I still love Yosemite even after a multitude of visits I can find something new to photograph. The light can change here so quickly. A group of 12 photographers joined Mike and me for a weekend of exploration in the park where we saw first hand how quickly and dynamically the light here can change.
Friday is orientation night, so we met with the group to get to know one another a little, and let everyone know how the park is looking weather wise for our weekend ... we also get to let them know how early they need to wake up the following morning. Funny, how there's not too much talking after that part and everyone is ready to go get a full night's rest.
Morning comes early, and we make our way to the Merced River for some reflections and photography of El Capitan. A small rain-storm has rolled in during the night so the ground smells like fresh rain, and a slight chill makes it really feel like winter. The clouds are great and add some much needed texture to the sky...there's too much coverage for the sun to peak through and give us any color, but Yosemite was designed for black and white photography, so Mike and I help the group to find compositions that will work well when we show them how to convert it on Sunday.
Our next stop was Swinging Bridge. We hoped with the clouds breaking a little we might get some light hitting the upper Yosemite Falls...but it wasn't really ready to break WIDE open yet, so we used the moody overcast conditions to get some great reflections of the waterfall, and work on some cool reflection images using a shallow depth of field. The morning was really speeding by, and it wasn't long before everyone realized they were lacking in the caffeine department and needed to get some coffee. Thank gawd Starbucks has infiltrated the National Parks!
On our way back to the hotel for break we noticed some great light in El Capitan Meadow, and made a brief stop so people could get some wonderful contrast images of the soft light on the granite and trees. The clouds were so nice that we got some awesome shots of El Capitan too with puffy clouds, streaky clouds, and some blue skies between them all...it was awesome!
Our plan for the afternoon was to head back into the park after our break and drive up to the iconic Tunnel View lookout to see what the weather in the park was up to. A second round of storm had blown in during our break, and was looking to break right about sunset. We wanted to make sure we had a bird's eye view of the park to see where the best location would be. Turns out we were in the best spot, and with the storm breaking and changing so rapidly we opted to remain in our location and swipe up the best vistas for our tripods.
WOW...sunset was easily one of the better ones I have seen from this view...it was amazing, and it just kept getting better throughout our 2 hours here...but when light is doing amazing things, nobody is going to complain.
Cards full of magic, Mike and I took the group back to the hotel to get a full night's rest before another day of shooting.
Day 2 was another early rise and we set off for the Merced River to shoot some different vantage points of El Capitan and the 3-brothers. Funny how a day can change everything, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Though the conditions change, the message doesn't. Mike and I help point out composition both grand and intimate, and work with others on technical skills they might be confused with.
We have a few hours of processing in the hotel on Sunday, so we opted to head straight for breakfast after our river stop...it was much colder this morning than the previous day, so everyone's fingers' and toes were in need of a warm up. On our way out of the park we noticed some great mist forming in the El Capitan Meadow, so of course we stopped. We had about 15 minutes of great fog in the morning light to work with. Mike and I put the class in a few spots to get some awesome composition...and as light does, it changes. Before we knew it, the fog was gone completely and we were left with a pretty, but typical scene. Time to head back!
The processing session was really fun...it was great to see how the group had captured the light we'd seen, and then Mike and I helped them to make the images really shine. Everyone comes with a different level of comfort with PS, and LR, so it's fun to help people take a step forward with their post processing game.
Our afternoon session was a start with Bridal Veil Falls ...the falls in late afternoon looks awesome and using fast shutter speeds to capture close up section of the mist and crashing water yields some awesome semi-abstract images.
Sunset that night we set up at the iconic Valley View. An EPIC place along the river with views of the whole valley. There were no clouds in the area when we arrived, but funny...light changes fast here and before we knew it, El Capitan started to form its own clouds...and some other clouds moved in, and before we knew it we had ourselves a nice sunset. It was really cool to see...and everyone had set up early, so we all had some great shots. With plenty of time Mike and I were able to really make sure everyone was happy with their composition, had their filters set up, and were dialed in for the light show.
Overall we had a tremendous weekend, with some really magical light. Even without snow Yosemite can deliver an amazing show...and this weekend was no exception.
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.