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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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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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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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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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Winter Spotlight on Bridalveil, Yosemite, CA

Winter Spotlight on the Bridal Veil, Yosemite, CA Canon5DMarkII_Canon70-200@172mm_F11_1/50s_ISO100

Clouds in the western sky eluded us photographers at the tunnel view from a beautiful sunset, but there were other opportunities on that day. The one above was shot as a patch of sunlight filtered through clouds, moved across the granite face (from right to left in the above picture) and finally hit the waterfall.

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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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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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