Sierra Nevada

Posted by on Oct 11, 2015 in Projects | 28 Comments
Sierra Nevada

As I had mentioned in my last blog post about Death Valley, we had planned on a longer break from traveling during the summer months and enjoyed a quiet time in our home in Ireland this year, followed by a trip to New York City in September. That was a long break and I’m really excited to be able to share some images again.

The second part of our road trip through Utah, Nevada and California earlier this year started how the first one ended. Endless desert roads leading us through Amargosa Valley to the horizon, a lot of dust – and heat. After spending hours on the road talking with Rebecca, listening to music or just to the engine of our car, the landscape slowly started to change.

The closer we came to Sierra Nevada and the higher the altitude, the more we were surrounded by beautiful pine trees, mountains and crystal clear lakes. If we had known how beautiful this part of the United States is, we would have planned more time. Our initial idea was to visit Yosemite for at least 2-3 days on our way to San Francisco, but we found out that the mountain pass we intended to drive into the valley was still closed after the winter.

We decided to stay in Mammoth Lakes for a few days instead, a little town nestled into the mountains on the other side of Yosemite Valley at around 8,000 feet, and take a break from the road. We spent two full days there and were just in love with the scenery. The town was quiet and the colors of the surrounding landscape were incredible. The woodlands up in the mountains must be among the most beautiful in the world.

All color images below were either taken with the Hasselblad 503CW and the Carl Zeiss Planar T* 2.8/80 or with the Leica MP and the Carl Zeiss C Sonnar T* 1.5/50 ZM on Kodak Portra 400. All B&W images were shot with the Leica M-A and the Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 on Kodak Tri-X 400. All images scanned and processed by Richard Photo Lab in California:


















  1. Rebecca
    11. October 2015

    I’m so happy that you’re finally sharing these, Johnny. They are really a beautiful continuation of the story you began in Death Valley. You let us feel how the light and air become thinner, show us how the colors change driving from the bleached desert into these rugged mountains, and you make us think we can almost smell the pine needles underfoot.

    Every time I look at that massive pine cone on our mantel I think of these memorable few days in the Sierra Nevada, and my impressions of this beautiful place feel as fresh as ever when I look at your pictures. Thank you for that.


    P.S. My favorite picture is the landscape with the <3 flare!

  2. Johnny
    11. October 2015

    Thank you so much, Rebecca.

    I’m really excited to finally share them too, that took a bit longer than I had anticipated. I’m so glad that you like them and that they bring back happy memories for you. They do for me too and I can’t wait to take you back there and go see Yosemite.

    Who would have thought that the Hasselblad could make heart-shaped flare! :)

  3. Bijan Sabet
    11. October 2015

    Hi Johnny.

    These photographs are just amazing.

    They capture the beauty and grace of that region so well. And that flare shot… perfect!

    I’m happy you and Rebecca had such a wonderful trip to the States and even happier that you are soon moving here.


  4. Johnny
    11. October 2015

    Bijan, thank you very much for your kind words.

    It’s really amazing – the more that I see of the United States, the more I would like to go explore there. The country is so interesting and diverse and there are so many places that I’ve always seen in movies and TV shows growing up, but never experienced in person before.

    We are really excited to live in Maine soon. What we’ve found there is a dream come true.

  5. Poltredou
    11. October 2015

    The images are fantastic, the colors, the decor.
    Really beautiful!

  6. Johnny
    11. October 2015

    Thank you so much, Alexandre! I’m so happy to hear that! :)

  7. Jeremy
    11. October 2015

    Thanks for sharing these amazing pics. As always, the colors of the Kodak Portra 400 and the contrast of the Kodak Tri-X are fantastic!

    These mountains are so beautiful. I definitely have to plan a trip there.


  8. Johnny
    11. October 2015

    Jeremy, thank you kindly.

    The whole area is beautiful, I can definitely recommend the route we drove. I hope you can go visit there soon! :)

  9. Walker
    11. October 2015

    What a stunning place depicted through astonishing shots!

  10. Johnny
    11. October 2015

    Thank you very much, Walker! I’m happy you like the pictures.

  11. Robert-Paul Jansen
    11. October 2015

    These are well worth the wait, Johnny.

    The heart-shaped flare seems so appropriate. I love the feeling of the rectangular photos, really nice. Thanks for posting this and I’m ready for the next post… in a while. Just letting this sink in first.

  12. Johnny
    11. October 2015

    Robert-Paul, thanks very much for stopping by.

    I really appreciate your kind feedback, that’s wonderful to hear! I’m excited for you to post squares again too one day. :)

  13. Bill McCarroll
    11. October 2015

    Beautiful images Johnny. Glad you and Rebecca were able to enjoy the Sierras. You captured it perfectly. Great to see these. You both have to get to Yosemite, there’s just something truly magical about the valley.

  14. Johnny
    11. October 2015

    Thank you very much, Bill.

    I’m happy to hear that you like the post, it’s really incredible how the scenery changes from desert to mountains. We can’t wait to go back to Yosemite with more time, hopefully next year!

    It was really great to meet you and Diana in New York City.

  15. Cindy
    12. October 2015

    Beautiful, Johnny. We visited Mammoth Lakes this year on our road trip to Telluride, my first time actually. Such a beautiful area, I wished we stayed a little longer to explore,

    Portra fits California so well with it’s warm tones and of course Tri-X is always perfect, that first shot is ace. Loved looking through your images.

    Come visit California again!

  16. Johnny
    12. October 2015

    Thank you for your kind words, Cindy. I’m happy that you like the pictures. :)

    I remember following your trip to Telluride on social media and thinking how familiar these scenes looked to me, it was like reliving part of our own trip. It’s really such a beautiful area.

    We’re both very anxious to come back to California soon! I hope we can convince you to come visit New England one day too. I have a feeling you guys will like it.

  17. Boom
    13. October 2015

    Welcome back to your blog, Johnny!

    I’m really excited to see your images again too. Love your images, colors and tones, amazing as always.

  18. Johnny
    13. October 2015

    Thanks very much, Boom! :)

    I’m excited to be back and very happy to hear that you enjoyed my images.

  19. Andy Gemmell
    15. October 2015

    Nice second half to the road trip story! Photos and words alike!

    You’ve got me very excited about a trip I am doing next March whilst visiting the US from Australia.

    Yosemite for 2-3 days, through Death Valley onto Zion NP (2-3 days, maybe Bryce Canyon as well). Quick question… what was the name of the pass which was closed? It might be worth a little research on my part.

  20. Johnny
    16. October 2015

    Thank you, Andy! :)

    That sounds like a wonderful trip and should be about the route that we took backwards. A friend from Australia, Jason de Plater, just did a similar road trip and loved it (San Francisco, Yosemite, Vegas, New York).

    We had planned to drive into Yosemite on highway 120 but most of the other roads were closed too. It’s definitely a good idea to look into that well ahead of time as this is often the case from November to May.

  21. Fabian Schmid
    18. November 2015

    Stunning colors and beautiful composition – as always! Looking forward to more.

  22. Johnny
    18. November 2015

    Fabian, thanks very much! Glad you enjoyed the pictures. :)

  23. Patrick
    18. November 2015

    It is always such a joy to see your beautiful photos and read your stories.

    You really inspire me to start shooting film again. The colours, the light, the composition and this beautiful film look are really stunning. Looking forward to your future work!

  24. Johnny
    19. November 2015

    That’s really wonderful to hear, Patrick. Thank you so much. I hope you will get back into shooting film!

  25. Javier Lozada
    23. November 2015

    Fantastic work Johnny! Is it safe to assume you have cropped the above images to your liking afterwards due to the Hassy being 6×6 square framed? I noticed various portrait sizes.

    I am considering taking the leap from 135 to 120 and these images are really inspiring me to do so sooner than later. It will be tough to choose 6×6 or 645… cheers!

  26. Johnny
    24. November 2015

    Many thanks for your kind words, Javier. I’m happy you like the pictures.

    I didn’t crop any of my images. All of the squares are medium format with the Hasselblad, all of the other shots are 35mm with the Leica. So if you like a particular shot that’s color and not a square it would be Portra 400 in 35mm. There’s more information right under the post in case you’re interested.

  27. Paul Jenkin
    1. January 2016

    Hi There,

    I’m in the UK and it’s New Year’s Day. It’s raining and I’m bored at a level I’ve never previously experienced and I desperately need some inspiration. I’ve just found it. Thanks for posting these photos; they’re beautiful.

    My wife and I drove Route 66 in October 2013 and I miss the open road and the chance to stop and shoot what we want when we want. Must get back over there and check out some of the National Parks.

    Best for 2016.

  28. Johnny
    2. January 2016

    Hahaha! :) Thank you for your kind words, Paul!

    Glad you enjoyed the post. You’re right, the area is incredibly beautiful. Glad you feel inspired to come back.

    We just moved to the States in November and I’m very excited to get back on the road and photograph here. What I’ve seen of the National Parks so far was nothing short of breathtaking.

    All the best for you too!

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