Yosemite has long been one of the better locations for landscape photography. Though I've visited the park over 100 times in search of images both as a photographer and as a guide, I still manage to find new ways to see the park every time. For photographers who are just getting their start with digital photography, or have never been to Yosemite before it can be one of the best things they've ever seen.
Mike and I had a group of photographer with varied experience levels excited to share the park with us for a weekend. Everyone who takes a workshop with us knows, we get up EARLY...so after a brief orientation meeting on Friday we turn everyone loose to head to their rooms and get some sleep!
Saturday morning, we meet our sleepy, coffee deprived students for our first foray into the park. We love to start out shooting one of the most iconic rock structures in the park...El Capitan. The reflections and compositions along the Merced River are awesome, and there's plenty of room for our group to spread out. Mike and I walked the shoreline and helped those who needed technical assistance with their settings, and helped point out compositions for the others.
Our next stop was further along the Merced where we photographed a variety of the other granite structures in the Merced River. We shot the three brothers another iconic set of rocks as well as a different view of El Cap. Time flies when you're having fun so it was time for breakfast at the lodge before we knew it...and wouldn't you know it...Yosemite has a Starbucks! #blessed.
After breakfast we made our way back to the hotel for a short break before we set off for our afternoon photography shoot. We started out at Bridal Veil Falls, the light in the late afternoon is really nice, and the contrast makes for some wonderful black and white images...using faster shutter speeds allows us to freeze action and get some really dynamic, and moody images. When we had all gathered a ton of waterfall images, we shot a little bit of the afternoon light on the creek, which was a really nice blend of warm and cool tones.
That evening we had a really nice sunset on Half-Dome. There's a little bend in the river where we can get really nice color and reflections. It's always nice when Mother Nature cooperates and gives us some clouds and color to work with.
Day 1 was fantastic, but we still had another full day in the park left!
The next morning, we met at the same time and everyone seemed to still be adjusting to the schedule and lack of caffeine. We made our first stop at Swinging Bridge, one of the iconic places to look out at Yosemite Falls. The river offers great reflections here, and we hoped to get some nice color in the sky. A lack of clouds left our sunrise color a little to be desired, but there's still wonderful reflections and chances to shoot some intimate images of reflections in the river.
We offered up a second vantage of Yosemite Falls after Swinging Bridge, where we were able to frame the upper and lower falls between some very tall juniper trees. It's a classic postcard image ... we were also treated to one of the most determined (and maybe challenged) leaf blowers we'd ever seen ...but we tried to use his dust cloud to provide “mood” in the images...
When it became clear that he was determined to blow the dirt from point A to point B and then back to point A forever, we packed up and moved on to breakfast.
With veins full of coffee, we set off back to the hotel for our break, and post processing session.
The post processing time is always good for folks to see how the images they collect during the class can be made to look their best. Everyone has a different level of experience and preference when it comes to processing, so we're able to offer up basic fixes all the way up to more advanced techniques.
Our last evening, we set up shop in Valley View, another classic location where the river opens up and we get to see Bridal Veil Falls and El Capitan reflected in the river. This location can become quite popular at sunset, so we arrived early to ensure everyone had the composition they wanted. Though we didn't get the storm we'd hoped for, there were some decent wispy clouds that caught some of the pinks and pastels of sunset...plus the warm light hitting the granite for one last time is always awesome.
All in all it was a spectacular weekend in the park, and everyone came away with some keepers, and a lot of fun in the process.
Until Next Time,
Brian, Mike, and the rest of the Aperture Academy Team!
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.