Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Photo Workshop Day and Night in Bodie

Pre-dawn light at the bullwheel
First light on Main Street
The California Gold Rush was started by the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848.  In 1959 W. S. Bodey discovered gold east of the Sierra Nevada, and the rest is history.  Fortunately we can explore that history due to local families preserving the town until it became Bodie State Historic Park in 1962.  This authentic Wild West ghost town town is preserved in a state of "arrested decay", and the interiors of the buildings have been left largely untouched for over 50 years.

So what's a photography workshop in Bodie like?  Let's go through the approximate schedule for this coming Sunday.  This will be our first one where doing interiors in the morning and night access that same night, so we'll give everyone a card-clearing, battery charging siesta from roughly 1-4 pm.

The temperature is forecast to be 35 when we arrive, with:
"A slight chance of showers, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 53. North wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%."

4:45 am - Turn up Bodie Road where it meets Hwy 395.  Don't be late (watch for deer).

5:15 am sharp - Meet at gate, south end of town. Sunset sky color may be underway!

5:39 am - theoretical sunrise time in Bodie (zero degree horizon).

We'll start to enter buildings as soon as it's light enough: Boone General Store, Wheaton & Hollis Hotel, Sam Leon Bar & barber shop, Lottie Johl House, morgue, shoolhouse, Dechambau Hotel, IOOF Hall, and various residences as time permits.  Our record so far is 14 buildings.  Sample interior photos.

6:00 am - sunlight gradually reaches the buildings as the sun bathes them with golden hour light.  Divide your time in and out of buildings.

6:40 am - end of the best golden hour light.

9:00 am - the public enters the park.

11:52 am - moonrise, 41% full (we won't see it for another 20 minutes).

12:00 noon - end of interior access.


Virginia Creek Settlement
12:12 pm - 41% crescent moon becomes visible over Bodie Bluff from town (approximate time).  Look for it to the left / north of the Standard Mill from the headframe by the parking lot.

1 - 4 pm - take a break, take a nap, get off your feet to rest for the night session!


4:30 - 5:30 pm - optional dinner  at Virginia Creek Settlement restaurant, just north of Bodie Road, to discuss your experience, goals, gear, techniques.

Bring a waterproof layer with you back to Bodie, just in case:
"A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 11pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 38. North wind 5 to 10 mph."
With 10 MPH winds, 38 would feel like 28, so bring a warm hat and gloves!

5:30 pm - turn up Bodie Road where it meets Hwy 395.

6:00 pm - meet at front gate, then we'll park, move gear to a meeting room, have a quick safety talk, then go shoot.  Sample Bodie night photos.

7:00 pm - the golden hour light will only get better until it leaves town around 7:45.

7:45 pm - approximate last direct sunlight in town.

8:07 pm - sunset time in Bodie (zero degree horizon).

8:27 pm - best sunset sky color in Bodie, give or take a few minutes

Enjoy blue hour light until 9:10 or so.  If some of the clouds stick around from the afternoon, blue hour may be spectacular.

Late blue hour with moonlight
9:10 pm - blue hour ends, switch to night lens / clothing, get lights, snacks, hydrate.

9:58 pm - end of astronomical twilight, sky fully dark

Shoot star trails, light painting, night panoramas, Camelopardalid meteor shower (weak).

Comet Lovejoy will be near the North Star Polaris on this night, so we might not need star-tracking mounts to catch a shot of it with a long lens!  The sky hasn't been clear this week for me to see how bright (or dim) it is, but we'll know where to find it quickly.

Iridium flare
10:25:31 pm  Iridium flare - 272 degrees (west) , 11 degrees elevation, we'll see a flash as the Iridium satellite #70 passes.

12:54 am - moonlight leaves town (approximate) as moon dips below hills.

1:00 am exit park (watch for deer on the drive out).


1:14 am theoretical moon set time in Bodie (zero degree horizon).  (The Milky Way will become more visible, but if you want a parting shot, you'll have to catch it from outside of the park land.)

It's going to be a long day, but we should have a lot of great photographic opportunities!

Light Painting in Bodie in the moonlight.
More information on our Bodie workshops... dates and prices:

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