Photographing Bodie

Shutterbugs get occasional early entry to the gold-mining town.

ROAD TRIP QUIZ: If you know Bodie, and we hope you do, since it is rightly billed as "the best example of an old west mining town in America," we have a question for you: What do you see a lot of when you're there? Historic buildings is a good answer. Reverent, hushed-voice visitors works, too. And, yes, maybe even crows (they tend to be particularly chatty around the Eastern Sierra-close ghost town, but maybe that's just our observation).

But photographers always win out in the numbers game. Cameras sometimes seem to outnumber people in Bodie, which is a positive thing, since documenting the gold-mining town helps others learn about the town, which in turn lends to its preservation efforts.

And as any photographer who has visited the "arrested decay" town knows, there isn't a bad picture to be taken. Bodie looks very much like it did in the 1800s, without a coffee shop or t-shirt emporium to be found. The place is a composition of a few simple and stunning elements: big sky, chatty crows, dusty roads, and detritus lying about (that one never, ever takes, given that there's a curse. Oh yes there is.)

PHOTOGRAPHER DAY: You're allowed entry with your camera any day that Bodie is open, but, from May to October, the park marks the third Saturday of the month specifically for photographers. Meaning you may arrive at sunrise, just when the rays are peeping over the hills and lighting up the clutch of wooden and brick structures in fresh and interesting ways. No pics inside buildings are permitted, but you'll have plenty of great shots outside.

Cost? $75. Benefit? Your photos help Bodie live on, crows and curses and all.

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