Tag Archives: shore

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake shoreline in evening, Sequoia National Park

Moraine Lake. Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, California. August 7, 2008. © Copyright 2008 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Moraine Lake shoreline in evening, Sequoia National Park

I have only been to this remote lake twice, but as I think back on it now it seems a special place. My two visits were separated by decades. The first was when I was in my twenties and one half of a young couple on our first very long Sierra pack trip, a trip that had us taking two weeks to cross the Sierra from west to east. When I think back to pack trips from so far back, I realize that I have forgotten many details but this lake remains. On the second visit I came here on a trip retracing that earlier trip, though this time with a larger group of friends who had not been here before. It takes me a solid four days of walking to get this place, and the route covers some spectacular country and takes me into and across some very high places.

That route, and the contrast between it and what I found at this lake may account for the special feelings I have for this place. Both times on this route, the first day was a hard one under a heavy, long distance backpack load. The second day is about the same length, but it ends with a moderate climb to a lake. Day three starts right out with a brutal climb up the walls of the cirque above the lake, then crosses a high pass, drops into timberline country, and descends mostly open terrain to a camp where the trees grow thicker. Then on the fourth day things ease up. Much of the trail is though Sierra high country forest, mixed with open views, and then it leaves the main trail and takes a lateral out through more forest to this lake. I recall an expansive area of open forest along the shoreline, a shallow and pretty lake with forest on the other size, and a few peaks in the distance to catch the morning and evening light. From the right spots I could catch my first views of the summit of Mount Whitney, where I would stand a week or more later. And from this second trip I recall a slow and quiet evening with my hiking partners, hanging out in camp and sitting lazily on shoreline logs.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Forest, Lake, and Haze

Forest, Lake, and Haze
A hazy late-summer day at a subalpine Sierra Nevada lake, Yosemite National Park

Forest, Lake, and Haze. Yosemite National Park, California. September 10, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A hazy late-summer day at a subalpine Sierra Nevada lake, Yosemite National Park

With all of the recent urban and street photography I have been posting — which is a bit seasonal pattern, given my travel tendencies — I’m also making an effort to go back through some older photographs from last year to find landscape photography that escaped my notice on the first pass. This always happens with photographs — for some reason certain images don’t make sense right after I make them, but when I come back to them later on with a fresh eye I see potential that I missed. Right now I’m revisiting late-summer photographs from a week-long backcountry stay at a Yosemite lake.

For me, this photograph holds many of the subtler elements of the High Sierra experience — not the spectacular grand vistas, but something deeper and ultimately perhaps more powerful. In this beautiful late-season time of year, the meadow grasses around this quiet lake have finished the wild growth phase of summer and have already turned golden-yellow in preparation for autumn and then winter. Lower angle light comes over the shoulder of the granite ridge whose base is visible beyond the trees. Widely spaced trees stand at the edges of the meadow and even trace weaknesses in the granite slabs on the higher slopes.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Shoreline and Meadow

Shoreline and Meadow
The shoreline of a Yosemite backcountry lake in the late season

Shoreline and Meadow. Yosemite National Park, California. September 10, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The shoreline of a Yosemite backcountry lake in the late season

This lake was our home for a good week this past September. I was among a small group of photographers who spend a week or more doing this every year. This year we camped by the shore of an accessible backcountry Yosemite lake. We woke up every morning to views of this lake and we went to bed in the evening with such images still in our minds.

At times on this visit the light was very subdued. Early on this was because of intense wildfire smoke — some of the worst I’ve encountered in the range. Near the end of the trip a Pacific weather pattern swept through, and in its wake there was a period of several days of raining, cold conditions.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Autumn Shoreline

Autumn Shoreline
Autumn colors arrive along the shoreline of an Eastern Sierra lake

Autumn Shoreline. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. October 4, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Autumn colors arrive along the shoreline of an Eastern Sierra lake

This photograph represents a bit of a step back from the more intense Sierra Nevada colors of some of my other fall color photographs. Here many of the colors are muted, and the light is soft. The upper trees have already lost their leaves — early, as a result of the drought — and the foreground plants lining the lakeside marsh have largely gone dormant. A few conifers and some sagebrush appear around the edges of the frame.

This lake in the Eastern Sierra is the location of some spectacular fall color, too. In fact, this photograph intentionally looks away from some peak colors that were occurring nearby on this morning. After photographing so much intense color for several weeks, I think I was enjoying the muted quality of autumn storm light as it began to rain and eventually rain on this beautiful and quiet October morning.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Shoreline, Forest, Morning

Shoreline, Forest, Morning
Morning light and forested shoreline reflected on the surface of a subalpine Sierra Nevada lake

Shoreline, Forest, Morning. Yosemite National Park, California. July 15, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Morning light and forested shoreline reflected on the surface of a subalpine Sierra Nevada lake

It is way past time to share this photograph — it has been sitting here since I made it back in July! The location is a familiar one to those who visit the Yosemite high country and drive across Tioga Pass Road, but sometimes I do stop at those iconic locations and make a photograph, especially in a quiet and uncrowded morning like this one.

Lakes like this one are among the places that often make me wonder if visitors have any idea what they are missing. So many people, for practical reasons or because they don’t know better, come to such places in the middle of the day or in the afternoon. While they are certainly beautiful at any time, these locations are almost (but not quite always!) at their most beautiful at the very beginning and very end of the day. Lakes like this one are often completely still at dawn, sometimes with a bit of fog rising from their surface, and the surroundings are usually quiet and uncrowded. Even in a spot like this one — where I can assure you there were crowds later in the day — I can have the place virtually to myself.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Shoreline Mist, Autumn

Shoreline Mist, Autumn
Morning fog drifts above a Sierra Nevada lake surrounded by the colors of autumn

Shoreline Mist, Autumn. Sierra Nevada, California. September 26, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Morning fog drifts above a Sierra Nevada lake surrounded by the colors of autumn

This is perhaps an example of a photograph that required me to point my camera the “wrong” direction. I was at a very popular aspen photography destination in the eastern Sierra Nevada, where early color was developing quite nicely even in late September, perhaps a week earlier than usual. There are a couple of standard photographs that almost everyone makes at this location, but since I did those some years ago I’m usually not interested in re-doing them now. (With truly exceptional conditions I would relax that notion a bit and rush right back to the standard place and make photographs!) So when I go back here I now tend to poke around a bit and see what else might be possible there.

So I started this morning by climbing to a location from which I had not photographed before. From that vantage point I saw a few other possible angles on the subject, including some from the far side of the lake. I soon headed over there and as I looked back toward my original location I saw that a low haze was back-lit along the edges of the lake. I’m a complete sucker for both mist and backlight, so I pointed my camera almost straight back into this light and made a few photographs of the grassy area along the lake’s shoreline and the trees, both aspens and conifers, rising beyond.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Subalpine Lake, Dusk

Subalpine Lake, Dusk
Dusk comes to a Sierra Nevada subalpine lake on a rainy evening

Subalpine Lake, Dusk. Yosemite National Park, California. September 14, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Dusk comes to a Sierra Nevada subalpine lake on a rainy evening

Near the middle of September three of us spent a week camped at one Yosemite back-country lake, photographing the lake and its surroundings every day in a range of conditions. At times we dealt with this summer’s extremes of wildfire smoke, which was occasionally so thick that it almost seemed like fog and it made breathing difficult. But each day, even on the smokiest days, the wind picked up and it cleared out enough to make photographs — some days the early morning was clear and the smoke drifted in later, while on other days we started out with murky conditions and then watched them clear.

A bit to our surprise, on the last few days a weather front came through and we had much more “interesting” weather — rain, wind, hail, graupel, and clouds swirling around the nearby peaks. On this evening the clouds were gathering — it would rain later that night — and patterns of lighter and darker clouds filled the sky above our lake. Late in the evening, as the light was beginning to fail, I walked a short distance from my tent, set up along the shoreline, and mad some photographs of this mysterious scene in the fading light.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.