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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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Snowy Banks, Yosemite, 2012

Snowy Banks, Yosemite, CA

Snowy Banks, Yosemite, CA

Visiting places in the park you are already familiar with can be very rewarding. Since you already know the location, you are not anxious and that can lead to you seeing new opportunities not seen by you before.

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Black Oaks, El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite 2012

Black Oaks, El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite 2012

Black Oaks, El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite 2012

Just after a snow storm, a wee bit of sunlight filters through the clouds to light up the scene.

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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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Clearing Storm and El Capitan, Yosemite, 2012

Clearing Storm, El Capitan, Yosemite 2012

Clearing Storm, El Capitan, Yosemite 2012

I made a day trip to Yosemite as a late snow storm moved through the park. I was a able to catch 2 breaks in the storm, one from noon to 2pm and then a very short one at 5. As I drove back west well before sunset, I went through some heavy snowfall and then rain which would eventually head towards the valley blocking any light around sunset.

I had stopped near El Capitan meadow to photograph some black oaks while it was still snowing. After a while, suddenly I saw some sunlight filter through the oaks. When I turned around and looked up at the towering El Capitan, I saw a little patch of blue sky drift fast above it.  I was too close to the action and I ended up tilting my wide angle lens a little up, which is very evident from this frame (you can see the trees on the edge of the frame bent towards the center).

I tried correcting the perspective distortion in Photoshop, but after a while decided to stick with the original. I like the trees bent I guess.

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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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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.

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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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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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Snow, Trees and the Merced, Yosemite National Park, CA

Snow and Trees, Yosemite National Park

Snow and Trees, Yosemite National Park - Canon_5D_MarkII-17-40mm-F18-.05s-ISO100

Click on photo to enlarge

“Yosemite Valley blanketed in fresh snow the morning after a snow storm cleared. This photograph was shot along the merced river close to El Capitan bridge, giving the viewers just a glimpse of how the park looks when covered in snow”

I spent a wonderful weekend in Yosemite couple of months back. It was my first time in the valley while it was snowing, first time seeing the valley completely blancketed in snow, first time installing tire chains, first time walking thigh deep in snow, in other words, I completely enjoyed it.

This was shot the day after a snow storm dumped fresh snow in the valley. I arrived in the valley the day before while hoping that the storm could possibly clear at around sunset. While conditions looked grim, as landscape photographers, all we can do is hope for that magic. Much to my wife’s dismay (it was really cold outside), we waited at a location pointing my camera at the El Capitan, hoping that there be some light at sunset. But right around sunset it started to snow, rather heavily. My hopes of getting any image like the one I got last year (see here) was lost. The storm cleared overnight and left us with some beautiful white landscape and clear blue skies.

I had visited this very same spot during the fall season and captured this (Autumn Morning) shot. The thought of getting a snow covered tree reflected in the Merced was enough to make me walk in knee deep snow to reach this location. Although, I was hoping for beautiful reflections throughout the frame, I am actually happy how this turned out with some ice in the foreground.

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