A Day Trip to Yosemite

Dave Anderson

On Oct 8, 2010 I went on a day trip to Yosemite with Tony Beach. I had never been there, Tony had not been there since he was a teenager. We set out to gain a bit of familiarity with the park, scout some locations for future shooting excursions, and just maybe get a few decent shots. We had a late start and a wrong turn on the way, also stopped for lunch along the way.

We didn’t start shooting until a bit after 4pm, at Bridal Veil Falls:

Bridal Veil Falls.
Note: All images on this page will open a larger version in a new tab/window when clicked.

One thing that is not always obvious from pics of Yosemite is that it is a very narrow valley with the rock features towering over visitors. For the following shot I really embraced the perspective distortion of a 20mm lens on full-frame to capture a sense of this:

Looking up through the trees

Aside from perspective distortion, there is another “aberration” that many consider a scourge, but that I sometimes embrace; that is lens flare. Sometimes it may ruin a shot, but in this case I felt that it would help lead the eye down the valley, giving a sense of scale and splendor while at the same time balancing the tendency for the path to lead the eye straight to the bicyclist. One nice thing about going on a Friday is that the park is not terribly crowded, but it can still be a challenge at times to include footpaths or roads without including tourists. 😀

Lens flare can be your friend

The next shot, taken across a meadow, is one of those shots where the light was just too incredible to not shoot it, yet despite my best effort something is lost. The late afternoon light on these trees was simply amazing. Breathtaking is a better word. Yet, while I feel that my exposure was as good as it could be, and I pulled as much out of the RAW as I could without making the saturation look artificial, much was lost in translation. There is really no substitute for being there, and I encourage anyone with the means to go visit the park, or at least put a visit on their “bucket list”.

Not doing the light justice

Shot from a bit further down the road, this image of “The Prow” and Halfdome is beginning to show the sort of “golden hour” light that inspires me to strive to become a better photographer. I would have been happy to stay and capture the final play of light on these features, but there was more to see.

'The Prow' on the left, Half Dome on the right.

This next pic was taken from the same location as the pic above, I simply turned around and shot what was behind me. This rock face was in shadow so was predominantly blue and fairly low contrast, but a conversion to B&W saved it and brought out the detail in the rock.

B&W conversion saves 'too cool' photo

These last two shots of El Capitan alone made the trip worthwhile. Unfortunately, because of the way the images have to scale to fit the blog theme they lose a lot of detail. Click the pictures to get a good look. On this first pic I was able to get away with deeper saturation, bringing out the early evening light.

El Capitan

I like this image more, even though I had to back off a bit on the saturation because of the undesirable effects that became evident in the trees that frame El Capitan. I think that it’s because of the trees framing the dome that I like it so much. Next time I’ll expose at a higher ISO, at least 250 but probably 320, which should give me a lot more freedom to manipulate.

El Capitan

I hope you enjoyed this little peek at Yosemite. I hope to return frequently and when I do I will share my images here. It’s taken me a while to get this blog post up – life has been a bit crazy lately. I’ll be in touch with Tony to see if he is OK with having some of his captures posted here.


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