Friday, July 04, 2008

Your Photography in Yosemite National Park

Here's a short list of good places to shoot in Yosemite National Park, organized by time of day:

No rush for sunrise... consider Cook's Meadow from the Sentinel Bridge parking lot area shooting towards Yosemite Falls, as the sun first hits it about an hour after dawn. Walk to the bridge a short way downstream and come up the far bank, shooting in any direction that looks interesting. Ahwanee Meadow can be interesting around this same time if there's a ground fog.

In late morning you can catch a rainbow in Vernal Falls from the mist trail, then again from above Vernal Falls 1/2 mile back on the alternate return trail.

Mid afternoon is a good time to shoot Half Dome from Ahwanee Meadow, and El Capitan from the field near its base, from Cathedral Beach, and from the opposite bank of the Merced River.

In late afternoon you can often catch a rainbow in Bridalveil Falls from the parking lot.

A little before sunset Valley View is great, then as you start to lose light on El Capitan you can move up to Tunnel View.

Sunsets can be good at Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Sentinel Bridge, and Ahwanee Meadow. Sentinel Dome is even better than Glacier Point, but have a spare flashlight and spare batteries to make sure you can hike the mile back to the car in the dark.

Night photography in Yosemite can be great when the moon is about half full or more. Just return to the same spots you shot when the sun was roughly where the moon is as you're shooting. In the Spring and early Summer while there's enough flow and mist you can catch moonbows (lunar rainbows) in Lower Yosemite Falls shortly after a full moon rises.

Near Tioga Pass consider going to Saddlebag Lake and catching the water taxi 2 miles down the lake and going for a day hike around the 20 Lakes Basin. It's up at 10,000 feet though, so don't count on going very far if you're not acclimated to altitude (staying nearby or at Tuolumne Meadows would be good).

Mono Lake is an amazing spot for sunrise, but you have to arrive at South Tufa well before dawn to make the short hike to the shore and get set up for the best approaching light to the east, then move to catch the sun's first rays painting the mountain peaks towering 6000 feet above to the west. The ghost town of Bodie is another interesting option if you head out that way.

Some other places... The whole Tioga Pass road can be great in afternoons when afternoon thunderclouds are forming. Tenaya Lake is always worth a stop, especially at the West end on a calm afternoon, shooting east. Olmstead Point can be interesting at dawn or dusk, but mainly if the weather gets interesting. I wouldn't drive the hour from the Valley for it, but if you're driving by at least stop and see if the yellow-bellied marmots are climbing around the rocks looking for food (don't feed them). Tuolumne Meadows can be interesting at dawn or dusk.