Category: Photographs – Yosemite

Lee Vining (CA), Mt. Dana, Mt. Gibbs, Tioga Pass, Panorama

ISO100, 55mm, f/8, 1/15 sec
Lee Vining, CA

Maybe this image looks a bit familiar.  If you have been following this blog, it should look familiar.  I had taken a single shot and processed an image for this post (Lee Vining (CA), Sunset, Mt. Dana, Mt. Gibb, Snow) and then decided to re-composition, adjust the shutter and aperture and shot three images for this panorama.

(Click thru the image for the slightly enlarged view)

Perhaps a bit too much sky over the center mountains (not much I could have done there), but perhaps a bit too much of the slope on the right.  A longer lens would have brought Mt. Dana and Mt. Gibb closer to the viewer, but might have sacrificed to lovely sun-lit clouds to the left.  The quickest fix might be to crop out the right a bit.  Let us try that!

ISO100, 55mm, f/8, 1/15 sec
(Recropped Image) – Lee Vining, CA

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted metering mode, ISO 100, 55mm, f/8, 1/15 sec

Lee Vining (CA), Mt. Dana, Mt. Gibbs, Tioga Pass, Panorama. Lee Vining, Mono County, California. October 12, 2013. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

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Yosemite, Hwy 120, Rim Fire, Burned Trees, Hydroseed

ISO100, 55mm, f/8, 1/8 sec
Hwy 120 outside the Yosemite Tioga entrance

In terms of art photography, this image does not qualify.  This image is more in line with travel photography or photojournalism.  Soon after leaving Yosemite’s northwest entrance during the government-imposed shutdown, vehicles traveling along Hwy 120 encountered this sight of burned pine trees on one side and blackened pine trees coated with hydroseeding separated by a very clean and pristine roadway.

(Click thru image for the 700px view)

A close-up of the hydroseeded tree trunks was detailed in a previous post: Yosemite, Rim Fire, Hydroseed, Tree Trunks

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted metering mode, ISO 100, 55mm, f/8, 1/8 sec

Yosemite, Hwy 120, Rim Fire, Burned Trees, Hydroseed. Stanislaus National Forest outside of Yosemite, California. October 13, 2013. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Lee Vining (CA), Mt. Gibb, Sunset, Changing Light

ISO100, 125mm, f/8, 1/40 sec
Whoa Nellie Deli, Lee Vining, CA

This photograph is similar to another photo recently posted.  So why have I done this you ask?  Well, if you look at the title of this post, “Changing Light” is part of it.  The scene here was what I had first encountered when I first arrived at the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining.

(Click thru the image for the 700px view)

I was intrigued by the line of light created by the ridge on the right.  The light here is mostly yellow.  Yet 15 minutes later, the light has changed drastically to a pink hue: Lee Vining (CA), Sunset, Mt. Dana, Mt. Gibb, Snow

When you are out shooting during golden hour, it is important to remember the light changes.  There are times when it appears the “show” is over and sunset is done.  Then the alpenglow appears or the light finds a break in the clouds.  If you already make the effort to be out there shooting, another 15-20 minutes just might yield some unexpected shots.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted metering mode, ISO 100, 20mm, f/13, 1/10 sec

Lee Vining (CA), Sunset, Mt. Dana, Mt. Gibb, Snow. Lee Vining, Mono County, California. October 12, 2013. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Lee Vining (CA), Sunset, Mt. Dana, Mt. Gibb, Snow

ISO100, 68mm, f/8, 1/10 sec
Across from the Whoa Nellie Deli, Lee Vining, CA

Sometimes you capture a shot because it was planned out and everything worked to perfection.  Most times, there is also an element of luck involved.  This photograph falls into the latter category.  Luck had everything to do with this photo.

(Click thru the image for the 700px view)

Never had I heard, read, or seen this light show between Mt. Dana and Mt. Gibb to the south of the Tioga Pass leading into Yosemite at sunset or I might have put this into the “must shoot” list while out in Lee Vining and Mono Lake.  As luck would have it, I witnessed the beginning of a yellow light blazing across the front of Mt. Gibb 15 minutes prior.  After a few shots and thinking there was nothing more, I wandered back into the deli/store to decide on if I wanted to buy dinner or eat what I had in the car.  Upon exiting the deli, I noticed the light hitting Mt. Gibb had turned from yellow to this orange.  I was not able to capture the composition I wanted initially as I was shooting across Tioga Road and a few large signs were in the way.  The decision was made to go across the street and scale up a small embankment for a clean composition.

Also, remember to resist the urge to crop your photos all willie nillie.  If you must crop, stick to standard ratios: 8×10, 16×9, etc.  When it comes time to print these photographs, you’ll be thankful these cropped images will fit nicely on a standard photo lab print sizes.

The trip reports on the Fall Colors for the weekend of October 12-13 are linked here:

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted metering mode, ISO 100, 20mm, f/13, 1/10 sec

Lee Vining (CA), Sunset, Mt. Dana, Mt. Gibb, Snow. Lee Vining, Mono County, California. October 12, 2013. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Yosemite, Rim Fire, Hydroseed, Tree Trunks

ISO100, 68mm, f/4.2, 1/25 sec
Just outside Yosemite National Park, Hwy 120, CA

One of the unexpected sights driving through the area just outside the northwest entrance of Yosemite National Park is the almost florescent green color coating the burned tree trunks.  Black needle-less pine trees are the result of the Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest and neighboring Yosemite National Park.  With the forest floor cleaned of pine needles and leaves, the danger of heavy erosion from rain and Spring snow melt is very real.  To counter this threat, highly susceptible areas have been hydroseeded.  A tanker truck sprays a mixture of grass seed and water onto the bare ground (and these trees).  The hope is with some water, the seeds will germinate into grass and hold the soil in place.

This was the last area I visited for the weekend trip into the Eastern Sierras and back.  While Yosemite is closed due to the government shutdown, travelers are allowed to drive through the park to get to the other side.  Though we are all warned not to stop and park next to the side of the road, I encountered many instances of just that, including cars parked at Olmsted Point and people admiring the sights despite the warning.  Who can blame them.  I started a game with the cars that were around me on Tioga Pass Road by pulling off the road so everyone could pass.  That way I can drive slow and take my time enjoying the view.  Pretty soon, some drivers were catching on and trying the same thing with me.  We all kept swapping who was in the back and eventually we all just drove slow together.

The trip reports on the Fall Colors for the weekend of October 12-13 are linked here:

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted metering mode, ISO 100, 68mm, f/4.2, 1/25 sec

Yosemite, Rim Fire, Hydroseed, Tree Trunks. Stanislaus National Forest outside of Yosemite, California. October 13, 2013. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

Liberty Cap, Slope, Pine Trees, HDR

John Muir Trail above Vernal Fall, Yosemite, CA

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!

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.

Ice Skaters, Lake Ice, Hills, Contrails, B&W

Tenaya Lake, Yosemite, CA

Among the variety of people on Tenaya Lake besides parents sitting on beach chairs on the ice, ice skaters, people without skates, some guy trying a form of paragliding on a snowboard, and dogs, were quite a few hockey enthusiasts.  From an organized game on the east end of the lake using wooden crates as goals to small groups and individual players just wanting to experience hockey on a real lake.  Due to the very dry winter this year, Tioga Pass/Hwy 120 through Yosemite was open until the middle of January, the longest opening on record.  This afforded all of us the chance to experience the Yosemite high country without the hassle of snowshoeing or cross country skiing.

This photograph is of two hockey players who had been on the western end of the lake and were now beginning their trek to the eastern side.  The change I would have liked on this photo was if I had positioned myself differently for the shot.  As you can see, their heads are just below the treeline.  I could have placed their heads into the white granite hills and shooting from a lower angle.  Probably not the preferred composition.  Inversely, I could have had them slightly lower in the photo and had a gap of the ice between their heads and the treeline.  I suppose I should be content about staying upright on my skates, metering decently, and just capturing the moment.

The cracks in the ice look menacing and, in this photograph, provide some nice foreground lines leading into the main focus of the composition, the skaters, and then spreads out towards the hills in the background.  As with all B&W photographs, most of the processing is performed through Nik Silver EFex 2 (yes, I’ve upgraded from the original version), with final minute adjustments in Adobe Lightroom.  B&W photographs are not simply created by clicking the “Black and White” conversion button in whichever post processing software being used.  Well, technically they are, but better photographs are likely to be achieved through adjustments.

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted metering mode, 23mm, ISO 400, 1/200 sec, f/10

Ice Skaters, Lake Ice, Hills, Contrails, B&W.  Tenaya Lake, Yosemite, California. January 07, 2012. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.