Tufa Sunrise – Mono Lake CA

Tufa Sunrise. Mono Lake CA, Fall 2010, by Gavin Seim.

Gavin’s Journal Entry, 10/2010.

We camped overlooking Mono lake last night. I think it’s rather a bad name for a lake, but it’s no less beautiful for that. I got there early, before the light. But the stone sang when the rays of first dawn hit the limestone Tufa Towers that grace the these muddy banks.

I won’t try to explain how they’re formed (there is some info on the Mono Lake website) but I can say is that creation is indeed breathtaking. Now that I have time to stop and look at this sunrise, it seems even more so. This may be the only great image I took home from Mono Lake, but it’s just what I wanted and I’m really excited about it.

Release details: Prints available. Contact the gallery. Learn more about prices. Available prints…

These are not separately available images. They are detail cuts from the above work, to show the detail and most notible elements that will stand out in the finished print.

Tufa Sunrise - Detail1

The central display of Tufa Towers, revealed in a fleeting moment of morning light just as the sun crosses the horizon.


Tufa Sunrise - Detail2

Sharp from edge to edge. The rocks point to the snow capped mountains, revealing the coming Winter.

Tufa Sunrise - Detail3

The superb detail in the flowing grasses reflects the golden light and is spectacular, especially in larger sizes.

Tufa Sunrise - Detail4

The morning light shows a supporting cast of towers in various stages of illumination.


For Photographers. How it was made…3 image panorama. Canon TS-e, 24mm. All frames 1/3 sec, f13.

The main thing here was the right light. It did not last long. . I did a simple process starting with my LR presets and then stitched the images in PS. That went seamlessly and I moved in to refining with some burning, dodging and single tone management for dynamic range. This in not a multi image HDR however. Just well lit single frames.

The processing was not that complex. I think what’s more notable is the scene itself, the light and the composition. It’s a stunning place. The light moves fast and while these towers are always amazing, timing matters. This is also a wide scene with lots of information. That was what I wanted, but can also make a mess if not managed so It’s something I’ve been thinking about of late. How to best a wide complex scene in a way that compliments the main subject.

Here I worked the edges and grasses to try to keep them from distracting the eye. While I can find things I could have done better, I think the composition and processing works. I’ll be critically analyzing this over the next few days, and perhaps refine it a little more, but in the end I think this is a winner.

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6 Responses to Tufa Sunrise – Mono Lake CA

  1. Michael Thresher says:

    Hi Gavin – beautiful image. Is it slightly tilted to the right or is that just my eyes?

    • Gavin Seim says:

      Thanks Michael. I’ve been thinking the same crop over the past couple days. I thought it was just right, but I may be a touch crooked. I’ll dome some analyzing and updated the crop to get it a touch more straight.

  2. Philip Casey says:

    Hey Gavin! Thanks for doing the podcast, I love listening to it, even when you’re “just talking.” This is a great shot, perfect timing on the light. By the way, just thought you should that B&H has once again robbed by bank account, after hearing you talk about the 24 ts-e, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Anyways, just dropping a line to you to say thanks. Oh if you’re ever bored you, check out some of the photos from the cross country trip I took last August. http://www.philipcaseyblog.com/2010/08/page/2/

    Keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Gavin Seim says:

      Hey Philip. Thanks on both counts. I hear ya. I love the 24. I hear it’s about the sharpest lens money can buy. Some nice work on your site. Road trips are great aren’t they? Gav

  3. lynette says:

    AWESOME shots Gavin! Love the top one really beautiful 🙂

  4. Gavin Seim says:

    Thanks Lynette. Just to be clear though. They are all from the top image (Tufa Sunrise). The one’s in the expanding menu are just crops to show the detail… Gav

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