This was my first trip to the area around Bishop, California. My first area to visit was the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. I have seen so many amazing photos of these amazing trees, although I didn’t get a tree photo this trip. My second visit was a hike to one of the lakes in Inyo National Forest.
This was essentially a scouting trip since this was my first trip here. This trip became an example of the extremes of the Fun Scale. There are three types of fun,
Type 1 is having fun during the moment of the activity,
Type 2 is not fun while doing it, but it is fun in retrospect,
Type 3 is not fun at all, during or after.
Schulman Grove Trail Hike at Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
The trail is at 9000 feet and steep, so it was struggle to climb it while carrying my camera gear. The Bristlecones were nice looking, but nothing popped out at me for a photo.
This was just a one mile loop, but it was uphill for half of it and downhill the other half. I was moving my way up the first half and getting discouraged at not finding a good photographic opportunity. It was steep and I was breathing heavy. I almost decided to turn back.
I did continue on because I came all this way and this was a scouting trip. When I reached the downhill side, then the scene became interesting. It had a grand view down to the lower part of the area and the wildflowers were in bloom.
This was Type 1 fun. I tried various compositions and “Tranquility in the Mountains” was my favorite.
Grass Lake Trail in John Muir Wilderness
This trail starts from North Lake Campground and is two miles round trip to Grass Lake. I don’t know why the campground is called “North Lake.” I couldn’t find the lake. This started off at 9200 and rose 675 feet. I left with hopes of a cool looking Grass Lake.
Parking near the trailhead was not allowed. The trailhead is in the campground, so only campers are allowed to park there. The day use parking was about 3/4 mile away.
I hiked to the trailhead and began the main hike. It was very steep and even the switchbacks were steep. I was getting discouraged again and it was taking me a long time just to go a mile. There was nothing cool to shoot along the way. It was also getting warm and I was running a low on water. I was confident I would be OK, but it added to the discouragement. I decided to keep going and made it after two hours.
I was disappointed when I got there. There was no way to walk around the lake. It was all overgrown. The only access to the lakeshore was where the trail ended. It wasn’t a good viewpoint to get a nice shot.
I was not going to leave without taking a shot after all this effort. I decided a panorama was the best option. A pano with a DSLR involves taking multiple shots side-by-side and later stitching them together using software. This takes some time to setup and shoot. The tripod has to be leveled, the exposure settings have to work for each shot, and then you have to wait between shots to allow the tripod to stop shaking. “Grass Lake, California,” is the result. It’s an OK shot.
This was Type 3 fun (i.e. not fun at all). The hike was miserable and the shot isn’t the best. I thought I would have a sense of accomplishment just for making it to the lake, but I don’t feel that way now.
Would I Do It Again?
Landscape photography requires trying over and over again. There is a process to it. Scouting is just the beginning. Once you get familiar with an area, then you can plan a shot. Planning involves the getting the sun just right, having the right weather, being there at the right time of year, getting the right framing of the image, maybe having some clouds, etc. When you go to a new location you just have to expect that you are not going to get a great shot most of the time. So, I would do it again and just soldier on. There will be a great shot eventually.