Best Photograph of 2012 – Eastern Sierra

March 10th, 2013
by doinlight

We are continuing our selection of the best of my 2012 photographs.  In the first round we selected the best California Desert photograph.  Four photographs were presented and the one that ranked the highest was Death Valley Sunrise.  See Best Photographs of 2012 – California Desert for the other three.


We have just concluded the second round in which you selected the best Eastern Sierra photographs of 2012.  There were six to choose from in this category.  I’d like to share them with you one by one and tell you a little bit about  each of them.

Let’s get started with this one.


Mobius Arch, Alabama Hills

Mobius Arch in the Alabama Hills is a popular stop for photographers. At sunrise you can photograph Mt Whitney and Lone Pine Peak through the arch.  We were wrapping up our morning shoot there.  I think I even had my camera gear packed up for the walk back to the car when I saw this composition.  I’m attracted to abstracts more and more.  They don’t tell a story or, more accurately, they can tell any story you want.  Without a reference to something familiar they can set the imagination free.   What attracted me to this image is several things – the simplicity of the composition, the movement from the diagonals, the  receding layers which give a sense of depth and the harmony and balance among all of the elements.  For me this is a very appealing composition.

The next photograph is the first of two captured at North Lake one cold, windy morning.


Moonset, North Lake

I’ve loved photographing North Lake over the years but for one reason or another haven’t gotten anything that I was happy with.  But this time we had a full moon setting over the Sierra crest.  When we arrived the moon was settling closer and closer to the ridge so we didn’t have much time.  We set up our cameras, composed the image and started shooting.  In the past I’ve had depth of field problems so I took extra precautions to ensure that foreground and background elements were in focus.  The light at this time of day is coming entirely from the sky so it is blue.  This gives a low energy, calm, peaceful feeling to the whole scene.

The next image is typical of some of the glorious sunrises you can experience at Mono Lake.  It’s easy to get focused on the amazing tufa and forget to look behind you to the impressive mountains of the Sierra.

mono_lake_sunrise_120607 Sunrise, Mono Lake

The whole world is bathed in lustrous gold and the water looks like burnished bronze.  It is an amazing moment but one that is fleeting.  The whole show is over in a matter of a couple of minutes.  If you miss it you’ll just have to come back.  This year I was in place and ready to capture the magic.  Even though the composition is not particularly energetic with a lot of horizontal lines, the brilliant golden light infuses the scene with warmth and vigor.

The morning after the moonset at North Lake the event was repeated at Convict Lake.


Moonset, Mt Laurel

Mount Laurel provides a most impressive backdrop to Convict Lake.  Mount Laurel rises thousands of feet above the surface of the lake.  It is made of old metamorphic rock that has been folded and refolded, creating spell binding patterns.  I tried a number of compositions – horizontal and vertical – and ended up liking the vertical the best because it emphasized the sheer precipices so well.  I did some serious Photoshop work on this image to expose the intricate texture of the rock face.  And to create even more drama I darkened the blue sky to emphasize the brilliance of the setting moon.  This photograph was the third most popular.

The second most popular photograph takes us back to North Lake about a half hour  after the first photograph.  The sun is up now and shedding its brilliant light on the peak that rises above it.


Sunrise, North Lake

The sun has transformed the scene providing brilliant oranges in contrast to the cool blues.  While the first is calm and peaceful, this one is filled with the promise of the coming day.  It’s another beautiful morning at North Lake, my favorite of all the lakes out of Bishop.  I’ll be back.

We’re down to the final photograph, the one that was by far the most popular – the best Eastern Sierra photograph of 2012.


Twin Lakes

This is the first time I’ve photographed the lakes at Mammoth Lakes.  Before the workshop I scouted the area with Google Earth and realized this was the best location.  I had actually never seen the lake before, never driven by it.  It was all with Google Earth that I was able to not only work out the best location for this shot but also know the best time to arrive.  We got there right on time and we were all very excited by what we saw.  This scene is beautiful for its perfect symmetry.  It draws you in to the snow-clad mountains in the distance.  The lake bottom in the foreground was very important but was obscured by the reflection on the water.  So out came the trusty circular polarizer filter to cut the reflection back just enough to emphasize the rocky lake bottom.  It contributes beautifully to the symmetry and balance of the whole composition.  All in all, this just makes one feel happy and want to return.  By the way, there’s a campground nearby.  I’m getting my camping gear ready.

These are the results of the Eastern Sierra best photograph selection.  Coming next is Big Sur.  I was fortunate to have three workshops along this incomparable stretch of the California coast, the most dramatic coastline in all of North America.  There was lots of great photography and I’m selecting the best.  So stay tuned and help me pick the best Big Sur photograph of 2012.

Join the conversation.  Add your comments.  They are greatly appreciated.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to Like it and  share it with your Facebook or Flickr friends.  Also, feel free to email it to your friends.

Join me on an upcoming workshop.  Click here for more details.

To see more of my photographs click here.


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