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Bodie Boiler, Wheels, and Cogs (Ghost Town) | by After Dark Photo
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Bodie Boiler, Wheels, and Cogs (Ghost Town)

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This was shot during the 2009 Mono Lake Night Photography Workshop put on buy Lance Keimig and Scott Martin .


I shot a similar piece of machinery in the Ghost Town of Bodie last year. Its the wheel in my profile picture. I've had a hard time outdoing that image so I scoured the outskirts of Bodie for a worthy subject and found these two rusty beasts.


These two items used to help pull ore out of the ground via lifts/elevators dug into shafts and tunnels. The gold/sliver would get hauled up the lift via the power supplied by the huge boiler on the left. The wheel and cog on the right would pull the cable that the lift was hooked up to. These iron objects are massively big and heavy. They weigh in at tons. They were freighted via railroad from San Francisco in the 1880's to Tonapah. From there a 30 mule team and a lowboy wagon would move these massive guys all the way into Bodie. Amazing feats in the midst of such harsh terrain.


I spoke to a Ranger on the night we shot this and he was an old boiler maker. He told us how this boiler worked and all the details of what was what on the machine. People, stop and talk to the "old timers." They have knowledge and first hand experience of things we will never see again.


For this shot Scott and I tag teamed the lighting and talked out the set up and angle. It seems to be a tradition for two years in a row now that Scott and I teamed up on a fun shot that turned out really great. I enjoyed the hell out of working in a pair on something. It was great to bounce ideas off one another and get someone else's perspective on a problematic area.


Set up for the shot took over an hour. We fiddled with multiple angles and took tons of high ISO test shots. Once we got the angle right then it took us another 30 minutes of test light painting to get the effect we wanted on the foreground. The full moon would do the rest for the mid and background.


I'm proud of this one. It was a labor of love indeed. No busloads of rude photographers.....just a fun time and a collaborative effort on foreground lighting.


It was damn cold and windy I might add. Which really helped with the noise issues in the final product. It started snowing about 1.5 hours after we were done with this shot.


Shot under the October full moon. foreground illuminated with a mini-mag flashlight and surefire light. Both flashlights equipped with warm non LED bulbs. The star trails on the right side of the frame were slightly washed out due to the very full moon and the horizon lights of Bridgeport.



Canon 40d

Sigma 10-20mm @ 16mm

ISO 200


22 frames @ 4 minutes each for a toal exposure of 88 minutes.


Stacked in startrails.exe

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Taken on October 7, 2009