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First Light on Granite and Trees, Yosemite

First Light on Granite and Trees, Yosemite

First Light on Granite and Trees, Yosemite

I had arrived at Tenaya Lake for a morning shoot well before sunrise. Clouds did not cooperate for a glorious, out of this world sky with vivid colors, so I had turned my attention to some of the intricate details in the landscape along the shores. But when the first light started to kiss the granites and the tree tops, I had to turn my attention away from the details and point my long lens to the distant granite.

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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.

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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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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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Green Hillside and Clouds, Waimea, Hi

Green Hillside and Clouds, Waimea, Hi

Green Hillside and Clouds, Waimea, Hi

While driving around the Big Island, the weather kept changing every other mile. Sometimes it would rain heavily and then suddenly there would be sunshine with  a rainbow. As always when such things happen, I normally failed to find a turnout to stop the car and take a photograph. Instead I enjoyed every bit of this random weather, not bothering about getting a picture. As I was getting close to the town of Waimea, I found this green hillside with some rain clouds, a row of trees , some sunshine escaping through the clouds and more importantly a turnout!

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Last Light on Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Last Light on Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Last Light on Mauna Kea, Hawaii Canon5DMarkii_Canon70-200@100mm_F11_1/4s_ISO100

Mauna Kea, the dormant volcano as seen from the junction of Hw19 and Waikoloa Beach Rd.

Aloha!!

Here is a link to a wiki page with more info about the volcano itself, but honestly, those little white dot’s on top of it are the telescopes (part of the space observatory) and they should give you an idea about the gigantic size of this volcano.

I must say that photographing this volcano with the last light was not the original plan. My plan was to be at Anaehoomalu Bay (or A-bay) for sunset. Having read a little bit about A-bay, I found it was known for its amazing sunsets. With paid internet access in almost all of the hotels in Hawaii, I had to rely on this little bit of research I did using my iPhone. As we entered the parking area, I saw a sign that said ‘gates close at 7 PM sharp’ but ignored it and continued to park my car. In hindsight I should have backed out and parked in the adjacent shopping center and walked to the beach,  because sunset was at 7:10PM and nearly always the real color show begins after the sun actually sets. Long story short, I was driving out of the parking area when the sky behind me started to explode with colors.

But, as I drove out towards the highway, I was greeted with this magnificent view of the towering volcano bathed in the last light. Parking the car by the side of the road, frantically unpacking my photo gear and setting up the tripod led to the making of this photo.

Sunset Sky, Hawaii

Sunset Sky, Hawaii

Just to show you how good the colors were, take a look at the photo here. This is a section of the western sky. But may be all of this happened for the good. If not for the parking lot restriction, I may have ended up with ‘one more’ Hawaiian sunset on the beach ‘ shot. Mahalo!!


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Dogwood Tree, Yosemite

Dogwood Tree, Yosemite

Dogwood Tree, Yosemite Canon5DmarkII_Canon70-200@149_F8_1/6s_ISO100

Dogwoods along the trail to Mirror Lake in Yosemite National Park, California.

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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.

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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 :)

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