Saturday, August 27, 2011

Breaking in the New Filters

After the borrowed filter incident on the bridge I bought a set of graduated neutral density filters at the Ansel Adams Gallery the next day in Yosemite Village. I got a chance to try them out after we got back from Glacier Point that day in the valley North of the bridge in the meadow area near Yosemite Fall.

As you can see the contrast between the shadowed foreground and the brightly lit face of Half Dome was pretty severe. This was one of the best balanced images I got during that sunset.

I was switching between the digital and the film cameras - literally switching as I was using the same tripod. It was quite the fire drill, but I was glad to get the practice and some hands-on experience with the holder and new filters. All in all, I was quite satisfied with the end results.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tunnel Lights

I've long been fascinated by the tunnel entering the Yosemite Valley on Hwy 41. Stretching over a mile and hewn out of the solid rock of a mountain on the South side of the Merced River, the Wawona Tunnel emerges at Inspiration Point and dumps the unwary tourist amid the splendor of that magnificent valley view. It is truly awesome.

Faced with that scenery, the flocks of photographers at Inspiration Point usually look to the valley. But a few of us also look back at the tunnel and ponder the opportunities for neat images there.

This is one of a handful of shots I did that evening. As you can see, the ambient light was essentially gone, leaving only the artificial tunnel lights and the car tail lights. But it captured what I wanted to get.

The next image was shot a bit earlier and you can see there was still some ambient light left, but not much. While I like the atmosphere of the previous image, I do find having the on-coming lights in the shot below makes it a more dynamic photo. The slight cropping I did helped, too. Either way, I find both appealing and I was very happy with the results.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Half Dome Sunset, Sentinel Bridge

One of the more iconic images of Yosemite is Half Dome, and one of the most popular spots to photograph Half Dome is Sentinel Bridge. Like Tunnel View (Inspiration Point) and Glacier Point, this becomes a camera magnet, especially at sunset.

This was a bit of a challenge. I realized I needed a graduated neutral density filter to bring out the details of the trees in the mid-ground as the sun had set on them but was very intense on the face of Half Dome. Unfortunately, the holder that I had that fit the lens was too big for the filters. I tried hand-holding the filters in front of the camera with pretty poor results. Fortunately a fellow photographer next to me - who coincidentally was holding a small seminar for some folks - let me borrow his filter that fit my holder. That worked much better as the above photo shows. I purchased a new set of larger filters in a range of densities at the Ansel Adams Gallery the next day.

I'll show you the results of those filters another day.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Late Spring Storm, High Sierras

Further to the South from Glacier Point a storm seemed to be brewing over the Sierras. As can be seen, there was still plenty of snow on the mountains feeding the streams and rivers flowing into the Yosemite Valley. Fortunately, the vast quantity of water hadn't crested the banks of the Merced River while we were there. It was very close, though, and the meadows were saturated and pooling in many places. The warming trend would make the area more tenuous the following week.

On this day, though, the clouds provided a dramatic display. The elemental forces that produce such towering formations are both incredibly beautiful and terrifying in turn. It is easy to forget the barely cloaked power and destructive potential hidden inside. That is until the lightning fire and flooding rains appear. Then the full appreciation of the awesome power of Nature comes back with a rush.

Self-deception and denial of that power are very human traits and we never seem to learn from our tragedies. Perhaps it is just as well...otherwise we'd never rebuild or press forward. There may be dangers in remembering too well.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Half Dome's Chapeau

Yosemite was phenomenal the four days we were there. We missed the cold snap and snow by a couple of days and the week after we left saw a heat wave. The Merced River was near flood stage even so as the huge snowfall this past year created a lot of spring run-off. The falls were as full as I've ever seen them.

Glacier Point, while a bit of a drive to get there, is always amazing. The overview of the valley below affords some stunning views. This is one of them, a quarter-front shot of Half Dome that is almost level with its crown. The extra-dark staining on the face of the rock is the result of it being continually wet with the running snow melt.

The weather was cooperative that day with some clouds to bring interest to the sky. The view further to the right (South) was even more amazing with a spring storm brewing over the Sierra Nevada range. We'll see that another day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Morro Bay Sunset

Well, that was a long hiatus. In the past two months we've been to Colorado Springs to see the kids and grandkids, I went to San Diego immediately after for the International Society for Aviation Photographers convention, we followed that a week later with a long weekend in Yosemite and then we spent a few days in Cambria during 4th of July week. We also entertained Lin for a great five days and had lots of BBQs and other adventures along the way. In between I managed to write three articles for work and we went to the Hollywood Bowl a couple of times. Oh, yeah, we also prepped for the release of the last Harry Potter movie by having a marathon viewing of all the previous Potter movies the week before release. It's a wonder we found any time to sleep.

Having said that, we've now committed to the gym again. Yes, I got tired of seeing Jabba the Hutt every time I looked into the mirror in the morning. A truly scary thing if you've never experienced it a 0-dark thirty.

The upshot is I'll have even less time than before, so irregularity may be the continuing hallmark of this blog. For that I apologize, but life, as they say, goes on.

I did manage to capture some nice images while we were on our adventures. Part of the reason we went to Yosemite and Cambria was to let Tina get some plein-aire time. She did well. For a sample of some of her recent work check out her website (see link on this page).

We had one really nice sunset while on the Central Coast. Morro Bay was quite nicely lit and the egrets were wading along the shallows looking for targets of opportunity. This is one of the more striking shots from that evening. It was a very peaceful moment - unless you were a fish.

More to come, hopefully soon.