Category Archives: Yosemite National Park
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.
Dogwoods along the trail to Mirror Lake in Yosemite National Park, California.
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.
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
Dogwoods standout against the flowing Merced river.
I was in the Yosemite valley couple of weekends back. Although I had initially thought that the dogwood season was way past the peak bloom, I was surprised to find out that there still were lots of trees with full blooming dogwoods. Areas around curry village in particular had lots of trees fully draped with dogwoods. It looked like a fresh snow storm had dusted those trees.
The weather during my two days there was more than perfect for photographing dogwoods. It was part cloudy part sunny with periods in between which cast beautiful diffused light onto the dogwoods. In bright sunlight the dogwoods and the surrounding forest are to contrasty and it looks like a huge white mess. In the shade and when the sun is blocked by clouds, the dogwoods now have a chance to shine against the darker foliage.
In the shot above, the dogwoods are sort of backlit and they stand out against the blurred flowing river. With the shutter speed a little too fast, the background looks a little too messy and the dogwoods are lost in the mess. With an extreme slow shutter speed, the background is too smooth and lacks texture. I had to experiment with different shutter speeds to get the right balance.
This shot looks good both in color in BW and I have a color version with a little different composition which I will share at a later date. For now do enjoy this BW.
Clouds in the western sky eluded us photographers at the tunnel view from a beautiful sunset, but there were other opportunities on that day. The one above was shot as a patch of sunlight filtered through clouds, moved across the granite face (from right to left in the above picture) and finally hit the waterfall.
Submerged dead grass bunch shown through a patch of melting ice in Cooks Meadow in Yosemite National Park.
I first looked at this patch while I was just scouting for location without my camera pack. At that time the clearing through the ice was just small, with a small portion of the grass still visible. Once I returned back with my camera, I used a long lens to close in on this detail, used a polarizer to cut the glare from the water surface and when the light was just right, i.e. hitting the patch of grass, I took this image. Minutes later the ice melted away leaving behind a completely different scene.
Fog slowly creeping along the Yosemite valley floor a day after a snow storm dumped snow on these trees and the valley. While waiting for sunset at Tunnel View can end up in a huge disappointment, in terms of the sunset itself, but there are other little details that one could focus on, just so that you don’t return with no photos to show. Fog amongst the trees always helps accentuate the ‘calm/silent’ mood that we want to convey in a photograph. While there was no fog engulfing the valley on this day, there was a small patch that developed as the day progressed. I waited for this patch to form a nice diagonal pattern and here it is. Hope you enjoy it
Looking into a telephoto lens and pointing it at just snow can reveal interesting shapes and contours. These shapes are created by nothing but light, shadow and the uneven snow surface. I initially stopped my car near the El Capitan meadow to shoot some of the black oaks, with snow lining up on their branches. But then when I looked down at the icy landscape below my feet, these interesting shapes created by the low angled light temped me to create this abstract design.