My 1st visit to Yosemite after my new found passion for photography was in Feb ’08. On a busy Super Bowl weekend, where I went to a retreat at Mt. Hermon, visited a friend in El Dorado Hills to watch the game and left the next morning about 4 AM for Yosemite. It had recently snowed and I knew that the park would be flocked in snow. I had heard from many that this is a magical time for Yosemite. That would be an understatement.
I was able to get to the park early enough to explore a variety of scenes in early morning light and after sunrise. I circulated the park a few times throughout the day and ended up at Tunnel View just before sunset. Now the truth is I was looking for Valley View, or Gates of the Valley as it’s sometimes called. I missed the turn & picked Tunnel View.
It was getting pretty cold and the parking lot was covered with a layer of ice, which sucked the heat out of my feet. There were probably a dozen other photographers there including some guy with a 4×5. As we waited for the sunset, occurring behind us, the flank of El Capitan began to take on a golden hue. The guy with the 4×5 wasn’t’ that impressed and probably only took 2 or 3 images. The rest of us were spell bound as the colors deepened, the mist was rising from the valley floor & the snow flocked trees create quite the memorable scene. I probably took 50 shots from beginning of the sunset colors till the sun was long gone. After getting the exposure nailed, I switched from Av to Manual and “chased” the exposure by increasing shutter speed as the light waned. I was the last one to leave the parking lot. My feet were frozen and took an hour to thaw. I wasn’t sure if I had anything of value from those shots as I hadn’t reviewed many. It wasn’t til I stopped on the way back at a restaurant and went over them. It was truly a magical series of scenes.
Here are a few from that trip.
Tunnel View at Sunset
Alpen Glow, a few moments after sunset
I have returned to Yosemite 2 or 3 times a year since, but have never quite captured it anywhere near as impressive. The only real flaw in the composition was that Half Dome was shrouded from view.