Comet NEOWISE over Mono Lake, CA, USA

Comet NEOWISE over Mono Lake, California. 35mm, 10 seconds at f/4, ISO 1000.

Early this morning Claudia and I joined about a dozen other photographers along the shore of Mono Lake to photograph Comet NEOWISE.

I was expecting to search for a smudge in the sky to the northeast, and use a long lens to make the comet a prominent part of the photograph. But when I stepped out of the car I could see it right away – even before my eyes adjusted to the dark. It was bigger than I expected. It’s the brightest, largest comet I’ve seen since Hale-Bopp in 1997.

We moved down to the lakeshore and looked for ways to juxtapose the comet with some of Mono Lake’s iconic tufa formations. At first I looked for telephoto compositions, as a long lens lens would have filled up more of the frame with the comet. But then I found this wider view, and liked the balance and feeling of it, with the comet perched above a row of tufa towers.

Photography aside, the comet was a beautiful sight, hanging tail-up over the lake in the predawn sky.

Over the next few days the comet will become lower and less visible in the morning, but higher and more visible in the evening to the northwest. It’s also expected to get gradually dimmer over the next few weeks as it moves farther from the sun, so the next week or so might be the best time to see it. This page has good descriptions of where and when to view the comet.

— Michael Frye

Related Posts: Starry Skies Adventure Workshop; Lightning at Mono Lake

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.