I try to visit the Sierra Buttes at least once every year. It is by far my favorite “local” spot to visit for the amazing scenery and relatively small crowds that visit. For nearly 10 years, I’ve tried photographing these mountains at sunrise, sunset, midnight, winter, etc. and never really come away with a photo I’ve really liked. Sure, we’ve taken our family photo that I love here, but that’s not what I’m talking about. For whatever reason, I can never seem to get good light… until now!

My in-laws were gracious enough to watch the kids while my wife had a girls weekend. So I decided to head to the Sierra Buttes for a weekend of backpacking, photography and relaxing. I arrived Saturday morning and spent the greater part of the day hiking up and down the mountain just exploring new areas. I had some shots in my head, but they just didn’t materialize. Instead, I headed down to Sardine Lake for sunset. Unfortunately, all the clouds disappeared by sunset and I didn’t get a shot. I exposed a few sheets of 4×5 film that I am excited to see though.

I hung out until 1am for some Milky Way photos, but now the clouds that I wanted at sunset were in full force to block the stars. While I was attempting to take this photo, there was something trying to get into the trash cans nearby, something big. I keep telling myself it was a deer that now scavenges from trash cans, but deep down I know that isn’t true. Either way, I was happy to go back to my car.

I hung out some more until sunrise, where I was greeted by the most colorful sunrise I’ve seen here. Not a sole was around, just me. It was perfection. What a nice way to finish my weekend of revitalizing my mental health.