Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bodie - A rare winter visit to the famous California ghost town

If you ever have a chance to visit Bodie, CA, you should take the time to do so. Bodie is located near Mono Lake, in the general vicinity of Yosemite. It is not easy to find, nestled away in the middle of California, accessible by dirt road only (for the last 3 miles), and not near any major cities. But, for those of you who love to take photos, and appreciate history, this is a gold mine! Yep - pun intended - this was a gold mining town in the 1800s.

So join me on my photo tour of the ghost town.

(Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-300 lens, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/640 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)
This is a wide view of Bodie, which can be seen as you first drive into the area. We arrived late in the morning and the sun was hitting the buildings just right to show off the colors in the wood and metal.

(Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105 lens, ISO 100, f/4, 1/1600 sec, -0.7 exposure comp)
I have been to Bodie once before, but not in the winter time. Normally at this time of year, there is a lot of snow in the area, and the town is not open to the public. So, I went to Bodie with Moose Peterson and his family, hoping to get some photos of the town with some snow on the ground. As you can see, there was not much snow left. Currently, California is having the most dry winter ever!

(Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105 lens, ISO 100, f/5, 1/1000 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)
As I walked around the town, I was drawn to the cool details.

(Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105 lens, ISO 100, f/4, 1/60 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)
This photo was taken through a window. (Photographer's note: When taking photos through windows, especially dirty ones, it is best to get your lens right up against the glass, and to shoot at a wide aperture so that you are not focusing on the dirt on the window. I usually shoot with my lens hood on, but in this case, I removed the lens hood so that I could get the lens flat against the glass.) 

(Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105 lens, ISO 500, f/4, 1/80 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)
Another shot through the glass. One of the things that I really love about Bodie, is that they are not trying to restore the town. They are letting it age without much interaction.

(Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105 lens, ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/250 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)
This is one of my favorite shots from the day. I was walking around looking at different details of the town, when I came across this spring. As you can see, the sunlight was side-lighting the spring, and it just caught my attention. I moved to a spot where the spring would be side lit, with a building in the background. I shot this photo at f/4.5 to have the spring perfectly in focus with the building defused in the background.

(Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105 lens, ISO 800, f/4, 1/80 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)
More details...

(Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105 lens, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/640 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)
It is hard not to be intrigued by the remnants of the old cars.

(Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105 lens, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/800 sec)
We had a cloudless sky, which was not what I was hoping for, but in this case, the blue sky made for a nice background. This was the jail of the town.

(Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105 lens, ISO 400, f/4, 1/3200 sec)
As I mentioned, they are not actively trying to restore the town. Instead they are making minimal efforts to keep the buildings intact. As you can see in this photo, the park service has propped up this building, which is leaning heavily to one side. As of now, the buildings that remain represent 15% of the original town. Make sure you visit before this amazing place is gone forever!


EJ Davis said...

Jeff these photos really resonated to me. I would love to visit this old town someday.

Paul Kloeden said...

Hi Jeff, love the images. I was interested to see that most were shot with some -EV. Was this an aesthetic decision or do you think the camera generally overexposes?

Sullivan J Photography said...

These are great! I've been wanting to go to Bodie for years! Thanks for the inspiration. :)

Unknown said...

I have written an Action/Adventure Historical fiction story about Bodie. Appropriately, it is entitled, "BODIE". It enjoys only 5 star reviews on Amazon.com May I interest you in a free copy? Yes, there is a catch: I would like to link to your photo blog of the Bodie photos. Is that all right with you? (If you would like to read BODIE, just let me know if you want softcover or digital.)

Kindest regards,

Anne Sweazy-Kulju

Unknown said...

What incredible photos, in color and detail. Just don't tell my dad that's where I left the car. As always Jeff, incredible photos. Thank you for going there and showing us these.

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Anne - that would be great. No problem. I would love a softcover book.

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Paul - I will sometimes shoot with minus exposure comp to exaggerate the shadows and deek blue sky. Other times I will do this to protect the bright areas from blowing out.