One of the problems with hiking the scenic trails in the middle of the day is, well, it is the middle of the day. Unless there are some occasional clouds to provide cover and diffuse some of the harsh light, there is not a lot of contrast available in the shots.
In planning a day at Yosemite in February, the main attraction was being there at sunset for Horsetail Fall. It didn’t work out. I was there, along with a few hundred other people, but the water had run dry the day before. I think we all hoped there was a sudden snow melt from the top of El Capitan or maybe a ranger would dump some water over the side!
In the meantime, I planned a hike up the Mist Trail to visit Vernal and Nevada Falls. During the winter, the Mist Trail closes (you can always just walk around the gate) just past the Vernal Fall viewing bridge and we are advised to take the John Muir Trail which leads to the overlook above Vernal Fall. The only problem is that the trail leading down from the overlook to Vernal and Nevada is completely ice covered. Even I wasn’t willing to risk life, limb, and especially camera equipment to make that trek. Of course, I would need to make it back to the Valley before sunset.
So while at the Vernal Fall overlook, though I could only barely see the top of the fall, I snapped photos of Half Dome, Mt. Broderick, Liberty Cap, and Nevada Fall in the distance. The element of interest to me were the pine trees growing off the steep slope of Liberty Cap. Given the midday sun, I bracketed 3 exposures and blended them into an HDR. I am not one to go crazy in my HDR processing and even used some of the softening features this time around. What the HDR brings into this photograph are the parts of Liberty Cap that would have been too dark if I exposed for the sky and if exposed correctly, I would have blown out the highlights for the sky and the small sun lit areas on Liberty Cap.
It appears that most of my photographs from that day in Yosemite were focused on contrast and shadows!
- Nevada Fall, Rock Face, Long Exposure, B&W
- Horsetail Fall, No Water, Light Only, HDR
- El Capitan, Shadows, Light, B&W
- Treeline Silhouette, Twilight
- Middle Brother, Last Light, HDR
EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted metering mode, 175mm, ISO 100, [1/30, 1/60, 1/125 sec], f/10
Liberty Cap, Slope, Pine Trees, HDR. John Muir Trail, Yosemite, CA. February 25, 2012. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.