April in Yosemite

Yosemite Valley, April 2010, by Cheryl Mcdonald

When I arrived at the gates of Yosemite in March, and they asked me if I wanted a week pass for $20 or a year pass for $40, I made the decision that a Yosemite series would be my project for the year. I have painted and photographed it in the Fall and the Winter, and decided that doing a year of the seasons in Yosemite would be an awesome undertaking. So this will be a recurring theme throughout the year and  I am looking forward to creating an exhibit and a book of this experience.

My latest trip started on Wednesday of last week when I picked up my friend and photography mentor Glenn Capers from the airport and we made our plans to drive the 4 hours up into the Sierras for Friday early morning. Our mission for this trip was to photograph the waterfalls. Although it is still early in the melting season, there was a splendid display of rushing water all through the valley and we were fortunate enough to be able to capture some really amazing sights.

Cascade Creek Falls, by Cheryl McDonaldOur first waterfall was just after arriving into the park on route 120 at Cascade Creek. A smaller waterfall then the great and famous ones of the park, but still a beautiful cascade down the hillside. I loved the way the morning sun spotlighted the water as it tumbled over the rocks.

As in painting, capturing light in photography, takes an amazing amount of skill and knowledge about settings and technique in using the camera. Both are about capturing the light but the tools and the way one approaches the landscape are very different. In painting you can add what is not there naturally to create the mood and scene that you want to portray. In photography, you are more dependent on the elements of weather and time of day as well as aperture and shutter speed to capture the setting. Learning to use the camera and not tricks of filters or Photoshop has been an enjoyable challenge, blending science, technology and art. Glenn is a patient and knowledgeable teacher, whom I highly recommend.

Bridal Veil Falls, by Cheryl McDonald

We spent most of Friday surveying the scene, making our plans for what to shoot at sunrise on Saturday. There is only a short time in the morning before, during and after sunrise when you can capture drama and beauty in the landscape, and we wanted to be ready  to get as much out of the morning as possible. We took a lot of wonderful Kodak postcard shots throughout the day of Bridal Veil and the Valley from Tunnel View. Beautiful, yes but images you can find on any calendar of Yosemite. We were looking for the awesome and the unexpected. We spent sunset at Tunnel View, waiting for what promised to be a beautiful sunset, chatting with other photographers, all waiting and watching the light. A fun evening, but not particularly eventful. At the last minute the clouds disappeared leaving us with a rather un-colorful sunset. Such is the nature of Nature Photography! However there were no complaints as the scene was impressive all on it’s own and we all felt very blessed to be there to just witness the grandeur of this National treasure.

Night Falls, by Glenn Capers

As we made our last loop around the park for the evening, we stopped for a lesson in night photography. Learning to use tripods and telephoto lenses and also long exposures to capture the blue light after sunset was very challenging, and although I was not impressed with my own capture of Yosemite falls after dark, Glenn’s capture was absolutely beautiful!

It was an incredible day and we ended it at a health spa and hostel called the Yosemite Bug in Mid Pines, where we spent the night sharing what we had captured that day, a hot tub and excited planning for what was to come in the morning. It would be another very early morning, but it would definitely be worth it. And that will be the topic for my next blog.

To see more of my photography please go to www.passionsatplay.com

To see more of Glenn’s or to hire him please go to www.aflyingmonkey.com


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4 Responses to “April in Yosemite”

  1. ChrisLWagner Says:

    Boy, that last nighttime picture is awesome! I haven’t been to Yosemite since I was in 6th grade! I think it’s time to go again. Great post

  2. Renee Ludwigs Says:

    I visited Yosemite years ago. Thank you for bringing those beautiful memories back to me! I think it may be time for another visit!

    Renee Ludwigs
    “Finding tropical tranquility by living with An Island Perspective”

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