Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Zeiss Batis 85mm F1.8 Meets CA Highway 395

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge

Before Dawn Mt. Whitney 1/10 second f2 ISO 6400

If you cross over Tehachapi Pass from Bakersfield and head north on highway 14 you will eventually hit highway 395. The eastern Sierra Nevada begins in earnest near a small town named Olancha. From there to Yosemite in the north you travel in a valley with the Inyo and White Mountains to the east and the Sierra Nevada to the west.

Along this stretch of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains there are occasional passes that generally lead west into Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Native Americans followed creeks and made the trails that lead over the passes.

As you drive north past Lone Pine through Independence, Big Pine and eventually to Bishop, there are hints at these passages that follow a dark green strip of land created by the flow of a stream. One ‘gateway’ town that is often overlooked is Aberdeen located on old 395 with Taboose Pass to the north and Sawmill Pass to the south. You can see these slashes in the massive Sierra wall and are tempted to seek a quick route across. As one who has hiked a couple of these “Nasty passes” (Taboose and Baxter) avoid them and seek a higher trailhead unless you are into suffering.

There is only one creature that seems to thrive in such hostile and rugged real estate. The Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep frequents these passes and overwinters on the east side to avoid the deep snow. The sheep then move back over and along the western crest in the summer, staying at high altitude for safety from predators.

Over the years I have come to this area of the Sierra from both the west (Roads End in Kings Canyon) and the east. What I have come to appreciate in my quest for photographs of Bighorn Sheep is the rugged beauty of the eastern Sierra.

Last week I had an opportunity to photograph Bighorn Sheep near Aberdeen and north of Bishop along Pine Creek road. As I scanned the cliffs near Highway 395 and drove north I could not help taking a few photographs with my new Zeiss Batis 85mm 1.8 lens and Sony A7R2 camera. When I use a 85mm lens, the photographs faithfully reproduce what I remember in my mind’s eye. 50mm always seems smaller than I remember the scene to be.

The more I photograph the Sierra Nevada especially in spring, the more shades of color I see. As I traveled north, the weather began to set in and the mountains became starker. When they still have their mantle of snow, they are even more glorious. I have included a photograph of Mt. Whitney I took at 6am on the way back home. The sunrise that day was at 6:42 and I could barely see the outline of the mountains. When I was northbound, the mountains near Lone Pine were covered in clouds. Homebound the sky was clear. Although I reduced the file size of these photographs, none were cropped.  

Scanning For Sheep With My 4X4 Truck Below

 Near Aberdeen Looking East

 White Mountains To The East
 Mt. Tom (Elevation13,652') 

 Mt. Humphreys Shrouded In Clouds    


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