Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Following Sierra Clouds Over Tioga Pass

After pursuing a large storm parked over the Eastern end of the Mono Basin for a while, I turned my attention towards getting up into Yosemite National Park to shoot the lunar eclipse late that night. Fortunately upon arriving in the Tioga Pass area I was treated to some nice broken clouds that would make shots taken long he way more distinctive.

My first stop was alongside Ellery Lake, where the light was fantastic but challenging, since cameras do not "see" in the same way that we do. Our eyes change exposure constantlya s we look around a scene, and there is no way that we can fully reflect both the "levelling" of exposures that our eyes perform and yet retain the full range of brightness and contrast that we also perceive in the overall view. In this case I simply chose to use Adobe Lightroom's Fill Light to make the shadows more accessible, and to decrease Brightness to prevent highlights from being blown out. A few quick shots at Ellery, and I was back to my quest to get over the pass.

Tioga Pass sits at an elevation of 9943 feet. There are some ponds in the area that can provide some nice reflections, but the wind was just energetic enough to encourage me to pass them by this time. A couple of miles down the road however there's a larger pond which sits lower and is protected by trees, so the reflection of the couds, Mt. Dana, and surrounding forest was excellent.
There was still snow in places among the trees and the water was high, so there were some unique shooting opportunities to be found. However, there were three cars stopped already and 8 or 9 photographers who seemed firmly entrenched in some of the best shooting positions, so I carried my camera and a couple of lenses so I could work around them. That turned out to be an advantage in some cases as I captured some unique perspectives that I might not have taken the time to try had my camera been attached to a tripod.
I continued my exploration past Tuolumne Meadows. Tenaya Lake was too rough from wind to be particularly photogenic, but I found a small snowmelt pond which had a nice reflection of a ridge bathed in warm evening light. There were few clouds to catch sunset light however, so I returned to Tuolumne Meadows where some coulds along the Sierra crest could catch the light.