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Category Archives: Intimate Landscapes

Trees and Reflections, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite

Trees and Reflections, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite

Trees and Reflections, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite

This frame was made on the same morning as my previous post along the Tenaya lake shores. The sun was up for quite some time sneaked up above the ridge (top and left of this frame) and was side lighting the trees. Brief pauses in the wind provided momentary clear reflections on the lake surface clearing out all surface ripples. Once the winds picked up, the ripples would appear once again and blur out the reflections. As you can see, this frame was made while there was still some surface ripples left. I think, that way, the picture is more dynamic with some neat texture in the water surface.

Tree, Rocks and Water Level Marks, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite

Tree Stump, Rocks and Water Level Marks, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite

Tree Stump, Rocks and Water Level Marks, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite

I was camping in Yosemite this summer and decided to head up to Tenaya Lake for the early sunrise. Once I reached there, I realized there wasn’t going to be any spectacular sunrise, since there were no clouds. So I decided to explore the shores of the lake to see if I could find any interesting details in the landscape. I stumbled upon (as many should have) a group of trees and boulders with circular bands, probably created by the receding water levels.

I test fired some shots with the sun still behind the peaks, but realized that I needed direct light to have a decent picture. I scouted out multiple subjects and compositions. Once the warm sunlight reached the scene, I was ready and made many exposures, one of them is here in this post and the rest, I will be sharing soon.

The strong contrast between the lighter bands on the tree, rocks and the surrounding shadows was something that I wanted to capture in this photo.

Fall, Trees and Reflection, Yosemite National Park, CA

Fall, Trees and Reflection, Yosemite National Park. CA

Fall, Trees and Reflection, Yosemite National Park. CA

I was out in search of some colorful dogwood trees along the Merced, which I remembered from my spring visit. Having photographed the colorful leaves, I was attracted to this quaint little scene along the river banks. A bright overcast day allowed for some good fall foliage shooting conditions.  Light breeze, sometimes disturbed the water surface removing the clear reflections, but there was lots of time for me to capture this scene once the water surface settled down.

Elm Tree, Fall and Snow, Yosemite National Park, CA – Fall 2011

Elm Tree, Fall and Snow, Yosemite National Park, Fall 2011

Elm Tree, Fall and Snow, Yosemite National Park, Fall 2011

I was fortunate enough to be in the park during a beautiful transition period, when the last of the fall colors intersected with the first (err second) snow shower. The snow storm which had dumped a small amount of snow overnight had just cleared early in the morning (after sunrise). If I had panned a little to the left, the upper left corner would have caught the bright morning sky. But instead I concentrated on the shadows. It takes a little while for the sunlight to reach the valley floor.

Morning Reflections, Yosemite High Country, CA

Morning Reflections, Yosemite High Country, CA

Morning Reflections, Yosemite High Country, CA

During this time of the year, the Yosemite high country along the Tioga Pass road, is dotted with small ponds. They are mostly still all time of the day and are perfect mirrors. You could be driving at a fast pace, but still be able to appreciate the subtle reflections from these ponds. In fact, that is how I first saw this scene.

After the hike up to the Gaylor Lakes, there was still time until sunset, and I decided to get some hot food into my system, before I headed out to the Mono Lake area. I was driving to the Tuolumne meadow grill and on the way, on my left hand side I noticed this pond reflecting the surrounding foliage. There was no visible landmark near this pond, except that it was right next to a pullover on the road. At that time, this scene was in complete shadow and I made a mental note to return back to this scene. In hindsight, may be I should have stopped and photographed under these conditions as well.

Next morning, after spending some time in the Dana meadow area at sunrise, I drove up to this scene. The warm rays of the sun had just lit the entire scene, the reflections were still there, but a little subdued due to the direct light and there were mosquitoes (or some sort of flies) hovering over the pond as you can see in this image.

Young and Old Tree, Yosemite, CA

Young and Old Tree, Yosemite National Park, CA

Young and Old Tree, Yosemite National Park, CA

I made this photograph during my recent visit to the park when the Merced river was exhibiting high water levels. This obviously created some really interesting photo opportunities for me.

I was invited to the scene above by the smaller of the two trees in the frame. The raging river was hammering this little sapling so hard that it was perpetually bent, leaning towards the flow of the current. There used to be some quite times, but they were really short; and beside this young tree stood this solid fully grown tree, not budging at all. The water itself was reflecting the clear blue skies and the late evening light on the tall granite peaks. The not so inviting aspect of this scene were the mosquitoes. They were out is such huge numbers that, I think they were fighting among themselves for any small exposed skin. Some of them didn’t even need the exposed skin, they were biting me through my t-shirt.

The small tree is blurred mainly due to the choice of shutter speed. I could have chosen a faster shutter to freeze the fast bouncing tree, but that would have created a very busy looking water flow. I chose to slow down the shutter to get some pleasing texture in the water, which would make it easier to concentrate on the main subjects. In the process, the small tree itself got blurred, but I think that blur should convey the dynamic nature of the scene.

Light and Shadow on Water, Yosemite National Park, CA

Light and Shadow on Water, Yosemite National Park, CA

Light and Shadow on Water, Yosemite National Park, CA

I spent 2 beautiful days in Yosemite this past weekend and got to photograph water in the park.Water is by far the most prominent feature in the park this time of the year. Or I should say, especially this year, since the amount of water run-off from the snow melt is one of the largest in recent times

This one was shot along the Bridalveil Creek, just downstream from the thundering waterfall. Just prior to this, I had walked up to the viewing area without my camera, just to get soaked in the spray of water from the falls. I must say, on this summer day, it was extremely refreshing.

I spent a good amount of time here, getting the shutter speed right to have some texture in the water. With such fast flowing water, any slow shutter speed is not good enough to get the right details. It requires some experimentation in the field to get it right. In this very well written article by Michael Frye, he talks about an interesting aspect of photographing moving water, photographing many number of frames (possibly with different or even same settings), from the same spot and using the same composition, could lead to strikingly different results, just because of the very random nature of moving water.

Talking about this photograph, When I was looking for some interesting patterns along the stream, I found a particular section, where there was a sudden dip and then an immediate obstacle for the moving water. That should explain the curving shape in this frame. Sunlight was filtering down from the trees above and had partially lit the scene, with some very bright spots and some very intriguing shadows. Waiting for the right combination of the two should explain the rest of the photograph.

Beach Patterns, Kona, Hi

Beach Patterns, Kona, Hi

Beach Patterns, Kona, Hi

I made a series of photographs on a beach near the city of Kona in Hawaii, mainly concentrating on the abstract designs that I could find.

What attracted me first to this scene was the bright green sea plants (that’s the best I can describe them as, do let me know if you have a better name). The way their shapes changed with every wave, creating new and exciting patterns against the bright white sands was incredible.

Initially, I tried not getting wet, but that meant that, I would miss a lot of different perspectives, so in I went. Fortunately, the water there in Hawaii is not that cold and it was mildly pleasant to just hang out with my camera glued to my eyes, pointing it down at the sand.

This particular shot was taken right at the boundary of a transition, a phase on the beach where, the wave that just crashed in is receding. Majority of the water flow had already passed, leaving behind a fresh new design made using the sea plants. But right around the edges of this little island, there was a trickle of water that just hung around for a bit more, reflecting the sunlight in various shapes. A little while later all the water would have flown back getting rid of the sparkle that was once there.

Dogwoods and the Merced River, Yosemite

Dogwoods and the Merced River, Yosemite

Dogwoods and the Merced River, Yosemite Canon5DMarkII_Canon70-200@94mm_F11_1/8s_ISO100

Dogwood blooms along the Merced river shoreline.

Highlight warnings or Blinkies as some photographers call it are life savers while photographing Dogwoods. When enabled, this feature tells the photographer if a particular section of the photograph has been overexposed and does not have any details within it. They show up as annoying little red patches blinking as long as you are previwing the image. They are annoying at times and that is a pretty good reason not to anable this feature.

But you see, the naked eye looking at the little 3″ screen for instant feedback, is not that good at identifying overexposure. We see the picture as a whole and not in parts. As a whole the there is a tendency for us to believe that the shadow details and colors ( in this photograph, the green foliage) need to look much more appealing. If we go ahead and compensate our exposure to achieve this goal, then the result will defniteley be an overexposed highlights. This is where the blinkies come into picture.

They help you see individual areas that are lacking in detail. With that information, the photographer can make a concious decision to either leave those blinkies there, knowing fully that the overexposure is not a problem, or compensate the exposure to remove them.

In this photograph, compared to the entire frame, the individual dogwoods are very small and (also very bright compared to the surrounding foliage) hence without the blinkies, its hard to determine if we’ve captured good details in them. Well, you may ask, does it matter if as small section of the frame is overexposed? The answer depends on the presentation method, if we only plan to use it for online posts, then, may be not. But if we do plan to make big prints, then yes, it matters to pay attention to each and every small detail in the frame.

Dispersed Dogwoods, Yosemite National Park

Dispersed Dogwoods, Yosemite National Park

Dispersed Dogwoods, Yosemite National Park Canon5DMarkII_Canon70-200@200_F8_1/20s_ISO100

In my last post, I talked about how the dogwoods shine against the background forest when the light is just right. This shot is one such case. Bright diffused sunlight shining through clouds gives some even lighting to the scene. Even with this even lighting, I used a polarizer to removed some distracting reflections off of the dark foliage surrounding the dogwoods.

Scenes like this are abound during the peak dogwood blooming season, but isolating them from the surrounding forest and finding a spot to place my tripod was sometimes easy, but sometimes required good amount of bush whacking :)