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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.

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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.

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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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Fog and Trees, Yosemite National Park,CA

Fog and Trees, Yosemite National Park, CA Canon_5D_MarkII-Canon_70_200mm@188-F14-1/4s-ISO100

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 :)

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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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Autumn Morning, Yosemite National Park, California

Autumn Morning - Yosemite National Park, CA

Autumn Morning - Yosemite National Park, CA

Mirror like reflections in the Merced river on a beautiful autumn morning in Yosemite National Park, CA

Walking along the banks of the merced river can be such an exploratory experience. Every turn in the river can provide such excellent opportunities to photograph. Sometimes there could be fast rapids and other locations could provide calm waters reflecting anything thats there on its banks.

This photograph was made during my second visit to the park this fall season. I made it a point to skip the usual locations which I already knew, but instead try to walk a lot and find new and interesting subjects to photograph. I was not disappointed, a short walk from the parking area brought me to this scene with stunning reflections.

There is some clutter in this frame, mostly to the left, but I tried to darken them in in post process, so that they don’t take away from the main subject (reflections). Cropping the frame would create undesired proportions which I was not comfortable with. Getting rid of this clutter while composing would have been tough as I was already at the edge of the river, which means I would have had to get into the water to get a clean composition. In the end, I decided there was some subtle symmetry even in this clutter to add to the overall image.

Let me know what you think!

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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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Morning Mist, June Lake, California

 

Morning Mist and Grass, June Lake, California

Morning Mist and Grass, June Lake, California

Mist rising from the lake surface  at sunrise on a cold autumn morning in June Lake, Eastern Sierras, California

This was shot during my second visit to the eastern sierras this fall. The first visit had generated some wonderful fall color viewing and photographing opportunities, so I kind of had high expectations from my second visit, but due to recent snows, most of the color was knocked down and the weather did not co-operate. I had set up camp at the June Lake Campground, but instead of waking early in the morning and driving a long distance to either South/North Lake or Lake Sabrina (a favourite fall color photographing location), I instead chose to sleep a little late and enjoy the sunrise from the banks of June Lake.

It was also my wife’s first camping out in the cold, well it was 35F – 40F in the night and for someone from the tropics, that’s a lot to tolerate. But the mood at the lake at sunrise with all the mist rising from the surface did compensate for all the cold she had to tolerate and she actually enjoyed being there.

There was sound from a light breeze, the thin layer of mist on the lake surface dancing around with it, but other than that it was completely silent. I noticed these long grass sticking out from the lake bed along with their reflection in the calm waters. Along with the mist and some muted colors, I think it conveys the silent and calm mood pretty well. With no color saturation, I did think about presenting this in BW, but I think there is not much contrast in the scene for that to be effective and also I like the muted colors.

I made this photograph with not much color, while my primary intention of this visit was to to capture vibrant fall colors. Sometimes a pre-conceived idea can completely blind you from seeing everything else that is interesting, but I’m glad that I was able to switch my mindset to adapt what lay before me. I think it is important to be flexible with our plans, when conditions do not co-operate for or original plan to work out.

Here is one from when the first light hit the snow covered peaks.

Sunrise and Morning Mist, June Lake, California

Sunrise and Morning Mist, June Lake, California

Comments and criticism welcomed.

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