Poconip: the Paiute word for ice fog. And therein lies the key to awesome winter scenery and photographic effects. Mono Lake creates that icy cold fog and the entire Mono basin is covered in it for weeks on end. This leads to creating layers of rime ice on any surface – and I do mean ANY surface – giving everything a fantastic and otherworldly monochromatic look.
After dealing with the holiday season, I took off this past weekend for a great winter photography workshop led by Richard Knepp. I love winter, I wanted to learn techniques, and I wanted a dry run to check out my clothing and equipment for my next trip. And I needed to vacuum my head out. I got winter, all right. It was anywhere from -4 to 5 above zero at dawn and 20 to 25 degrees in the daytime. Lee Vining, on the shores of Mono Lake, is at 6700 ft, and to get sunshine, we had to drive out of the basin to elevations of 7000 to 8000 ft. But I preferred the grey monochromes with the snow, fog and ice – just fabulous. And here’s the thing. Every single picture was taken with color settings and yet most of them look like they were taken with black and white settings!
This is what I mean about the rime ice – the layers transform this roadside plant into something extraordinary.
These pine trees seem to glow from within each cluster of needles, don’t they?
Up close, you can see color! Step back and the fog, snow and ice convert the color into grey and white monochromes.
Like this roll of barbed wire against the brush.
Patterns were everywhere, patterns one might ordinarily not see without the snow and ice tracing the outlines.
The Mono Cemetery is full of fantastic patterns.
The sun becomes a vague memory of itself.
The trees formed intriguing frames.
Vanishing points in the mists.
They created their own symmetries. Skinny on one side, wide on the other side.
At the South Tufa part of the lake, the poconip fog lifted a bit to reveal this moody landscape.
And at Old Marina (the WNW part of the lake), the tufa were shrouded in the mists. But I turned and…
This. This was the perfect moment.