One of the places within driving distance of Bishop CA is the Bristlecone Forest. These pine trees are the oldest living non-clonal organisms on the planet. (I guess there is a distinction as there are some clonal organisms, plants that spring from the roots of an existing plant that could be older than these pine trees, but these all started from seed). These trees are old, some began life before the pyramids were built in Gaza over 4,000 years ago. By comparison, the Giant Sequoias, on the west side of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California are the biggest trees, but the oldest Giant Sequoias are ONLY… 3,000 years old.
The map below shows the trip from Bishop where we stayed to Patriarch Grove where the oldest Bristlecones are said to be. If memory serves me correctly it took a little more than an hour to get to the Schulman Visitor Center and probably another hour or more to get to Patriarch Grove. In those 2 hours we went from 4,000 ft elevation in Bishop (yes, in the base of the valley it is 10 times higher than Harrisburg, and 3 times higher than Pittsburgh) to about 2 miles high in Patriarch Grove.
One of our goals for this part of the workshop was to get an image of one of the older bristlecone trees to use in a composite image with the Milky Way. We would be using a star tracker for the Milky Way images so the best way to create a sharp photo is to take your foreground image well after the sun has gone down but while there is still enough light for a decent long exposure photo so you can capture all the detail. So, I got set up to take my foreground photo and began the wait for twilight/blue hour. About then it became apparent there was going to be some nice color in the skies above from the sun reflecting off all those clouds. Talking out loud I said that I wished I had brough my other camera as the sunset had some real potential. Because we were going to be so high up and the air would be rather thin, we were rightfully advised to pack only what we would need. So, I only took a single camera body, the Nikon Z7II, and my 24-120 lens along with the required tripod and all the trappings. Hudson, our fearless workshop leader, heard me and in a brief moment of insanity offered to let me use his nearly brand-new Nikon Z9 and asked me what lens I would like to use, his 14-24mm or his 20mm prime. I looked at him and said, “Are you sure?” As you see he was about to hand me about $9,000 worth of photography equipment, equipment he was expecting to use during the rest of the workshop, nonetheless. Seeing at the amazed look on my face he smiled and said “Sure, but once you try this 14-24mm it could be expensive for you as you are really going to like this lens.” He handed me the camera with the lens mounted, gave me about 10 seconds of instruction and said have fun. So, I did.
So far, I have resisted the purchase of either the camera or the lens so far…
The images above are from the composition I had set up to capture and combine with a photo of the Milky Way that had my camera occupied. Using a phone app with augmented reality we were able to tell exactly where the Milky Way would be and get in the correct spot. Now that the sun had gone down it was getting colder pretty quickly and we all had to pack up and load the van for the ride back to Bishop. The van is not small and road has some tight spots and sharp turns where a mistake could create quite a different story to tell so it was time to call it a day and get started down off the mountain.
You can see the composite image on this page... Pictures At Dat 'l Do - Owens Valley Part III (datldo.com)