I’ve been quite busy this summer, and unfortunately have not had the opportunity for quite as many adventures as I (and Aubrey) would have liked. I have, however, visited Mono Lake in eastern California several times for a research project I’m working on. Although most of those images will have to wait, I thought I could share a few unrelated ones from the area.

On one of my trips my father paid a visit, and scouted the surrounding hills for interesting places to camp. In his explorations he discovered a plateau covered in flowers, and convinced me I simply had to go check it out. Well, it was nothing short of spectacular, complete with a herd of wild horses – it’s amazing that for someone who’s explored California for several decades there’s still always something new to find! That evening I was also surprised by a gigantic lined june beetle, clearly a male in search of a mate, whose pheromones he was hoping to find with his oversized flabelliform antennae.

Flowers, Mono Basin, California

Spring Tapestry : Prints Available

Mid summer flowers abound in the mountains surrounding California's, Mono Lake.

Wild Horses, Flowers, California

Wild Horses : Prints Available

Wild horses gallop through fields of flowers in the high desert mountains east of Mono Lake in eastern California.

Lined June Beetle, Antenna, California

Lined June Beetle : Prints Available

This Lined June Beetle (Polyphylla decemlineata) flew towards my headlamp while I was out camping near Mono Lake in California. The spread flabelliform (fan shaped) antenna and the pose reminded me of a tarsier or a bat.

Academic mentoring obligations kept me away from the Sierra for a longer trip, but Aubrey and our friends Randy, Cyndi, and Kevin, made it out to Sky Blue Lake for a short weekend. True to its name, the lake, and the skies, were remarkably blue. Being surrounded by the crisp mountain air and enormous piles of granite is such a wonderful feeling!

Sierra Crest, Sunshine, Granite

Granite Penumbra : Prints Available

The first rays of sunshine break through the sierra crest, high in the mountains, illuminating the endless piles of gleaming granite. 

Sky Blue Lake, Sierra, California

Sky Blue Reading

Aubrey enjoys the peaceful dawn next to Sky Blue Lake in California's Sierra Nevada.

On my most recent trip to Mono Lake fall was finally starting to arrive. My father, along with my cousin and her boyfriend, camped high up in the surrounding hills and enjoyed the last rays of sunshine as the set over the distant Sierra crest. The following day, after finding myself surrounded by a photography workshop near the popular tufa formations, I explored some areas of Mono Lake I hadn’t yet visited where I found throngs of migratory birds, instead of people!

Solitude, Rolling Hills, California

Layers of Solitude : Prints Available

Two trees enjoy the solitude amidst the acres of wild rolling hills in California's Mono County.

Gull Footsteps, Mono Lake, California

Mono's Dance Floor : Prints Available

Footsteps of hungry gulls feasting on the plentiful alkali flies along the shores of California's Mono Lake.

Salt Flats, Mono Lake, California

Salted Dreams : Prints Available

Patterns emerge from the receding waters of the salt flats along California's Mono Lake.

The final image I am sharing is one that might take a little explanation, a little head scratching on your part, and most certainly you’ll have to see it much larger (click the image, and I hope you have a large monitor). As you likely know, I study the behavior of flies (and mosquitoes), with a particular interest in understanding the neural basis for their behavior. While I have not done much of my own imaging of fly brains, I am intimately familiar with how they look. So, when I was waiting for the sun to go down along the shores of the lake and I saw these grasses, I thought, hey, that looks vaguely reminiscent of the sorts of shapes I might see in a fly brain. After I took a few images, an actual fly happened to land, in focus, in the picture I had already composed. I quickly made an exposure before it took off again. Perhaps the fly also had an interest in the inner workings of its own brain?

Fly, Abstract Grasses, Neural Structure

Brain Explorer : Prints Available

A fly perches on the delicate grasses, whose abstract structure I found to be reminiscent of flies very own neural structure.

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2 Comments to “Mono’s Mysteries”

  1. Paul Beiser says:

    Nice to see you have not vanished :-).. Enjoyed the images and narrative a lot! Paul

  2. Lois Elling says:

    Wonderful images and interesting info… as always.