The Alabama Hills

It’s now been almost 10 days since my last post.  I’ve been wanting to get back online and get caught up but as they say, #@it happens!

Now that I have a little bit of time, I’ve been wandering through some of my photos from last year’s visit to the Eastern Sierra.  Our trip started out near the little town of Lone Pine California, near the famous Alabama Hills.

I’ve traveled in and around this area for many years, and still love being there.  This is such a wonderfully rugged and beautiful place.  To some folks it just looks like desert, but to me it looks like paradise!  There’s such a beautiful contrast between the Alabama Hills and the Eastern Sierra.  And, the terrain is so diverse that you could spend years learning and exploring!

When I think about the Eastern Sierra and the Alabama Hills, I’m reminded of what the famous Naturalist and Outdoorsman John Muir once said:

“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality”.

The name “Alabama Hills” has always been interesting to me.  I did a little research and found out that this area was named during the Civil War, when Confederate sympathizers discovered placer gold in the hills.  They named their mines after the Alabama, a notorious Confederate cruiser that destroyed northern shipping.  Eventually the name was applied to the entire ridge, now popular for recreation, photography, and commercial filming.

If you’ve never been to the Alabama Hills, you may have seen them and not known it.  This area has been used for years by movie makers.  Some of the more recent movies that were shot here include Gladiator and Iron Man.  In fact, one of the main roads through the Alabama Hills is named “Movie Road”.

When we visit the Lone Pine area (including the Alabama Hills) we stay in a wonderful RV park called Boulder Creek.  This RV oasis is very well manicured, and offers everything from full hookups, to rental cabins, to tent sites.  One of the reasons I love staying at Boulder Creek is because I can get up very early in the morning and be in the Alabama Hills in a very short time.

Being able to see the sun rise at the Alabama Hills can be a breathtaking experience!  The sun has to get over the White Mountains to the east, but once it does, the Eastern Sierra lights up with a fantastic rose-pink colored light often referred to as “Alpen Glow”.  Words fail to describe the beauty as the sun continues to rise and paint the Eastern Sierra with light, until finally the show is over.  If nature adds a few high clouds to the mix it’s just icing on the cake.  But, you need get your ass out of bed early enough or you’ll miss it!

Here’s a tease of what the area looks like (hint – click on an image to see the larger version, use your browser’s back button to return):

There’s so much more here than what you see in the few photos I’ve shared.  It’s just something you need to experience for yourself.

As to what gear you’ll need, I can share what I use.  For the photos above, I used my little Sony NEX3, with it’s standard 18-55mm lens, and a tripod.  To carry everything around, I used my trusty Tamrac Slinger Bag.  The whole combination of equipment is on the small side, very lite, and perfect for taking hikes with photography in mind.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the Sony NEX3 is my go-to camera when I want great image quality and portability.

In closing, I’d like to say again, to get the best photos, you really need to get your ass out of bed and be on location when the sun is rising!  The light quality is at it’s best.  Sunset is ok, especially if there is any kind of weather, but the best light is at sunrise.  Don’t just take my word for it, go see for yourself!


Until next time, Happy Shooting!