Category Archives: Photographs: Owens Valley

Round Valley Cottonwood Trees

Round Valley Cottonwood Trees
Round Valley Cottonwood Trees

Round Valley Cottonwood Trees. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. October 6, 2014. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Autumn cottonwood trees beneath the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada, Round Valley

I’ve long been captivated by this area at the base of the Sierra Nevada’s eastern escarpment not far from the town of Bishop, California. As you drive south near here you descend a very long grade toward Bishop, and at the bottom of the grade the route crosses a very large valley where the eastern edge of the range seems to retreat far to the west, and a broad valley rises from the lowlands towards much higher peaks. But along the northern edge of this valley the escarpment lives up to its name and is quite sudden and steep.

The valley seems agricultural, with cattle often grazing on the grasslands among the large cottonwood trees. In the late afternoon, and especially in fall when the trees change colors, the backlight coming over the crest lights the trees from behind and from the right point of view they can stand dramatically against the shadowed eastern slopes of the range.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Autumn Morning, Round Valley

Autumn Morning, Round Valley
Autumn Morning, Round Valley

Autumn Morning, Round Valley. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. October 11, 2013. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Morning light on the pastureland and trees of Round Valley and the eastern Sierra Nevada

This lovely pastoral location sits at the base of the eastern Sierra, and is as much a part of the Owens Valley as it is a part of the Sierra. It is green and lush in the spring and early summer, it takes on some of the typical California golden color later on, and its brown grasses and colorful leaves produce a beautiful sight in autumn. It is not at all a “destination,” but it is a place that I always look forward to seeing when I pass up and down the east side of the range.

There are two particularly beautiful lighting conditions that occur here. One, which I’ll share in another photograph a bit later, occurs in the afternoon. The sun drops behind a tall ridge along the upper section of the valley, leaving the steep slopes of the eastern Sierra escarpment in shade while brilliantly lighting the autumn-colored cottonwood trees from behind. The other lighting, which is seen in this photograph, comes in the morning, when low angle light crosses the meadow, creating long shadows and gradually lighting up the backdrop of the Sierra.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Long Valley Ranch Building

Long Valley Ranch Building
Long Valley Ranch Building

Long Valley Ranch Building. Long Valley, California. October 9, 2011. © Copyright 2011 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Long Valley ranch building with autumn morning mist

This is the same ranch that is pictured in the photograph I posted yesterday, though this photograph was made two years earlier. The ranch is out on the less-traveled back roads of Long Valley, not far from the resort town of Mammoth Lakes. That said, there isn’t anything remotely resort-like about this place, which gives every appearance of being a working ranch with cattle and horses and run-down outbuildings.

I love this area in the fall when the temperatures drop and the steam from the geothermal sources of hot water can rise into the morning light. In the right conditions, small columns of mist rise all over the valley. This particular spot has a lot of water, most notably nearby Hot Creek, which is, uh, hot. As I do so often, here I chose to photograph almost directly into the morning sun, which creates and extremely bright and luminous quality in the mist and which places the shaded side of the building toward the camera in the lower part of the frame.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Ranch, Fence, Morning Mist

Ranch, Fence, Morning Mist
Ranch, Fence, Morning Mist

Ranch, Fence, Morning Mist. Long Valley, California. October 12, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Morning mist rises above Long Valley ranch land

This is a favorite photography area for me. It isn’t far from the crowded eastern Sierra ski and resort town of Mammoth Lakes by the map, but it every other way it is pretty much a completely different world. In the fall, when conditions are right and mists rise out in these flatlands, I like to leave the Sierra behind and drive out here and explore.

The Long Valley area is the caldera of an ancient volcano, which erupted quite violently many hundreds of thousands of years ago, and which has been active at times since then. Today the visual evidence remains in the form of the large caldera itself (which becomes quite obvious after you look for it) and the many hot springs and even a hot creek out in the valley. On cold mornings fogs form out here, and mist and steam rise from the many sources of hot water. This was one of those foggy mornings, and looking over this ranch and directly into the sun, I saw a beautiful series of receding layers: foreground pasture and several steaming waterways, a fence, more fog beyond, more mist, and then a series of higher and higher hills and mountains.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.