Landscape Photography
of James L. Snyder

Mono Lake
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Mono Lake
Linhof Master Technika 2000 camera, 210mm Rodenstock Sironar-N f/5.6 lens, Fujicolor Pro 160S film, 5 exposures, 280 megapixels
All Images ©Copyright 2010 James L. Snyder. All Rights Reserved

Mono Lake

South Tufa, Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve, Mono County, CA, 10/11/2010

Mono Lake formed more than 760,000 years ago in an eastern California basin with no outlet to the ocean. Dissolved salts make the lake very alkaline and saline. This desert lake has a productive ecosystem based on brine shrimp that grow in the water, and critical nesting habitat for two million migratory birds that feed on the shrimp. With its high concentration of arsenic, Mono Lake is also home to GFAJ-1, a rod-shaped extremophile bacterium that can incorporate arsenic into its biochemistry! In 1941 the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power began diverting Mono Lake's tributary streams 350 miles south to meet the growing water demands of the city of Los Angeles. As a result, the lake shrank to half its natural volume while its surface dropped over 40 vertical feet. Thanks to the work of Stanford University graduate student David Gaines, the Mono Lake Committee, and other environmentalists Los Angeles eventually agreed to limit the amount of water it takes from the lake's sources and to partially restore the lake's size. Today the surface of Mono Lake is still much lower than it once was. As a result, alkaline sands and once-submerged tufa towers are exposed and form a unique and otherworldly landscape here. These fantastic tufa towers are a variety of limestone - calcium carbonate spires and knobs, formed by the precipitation of minerals during the interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. On this autumn day in the eastern Sierra the sky started out perfectly clear, but in the early afternoon the weather began gradually changing to storm conditions. While driving south on US 395 I spotted these beautiful cumulus clouds moving in from the west, and thought they might look nice over Mono Lake. I drove to the South Tufa area of the lake and was pleased to find this scene, complete with smooth reflective water and swimming ducks!

Mono Lake

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