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Morning Storm Light, Black Point, Mono Lake

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 22 October 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


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Magical light comes in many forms. But for me, there always seems to be something a bit special when either a clearing or approaching storm is timed with either dawn or dusk light as the sky seems to come alive with a beautiful luminous glow.

This frame was the conclusion to one such magical location shoot along the north shore of Mono Lake looking south towards the tiny town of Lee Vining and Mt. Dana and Mt. Gibb along the crest of the rugged Sierra crest.

I was with a group of workshop students attending Gary Hart's eastern Sierra fall workshop. We had perhaps one of the best dawn light shows that I can ever remember and as the sun began to crest the horizon, it set these clouds on fire.

The photography was rather straightforward; all I did was seek a small patch of water in front of the lake to catch the bulk of the reflection. I felt this little pool complimented the shape of the lake, mountains and clouds. If I recall correctly, I used a Singh-Ray 3-stop soft edge graduated neutral density filter to hold back the light on the clouds and mountains and allow the the foreground the proper exposure.

Those not accustomed to the vibrant quality of mountain light may accuse me of enhancing this color in Photoshop, but I assure you , the color was natural. I have 12 other workshop students who can attest to this!

NOTE: I am currently in Yosemite helping Gary with his fall Yosemite workshop and will be unable to respond to your comments. I will however be able to read them so I look forward to hearing from you!

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 4/5 seconds F/16.0 ISO 400 78 mm

My Website: "how to" articles, 2018 WORKSHOP LISTINGS, galleries, stock photos, and more...

Stefan from Thiersee, Austria

Wow , incredible colors, well done!

22 Oct 2010 9:24am

Tamara from Aarschot, Belgium

These purple tones are really magical Don ! Also jour composition is just perfect... as always ! Have a lovely day :)

22 Oct 2010 11:28am

@Tamara: Thanks Tamara.

Judy aka L@dybug from Brooksville, Florida, United States

Such beautiful morning colors - perfectly captured.

22 Oct 2010 12:30pm

Julie Brown from Indianapolis, United States

You have great light in all the layers of this composition. Beautiful! This really makes me want to go to see this spot for myself.

22 Oct 2010 12:33pm

@Julie Brown: Mono Lake is an incredible area to photograph - especially with light like this.

Mariana Maodush from Waterloo, Canada

wow.. this looks like Hell !

22 Oct 2010 12:34pm

@Mariana Maodush: Hopefully that is meant to be a compliment, then again...

Richard from Montferland, Netherlands

Superb shot Don!! Realy like it!!

22 Oct 2010 5:15pm

@Richard: It was an incredible morning Richard. Thanks for writing.

Wolfen from Villefranche S/S, France

Une composition, une lumière et des tons splendides, une leçon !
Félicitation pour votre travail et bon week end

22 Oct 2010 10:40pm

steve loos from hollister, United States

Folks rarely get this view and to see it in this light must have been spectacular Don, beautiful image.

23 Oct 2010 4:49am

Rich Field from Australia

Absolute cracker Don - I love it!

23 Oct 2010 9:47am

@Rich Field: Thanks for joining in on my blog Rich!

Mici from Toronto, Canada

Breath taking as always...have a great weekend and workshop

23 Oct 2010 2:33pm

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

Really amazing light! I love the composition and the reflection in the foreground. This really shows the unique beauty of Mono Lake!

23 Oct 2010 4:33pm

Barbara Lee from Oakland, United States

The is gorgeous, Don. Wish I had been there! Say, we attended Charlie's opening yesterday. You have gotta catch his show at the Sunset Center. His prints are breathtaking. He is so inspirational! There is a $1,000 one that I yearn to have in my home. Let's see - photo travel or one of Charlie's prints? it wrong for me to want it all!! ;-)

24 Oct 2010 3:00pm

Scott F. Schilling from San Martin, United States

Wonderful color again from the Eastern Sierra! I like the reflection patterns and light off the calm water you were able to place in the foreground! I hope you are staying dry in Yosemite today!

24 Oct 2010 4:56pm

@Scott F. Schilling: Lots of rain Sunday in Yosemite but surprisingly no wind. The color is slowly starting to take hold.

Sylvie49 capture image from Anjou - Maine et Loire, France

A beautiful view

24 Oct 2010 7:01pm

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

wow! an amazing sight and captured superbly too! the colours and mood are brilliant and your composition is as always superb! love the curves in the foreground, they really take the eyes in with them...

25 Oct 2010 4:50am

KriKridesign from Cully, Switzerland

Just smiply priceless...

4 Nov 2010 12:36pm

Maria Draper from California, United States

how beautiful....

30 Nov 2010 3:54am