It surprises me, living so far away from Yosemite, that I’ve been able to now catch snow in the Valley twice. This particular coincidence lined up with my usual mainland trip to sign and ship artwork. Being that the forecast was for a few inches of snow, but not down to the valley floor, I wasn’t sure my plans. When I got word that the webcams were showing the white stuff all the way down I knew where I was headed. At the same time I found out a long term photographer contact I had was also in the area. I made the drive and arrived around 11pm. Of course with an early wake up call coming. As we ventured out in the morning the darkness was starting to give way and we could see that the clouds had parted. A good sign…potentially. Landscape photography is a tricky thing. Too much or too few clouds can be problematic (sometimes). My goal for this morning was Tunnel View. The iconic location that I really was looking forward to capturing with fresh snowfall AND flowing waterfalls (finally a non-drought winter). Arriving to the view in front of me was incredible. White and green speckled throughout the valley. A low hanging cloud among the trees. And of course…chilly!!
As the sun started to rise the cloud that was hanging in the Valley proceeded to flatten out and dance across the trees. Constantly changing and sloshing about it was a smorgasbord of intimate photography. I spent the next 2.5hrs in awe as the constantly changing light and fog really got my creative juices flowing. So much to capture and so ephemeral. To say that the morning was productive would be an understatement! There is lots to share but we shall start with just this one.
I’ve been holding this image for a long time. Since March of 2013 when I got to experience the magic that is snowfall in Yosemite Valley. In the frenzy that was that morning (which can be read about more in my other image “Pencil To Paper“) I recalled this spot which I had noticed on previous trips. Though back then the falls werent flowing nearly as much (if at all….something about a on-going drought). This time around a different story. As the snow was pounding down I set up the shot and luckily had my small umbrella hidden in my camera bag to protect the camera (not me) from the big, heavy flakes. Spending the better part of an hour at this location experimenting with different ways of capturing the scene as it changed. In the end this particular exposure really managed to translate the experience of that morning in the Valley 🙂
“Pencil To Paper” (unreleased)
Back in March ’13 I had the incredible opportunity of being near Yosemite National Park when the forecast called for an incoming storm. Knowing that 1) I dont live anywhere near Yosemite and 2) storms/snow arent too common, I knew I only had one choice. Drive my rental Mustang (yea free upgrade) in to the valley floor and sleep in it overnight. As far as sleeping goes in cars…I’ve had better…
Waking up the next morning I was stoked. BIG fluffy flakes DUMPING down. The great white awesomeness that is snow. Now, two more things ran through my head 1) where the hell am I supposed to shoot?! and 2) why the f@#$ did I get a Mustang. Slapping myself awake I donned my winter clothes that I had packed and started driving around the valley scoping where I might want to go. Having been there before I had a cursory knowledge but still not much of a clue. I do know that I love trees. And I love solo trees. So when I remembered this big Oak which I spotted the summer before that popped back in to my mind.
Walking in to the field I was gitty. I’m a ski bum. Snow is my favorite ever. (Yes I see the irony of living in Hawai’i). But since becoming a ‘photographer’ I have yet to have such conditions. Luckily I had my small fold up umbrella with me and was able to hold that over the camera to protect it. Snow is such a unique precipitation. Because it’s the only one that could be coming down SO hard…and yet be completely silent. That blissful silence…
Had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago during one of my signing trips to CA to do a quick run to Yosemite. And by quick I mean I was only in the park for 12hrs. It’s amazing, I’ve been able to be there 3 times in the last 12 months. Something I never even thought might happen. Of course my knowledge of the area is very cursory right now but I consider the time there some of my most productive. This particular evening I finally made the park entrance around 11pm. The moon had rose a couple of hours before and the valley was bathed in awesome, bright moonlight. I drove around a bit to get the feel for this new look and, not wanting anything too crazy of an adventure, decided to pick a location I hadn’t been to before. Of course…sitting outside the gate, at 1130pm, the only thing I could think of was being in the dark, by myself…with bears. I know I know they’re big scared ‘cats’ and run away, but when alone in the woods…eek. So after gathering up some courage and motivation via a friendly reminder I packed up my camera bag, put on my big boy pants and off I went down the trail. Ok…so to get a better picture of the scene imagine just a fair amount of dragging my feet on the ground and taking big heavy steps…to make noise of course. This way I dont startle anything that would want to make me a snack.
Down to the river, then using my headlamp to find the path along the banks. Weaving in and out of folliage, I come around the bend and BAM…what a reflection! So of course to work I go. Now walking and making noise is one thing, but standing still and quiet allows other things to possibly sneak up on me…so occasionally I let out a ‘yip’…you know…just to make them aware of my presence 🙂
Spending about an hour making as much as I could of the special light and reflection, the clouds danced across the sky continually making some truly awesome patterns. I finally decided it was time to pack up and get a few hours of sleep in the car before sunrise…so I could come right back here again.
Getting the images back home and seeing the results it makes all the darkness and creepy feelings with it….as long as I dont get eaten 😉
This image was made on my first major photography trip in Aug ’12. There are LOTS of images waiting for me to get to and this was a particularly nice morning. I had wanted to get shots of reflections, of which I’m a huge fan, while in Yosemite. This particular morning I had picked out a spot I saw on the map that I thought might lead to an interesting composition. Getting down to the trail a bit later than I wanted (that never happens of course :p) the clouds were already looking amazingly promising. And in August in California any clouds are a blessing! I hurried a bit more and then as I was wondering if I picked the right area the trail bent around the corner and there was the river pointing right at the direction of half dome. Perfect! The clouds were already doing their thing and worked quickly on a number of compositions. This one in particular requiring me to be thigh deep in the river. The stillness in the morning was truly special. The air felt cool, no rushing of cars in the valley floor, just the meandering river and myself. Great way to start the day 🙂