I think it’s safe to say that Yosemite is one of America’s best National parks. In terms of the sheer grandeur of the geography of the area, there isn’t much else like it in the US. Huge granite monoliths rising out of a river valley, it’s easy to get a kink in your neck just with the amount of time you spend looking up. While there are plenty of draws to this park, photography is easily one of the most popular activities inside the park. I met a group of 7 awesome photographers for a fun weekend of exploration and camera fun.
Friday is orientation, it’s a chance for me to get to know the group and find out what they want to work on for the weekend, and give everyone a little more information on current events inside the park. This weekend is the tail end of the Horsetail Fall phenomenon, so it can be a bit tricky navigating the park, but we’re up for all of it.
The first morning we start off along the Merced River. It’s a really cold morning, so the ice patterns along the edges of the river are amazing. Not only do they make a great foreground for shooting El Capitan, but they also make interesting compositions themselves with all the cracks, lines, and texture. The group gets involved with the subject pretty easily, while I walk around, help tweak compositions, and go over any setting issues.
The next stop is the swinging bridge area where we have beautiful clouds and awesome reflections of upper Yosemite Falls. We found an awesome little area of ice that provided a nice leading line, and some foreground interest. Everyone got some great shots here! The morning was really cold so everyone was really excited to go get some breakfast and warm-up.
After our warm-up, we stopped to photograph some nice reflections of El Capitan along a different stretch of the Merced River.
That evening we made our way up to Tunnel View in the hopes of some light at sunset. Clouds rolled in so the chances of an amazingly colorful sunset looked slim, but the light and clouds before sunset were awesome, and we worked on getting some nice late afternoon light on the valley, which really looks good for a black and white image!
The first day was a great success, and everyone got a lot of great images!
On day two, we started off photographing the 3 Brothers along the Merced. I know a little place with a great reflection of these peaks, and it’s a perfect place to start the morning. It wasn’t as cold as the previous day, which made our hands and feet happy but didn’t leave too much fun ice for us to photograph. That being said, everyone had no trouble getting some awesome shots of this scene.
The coolest part of the morning (in my opinion) is shooting the rainbow fire fall on lower Yosemite Falls. This happens around the same time every morning in winter when the early light hits the mist of the falls and creates cool rainbow patterns that look like actual fire. Forget that popular waterfall, this is where it’s at! These shots are moody and awesome, and pretty unique. And our group had it all to ourselves!
After our morning shoot, we all met for post-processing. This is a time to get some tips on processing and looking over images. I love to help people take images from the weekend and make them look amazing. This group was awesome in terms of really asking good questions, and having nice images to work with.
The goal for the evening was Valley View, one of the iconic vistas in the park. We arrived early, but most of the visitors were at the horsetail fall, which was fine, because the cold temps reduced the water flow, and that meant what we were seeing was less crowded, and more enjoyable. The light on El Capitan from this spot at the end of the day is really nice. There’s nothing better than a warm glow on granite to end a fun and productive day, and put another trip in the books! Thanks to everyone for being such a fun group!
Until Next Time,
Brian and the rest of the Aperture Academy Team!
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