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Sheet of Ice, Yosemite, 2012

Sheet of Ice, Yosemite, 2012

Sheet of Ice, Yosemite, 2012

A beautifully shaped sheet of ice found along the Merced close to Cathedral beach.

I usually make it a point to stop at some of the popular spots in the park, spend some time and check for any new details. I had previously stopped along the Cook’s meadow for some lunch/ browsing time at the gallery. I spent some time in Cook’s meadow photographing, but the next leg of the storm moved in and I had to pack. I moved further west, circled back on south side drive and stopped at the Cathedral Beach parking pullover. I walked towards the beach over 2ft of fallen snow with an umbrella in one hand and the tripod in another and found El Capitan was fully engulfed in clouds. But this little detail along the banks made the whole effort worthwhile.

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El Capitan, Clearing Storm, Yosemite, 2012

El Capitan, Clearing Storm, Yosemite 2012

El Capitan, Clearing Storm, Yosemite 2012

This one was shot a little while after I got this earlier shot. As I had mentioned in my earlier post, I had stopped by El Capitan meadow to photograph the black oaks while it was still snowing. After a while it stopped snowing and there was a brief interruption in the storm with blue skies over El Capitan. To get a little further away from the road, I plowed through the foot deep snow into the El Capitan meadow towards the black oaks. I crossed the small group of these oaks and looked back. The clearing over the granite had moved on further east by then, but the diffused light on it was still good.

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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.

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Dogwoods, Yosemite National Park

Dogwoods , Yosemite National Park

Dogwoods , Yosemite National Park, Canon5DmarkII_Canon70-200@140_F18_0.6s_ISO100

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.

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Inrush, Seaweed and Waves, Mclures Beach, Point Reyes, CA

Inrush, Seaweed and Waves, Mclures Beach, California - Canon5DMarkII_Canon17-40mm@40mm_F11_2s_ISO100

There are these small details everywhere I like, for example, little patches of seaweed found along beaches. They sway along with the movement of the waves and each time a wave crashes and then recedes, these plants take on a new form, a new shape altogether.

I found these while I was scouting for other photo opportunities along the beach while it was still sunny. I made a mental note to return back to the this location later to create some long exposures. Once the sun went down, I setup my tripod on a rock and composed this frame while pointing my lens down. I made number of exposures, with waves rushing in, out or with water movement throughout the exposure duration. This one above was shot after a wave receded and created a beautiful pattern in the seaweed and just as the next wave came rushing into the frame.

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Aspen Grove, Luther Pass Rd, California

Aspen, Black and White, Luther Pass Rd, California

Aspen, Black and White, Luther Pass Rd, California

Color

Plain Desaturate

Both the shots in this post were made along Luther Pass Rd (Hw89 connecting 50E and Hwy88). Visit this place at the right time of the year and you will see gorgeous colors all along this road.

(Click on the thumbnails on this post to view larger without leaving the page)

I wanted to show, the original color shot, a straight BW conversion (desaturate) and a careful BW conversion, meant to highlight the primary object in the frame. As you can see, my primary objective was to showcase the long Aspen limbs. The color version presents us with innumerable distractions that take the attention away from the tree trunks. There are different colors that we see, the clutter on the ground, some odd branches, all seek our attention. BW conversion is one way to emphasise only the thing that we want our viewers to see and feel. If we go about making a simple BW conversion (plain desaturation), along with the tree trunks being bright, the leaves are also comparatively bright, so again, the bright leaves distract us away from the trunk (this is more pronounced in the below example).

In these two frames, the distractions (leaves) are either green or derivatives of red and green(orange, yellow). So a BW conversion which is equivalent to using a Blue filter (block all but the blue component of light), darkens the leaves while emphasising and attracting our attention to the tree trunk.

Aspen Grove, Luther Pass Rd, California

Aspen Grove, Luther Pass Rd, California

Color

Plain Desaturate

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Blade of Grass, Folsom, CA

Blade of Grass, Folsom, California

Blade of Grass, Folsom, California

A blade of grass sticking out of calm water just after some rains in Folsom, California

On the day I made this photo, although the sunset was spectacular, I was not at a location with open space to capture the sky. But instead, I had a little pond reflecting all the colors and these blades of grass sticking out of it, with those little distortions due to surface tension.

Grass and sunset reflections in an un-named pond, Folsom, California

Grass and sunset reflections in an un-named pond, Folsom, California

I made the image on the left, the very same day, may be a few minutes after the sun went down. As you can see, the surface distortions were so prominent and kind of glowing in the evening light. I had to capture and present that glow. To do that, I used my long lens (70-200mm) to isolate just one grass. The rains had subsided, which gave way to the perfect reflection of the grass in the water.

Its surprising how fragile certain things are. I returned to photograph these blades of grass again the next day, but those distortions were nowhere to be found. Sunshine during the day had evaporated some water and had totally altered the scene.

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Tree top and the Cliff, Yosemite National Park, California

Clouds and Cliff, Yosemite National Park, California, Canon7D-Canon70-200mm-F/11-1/100s-ISO100

Clouds and Cliff, Yosemite National Park, California, Canon7D-Canon70-200mm-F/11-1/100s-ISO100

Clouds and Fog clearing up and revealing the cliff right next to upper Yosemite falls

In a rather cloudy and rainy weather I took a hike towards the base of lower Yosemite falls, leaving my camera behind fro a change. As we were returning back (still a long way from my car), I saw a glimpse of the blue sky and part of the cliff next to the upper Yosemite falls. The quality of light on the cliff face was just amazing, it was bright enough, but not so much to create harsh shadows. The sunlight was being filtered by the clouds and a very diffused quality light was hitting the cliff. Now, I had to run to my car leaving my wife behind :)

The shot above was taken while looking up right from the parking space on the road, the tree tops, I believe do not provide any size perspective, but do add some contrast in the frame. Without them, it would only be the white cliff and the light colored cliff face. With this I wanted to present the experience of looking up at the tall cliffs and feel their power.

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Mist and Trees , Yosemite National Park, CA

Mist and Trees, Yosemite National Park, California

Mist and Trees, Yosemite National Park, California

 ”Fog moving into the Yosemite valley and hugging onto the trees on an autumn evening as seen from Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California

Photographers standing at tunnel view and pointing their lenses at Yosemite’s famous landmarks is something that’s predictable, but the show that nature puts on once we are there is totally unpredictable. When there are 50 other tripods at a location we have to rely on nature’s randomness and on some choice of subjects on our part to come away with some unique images.

Here, I used my long lens to capture some details in the trees when fog started rolling into the valley. Although I was at tunnel view hoping that there be some spectacular light at sunset, the thought of having no keeper shots from that shoot if the sunset failed, made me look into my long lens and pick this detail. In terms of light, it turned out to be a dull evening and hence this scene had little color. Just th green of the trees and the white of the fog. This is the reason I’ve presented this in black and white here.

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Reflected Trees, Yosemite National Park, CA

Reflected Trees, Yosemite National Park, California

Reflected Trees, Yosemite National Park, California

Isolated trees with some fall color, reflected in the stillness of the Merced river in Yosemite National Park, California

As you can see from my recent posts, I like to pick out details in the landscape. These details are not visible while driving in a car, so taking a hike along the river was what I did on this autumn morning. With walking you tend to spend more time with a subject, exploring all different possibilites, taking in all the details in the grand landscape.

I was attracted to this scene by the brightly backlit trees. The leaves were shimmering in the morning light and the reflections in this part of the park was just outstanding. I have one more photograph from this short walk that I want to share, but that’s for later. With reflections, the tendency would be to get a perfect symmetrical composition, but here I felt that a little more room in the bottom half would work better. 

The fall color with the dark background is something that is working very well in this photogrpah, but the quality of the light and the natural contrast, both made me wonder how this would look in black and white. So I’ve included the BW version below, let me know which one you like.

Black and White

Black and White

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