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Star Trails Over Bodie Church
I've been wanting to shoot at Bodie at night for a long time, and the #sullimammothwalk  Eastern Sierra Photowalk last weekend provided the perfect opportunity to bring some of my G+ friends along.  It was difficult to schedule; apparently the program is evolving and they hadn't conducted night photographic session for some time, but we were able to become the first group in some time to be able to do this.

The conditions were great, with broken clouds at sunset transitioning into mostly clear skies for star trails.  I can't wait to go back!
William Johnston's profile photoJeff Sullivan's profile photoSwee Oh's profile photoBodie Photo Workshops's profile photo
Bode is a great place to visit   the history is very interesting 
Pinpoint accuracy!  A one of a kind for sure
You've totally mastered this kind of shot.
Opening shot for a Twilight Zone episode... or Dr. Who?  :-)

Nicely composed.
+Mark Esguerra Especially now that you're a seasoned star trail shooter.  :)  You would've enjoyed it.  It's particularly nice on full moon nights, since you don't need ridiculously high ISOs, super wide apertures, or many minutes of time to get a decent exposure.
Awesome. How did you get permission to shoot in there at night?
+Sathish Jothikuswath It wasn't easy, but I think it helped that I've donated images in support of Mono Lake and Bodie, and I live nearby so I could meet to ask questions and to drop off forms and checks.

Their ability to conduct night sessions is very limited at the moment. A process may be announced and become more available after more monitors are trained.
+Jeffrey Sullivan  Is there a charge to go into Bode now , When I was there thee was only one other person there  as a caretaker 
+William Johnston I remember going there in the 1970s and there seemed to be no one around.  As recently as the 2000s I think the entry fee was $2 or $3.  Last year the entry fee was $7 per person, and they don't accept the annual state park pass for entry.  There are also Photographers Days from June through October when you can be in the park from before dawn until after sunset for $50.  Due to administrative fees which contribute towards building maintenance, workshops including night access tend to run $300 or more (I'll schedule more of those this year).
+J Smilanic There are so many places that I want to return to and execute this shot!  It turns out though that many of the subjects are not quite aligned well enough with due north to make it work.  That's just as well; it encourages more variety in compositions.
+Jeffrey Sullivan  This is exactly why I have made my land purchases to avoid this type of mess. The park system of today is nothing more than a giant corporation in it for the profits 
Super cool. +Swee Oh I really missed a lot by not coming :( I hope you guys/gals forgive me this time ñ)
+Jeffrey Sullivan I love how well the north star is aligned with the building... good job. I like when the start trails are aligned to north, but I find myself very interesting the ones facing south as the diagonal rain effect is also very cool!
Swee Oh
You did +Gerard Sanz ;) Jeff took us to all the cool places (Check out the photos #sullimammothwalk ) A lot of adventure was had. Well next time when you are back here. Also, btw thank you and and Google Panoramio for sponsoring our trip to Bodie. Much appreciated!! You ARE the awesome. :)

+Jeffrey Sullivan +Lori Hibbett do you guys have any plans on going to Monument Valley in the future? It is one of the places that I have been wanting to visit. :)
+Swee Oh Actually for the Las Vegas photowalk the first itinerary I considered was Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and the Page, Arizona area, but hotel rooms were running $200/night at the Grand Canyon and overnight temperatures in the 20s at that elevation seemed a little cold for people to camp, so we opted for Valley of Fire.  Also, +Gerard Sanz couldn't make it, so best to save Antelope Canyon, The Wave, Monument Valley and other Arizona icons for another trip.
+William Johnston I definitely have mixed feelings about the California State Park system.  Annual passes went from $30 to $60 to $120 (now 50% more than the Federal Lands pass for national parks), yet even at astronomical prices they don't honor their own annual pass at many parks, including Bodie.  The "Photographer Days" offering a few extra hours at Bodie are a great service, but at $30 they were expensive, at $50 last year they excluded many retired people (age discrimination), the unemployed (22% of the state's residents according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 measure) and the poor  (which in this economy includes many of the photographers the sessions are intended to serve).  The night sessions are even worse.  

Camping fees at state parks were as low as $10 a few years ago, but have skyrocketed to $30 (50% more than in national parks).  The California Department of Parks and Recreation loves to get photographers' images for brochures, Web sites and commercials, but they no longer pay photographers.  They only pay graphic artists, Web designers, and the administrative staff at the Department of Parks and Recreation who ask for ask for the product of our work for free.  The nonprofit California State Parks Foundation is flush with so much cash they've collected from well-meaning folks "to benefit the California State Parks", they were able to buy the Web site  Their (paid) administrative and marketing folks are often involved in driving the market value of California State Park photos to zero (net effect: decreasing park visitation by photographers, and by the people who would have been inspired to visit by their photographs).

Instead of alienating visitors with higher fees and reducing their base of voter support, the Department of Parks and Recreation should be offering free photowalks and increasing their use and support base among California voters.  Get the administrators off their butts and away from their desks leading, interpretive walks (including photowalks), or replace them with people who do want to welcome and interact with the California residents and visitors they're (allegedly) there to serve.  If they can't use a computer and a digital camera and encourage visitation through programs and pursue support via the Internet, they're ineffective... retire them (when the state employees' union protects/rewards incompetence among administrators, many more of its members suffer with furloughs and workforce reductions).  

Instead of penalizing photo workshop instructors with 8 page permit applications and high fees, give them a free annual pass and enjoy the entry fees (and support) from the thousands of people they bring to the parks each year.  The customers they introduce the the parks in their best light will return again and again, and introduce their friends to the parks.  I'd love to see the California State Park system thrive, but while they're good at begging for funding and voter support, I can't recall a single productive thing they've done in recent years to earn it.  In fact, their counterproductive actions only decrease their support and increase the odds of closing more parks, and as they alienate their user base, fewer people are left who care.  I say replace the whole department with a private contractor to manage the parks, one with far more freedom to hire and fire employees to ensure creative solutions.

I'm going to make a proposal to the Bodie Foundation.  They want to win a $100,000 grant, but they need votes to beat out other parks for the money.  Photographers on G+ can help them get there.  I'm going to propose that they agree up front to cut the night workshop fees if we help them get enough votes to win the grant.  They might not collect $20k in fees from photographers attending in a year, but gain $100,000 from hundreds or thousands who want to visit some day (and the property of California residents becomes much more accessible to California residents).  That seems to me like a compromise in which everyone wins, and we can demonstrate that working with and for the people you're trying to serve can be a much more productive and profitable strategy. 
+Jeffrey Sullivan  Yea  California is a waste of natural resources, There are a lot of beautiful places but California is slamming the visitors for fees that are ridiculous When I go I ride a horse to get around the park rangers at the gates, I know that it is illegal, but so is the prices California charges to tourist and photographers for the privilege of being in California...
Swee Oh
+Jeffrey Sullivan I am very interested in monument. Valley and the other places you mentioned too. I am sure the rest of the group would be interested too. Any chance of this happening soon after summer?
+Swee Oh I love heading that way as Fall approaches, once temperatures have cooled down a bit.  It's also possible to catch those places in a slightly longer itinerary which includes Bryce Canyon and Fall colors in Zion.  I'll try to find time to work out my Fall schedule and check for interest from people who might want to get together in the field, but I know that I'll be pretty busy for the next 3 weeks or so, so it may be July before dates get a little more clear.  We're trying to squeeze in an international trip too... Iceland, Patagonia, New Zealand, Peru, Italy/Switzerland, so many places, so little time.
Swee Oh
+Jeffrey Sullivan I am looking forward to it. I would be interested in international trips too ( Have always wanted to visit Italy/Switzerland/Spain.  So much to see and and so little time indeed., Have a great vacation with your family! :))
+Swee Oh I've been to Spain a few times (Madrid and the Mediterranean Coast) and would love to return to see more of the countryside (including the Rioja and Ribera Del Duero wine regions), as well as add Barcelona.  

I've also visited Italy (Milan, Turin, Portofino), but would like to get up the Dolomites/Mont Blanc and Lake Cuomo, spend some time in Tuscany, hike the Cinque Terre trail, and perhaps visit Rome and Venice.
Swee Oh
+Jeffrey Sullivan you made me want to take the next flight out for a year long trip :) I haven't been to Spain and yeah have been looking at Madrid and Barcelona for a long time. I have been to Rome and Venice many years ago but only with a point and shoot. it would be great if you organize one of those international trip. I am so inspired! :)
My first 2013 date for Bodie night photography access is up on my blog:

A unique thing about the Friday, August 9 night session is that you can return the next morning for the annual "Friends of Bodie Day" event.  Volunteers will be there in period costumes, re-enacting scenes from Bodie's past.  There's also an optional BBQ and evening program for Bodie Foundation members on Saturday night.

I'll be announcing a four night Eastern Sierra workshop in June within the next week or so, then a dual Bodie visit weekend involving a Saturday night with sunset, and Sunday morning dawn with interior access.

(You should join us this year +Blair Pountney!) 
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