Landscape Photography
of James L. Snyder

Full Moon and Tufa, Mono Lake
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Full Moon and Tufa, Mono Lake
Linhof Master Technika 2000 camera, 120mm Schneider Super-Symmar HM f/5.6 lens, Fujicolor Pro 160S film, 98 megapixels
All Images ©Copyright 2010 James L. Snyder. All Rights Reserved

Full Moon and Tufa, Mono Lake

South Tufa, Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve, Mono County, CA, 10/24/2010

At dawn on this cold autumn day, the sky in the eastern Sierra region of California was alive with brooding storm clouds. I arrived at the South Tufa area of Mono Lake hoping to photograph a colorful sunrise (as did quite a few other photographers). Instead, the scene lightened with the rising sun but not the desired palette of beautiful hues. Even without pretty colors the sky had developing drama. To the northwest I caught a glimpse of the full moon as it momentarily appeared between drifting clouds and then vanished. The moon looked complete, even though the true full moon had occurred two days earlier. No longer wishing for beautiful colors, I now hoped the moon would emerge once again before setting behind the mountains. Noticing this statuesque formation of tufa by the water's edge, I positioned my camera to capture a balanced composition of rock, lake, mountains, clouds, and the moon - should it reappear. After several minutes the moon became visible at the edge of a moving gap in the clouds just as a pair of photographers were about to walk in front of me. I called to them to pass behind me, and snapped this exposure when the moon was perfectly centered within the cloud opening! Were it not for human activity Mono Lake would be much deeper and broader than it currently is and its famous tufa formations would all be submerged. Since the 1940s however, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has been diverting some of the lake's tributary streams 350 miles to the south to meet the water demands of the city of Los Angeles. The reduced flow into the lake is responsible for depressing the water level and for exposing the tufa that comprise the unique and otherworldly landscape here. These fantastic tufa towers are a type of limestone or calcium carbonate formed by the precipitation of minerals during the interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. Mono Lake lies in a basin with no outlet to the ocean. Because the lake is the ultimate destination for all the rain and runoff from a surrounding area of about 780 square miles, its water is extremely alkaline and saline.

Full Moon and Tufa, Mono Lake

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