Bodie Photography Workshop

June 18 - 20, 2004

Downtown Bodie at sunset
Visit the photo album here.

In December 2003 I registered for a photography workshop offered by the University of California Extension, Santa Cruz. The workshop took place in Bodie, a ghost town in eastern Californa. I had been to Bodie twice before and loved the buildings and the abandoned machinery in the park. This workshop gave me a chance to be in the park before sunrise and to stay after sunset.

On Friday, June 18, I drove to Bodie via the Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park. Once on the eastern side of the Sierra range, I spent some time in Lee Vining, a small town on the shores of Mono Lake. There I found six geocaches and took some pictures around town.

On Friday evening the workshop participants met in Bridgeport, the nearest town to Bodie. In that first session we got to know each other a bit. Barbara Brundege, the instructor, showed slides from Bodie to give us ideas of interesting and artistic spots around the town.

On Saturday, the class met in the parking lot at Bodie State Historic Park at 6:00AM. The park normally opens at 8:00AM in the summer, but, once each month, it opens earlier to "Friends of Bodie" who have paid a fee to enter before sunrise. In addition to the workshop participants, there were about a dozen other photographers in the town early.

After shooting until around 9:00AM in the frigid morning air, the workshop recessed, and we went our separate ways. My way took me to three geocaches in and near Bodie and a fourth one thirteen miles away on Green Creek. At 3:30PM we met again in Bridgeport to critique prior work.

At 6:30PM we were back at Bodie to shoot up until dusk. There was a nice storm passing to the east and south of the town, giving a dramatic sky on the horizon. As the sun sank towards the horizon, it moved in and out of clouds, breaking free of them just before setting to give us wonderful light on the main section of Bodie. We continued to take pictures as dusk grew deeper. We were treated to wonderful color in the eastern clouds as the sun sank lower and lower. We finally packed up and left around 9:00PM.

On Sunday, we entered the park at 8:00AM. We were allowed to visit the old Standard Stamp Mill for an hour and take pictures there. That area of the park is normally off limits due to safety concerns. However, we had a nice ranger who escorted us around and kept us from falling into or through anything.

I got dust in my digital camera on Saturday and couldn't get it clean. After much internal debate, I decided to use my backup camera -- using actual analog film! -- on Sunday. It was the first time in nearly two years I had shot film. The results were OK, but I still prefer the immediate feedback and freedom of digital photography. All in all I shot about 450 frames of digital and 50 frames of film. Twenty-eight of my favorite shots are in the photo album.