The National Parks System is celebrating its 100-year anniversary which means people are getting out into the park. What better activity to pursue in the parks than photography! What better park than Yosemite National Park! A group of 13 eager photographers joined Phil Nicholas and me in Yosemite for a weekend of fun, and learning amongst the granite and waterfalls.
Our first morning we rose early and made the long drive up Tioga Pass to Tenaya Lake. Here glassy calm conditions and a crisp fall chill in the air greeted us. The group gathered their gear and made their way to the lakes edge. Phil and I helped the group get set up, find compositions that suited them, and then get the filters and settings needed to capture that scene the best way possible.
After the group had wandered the granite-lined lake to their hearts content and really captured a lot of great images it was time to move off to Olmstead Point. Here we had a birds eye view of the valley and Half-Dome. Here we utilized the granite cracks and curves to point out how to use leading lines to draw a viewers eye into the frame.
Our morning session concluded with a stop at Siesta Lake. Here the gold and red foliage were what everyone was up for photographing. We helped to point them towards more intimate scenes, and working on compositions that didn't necessarily need a sky to be effective.
What a full morning!
We made it back to the hotel in time for a brief afternoon lunch break before we set off to the high country again for sunset. We had an eager group so we opted to go for the vast views of Sentinel Dome over the more crowded Glacier Point. From the top of the dome we had views of El Capitan, Half-Dome, Yosemite Falls, and the entire Sierra range.
Phil and I helped the group compose a few of the numerous possibilities. We went over filters and settings and all of the things that everyone was working on throughout the day. The class was really starting to see the importance of the filters. Sunset was intense to the west, and everyone got a few really nice shots of the intense red and orange glow.
What a full day!
We left a little later in the morning, and gave the group an extra half hour of sleep, though we still started out before the sun came. Our first stop was long the Merced River, where we had great views of El Capitan, Cathedral Peaks, and the Three Brothers. Using the slow moving river to provide reflections the group worked their polarizing filters to get the most out of the scene. With so many compositional options Phil and I were on our toes moving all over to get everyone set up…we saw a lot of great images. The gold and yellow tones in the trees along the river really gave the images a nice “fall” feeling.
We spent the next hour after shooting the reflections of Upper Yosemite Falls. Recent storms delivered much needed water to the falls and gave us another wonderful vista to photograph.
After a brief stop in Cooks Meadow to view half-dome, shoot some friendly deer, and shoot a few more angles of upper Yosemite Falls it was time to head back to the hotel for a little siesta.
Our afternoon was spent first going over some post processing techniques. Phil and I are both quite knowledgeable with Photoshop and Lightroom so offering up some tips and tricks to help bring out the best in everyone's photos is always fun... plus it gives us a chance to see how awesome the shots everyone had been gathering were.
Our afternoon was as full as the morning. We started out high on the ridge of Tunnel View looking out over the valley. A storm was on the horizon so clouds were beginning to assemble in the valley. These clouds gave the images from this popular vista a lot of added punch. Whether they are processed in color or black and white, they're going to look fantastic! While we have a huge vista of the entire valley in front of us, we like to encourage the class to look close and pick out details of the mountains to capture as well.
We made a brief stop in El Cap meadow to shoot the might granite monolith, and look at the climbers with telephoto lenses. Crazy to think people willingly climb up that 3,000ft monolith! Our sunset spot can get crowded so we rolled into the iconic Valley View pull out with enough time for us to all get set up for what looked like might be a great sunset. Phil and I got everyone in a good location, helped dial in filter and setting questions, and then waited for the show. There was some nice late glow on El Cap' and some great bits of color in the sky, which reflected nicely in the river. It was a beautiful way to end a great time in the park. The time just flew by!
Until Next Time,
Brian, Phil, 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.