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Black Oak and Snow, Yosemite, Fall 2012

Black Oaks, Fall and Snow, Yosemite 2012

Black Oaks, Fall and Snow, Yosemite 2012

I drove into Yosemite just as a snow storm cleared, in fact it had already cleared and apparently all good photos were made that morning around sunrise :)

But, there were other opportunities, mainly the details, throughout the day. It snowed on and off all day, ending with a decent sunset.

This photograph was made in the El Capitan meadow. The meadow, that day was beautiful with brightly colored trees and snow mixed together.

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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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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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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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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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Tall Grass Sticking out of Water, Folsom, CA

Tall Grass Sticking Out of Water, Folsom, CA - Canon5DMarkII_Canon70-200@70mm_F8_1/10s_ISO100

This was shot, standing on a bridge, while looking down at the water. The sun was setting behind me and was casting this beautiful light on the top of the grass, but not the water. Initially while looking at it on a screen, I had an impression that this could seem to be busy, so I made a small 6×4 test print and I really liked the result.

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Crazy Oak, Folsom, CA

Crazy Oak , Folsom, CA - Canon5DMarkII_Canon70-200mm@70mm_F8_1/60s_ISO100

This is the “crazy” oak tree that I talked about in my earlier post. I had walked by this tree many number of times here in Folsom and it is during the winter months that this tree puts on an amazing show. The bare tree trunks, weirdly shaped, standout very clearly against the sky.

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Melting Ice and Grass, Yosemite, CA

Melting Ice and Grass, Yosemite, CA Canon5DMarkII_Canon70-200@126_F11_1/6s_ISO100

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.

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