Shooting the South Tufa and Milky Way at Mono Lake, California

July 22, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Greetings Everyone,

The Milky Way was out in full force at Mono Lake last week. The hardest thing for me was staying up that late..lol. Mono Lake is known for it's Tufa. Tufa is essentially common limestone. What is uncommon about this limestone is the way it forms. Typically, underwater springs rich in calcium (the stuff in your bones) mix with lakewater rich in carbonates (the stuff in baking soda). As the calcium comes in contact with carbonates in the lake, a chemical reaction occurs resulting in calcium carbonate--limestone. The calcium carbonate precipitates (settles out of solution as a solid) around the spring, and over the course of decades to centuries, a tufa tower will grow. Tufa towers grow exclusively underwater, and some grow to heights of over 30 feet. The reason visitors see so much tufa around Mono Lake today is because the lake level fell dramatically after water diversions began in 1941. I know all this stuff because I looked it up on the internet!!:-) Take a good flash light so you can paint the Tufa during the long exposure and you won't stumble over some other photographer that is shooting in the dark! I think an exposure of about 20 sec and f4 is a good start. Don't forget to use manual focus at infinity.

Milky Way and Tuffa, Mono Lake CaliforniaMilky Way and Tuffa, Mono Lake CaliforniaThis shot was taken about 11:30. It was 30 sec which I feel was a little bit too much. Shot it with a Sony AR7 and the stock 28-70 lens.


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