had carried through all their travels. They taught me at a young age to use a shovel for going to the bathroom in the wilderness. It also came in handy for burying fires and organic garbage. Fortunately the Mono Lake sand did have a harder bottom down six inches or so and the sand itself was more like fine gravel, quite grainy and not completely soft. Also, I had recently put on four brand-new tires. As my two back wheels dug in, I stopped before the axel was buried. The sun was just hitting the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance and lighting up the Tufa and the far shores of Mono Lake. I abandoned the van and ran with camera in hand the remaining half mile or so to the lake shore.

Forgetting my vehicle troubles, I photographed while it was still very cold. The grasses were still brown, matted and showing signs that the snow had just melted away. The marshes were still soaked with melt water into which I sunk up to mid-calf. I had to keep moving to not sink in further.  After exhausting the photographic possibilities, I waded and sloshed back to my poor old van. I rested for a time then got back outside for the digging. By then it had warmed up and I was sweating as I shoveled the sand away. There actually wasn’t that much shoveling to do before I tried to get the van going. I was able to get out of the self-made hole and got going up the road. The trick to the road was that if you went too fast you would get bounced sky-high when you hit the ups and downs of the rougher areas. On the other hand, if you went too slow, you would bog down and stall out in the deep sand. I definitely bogged down a few times and bounced very high a few times, not to mention scraping the side of the van some on the close Junipers, sage brush and other desert growth along the road. However, I was amazed that I somehow miraculously made it past the worst of the uphill deep sand and up to the solid ground. I thought for certain I would lose a day waiting around for AAA to bail me out of my predicament.

At the Mono Basin National Forest Visitors Center I introduced myself. The desk staff pointed me to the back exhibit room where my father’s 1967 black and white print of the Sierra Wave Cloud is prominently displayed as part of the At Mono Lake Exhibition with photographs by Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, Philip Hyde, Timothy O’Sullivan, Edward Curtis, Al Weber, Ted Orland, Don Worth Dave Bohn, Robert Dawson, Clinton Smith, Stephen Johnson and others. At Mono Lake toured the country to help raise awareness to save Mono Lake. This early 1980s campaign will be the subject of another blog post. I met Deb and Lou Main who work at the Mono Basin Visitors Center. Deb Main is a photographer. Lou told me that many prominent photographers come through regularly to photograph Mono Lake. I told Lou Main that I was thinking of heading up to the ghost town of Bodie Historic State Park. My dad photographed Bodie with a group of his classmates from the California School of Fine Art in 1949.

A Hiking Quest For The Ghost Town Of Bodie

Window, Bodie Historic State Park, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Lou said that Bodie Historic State Park did close at 4:00 pm and the sign at the entrance said the hours were strictly enforced. However, as a general rule, if I was just photographing and minding my own business, not barging into buildings or messing with anything, they would probably let me walk around and photograph after closing. Lou said that the main road was not open all the way in that time of year as there was still snow on the ground in the ghost town of Bodie. He said it would be about 1/3 mile walk each way. The mistake I made was to take the road along Mono Lake toward Hawthorne, Nevada, rather than to go in the main entrance to Bodie farther north off of U. S. Highway 395. From the route to Hawthorne, a back road to Bodie winds up through the hills and appears on a map to be shorter than the main entrance road, especially from along Mono Lake. On the map, the two roads look like they might meet near Bodie anyway. As it turned out, they did not come together until right at the entrance station. Meanwhile, the back entrance road gave me reason to worry right away.

About two miles in, a sign said, “Road Closed.” I considered for a moment that my father would have turned around at that point. He was generally a law-abiding citizen, unless there was a good reason, advantage or point to be made by breaking the law. I have never had any reason to break any serious laws to speak of in a manner that would get me caught. However, when it comes to adventure, I have rarely let a little thing like a few signs or road statutes get in the way. Considering I had already come close to 20 miles from the main highway and only had about ten more to get to Bodie according to the map, I decided to keep going and see why the road was closed. The sun was sinking toward the horizon. It was some time after 5:00 pm, the temperature was dropping and the wind had been very gusty all day. There were no gates but as the dirt road climbed, more and more snow appeared on it and runoff flowed down it, turning it to a muddy morass in places and at the least full of ruts in others. Along the hillsides, football to beach ball sized rocks had tumbled into the road. Lou Main at the Mono Lake Visitor Center said that the state park service had announced the main entrance would be open in about a week. He said that even though it had been an extra-heavy snow year, the snow had been melting fast recently. Just the previous week, the whole town of Bodie had still been under snow.

Fire House And Mine, Bodie Historic State Park, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Up, up the trusty old van climbed past slippery sliding rutted and rock strewn road sections. Finally just as I began to see mine tailing piles and signs of perhaps an approaching town, there was a solid iron gate across the road. ‘Okay, no problem,’ I thought. ‘I can hike from here. It will only be 1/3 of a mile.’ I bundled up with as many layers as I had, wool hat, gloves and my camera. It was May 10, but it was also around 8,000 foot elevation and had just snowed lightly that afternoon.  As I stepped out of the van I might as well have been wearing a T-shirt because the howling wind went right through everything. I had on my long-haul Vasque hiking boots, the ones built for mileage.

The road on the other side of the gate wound around the mountain out of sight. Hundreds of fresh footprints reassured me I was doing the right thing and would be in wonderful historic Bodie soon, just around the bend. I rounded the bend and the road kept going up, up, and up. Finally after at least half a mile, already farther than the 1/3 mile promised, it began to sink in that I had not come in the main entrance. I was taking another road and who knows how far that gate would prove to be from Bodie. I came to the top of a rise in the road. Before me stretched a high desert valley and far away in the distance, there was the ghost town of Bodie. It was hard to judge the distance but I have done a lot of walking in my life. My guess was that it probably was at least another mile and a half, if not two miles to Bodie from where I stood.

Bodie Hotel Bar, Bodie Historic State Park, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

I looked down at the road and saw that most of my friendly companion footprints had deserted me at the top of the hill and turned around. However, I was there to photograph and the sun was getting lower all the time. I guessed it would go down on Bodie in about 45 minutes to an hour. There was no time to run back down to the van, drive forty miles around to the other entrance and then hike another 1/3 mile. I had to press on even though I was dead tired and my hands were literally numb. I knew I would have to mingle with ghosts and then hike back in the falling dark. I shrugged it off and said to myself, ‘I used to jog that far every day on purpose. Maybe I’ll just move my camera around under my arm and take a little jog.’ So that’s what I did.

At about 6:30 pm I arrived at the entrance to Bodie where the sign says, “Open 8:00 to 4:00 pm, Hours Strictly Enforced.” I walked right past the entrance and into the streets shutters blazing. I had about 15 minutes of sun. As the sun went down, the sky began to light up in various oranges against the dark stormy mood that had prevailed most of the day. Even after the sun set, a glow lingered and gave me a beautiful, soft light for photographing. I wonder if many photographers dare to capture sundown at Bodie with that foreboding sign up front. I was shivering and my hands were numb in the wind, but I hurried on in case I was kicked out any moment. I made a lot of exposures quickly. I am not sure my photographs do that amazing evening justice, but seeing Bodie in that light alone, without any photographs, was well-worth the hike. In a little while it became unbearably cold and when the oranges and reds faded from the sky, I decided to begin the return hike while I still had light.

Looking South From Entrance to Bodie, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

I passed the entrance station and began making my way up the long road to the top of the hill where I had first surveyed the scene. I had gone about 100 yards when a state park truck came over the horizon on the main entrance road. I moved smoothly on up the other road and either he or she did not see me, or did not bother to follow and interrogate me. I felt so uplifted, light and inspired, especially once I was able to put my hands deep into my pockets and get them warm again. The hike and jog back went very quickly. I even made it to the van before it was completely dark and made it out past the closed sign before any more rocks fell off the hills. As I pulled onto the road to Hawthorne, this time headed for U.S. 395 and home, I breathed a sigh of relief and elation.