Sand Tufa, Brush, Lake, HDR

Navy Beach, Mono Lake, CA

Of the numerous times I have been to Mono Lake’s South Tufa area over the last 18 months, I had never ventured over to Navy Beach.  While the South Tufa is rightfully more well-known and much more photographed for its tufa towers, I had always wanted to see the drastically different sand tufa formations at Navy Beach and is within walking distance from the much more frequented area to the west.

These sand tufas are the remains of sand tubes created as freshwater springs well up into the highly alkaline lake waters.  The calcium from the freshwater and the carbonates from the lake combine to create these formations over time.  After exposure to the elements with the drop of the lake level, these formations are stripped away of their sandy coverings by the wind.

This photograph is a HDR blend of 3 exposures at [-1,0,+1].  Since the sand tufa is in a shadowed area and the background is in bright late morning sunlight, a typical single exposure photograph would either meter correctly for the background and leave the sand tufa underexposed.  Or the tufa would be metered correctly and the elements in the sun would be overexposed and highlights blown.  So by creating an HDR, both the sunny areas and the sand tufa would be properly exposed.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, spot metering mode, 18mm, ISO 100, [1/8, 1/15, 1/30 sec], f/11

Sand Tufa, Brush, Lake, HDR. Navy Beach, Mono Lake, Lee Vining, California. October 14, 2011. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.


7 thoughts on “Sand Tufa, Brush, Lake, HDR

    1. Nancy, if you shoot in RAW format, you can try to do some single exposure pseudo-HDR photos and see the results. In fact, in scenes where there is too much motion, like lots of people walking through, single exposure might be the easiest way to produce an HDR.


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