Yosemite, for obvious reasons, is one of the premier locations for landscape photography. Despite the crowds, droughts, fires, and anything else that life can throw at it, the park is still amazing and deserves to be seen in all its majesty.
Our Aperture Academy workshop is a fun group of 7 photographers, and a gang of Aperture Academy instructors and owner/coffee goddess Monique joined as well.
The first day of our fall workshop is always an early start. The destination is Olmstead Point, and it’s about an hour's drive on winding, mountain roads to get there, so we leave early. There is no Starbucks on the way, so we did the next best thing. We brought the coffee goddess with us! Each morning while the rest of our group milled about in the cold morning air, Monique set to work making us all our first (and sometimes second and third) cups of coffee so we could brave the morning.
The view of the granite valleys from Olmstead point is just stunning. DeAnna and I helped point out different compositional options for the group while helping those who had technical questions with their camera settings. With a few cups of coffee in the system, the morning really begins to feel good. We leave our granite perch at Olmstead and head to Lake Tenaya. Another great spot for looking at the power of glaciers, and the beauty of granite. I love this lake for all the different foreground options..cracked rock, small pools of reflection, and every combination of the two you could think of. This lake was a lot of fun, and we even found some ice and pine cones that were fun to shoot as well.
On our way back to the valley, we stopped at Siesta Lake…one of my favorite little spots for fall-colored foliage. Calling this a “lake” is a bit of a stretch, but it is a great spot for some reflections and fall-colored tranquility.
The morning sped by, and before we knew it we were back for our morning break. In the afternoon our group drove up to Glacier Point. This view of half dome is probably one of my favorite vistas in the world. It really is breathtaking. The weather channels promised clouds and a storm moving in on this evening, but as weather reports often are, this was not correct. We had a beautiful, crisp, clear evening. Which meant we had the best alpenglow on Half Dome. It’s fun to have a front-row seat for a light show like this. It’s a long first day, with a fair amount of driving…but ending it with a view like this is worth it!
Day 2 we spent in the Yosemite Valley. Starting off with more coffee at Tunnel View, another one of those iconic must-stop locations in Yosemite. DeAnna and I help offer up some suggestions as to different compositional ideas. Our other stop before breakfast is along the Merced River. I like one particular bend because it offers up great views of El Capitan, the 3-Brothers, and Cathedral Peak. If you’re a nerd for small detailed photos, there’s plenty of reflections, ripples, leaves, and other little intimate scenes to photograph as well. While this was a beautiful stop for sure, what everyone will remember is the black bear we saw while we were packing up our cars. Yosemite has a lot of bears, but seeing one is pretty rare. Everyone’s morning was pretty stellar after this little guy sauntered on by.
The early afternoon was spent with some processing/image review. Not everyone participates but it is fun for those who do attend to have their work critiqued a little and learn a tip or two about how to bring out the best in post-processing.
The evening was capped off with another trip through the park. We shot a beautiful oak tree with perfect fall color, backlit by the evening sun, and moved from there to a nice sunset at Valley View. I love Valley View. There are so many options for using rocks and reflection for a captivating composition. The light here also changes often, and just when you think sunset might be done, it pops back up more brilliantly than before. Nothing captures the light quite the way granite does.
All in all, it was a terrific weekend of photography with a fun group of people. We saw a lot, and everyone came away with a bunch of great images.
Until Next Time,
Brian, DeAnna, Monique and the rest of the Aperture Academy Team
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.