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Tucked Away

Gull Lake - June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra

(F11 1/3sec ISO 100 70-200mm lens at 200mm)

It was one of those mornings where I had no formal plans and had all day to get it all done. My kind of day, for sure!

So, there I was with my windows rolled down on a crystal clear 24° morning, sipping hot black coffee, tapping my thumb on the steering wheel to Kenny Chesney's "When The Sun Goes Down" northbound on HWY 395.

Coming down the backside of Deadman's Summit I made my second important decision of my day (the first one was to get out of bed without hitting snooze.) I decided to go and see what the June Lake Loop might look like in what was still some pretty nice light.

I had to stop and wait for a school bus to load in the village of June Lake. That was almost comical - the line of kids seemed to never end. For a moment I thought this was some sort of a cruel joke. I thought, the kids are getting on the bus, walking to the back of the bus, exiting the bus via the back door and getting back in line to re-board the bus. Seriously, it took 3 or 4 agonizingly long minutes before the doors closed, the red flashers went dark and the tiny Stop Sign swung back up against the side of the bus as it pulled away from the curb. Thank God I wasn't in a hurry. Laws would have been broken and people would have been staring, yelling, swearing and extending the middle finger. And then... the Sheriff would come. So, I waited it out. Moved on without incident and in one single deep breath of clean mountain air I regained the peacefulness that had momentarily abandoned me.

One minute later on a whim, I abruptly turned right onto Gull Lake Road. Thinking "I can usually find and make some nice photographs back here." Like this one and this one.

This lake is a bit of a cold air magnet. Cold air seems to settle here often and I have spent plenty of cold mornings here trying to manipulate all the buttons and dials on my camera with fingers numbed to the bone (that's just part of the adventure.)

This was one of the last photographs I made at this lake on this morning. I made this photograph on the way back to where I parked my SUV. I saw the possibility on the way in, but the light was flat and the details were poor at best. I moved on, found and made a few other images (like this one) before retracing my steps which eventually brought me back to this spot. The light was now much better. The yellows and oranges of the aspen leaves were really starting to pop. But there was something more here and it took me a couple of minutes of being an observer and not a photographer to figure it out. What truly intrigued me here were all of the layers that comprised this scene and how they all worked together to create an image of a peaceful autumn morning along the lake.

A little about the layers.

In the immediate foreground steam rises off of the lake providing hints of just how cold it really was. Next a faint breeze adds some texture to the lake surface. Which is followed by another pocket of rising steam that sits right in front of a wonderful line of tall grass along the edge of the lake. The grass provides an important layer of separation between the lake itself and the aspens. Next, the aspens and other flora in various shades of autumn add a rather special punch to the overall scene. The backdrop of the conifer forest on the steep mountainside are the perfect contrast for the autumn colors. I also think that the naked silhouettes of all of the dead trees add some additional interest. I also like the supporting cast of the rock outcropping and additional splashes of color on the right. I initially thought to not include them, but I am glad that I chose otherwise.

Now you know the story of what was behind the making of this photograph. I hope that you enjoyed :)

Let me know what you think.


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