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Sky Rock | Gregory Chong Photography
 
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I decided to head out to the city of Bishop, California, to attempt to photograph the Sky Rock. It is a petroglyph or pictoglyph that faces up to the sky. It is unique in this way because most of the old rock writings and art are on a wall that is vertical. I left in the morning of Sunday, June 29th and returned in the afternoon of Monday, June 30th. I was planning to car camp near the Sky Rock. Because I knew it was going to be hot and hot even at night time, I would have to sleep with the windows open. If you know me, I hate bugs. They eat me alive. So I prepared myself to tape up a screen over the interior part of the windows so I can keep them open throughout the night and not have to worry about bugs getting in. In the end, it didn’t work out they way I thought it would, but was a very good idea. If I taped it to the outside, the blue masking tape would have held better.

I stopped off at Mono Lake on the way to Bishop, CA. It was a cool lake and I now know where people go to photograph it.

The weather was HOT HOT out there. 105 F. I started my hike to scope it out. It was a tough uphill hike to the plateau. The terrain wasn’t sand, but very loose gravel. After getting to the plateau, I managed to find it. It was impressive and really neat. I was careful to walk around the edges and to not walk on the ancient writings. I’m not sure what they mean, but they were cool to see.

Getting a little hungry and I had some time to kill, I went into the town of Bishop to grab some food to eat. I stopped off at the the Bishop Burger Barn. They had very good milk shakes as well as a variety of burgers. Their food was very good. After getting some gas, I headed back to get ready to shoot the Sky Rock.

I reached the Sky Rock again in 100 degree weather. It was a tough seen to shoot the sunset. The rock had a downward slope to the east and the sun was setting in the west. Pictures could not be taken until the sun set. I attempted to get a sunstar as the sun set behind the mountains.

Another fellow photographer showed up, Ian. I didn’t see him walk down the trail I did. He said he only parked about 20 yards away!!! He explained how to do it, but lost me after a couple of turns. I just fell for the rookie mistake of parking at the bottom of the hill. We shared the Sky Rock to photograph. As the sun went down, Ian wanted to shoot the milky way as well as light paint a bit. He wore a red shirt on purpose so he can use it to diffuse the flashlight light to get a more even light painting and glow. He helped light paint for me and this was the best image of them all. He did some panoramic shots in attempts to capture the whole milky way. I found out that my 14-24mm f/2.8 lens shot the stars well with the setting of 14mm f/2.8, ISO 3200, and S: 20 secs. 25-30 secs shutter speed resulted in slight movement of the stars and therefore they streaked. Because of Ian, I am looking to improve my knowledge and skill at light painting. I know there is a lot of experimentation and there is not really a wrong way. Patience helps out a lot as well. We exchanged contact info, and then we parted ways.

I got back to the Pilot and thought I would stay and pay $10 bucks at the campground nearby. I forgot to break a $20 bill in town. In the end, I decided to drive north on Hwy 395 back to Mono Lake at around 10:30pm. I remembered that there was a rest stop along the way. I took the risk to sleep at the rest stop through the night and then wake up in the morning to head on out. I found the rest stop and parked between two big rigs. I folded down the rear seat. Inflated my thermarest and unfolded my sleeping back. I managed to sleep about 5 hours with no one bothering me or telling me to move on. Because I was a bit higher in elevation, the outside temperature was much cooler and I didn’t need to roll down the windows at all. Phew. I left the rest stop around 6am and managed to get to the Livermore Premium Outlets around 11:30am. I needed to stop by the Columbia outlet to see if there was any deals. In the end, I bought a couple of short sleeve UV protective shirts for my next photography trip to Utah. I ate the other half of my burger from Bishop and the rubbery fries and soggy onion rings, but they were still very good. I drank a little bit of some Coke to keep me awake for the rest of the drive. Took my allergy pills for the allergy shot I needed to receive in the early afternoon. The trip was a success! I now know I can drive farther. I think what helped in the end was I found my old iPod Nano, downloaded old tunes from the day onto it and listened to it throughout the drive. It helped a lot.

Enjoy!

~Greg

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