MonoLake

Mono Lake is at the eastern end of the Tioga Pass, which crosses the Sierras from Yosemite Valley.
Ancestral home of the Yosemite-Mono Paiutes and Miwok, it is one of the oldest lakes in North America.
Mono Lake is an alkaline terminal lake (with no outlet), and has a very high level of salinity, more than twice
the level of the ocean. It is home to trillions of tiny brine shrimp which feed on algae that grow in the lake
when the spring runoffs bring nutrients to the surface, which provide a food source for migratory birds.
Mono Lake is famous for its limestone Tufa Towers, which are travertine spires and knobs that
were formed by the interaction of freshwater springs and the alkaline waters of the lake.

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A 75 image Overview of the Yosemite Portfolio

An Overview page with sample images from the following pages:
Discovery View (Wawona Tunnel View) and Valley View
El Capitan, Half Dome, Cathedral Rocks, and other Scenery
The exquisitely beautiful Mirror Lake in Tenaya Canyon
The Merced River, Tenaya Creek, Yosemite Creek and more

Bridalveil, Vernal and Nevada Falls, and selected images of Yosemite Falls
Detail shots, vignettes and scenic images of Yosemite’s signature waterfall

An Overview page with sample images from the following pages:
Yosemite National Park’s two most famous rim views
Taft Point Fissures and spectacular views from 3000’ over Yosemite Valley

An Overview page with sample images from the following pages:
Mule Deer in the Valley meadows, Hummingbirds, Steller’s Jays, etc.
Golden-Mantled Squirrels, Ground Squirrels and a Tioga Pass Marmot

An Overview page with sample images from the following pages:
Images from the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Images from nearby Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks
Lupines, Dogwood, Snow Plants, Thistle, Forest Moss and Lichen

50 images of the gold mining boom town north of Mono Lake
A highly saline lake in the Eastern Sierras with otherworldly scenery
A Cigar Store Indian, a Thunderbird Totem, and antique Farm Machinery

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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Mono_Lake_Negit_Island_Winter_4380


Mono Lake Negit Island Winter 4380
(356 KB)

Negit Island is a recent (2000 year old) volcanic cone, composed of three dark
dacite lava flows which emanated from separate vents. The black rocky island
at the northern end of the lake covers a 400 acre area, and it is an important
nesting site for California Gulls. When the water diverted from Mono Lake
 to the Los Angeles Aqueduct caused lake levels to drop significantly, a
land bridge was formed allowing coyotes and other predators to raid
the nests. A recent court battle ended the diversion of water, and the
rising lake levels cut off the land bridge, allowing nesting to resume.

Mono_Lake_Negit_Paoha_Islands_Winter_4383


Mono Lake Negit and Paoha Islands Winter 4383
(420 KB)

Negit Island (left) and Paoha Island from the western shore of Mono Lake. Paoha Island was formed by volcanic eruptions from the lake bed in the mid-17th century.

Mono_Lake_Negit_Paoha_Islands_Winter_4382


Mono Lake Negit and Paoha Islands Winter 4382
(385 KB)

The lighter color of Paoha Island is due to lake sediments, clay, and volcanic ash which were carried up with the other volcanic materials during the eruptions.

Mono_Lake_Paoha_Island_Winter_4381


Mono Lake Paoha Island Winter 4381
(473 KB)

Paoha Island was named by Israel Cook Russell, a 19th century geologist. The Paiute word
pa-o-ha refers to spirits believed to exist in the hot springs on the island. The “diminutive sprites
 with long waving hair were sometimes seen in the vapor-wreaths escaping from the hot springs”.

In 1908, prospectors drilling for oil under Paoha Island instead found an ash layer below
the sediments of the lake from the eruption of the Long Valley Caldera 760,000 years ago,
which established the age of Mono Lake. Below the ash layer were sediments from an older
lake (over 1 million years old) which once covered much of the Nevada and Utah area. At its
maximum height during the most recent Ice Age, this older lake was over 900 feet deep.

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Mono Lake Negit Island Winter 4388
(280 KB)

Black Point on the northwestern shore of Mono Lake, with Negit Island in the distance at far right.

Mono_Lake_Negit_Island_Winter_4389


Mono Lake Negit Island Winter 4389
(323 KB)

Detail of Negit Island, erupting from the blue haze of a winter day from the northwestern shore of Mono Lake.

Mono_Lake_North_Shore_Winter_4392


Mono Lake North Shore Winter 4392
(379 KB)

Mono Lake, from the North Shore in winter. In the foreground, formerly submerged tufa formations emerge from the lake.

Mono_Lake_South_Shore_Winter_4467


Mono Lake South Shore Winter 4467
(389 KB)

The mountains forming the distant rim of the Long Valley Caldera, taken from the South Shore in winter.

Mono_Lake_North_Tufa_Winter_4404


Mono Lake North Tufa Winter 4404
(673 KB)

Tufa formations on the North Shore, exposed when the waters of Mono Lake were diverted to Los Angeles, reducing the depth of the lake more than 45 feet.

Mono_Lake_North_Tufa_Winter_4405


Mono Lake North Tufa Winter 4405
(647 KB)

When a decade of court battles ordered the DWP to allow the lake to rise back to healthy levels, the Mono Basin streams again fed the lake, increasing its depth by 10 feet.

Mono_Lake_North_Tufa_Winter_4398


Mono Lake North Tufa Winter 4398
(496 KB)

A Tufa Tower stands above the boardwalk on the North Shore of Mono Lake.

These Tufa Towers are calcium carbonate limestone formed by interaction
between carbonate-rich lake water and calcium-bearing freshwater springs
which well up from the lake bed. They form underwater, and when the levels
of the lake dropped, the Tufa Towers were exposed and ceased to grow.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Spring_3196


Mono Lake South Tufa Spring 3196
(564 KB)

Tufa formations at the southern end of Mono Lake in the Spring. The linear group
of freshwater springs created spectacular Tufa Towers at the southern end of the lake,
which are protected by the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve, formed in 1981.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Spring_3200


Mono Lake South Tufa Spring 3200
(543 KB)

South Tufa Towers, taken with the use of a polarizing filter to reduce reflections
from the water, increasing color saturation and contrast and darkening the sky.

In the late winter and spring, the lake is filled with microscopic plankton algae
which turn the waters green. The algae feed trillions of Mono Lake Brine Shrimp,
tiny shrimp found nowhere else, which form part of the diet of many migratory birds.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Spring_3205


Mono Lake South Tufa Spring 3205
(450 KB)

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Spring_3211


Mono Lake South Tufa Spring 3211
(403 KB)

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Spring_3213


Mono Lake South Tufa Spring 3213
(597 KB)

Tufa formations emerging from the green waters at the south end of Mono Lake in the Spring.

The highly alkaline waters of the lake contain carbonates, borax and sulfates along with the salt. The tufa towers are formed underwater when positively-charged calcium ions enter the lake from springs, and combines with dissolved negatively-charged carbonate ions in the alkaline lake water. This allows the two oppositely charged ions to precipitate into calcium carbonate, which is insoluble in the lake water and is deposited to the tufa formations.

The tufa formations are hollow, like pipes. The fresh spring water is less dense than the lake water and rises straight up towards the surface, emerging from the ground and up through the forming tufa pipes. The chemical reaction deposits its minerals near the top of the tufa tower pipe. These springs are often closely spaced in a nearly straight line, thus they create numerous elongated structures like those we see here. Small currents make the chemical process irregular, thus some towers are larger than others.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Spring_3219


Mono Lake South Tufa Spring 3219
(571 KB)

The light was extremely variable due to clouds passing in front of the sun. In this image, the Tufa Towers were lit and the foreground was shaded.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Spring_3238


Mono Lake South Tufa Spring 3238
(522 KB)

Detail of the foamy shoreline in the center of the image at left, taken later when the shoreline was strongly lit (and the Tufa Towers were shaded).

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Spring_3224


Mono Lake South Tufa Spring 3224
(581 KB)

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Spring_3227


Mono Lake South Tufa Spring 3227
(601 KB)

Three different compositions of the foamy southern shoreline in Spring.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Spring_3229


Mono Lake South Tufa Spring 3229
(583 KB)

Shoreline Foam is caused by wind and wave action, whipping up the naturally soapy
carbonate-rich alkaline waters of Mono Lake. The consistency of shaving foam, the fluffy
mass can be up to several feet thick and is quite stable, gathering on the leeward shore.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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Mono_Lake_Negit_Island_Autumn_X6444


Mono Lake Negit Island Autumn X6444
(466 KB)

Negit Island, taken from a hill at the base of the Tioga Pass on a stormy day in October.

The volcanic crater of Negit Island can be seen in the center of the island from this height.
The island was formed from lava flows emanating from three separate vents during eruptions
occurring about 2000 years ago. Negit Island is an important nesting site for California Gulls.
90% of the California population was born on Negit Island and at other areas of Mono Lake.

Mono_Lake_Phalaropes_Autumn_X6446


Mono Lake Phalaropes Autumn X6446
(302 KB)

A flock of Phalaropes in flight near the South Tufa formations on Mono Lake.

Nearly 100,000 Wilson’s Phalaropes and Red-Necked Phalaropes visit Mono Lake
from Summer through Fall during their migration to feed on swarms of alkali flies. The
Phalaropes swoop over the lake to pick flies out of the air or off the surface of the water.
Phalaropes are salt-loving pelagic birds which stop at Mono Lake and the Great Salt Lake
on their migration from Northern breeding grounds to the tropical oceans near South America.

The pupa stage of the Alkali Fly was harvested as a food and trade item by the native
Kutzadika’a, or Kucadikadi (Mono Lake Paiutes). The name means “eaters of the brine fly”,
called Kutsavi in their language. They were related to the Yosemite Paiutes and Sierra Miwok.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6447


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6447
(617 KB)

Approaching the South Tufa area on the southern shore in October.
The approach through dry golden sagebrush below the unpaved road
is more difficult than the approach from the parking area further south,
where there is a boardwalk leading to the southern reaches of the Tufa,
but it offers a more natural view in my opinion, as you will see below.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6449


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6449
(540 KB)

An isolated linear group of Tufa Towers in the South Tufa area. This image
was taken with a short telephoto lens (85mm), from the hill below the dirt road.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6450


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6450
(464 KB)

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6453


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6453
(455 KB)

On the left, a medium-telephoto (135mm) closeup of the isolated group of Tufa Towers, taken
from the hill below the dirt access road, and at right an 85mm shot taken from the sagebrush.
In the distance, the approaching storm darkens the hills situated to the east of Mono Lake.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6454


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6454
(493 KB)

A dense linear group of Tufa Towers emerges from Mono Lake in the South Tufa area,
with isolated tufa spires on the shore, surrounded by golden sagebrush in late Autumn.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6456


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6456
(475 KB)

Grebes patrol the waters of Mono Lake in front of the South Tufa Towers.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6457


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6457
(513 KB)

A California Gull and Grebes in the South Tufa area.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6466


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6466
(531 KB)

Closer detail of Tufa Towers in the South Tufa area.

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Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6462c
(888 KB)

A Starling perches atop a spire in this highly detailed crop of the South Tufa Towers.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6464c


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6464c
(594 KB)

A detail crop of the northernmost group of Tufa Towers in the South Tufa area.

The towers were formed when calcium-bearing freshwater springs well up through
the carbonate-rich alkaline waters of the lake. The calcium and carbonates combine
underwater, precipitating out as limestone formations around the mouths of the springs.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6467


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6467
(497 KB)

The northernmost group of South Tufa Towers, patrolled by juvenile and adult Eared Grebes.

An estimated 1.5 million Eared Grebes visit Mono Lake during the fall migration
from August through October each year. These images were taken October 18th,
after many of the Grebes had left for the Pacific Coast, Mexico and Central America.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6469


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6469
(500 KB)

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6470


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6470
(534 KB)

Three compositions of the shoreline and Tufa Towers at the northern end of the South Tufa area.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6472


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6472
(603 KB)

Detail of a large Tufa Tower near the Mono Lake shoreline, and a group of
linear Tufa Towers further out in the lake in the South Tufa area in late Autumn.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

Sunburst3
Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6473


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6473
(469 KB)

A large Tufa spire and small knobs in the foreground, with the northernmost group of Tufa Towers in the South Tufa area.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6475


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6475
(381 KB)

Small Tufa knobs and the northernmost group of South Tufa Towers, with an approaching storm in the background.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6476


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6476
(387 KB)

A lone California Gull feeds from the briny waters of Mono Lake between the
Tufa knobs in front of the northernmost group of towers in the South Tufa area.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6477


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6477
(542 KB)

Travertine spires, knobs and towers encrust the shoreline in the South Tufa area of Mono Lake.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6479


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6479
(533 KB)

A California Gull in front of a section of the northernmost group of South Tufa Towers.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6481


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6481
(527 KB)

California Gulls and Eared Grebes in front of a dense Tufa formation in the South Tufa area.

The storm was rapidly approaching, and the sky was darkening, so the last two images below
were taken without the use of a polarizing filter and at a wider aperture to gather more light. Note
the reduced color saturation and the greater amount of light reflecting off of the surface of the water.
For many of the images of this group, I used polarization at about 20%, just enough to reduce the
reflections and add some color saturation without darkening the sky further, but as the light levels
dropped the polarizing filter had to be removed as it absorbs light, reducing the shutter speed.

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6485


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6485
(573 KB)

Mono_Lake_South_Tufa_Autumn_X6486


Mono Lake South Tufa Autumn X6486
(472 KB)

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Yosemite Collection page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 15 Galleries in the Photoshelter Yosemite Collection

For convenience, Galleries containing the images of Wildlife, Plants,
Sequoia National Park, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake and Mariposa
have been copied to the Yosemite Collection from their normal locations.

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