Pictures of the Sun

34-Week Solargraph

Since everyone else this week is sharing their photos of the total solar eclipse (which I was not able to go see in person), I’ll share a different kind of view of the sun. This image documents 34 weeks of setting suns, from 23 September 2016 to 18 May 2017, as seen from the stump of a wooden pole near Virginia Lakes Road in Mono County, looking toward Mount Olsen.

Pinhole camera

The camera in September, at the start of the exposure.

The image was made with a pinhole camera, made from a bright red holiday cookie tin, wrapped in brown paper (for a bit of camouflage, which turned out to be temporary), taped onto a thin board, which was screwed onto the post. It endured one of the longest and wettest winters on record, at 8,650 feet on the east side of the Sierra Nevada. The exposure is made on wet-darkroom photo printing paper, but the paper is not developed — the faint but visible image is scanned and adjusted in Photoshop. These images are called Solargraphs (some in Europe prefer Solarigraphias).

Pinhole camera

The camera in May, after 34 weeks.

Well, okay, here’s my photo of the partial eclipse in central California (21 August 2017), using a colander as a projection device … a sort of pinhole camera obscura.

Eclipse 2017


Copyright © 2017 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.
See also Tim Messick Photography and the Bodie Hills Plants blog.

Posted in Nature, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ghost Stories at Bodie

Cain House at night

The voices of nobody in the night . . .  the footsteps of no one on the stairs . . .  lights turning on and off in unoccupied buildings . . .  Over the years, the park staff who live for months at a time in the old buildings at Bodie State Historic Park have heard, seen, and experienced all of these — and other occurrences they can’t explain. Are these the actions of restless, wandering spirits, or just “residual haunting” phenomena? Or does living in rickety old buildings in the remote, windy, high desert cause imaginations run just a little wild late at night?  Well, Bodie is an authentic Ghost Town, right?

In the church at Bodie

One evening last month I joined a “Bodie Ghost Walk” and “Ghost Mill Tour” offered by the Bodie Foundation and presented by a couple of Bodie’s charming interpretive staff. We started in the church, then strolled through town and peeked inside a few of the buildings.

Cain House

The J. S. Cain House

Cain House interior

A cozy room in a (haunted?) staff residence.

Walking in Bodie

Heading north on Prospect Street

The Italian family's house

“This was the home of an Italian family with 15 children. When I lived in here last year, I felt something . . .”

Main Street

Heading south on Main Street

In the Wheaton and Hollis Hotel

This room in the Wheaton and Hollis Hotel is where meals were served all day, a billiards table provided recreation, and a bar provided refreshment.

Carom billiards table

It’s a Carom billiards table, the kind with no pockets.

In the Wheaton and Hollis Hotel

The hotel also rented rooms . . . in 8-hour shifts. One miner had a peg leg with a sharp point on it. Just down this hall, you can see hundreds of little dents in the floor boards around the door to his room.

The Standard Mill

The Standard Mill was a hazardous workplace, but it had a good safety record, with only one documented fatal accident. A man slipped and fell into the large, rapidly moving belts that drove the stamp mill. Can it be true that he was instructing other mill workers on workplace safety at the time?

The Standard Mill

Recently, the story of another fatality came to light, in the diary of a woman who lived there many years ago. The incident may have escaped official documentation because the victim was nobody important—only a boy, small and agile enough to climb the rafters and grease the wheels of the mill’s machinery for a few dollars a day.

Outside the Mill

Then there was the time two highway patrolmen were by themselves up in the cemetery — they heard a little girl’s voice, then saw a small person’s footprints in the fresh snow  . . . .

Good night, Bodie

Good night, Bodie.


Copyright © 2017 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.
See also Tim Messick Photography and the Bodie Hills Plants blog.

Posted in Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sunset over Mono

Sunset at Mono Lake

With the frequent occurrence of late-afternoon storms east of the Sierra Nevada this summer, it’s been an unusually good year for colorful clouds at sunset in the western Great Basin. These are from one evening during a quick visit to Mono County a week ago—views are from the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center in Lee Vining.

Sunset at Mono Lake Sunset at Mono LakeSunset at Mono Lake Sunset at Mono LakeSunset at Mono Lake

Anticrepuscular rays converging toward the White Mountains.



Copyright © 2017 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.
See also Tim Messick Photography and the Bodie Hills Plants blog.

Posted in Nature, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments