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From The Panamints to the Sierra

From The Panamints to the Sierra
The distant Sierra Nevada peaks are visible from the crest of the Panamint Mountains, Death Valley National Park.

From The Panamints to the Sierra. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The distant Sierra Nevada peaks are visible from the crest of the Panamint Mountains, Death Valley National Park.

There is a misconception out there that “you can see the highest point in the 48 states from the lowest point in the 48 states” if you visit Death Valley. This is sometimes shortened: “You can see Mount Whitney from Death Valley.” Sorry to say, but that isn’t quite true. However the truth is pretty impressive nonetheless — from elevated locations in Death Valley National Park you can see both the lowest and highest spots.

I made this photograph early in the morning from one such location. Death Valley itself lay behind my camera position, many thousands of feet below this high ridge. And there in the distance are the peaks of the southern Sierra Nevada, along the eastern edge of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks. Between these points is a remarkable stretch of very rugged and dry landscape with only a few easy access points to most of it.


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, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

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Cirque In Shadow

Cirque In Shadow
A high country cirque in shadows, surrounded by a landscape of talus, cliffs and late-season patches of snow.

Cirque In Shadow. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A high country cirque in shadows, surrounded by a landscape of talus, cliffs and late-season patches of snow.

Over the past decade-plus I have traveled into the Sierra backcountry almost annually with a group of fellow photographers each summer. We’ve photographed from Yosemite to Sequoia-Kings Canyon and some non-park areas along the eastern edge of the range. Our practice has been to take a day or two to get to a suitable spot where we set up a basecamp and then photograph the heck out of the surrounding area. One plus of this approach, as contrasted with trying to cover more ground by moving daily, is that we get to become more intimately familiar with the rhythms of the place.

I made this photograph a few years ago on one of these trips. We camped in thin forest at a nice high-country lake mostly surrounded by rocky terrain. Over the course of the week we explored the surroundings, gradually uncovering what the area had to offer. This lake is one of several along the course of a small stream coming down from much higher country, and it lies in an east-facing cirque more or less at timberline. The late-season snow field in the talus field attracted me from the first time I saw it, and it was only after several visits that I decided to try photographing it in the deep shade from the surrounding peaks and ridges.


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, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

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

Blue and Billboard

Blue and Billboard
A billboard portrait loomes over urban reisdences.

Blue and Billboard. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A billboard portrait loomes over urban reisdences.

Photographs like this one are sometimes a bit difficult to “sell” (in the sense of “persuasion”) to folks who mostly think of me as a “landscape photographer.” There’s a whole lot I could write about this, and I’ll share a little bit of that below, but one reason that I’ve photographed some subjects like this recently is that they are available to me! I carry a camera while out walking, and every so often something catches my eye and I pause to photograph.

In a sense you could think of these photographs as an extension of my landscape photography into the “urban landscape” that I live in. While the subjects seem completely different, there are connections that you might imagine if you think about it a bit. There is also a practical aspect to this kind of photography — it is available to me simply by walking out my front door, unlike the more familiar landscapes that require more travel and logistical preparation. In addition, there are benefits to keeping my seeing skills tuned up by trying to find things to photograph no matter where I am. Beyond that, there are a few things to ponder about regarding the juxtaposition of elements found here.


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, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

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Links to Articles, Sales and Licensing, my Sierra Nevada Fall Color book, Contact Information.

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

Sierra Lake, Submerged Rocks

Sierra Lake, Submerged Rocks
By the shore of an Eastern Sierra backcountry lake with a ledge of submerged rocks.

Sierra Lake, Submerged Rocks. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

By the shore of an Eastern Sierra backcountry lake with a ledge of submerged rocks.

Recently I have had more than one excuse to go back and revisit photographs from previous years. First, this has been an attractive way to find “new old” work during this time of restrictions on travel. Second, I’m involved in a project (about which I can’t say more at the moment) that required me to spend a lot of time during the past month reviewing photographs from a particular subset of my Sierra Nevada photographs. It has been wonderful to relive a set of wonderful backcountry trips I took since about 2008 and, in the process, “discover” a lot of images that I had somehow left behind.

This is one of those photographs. I’ve often wondered about how it is that certain photographs seem to need to “age” for months or years before they make sense. In this case, I think what happened is that when I considered photographs from this place made on this day that I selected another image, worked my way through it, and then moved on. In essence, this one was “left on the cutting room floor” during that editing process. The scene is a high country lake — which lake hardly matters — where rocks under shallow, shoreline water contrast with the intense aqua color of the deeper water.


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, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

Blog | About | Flickr | FacebookEmail

Links to Articles, Sales and Licensing, my Sierra Nevada Fall Color book, Contact Information.

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