These mist covered mountains are home now for me, but my home is in the lowlands, and always will be – Mark Knopfler

Actually, with me it’s the opposite, but the point is, I’ve always enjoyed the mountains more from a distance, for their photogenic qualities. Given the choice, though, I’d rather do without the snow, the cold, the storms, the winds…

In our quests to enjoy the American landscapes, my friends Scott, John, Tyler and I went through some really weird places. Up there on the weird scale is this new entry, Mono Lake, to the east of Yosemite National Park.

The lake is a freak of nature; it’s salty and alkaline, and its geology is quite unusual. It is in the middle of nowhere, with only a small town of Lee Vining nearby. The limestone formations you see in the foreground are called “tufa”, and they are calcium deposits created from hot springs bubbling from under the lake. They can appear quite eerie in golden hour light, so we picked the lake for our first sunrise location on the trip.

I didn’t really know what to expect, so I was taken by surprise with the alien landscape. I shot mainly with my 7D, looking for a way to start off a brand new roll of 120 size Fuji Velvia film. And while I got some interesting colors on the digital camera, Velvia knocked it out of the park when I scanned the shot above. The sky and the water are almost an unnatural purple, but I like how the mountains in the background stand out and layer the image along with the tufas.

On a technical note, my horizon wasn’t level, so I rotated the original 4:3 image and cropped it to 3:2. Below is a similar digital shot – both are otherwise untouched.