Route 168

January 13, 2009 ·

Michael Reichmann

Route 168

Aspens #1, Route 168, October 1999

At the base of the Eastern Sierra in California on Highway 395 lies the town of Bishop. Running west out of Bishop into the mountains is Route 168. It is a dead-end road that leads to Lake Sabrina and South Lake. We had planned to shoot theEureka DunesandRacetrackat the north end of Death Valley but discovered on arriving there that floods had washed out the road a couple of weeks before. What to do?

A look at the map showed that Hwy 168 was designated as a "Scenic Route" so we decided to take a chance and drive it early the next morning. We couldn’t have been luckier. Fall colours in that area were at their absolute peak that day. We returned a couple of days later, after shooting in the central part of Death Valley, and found the colours muted and on their way to oblivion.

Taken with a 300mm Schneider Apo-Tele-Xenar.

Rock Face, Route 168, October 1999

Everywhere we turned that morning there were strong images to be found. Many times we found ourselves stopping the car 3 or 4 times within a single mile.

Taken with a 300mm Schneider Apo-Tele-Xenar.

Hidden Colour, 1999

I was with another photographer and a film maker when we came across this scene. Both asked me what I saw as I was setting up the Hasselblad XPan with 90mm lens. I explained, but neither saw anything other than a jumble of shapes and colours.

Aspen Splendor, 1999

In most of the aspen shots from this trip they are seen from a distance…. abstracted. Here, we see a classic view with the contrast between the yellow and golden leaves and the white trunks.

Taken with a 300mm Schneider Apo-Tele-Xenar.

Narrow Waterfall, 1999

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that several waterfalls were running, even though its been a fairly dry summer. A small area of colour can also be seen at the top of the image above the falls.

Taken with a 300mm Schneider Apo-Tele-Xenar and 2X extender.

Slow Waterfall, 1999

A classic small waterfall view, "S" curve and all. Experience has shown that an exposure of about 1/8th second produces the most pleasing water effect. The photograph is bit "busy" for my taste, and a very small aperture was needed to accommodate the slow exposure and to ensure adequate depth of field, which is nevertheless a bit soft at the top of the frame. Still, a very pleasing image.

Taken with a 90mm Schneider APO Symmar lens.

 Rocks and Bare Aspens, 1999

Bright yellow aspen leaves aren’t the only attraction in the Sierra foothills. There are countless studies of form and texture like this one around almost every bend. This is ideal subject matter for large format photographers. It also works well as a monochrome photograph, seenherecropped slightly differently than as above.

Taken with a 180mm Schneider Tele-Xenar lens.

Beneath The Dam, 1999

At the top of Hwy 168 lies Lake Sabrina, behind a dam that feeds the valley’s streams, so beloved of fishermen (and photographers). This Aspen grove sits just below the falls. Though there was brilliant colour a few thousand few lower down the valley, at this elevation (over 10,000 feet) the leaves had already fallen. What attracted me was the contrast between the barren trees and the bright foliage still covering the ground.

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Michael Reichmann is the founder of the Luminous Landscape. Michael passed away in May 2016. Since its inception in 1999 LuLa has become the world's largest site devoted to the art, craft, and technology of photography. Each month more than one million people from every country on the globe visit LuLa.

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