Mono Lake – Add to Your Bucket List


The storm finally lifts, time to go shoot!

Mono Lake is on every photographers bucket list and if it’s not, it should be.   It is true that Mono Lake is heavily photographed and very popular with the landscape crowd.   This should not deter you from shooting there for one simple reason:  Mono Lake is incredible!



I was lucky to be there during some great shooting conditions with an exiting storm and light winds.   Mornings were calm and peaceful and the limestone Tufa Towers make for some interesting compositions.  If you get to the lake early, you can also see an incredible light show from the stars.  There is minimal light pollution and the Milky Way is vivid and seemingly close.  I’m not much of a Milky Way photographer though, but I did arrive extra early to see the full transition from night to morning.  This is the best time of “day” to capture balanced light behind the contrasting odd silhouettes.


Who likes blue and orange? I do!

To get there early, like 3:45 a.m. early, I decided to camp nearby so I could sleep in 5 minutes longer.   Those 5 minutes don’t really matter though because 3:15 or 3:20 a.m. is still really, really early!  So all you have to do is wait for calm weather, get up really early and find a composition that speaks to you and you can get a crazy cool image.  There’s one problem with this.  Actually, 100,000+ problems.  Mono Lake is a HUGE bird refuge and there are thousands of birds everywhere!  I had one whole morning shoot “ruined” because of wildlife.


So loud!!

Besides the actual lake, there are many shooting opportunities around this geologically diverse area.  There are unusual colors throughout the landscape with much exploring to be had.   The entire area is covered with pumice and driving off-road can be tricky.  I attempted to drive around the lake on pumice/dirt roads but I’ll save that for a motorcycle adventure:)


Not too far from Mono Lake you’ll find this hot spring


Mono Lake almost looks tropical during the day

Lastly, this place challenged me photographically and many important lessons were learned.  Despite Mono Lake’s popularity and crowds of photographers I’ll definitely be back to shoot there again.  I’ve already envisioned a few images from browsing my shots from this area.   One bit of advice, go before they open Tioga Pass that connects Yosemite National Park.  It’s like a floodgate.


This lasted less than 1 minute

I’ve got one more post from the Sierras in a few days in which I’ll talk about the most amazing experience in nature that I’ve had in my life, hands down.  I’ve posted about it before so we’ll see what months of hindsight and a different eye produces.




Big “ol pine cones!


Even the side of the highway is bursting with color!


14 thoughts on “Mono Lake – Add to Your Bucket List

  1. That picture of the water reflecting orange and blue light from the sky is just mesmerizing.

    Also I know nothing about photography, is it more challenging to shoot wildlife when trying to just get the landscape? Do the birds moving around make a picture look blurrier?


    • Amelie, Thanks and glad you like it! Shooting wildlife is an entire different challenge and one that I haven’t really got into. Animals move around and rocks don’t so I’d say it’s more challenging:) As for the moving birds, this pic was a quick shot that I posted just to show the birds. Anything that moves in an exposure of 1/4 second will be blurry. Hope this helps! Ask anytime if you want to know more about any of my photos:) Take Care, Eric


    • Thank you, I appreciate your comment! Mono Lake is bursting with color and the unusual landscape makes it a fun place to shoot more than anything. If you go, I recommend going early and doing all your shooting before the sun rises. The colors with the mountains behind can be quite dramatic! Thanks again, EE


    • Thanks Scott! It sits on the east side of Yosemite National Park and is a great place to shoot. The lake changes color during the day and the mornings can be incredible since it sits on the east side. I appreciate your comment and thanks for looking! Hope you make it there sometime with your camera;) EE


  2. Wow, I’m so bummed! I was near there on vacation about 2 years ago and had no idea it was there! Aaahhh would have loved to go photograph it! Thanks for sharing!


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