Tag Archives: Bishop Creek

Eastern Sierra RV Trip

Warning – This is another post that isn’t only about photography!  I’m going to mix the discussion up between photography and our annual Eastern Sierra Fall Color RV trip.

Several weeks ago my wife and I packed up 3 little dogs into our Southwind Class A motorhome and headed for the Eastern Sierra.  While it isn’t a difficult drive, we have been breaking it up into smaller chunks by spending a few days in the town of Bishop, California.  Bishop is located on the eastern side of the Sierra right along its base, and within easy driving distance of several lakes and streams.

There’s a nice campground on the north side of Bishop called Highlands RV Park.  It’s a paved RV park with trees, and a nice grass area for walking dogs.  It’s not fancy, but does have full hookups including 50 amp electrical service at each space.  We’ve been staying here for many years and have always found the park clean and the staff friendly.

After a few days in Bishop, we headed up Highway 395.  The long drive up the Sherwin Summit (about 7,000 feet with 6% grades) comes up very quickly once you’ve gotten out of Bishop.  Our Southwind “Goggins” isn’t going to win any races pulling a grade like this, especially since we are towing a Honda CRV, but the Workhorse chassis and big V8 continue to impress me!  In a little under 2 hours we were at our destination, Mono Vista RV Park in the town of Lee Vining.

From the road, Mono Vista RV Park has always intrigued me.  It’s a very pretty RV park with lots of very green grass, and large mature trees.  We’ve been wanting to try something different (we usually stay at a campground on the June Lake Loop) so we booked a site with Mono Vista for 2 weeks.

As far as the park is concerned, it’s very clean.  The spaces for RVs seemed wide enough that we weren’t stacked up on top of each other.  We were in the front row, pull through spot with full hookups, including 50 amp electrical service.

It’s not all sunshine and roses.  Just before we came up, my wife decided to check out some reviews of the park, and came away with some mixed feelings.  It seems that they have a reputation for being rude when quoting their rules to their park guests, especially regarding dogs.  One of their rules says that you CAN NOT leave your dog alone in your RV, at all.  They are also adamant about keeping your dog off of the grass areas around your RV.  There is a tiny area designated for dogs off to the north side of the park, and it connects to a trail that goes off into the bushes.

We love our dogs, and take them with us for rides and walks quite often.  But, we have left them in the RV (with the air/fans set and tv on) when we go fishing or out to dinner.  They don’t make any noise and have never been a problem.  In fact, they are better behaved than most peoples kids!  To be fair, I’m sure others have abused this rule and created problems.  What I don’t like is blanket rules for everyone because of a few idiots.  I didn’t like the feeling that I had to sneak around with my dogs for fear of getting caught on the grass or that I couldn’t go away for a few minutes without them.

Now don’t get the wrong impression.  Our 2 weeks at Mono Vista ended up being ok.  We worked within (and around) the rules and didn’t have any problems.  We were able to go fishing with and without the dogs, and it worked out quite well! Almost all of our fishing was done at Lundy Lake, which is within a relatively short drive from our camp. I think we will keep Mono Vista RV Park open as an option for future stays, but limit our time there to no more than 1 week.

And now let’s talk about photography!  Yes, I did actually spend some time trying to capture a few images.  There are a lot of options for fall colors in the area.  We were also much closer to Mono Lake than we had been in previous years so I was able to make a couple of visits to the Tufa.  I was also able to sit in on a Fall Color Photography presentation by Jeff Sullivan, a photographer that I follow on Google+, Flickr, and Facebook.  Jeff had his book “Photographing Southern California, Vol. 2” available and I picked up a copy.

I’m going to limit this discussion on photography to photos that I took with my LG-G4 phone.  There will be future posts where I share photos and info where I used my Panasonic GX8 and FZ1000, so please check back for updates.

I’ve been pleased with the quality of images coming from my phone.  When the light is good, the phone does quite well.  For post processing, I use an app called Snapseed.  Here are some examples:

After 2 weeks at Mono Vista, it was time to come down from the mountains for the final leg of our journey. One of our favorite campgrounds along the Scenic Byway of Highway 395 is near the little town of Lone Pine. The campground is called Boulder Creek, and is just a couple of miles south of Lone Pine, and sits at the base of the Eastern Sierra, Mt. Whitney, and the Alabama Hills. This campground has full hooks ups, a great store, club house, pool, etc…, along with a very friendly staff. They are also very dog friendly with lots of options for walking (with poopie-bags located throughout the park). What is really nice for your dogs is the completely gated dog park area, equipped with water, tables, and of course poopie-bags! And if you like military aircraft, the F-18’s from China Lake are usually buzzing about. This is a great RV park and definitely worth a look if you are in the area!

I didn’t do much in the way of photography for the 3 days we were camped at Boulder Creek, but there is a great little golf course nearby, the Mt. Whitney Golf Club. With wonderful views of the Eastern Sierra and Mt. Whitney, and almost always having the course to ourselves, we played 2 days in a row. We are much better at fishing than golf, but had fun (no need to add up the score and ruin the day).

That’s it for this post! Check back soon to see what kind of photos I was able to capture with my Panasonic GX8 and FZ1000!

The Colors of Autumn

Summer is here, and it has been hot and humid!  It was about this time last year when I said I can’t wait for Fall, and I’m going to say it again – I can’t wait for Fall!

Bishop Creek, Fall Color

There’s just something about Fall.  While it can still be hot from time to time, temps are on the way down.  I love the crisp late afternoon and early evening air.  And then there are the trees!  This quote from Albert Camus sums it up for me – “Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower”.

Since I’m not a poet and can’t truly express in words how I feel when I’m standing among the red, orange, and golden trees of the Eastern Sierra, I put together a little slideshow.  These are images from a few years past, but should give you a good idea of what you could see and experience yourself.

Here’s the direct link to the video on Vimeo in case you’d rather watch it there –
The Colors of Autumn

The photos in the video were taken using my Canon 300D (the original Digital Rebel), and 18-55mm Canon EFS kit lens.  I really liked that camera.  It was simple to operate, and produced some very pleasing results.  The only limitations it had at the time were due to my mistakes.  It may be obsolete and out of date now, but back then it was more than enough camera for me.  No need for touch screens, wifi, or geo-tagging.  Just a good reliable camera that didn’t get in the way of making images.

Here are a few of my favorite images from the video:

Bishop Creek

Colorful Aspen Leaves

Colorful Bishop Creek

I hope you enjoyed the video, but more importantly, I hope you are inspired enough to get out there and capture your own Fall Color memories.  If you are in California, you don’t need to go to the New England states, you have plenty of color right here.  And if you’re in the New England states, than there’s really no excuse, get busy!

That’s it for this post.  I need to start getting my camera gear ready for my own trip back to the Eastern Sierra (just a couple of weeks away).  Until next time – Happy Shooting!

Rediscovering Old Photos

Bishop Creek, Before & After

If you’re like me, you probably have hundreds, maybe even thousands of images you’ve created over the years.  Some are good, and many are not so good.  So, what do you do with all of them?

One of the things I’ve been doing is going back and looking through them.  Just looking at them brings back memories of the time and place, and I can almost feel the experience all over again!  It’s interesting the flashes of memory that comes up when viewing an image –  I can almost remember exactly what I was doing and thinking when I was actually there.

As time goes on, and I kept accumulating images on my harddrives, I’ve also been learning new post processing techniques.  Some of my “not-so-good” photos are finding new life!

Before I share one of these techniques, I’d like to say something about gear, you know, “the stuff”.  The photos I’m showing are either from my Canon Rebel (300D) with it’s whopping 6 mega-pixels, or my Canon Rebel XT (350D).  They were also made using either the kit 18-55mm or 70-100mm lens, nothing fancy.  It’s my opinion that you should learn to use what you have rather than focusing on every new camera that comes out.  Learn what it takes to create a great image first, and let the gear follow.  Developing your eye, and knowing how to make the camera you have capture that moment, will go a long way towards helping your grow as a photographer/artist rather than chasing the gear.

Off of the soapbox and back to the photos.  Here’s the “Before” photo from above:

Bishop Creek, original

This one is from my Canon 300D with 18-55mm lens, ND filter, and tripod.  Overall it’s not bad.  A little blah as far as color and contrast, but not bad.

And here’s my newly processed version:


The adjustments really make the image pop (I think).  Lots of great color and contrast, and especially detail.

Here’s another more extreme example.  The before image is very blah, washed out, over exposed, etc…

Fall Colors, Bishop Creek Original

As you can see, it’s not very good.  I did get the motion blur I was looking for with the rushing creek, but everything else was overexposed or lacked contrast.

The after is a big improvement:

Fall Colors, Bishop Creek

One of the adjustments that I make is to add some contrast.  In photoshop the screen looks like this:

Photoshop Levels Screenshot

In the screenshot above, you can see the photo and the tool I use to increase contrast, the Levels adjustment tool.  You see a histogram of your image representing the highlights, midtones, and shadows.  There are sliders along the bottom that you can use to adjust each of these.  I adjust them while watching what it does to my photo.  Once I’ve got it right where I like it, I close the tool.  Most other photo editing programs have similar tools for adjusting contrast.

Next is a link to a Youtube video.  Unfortunately this is for Photoshop users.  I’m sure there are similar techniques for the other programs out there, just search in Youtube for tutorials on your particular program.  Here’s the link – Add Amazing Details.

Searching the web for post processing tutorials has led me to what looks like a great resource if you’re a Lightroom user.  Check it out – Lightroom Killer Tips.

There are a lot of great resources online for whichever editing program you choose to use.  Most of them are free, you just have to do some searching to find them.  Personally, I’ve learned a lot from them.  Maybe you will too.

I’d like to leave you with this quote:

“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.” ~ Ansel Adams

In closing I’d like to say that it may be worth going though some of your old photos, the ones you have stored on your harddrive.  There may be some potential there, you just need to learn a few of the new tricks out there to give them new life!  If you find anything helpful, share it with us!

Until next time, Happy Shooting!