Tag Archives: Yosemite

“Light and Motion”

Light & Motion on Merced River (Happy Isles Area)

“Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, inciting at once to work and rest! Days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God. Nevermore, however weary, should one faint by the way who gains the blessings of one mountain day; whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever.” 
― John Muir

I simply had to quote John Muir for this image that I made several years ago, as I began to experiment with long exposures to communicate the ‘feel’ of a place. The image itself is of the Merced River in California’s Yosemite national Park. It’s become a sacred place for me, one I have made several pilgrimages back to over the years.

This is a simple composition, made at the “Happy Isles” portion of the river, as its icy waters flood over centuries old river rock. There is colour and life; light and motion here. It’s a place I could sit for hours, simply enjoying the freshness and listen to the waters rush over the stones.

The photograph, has sat on my computer, perhaps waiting till I was ready to present it. I believe it’s time, so I have printed it as a 48″ canvas print for my upcoming Studio Tour.

Nikon D300
Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G I AF-S VR Zoom @ 70mm
1/4 sec, f/32.0, ISO 200

“Low Cloud at Tunnel View” – Yosemite National Park

Low Cloud at Tunnel View - Yosemeite National Park

“Did you not look upon the world this morning and imagine it as the boy might see it? And did you not recognize the mist and the dew and the birdsong as elements not of a place or a time but of a spirit? And did you not envy the boy his spirit? ” – Jamie O’Neill

Another image from my 2013 visit to one of my ‘sacred places’. The experience of spring in Yosemite, especially after a storm is something surreal. The mists twist and writhe among the peaks like something living. Scenes are fleeting, never to be repeated again. I stand in awe, at the movement and the changes in light, every moment a new frame in an endless play of wonders.

This image was made from the Tunnel View area and looks to a group of granite cliffs, just beside Bridalveil Falls. It looked to me like a chinese painting. And then it was gone again, lost in the mist, till new new scene was ready to play out.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @200 mm
1/200 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

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“Sierra Dogwood” – Yosemite National Park

Dogwood Blossoms - Mirrror Lake Loop 2013

“The whole tree when in flower looks as if covered with snow. In the spring when the streams are in flood it is the whitest of trees. In Indian summer the leaves become bright crimson, making a still grander show than the flowers.” – John Muir

Recent reports from Yosemite are informing me, in my absence, that the Sierra Dogwoods have begun to bloom. A clear indication that spring is here and I long to be there once more.

I’ve seen many images of these beautiful, delicate, spring blossoms, in photography books, websites, and my Facebook feed. For many years I determined to time a visit to Yosemite in the April-May timeframe to see them for myself. Driving into the park from Oakhurst, I spotted the first few dogwood trees among the pines, bright white flowers, against the dark forest. It was raining and dull, yet they shone in the mist. Of course, having never seen them close up myself, I pulled over and made a photo at the first convenient pull-out.

What I did not realize at the time was that many better opportunities would present themselves; nicer, bigger blossoms, better light, more interesting backgrounds. Nothing had prepared me for how glorious the peak bloom is in the park. Blossoms were everywhere and I must have taken hundreds of photos, in every conceivable composition, trying to get something unique, that captured my vision. The image above was made while hiking the Mirror Lake Loop, which presented many wonderful specimens for my enjoyment. The gentle, off and on, rain enhanced the photo by bringing out the shine of the leaves and softening the light.

It’s feeling like a Yosemite week, more to follow.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 135 mm
1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

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“Tenaya Creek Rush” – Yosemite National Park

Tenya Creek Rush

I love the movement of water. So, on my visit to Yosemite in 2013, I spent a good portion of my time hiking the shores of the many creeks and cascades throughout the park. Tenaya Creek, pictured above, parallels the Mirror Lake Loop trail and there are many opportunities, close to the trail, to view and photograph the creek as it churns down toward the main valley. What makes it even more beautiful, is the effect of the large granite boulders that litter the creekbed. The water churns over and around these boulders with such power and urgency. Close to my home the creeks are small, slow flowing meanders filled with small rounded rocks, with very little colour.

The mountain cascades, in contrast, are fast flowing, crystal clear and flow over pink and gray boulders. It’s much more active and colourful.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200 mm f/2.8 @ 70mm
1/2 sec, f/29, ISO 280

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“Cloud Shrouded Cliffs” – Yosemite National Park

Cloud Shrouded Clifffs - Yosemite 2013

One of my sacred places is Yosemite National Park, in California. I fell in love with this sanctuary on my first visit in 1990, when my wife and I were just starting to date and I have returned several times since.

The sheer vastness and majesty of this place is difficult to describe. There are literally millions of photos taken here, as other visitors try to capture a fragment in time but few images can do this place justice.

The appearance of the valley, high in the Sierra Nevada, is constantly changing. Between seasons, time of day, and location. The light is almost fluid and, in my limited experience here, the same view rarely repeats itself. We are offered mere ‘moments’ to carry in our images and memories as we journey here.

A case in point is the image above, which was made in May 2013, my most recent visit to Yosemite. It was a cool and misty day, with of and on rain showers and brief intervals of sunshine. The cliffs pictures are just above Currie Village and just right of Upper Yosemite Falls, which were obscured by clouds when this image was made.

The movement of the clouds among the rocks and trees high above the valley was magical as the jagged granite cliffs would reveal themselves and then vanish like revenants behind the next billow. Each wave of mist would reveal, then obscure some new layer, then, like an ethereal set change, it would be gone again, replaced by something completely different and marvellous. I could have spent the whole day transfixed by this phenomenon and never seen the same combination twice.

I was fortunate to capture this image that reveal several layers as well as the raw beauty of the tree topped cliffs. I’m going to return to my beloved park sometime soon to see what further magic it has to offer me.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-300 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm
1/200 sec, f/5.0, ISO 200

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“Alder Creek Cascade” – Yosemite National Park

Alder Creek Cascade

This remains one of my favourite photos. Partially because it was just a chance, unplanned, opportunity and secondly due to the sense of serenity it instills in me.

The unplanned aspect of this photo was that I was travelling to the Yosemite Valley proper, with the intention of photographing some of Yosemite’s grand waterfalls. On the trip in, I happened to glance over my shoulder into one of the many steep ravines that the road crosses. I noticed a small cascade and pulled the car over to have a closer look.

As I descended into the gully, I was greeted by this gorgeous scene of Alder Creek flowing over and around the moss-covered boulders. I was especially drawn to the water flowing lightly across the round boulder in the foreground.

I find myself going back to this image time and again when I need to wind down. As a photographer, I’m finding more often, that these chance encounters, with my natural surroundings, provide more satisfying and unique images than some of the grand vistas.

I hope you enjoy it too.

Nikon D300
Tamron 70-200mm @ 70mm
0.4sec @ f/6.3, ISO 200

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