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November-Like Shooting Conditions in Eastern Sierra

Dang—in order, witness the tremendous change in the conditions over the past few days.

Lo! A paradise for photography, cold but approachable and enjoyable raw beauty and then...

f8 @ 6.0 sec electronic shutter focus stack 3 frames, ISO 100; 2019-09-26 19:09:52
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art @ 14mm
ENV: Twenty Lakes Basin, altitude 10300 ft / 3139 m, 53°F / 11°C
RAW: LACA corrected, +100 Shadows, -73 Highlights, +57 Whites

[low-res image for bot]

It had been late October cool most of the week, wrecking some adventurous plans, but still beautiful, as above.

The next day September 27 was cold but reasonably clear, but I worked in the van all day and then drove down to publish/push to server—a mistake in retrospect given this storm on the 28th, because it will probably take at least a week for the snow to melt off to reveal all the color again, if it even does that—a warm front is needed.

Then the cold storm hit late on the 28th after a cold and windy but clear and lovely day, the temperature high on the ridge below North Peak of Mt Conness, my sports drink (salts and dextrose) was slushing in the 1L bottle—it was already down to perhaps 25°F with 40 mph gusts—on top I had on a cycling jersey, a hoodie, a light and medium-weight down rand triple layers on legs (medium weight cycling tights, wool pants, wind pants). That got the job done and no need for a wind layer on top, but dang—just like November only colder with the wind. Well, that’s why I take the extra clothing and an extra 1000 calories or so, and a Spot X just in case I’m actually a dumb-ass when everyone else has left and gone. But I get a private park all to myself.

On the 28th, I got out again and conditions started out nicely...

f6.3 @ 1/50 sec electronic shutter, ISO 31; 2019-09-28 14:52:18
NIKON D850 monochrome + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon + filter B+W Dark Red 091
ENV: Twenty Lakes Basin, altitude 10200 ft / 3109 m, 50°F / 10°C
RAW: vignetting corrected, +100 Shadows, -100 Highlights, +57 Whites

[low-res image for bot]
f8 @ 1/80 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2019-09-28 15:08:11
Sony A7R IV + Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 Distagon + polarizer Zeiss
ENV: Twenty Lakes Basin, altitude 10300 ft / 3139 m, 45°F / 7°C
RAW: LACA corrected
glorious, but soon to change

[low-res image for bot]

(sorry, I need to process some intervening pictures as the clouds build).

Late in the afternoon on the 28th, clouds build up, and by evening high up on the eastern ridge of North Peak of Mt Conness, an ominous storm rolls in over the upper Mt Conness eastern drainage. Hard pellets of snow pelt me. My sports drink is turning to slush and I have two down jackets on and three layers on the bottom and hoodie and wool hat and down hood and it’s just about right with the wind gusting to at least 30 mph, so long as I keep moving. It is getting dark, and I arrive back at the Moots MTB after dark, riding back through a cold but beautiful steady snowstorm alongside Saddlebag Lake. I sleep in the van, as usual, at 10K feet.

f8 @ 10.0 sec electronic shutter, ISO 31; 2019-09-28 18:47:15
NIKON D850 monochrome + Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 + filter B+W Dark Red 091
ENV: Eastern ridge of North Peak, altitude 10600 ft / 3231 m, 25°F / -3°C
snowstorm approaches, hard cold snow starts

[low-res image for bot]

The next day dawns clear and bright, and my van won’t start, reading 19°F in the sun at 8 AM. It probably got down to 14°F or so and gelled the summer-blend Diesel #2 fuel. I had not anticipated such cold in late September, and the winter blend diesel is not in the tank.

So I go shooting with a courtesy boat ride to the far end of the lake. The Moots goes along for the return trip along lake edge. Later that day it warmed up to a balmy 37°F but with strong gusty winds, and the van started up OK.

f8 @ 1/640 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2019-09-29 09:50:32
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art @ 23mm equiv (23.1mm)
ENV: Saddlebag Lake, altitude 9950 ft / 3033 m, 35°F / 1°C
RAW: LACA corrected
quick trip to end of the lake, bike for getting back

[low-res image for bot]

Working conditions extremely difficult: with gloves on, modern cameras are designed to be very difficult to use, and with gloves off, my fingers become too stiff and painful within 5 minutes. Would have been pleasant but continuous wind makes it very difficult to work. Whoever, shrunk the 4-way controller on the Nikon D850 down from the excellent one on the Nikon D810 ought to be demoted two positions for poor judgment—the D850 is far less usable with gloves than the D810. Maybe some @#$#$*$* bean counter wanted to share the 4-way controller between the Nikon Z7 and Nikon D850, WTHK.

With the van starting again at 3PM on the 28th, and my 10K battery pack mostly depleted from a week of work on the 2019 iMac 5K, I left uncertain of the Mercedes Sprinter start-go behavior and wanting to charge up the batteries and get out of the damned merciless wind and to contact a Mercedes dealer about the issue. As it turns out, the van does need to warm up, but the diesel fuel thing means I have to get some anti-gel into the fuel or the White Mountains might not let me leave. But the no-go issue remains.

f8 @ 1/640 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2019-09-29 13:52:00
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art @ 19mm equiv (19.1mm) + polarizer Breakthrough Photography X4
ENV: Greenstone Lake, altitude 10100 ft / 3078 m, 35°F / 1°C
RAW: LACA corrected
strong wind, very hard to stay warm

[low-res image for bot]

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