The areas around Bishop, CA including the seemingly stark Volcanic Tablelands are a geological, recreational, (and even an archaeological) wonderland for people of vastly different interests. The Tableland is plateau created from the Long Valley Caldera originating in the Mammoth area through a series of ash falls and pyroclastic flows.
Now spending an evening here may technically be a little boring in the winter when darkness falls by 5pm and overnight temperatures fall to 18 degrees F, which by the way makes me very reluctant to crawl out of the cozy car camp setup and go outside for night photography. So while darkness falls early, the surprisingly good cell phone coverage allowed me to put together a blog post and photos of Day 1 of the 2016 Thanksgiving road trip to Death Valley.
The photograph here is the view I woke up to the next morning. Along with lenticular clouds to the south, my eyes were greeted by this stark but beautiful composition – the very flat plateau with a bright and almost artificial looking folds in the mountains behind. It reminds me of the old Western movies, where the mountains were both real and unreal. You just couldn’t tell if the mountain backdrop was real or an illustration. Now that I know that quite a few Western movies were filmed an hour south of Bishop in Lone Pine (home of the Alabama Hills and Mt. Whitney) or in Death Valley, I suspect much of what I saw were real mountains.
Processing Notes: The end result is to retain two important elements: the distinct contrast between the flat top of the Tablelands and the folds of Wheeler Ridge and the nearby mountains. I started with two grad filters, one for the foreground and one for the rest of the image. After muddling around for 10-15 minutes, I wiped the slate clean and explored using some of the presets from Vintrochrome and ended up using the Deep Karma Update #2 preset as the starting point. This particular preset applied a vintage washed out feel to the image which simplifies the composition by desaturating. From there, I worked the image further, cropped to 16×9, and applied a final -3 Dehaze that has the most affect on the folds.
EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 100mm, f/10, 1/100 sec
Bishop (CA), Tablelands Foreground, Ridge Folds . Volcanic Tablelands, Bishop, CA. November 25, 2016. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.