It snowed in the Sierras and we were sure that there would snow in Yosemite.  Snow was worth a three hour drive on very winding roads - one way!  The shorter route over Tioga Pass was closed due to weather.  While we only found a smattering of snow, we still had a great time and fall colors are just past peak but still in abundance.

Our first stop was at the Tunnel Viewpoint.  Bridal Veil Falls had much more water flowing than when we were in Yosemite last June.  There was still fog in the valley (see white in places - that is fog).  Bright sunlight challenging my camera's ability to capture the full dynamic range.  A split ND filter slid in sideways was my solution!

Tom's take . . . underexpose and artfully emphasize the ray of light.  You can see the fog below more easily in this image.

From the Tunnel Viewpoint we drove down into Yosemite Valley.  Foggy and wet.  Steve was given the 'hot shot' seat next to me and got in some practice shooting from a moving car.  Not bad at it!

Tom was shooting from the back seat with his camera up between Steve and me.  He just can't pass up a great photographic opportunity (thank goodness).

Merced River was flowing rapidly.  We could tell that it had flowed beyond its usual banks through some parts of Yosemite Valley. 

Fog!  No snow.

Fall colors!  Not much light on the Valley floor . . . yet.

This was one area where we could see that the Merced River had flowed beyond its normal banks.  Normally, we would not see trees out in the river as these were!  That is Yosemite Falls reflected in the river (peaceful along this stretch).

Upper Yosemite Falls

Different vantage point.

Upper part of Half Dome.  As the day progressed the clouds moved in.

Upper Half Dome


Tom slowly stalking three deer.

He got within 15 feet of this young deer.

I brought this leaf home.  It is an impressive addition to my altar.

I brought this leaf home.  It is an impressive addition to my altar.

Another 'slower' interpretation.

These mushrooms are about the size of half a pin head!  They were spotted by Steve as he was getting some macro images of the moss on a tree.

We headed home early, knowing that it was going to be a long trip and I wanted to be out of the curves before dark.

A much needed pull out gave us a chance to photograph just one section of the long and winding road.  Can you spot the bridge we crossed in the upper mid section?

As we stretched our legs the morning sun welcomed our efforts.  Thanks for joining us.

Yosemite Wrapped Up

We have a memories from Yosemite that will last a lifetime.  Many of you have written to me stating that seeing these images reminded you of childhood vacations, later trips with your own children and even recent trips taken to revisit a favorite.  I can see why these images are so powerful.  For one thing, unlike so many other places, this granite does not move around so it is easy to spot your favorite.  Year to year the water levels in the falls and lakes changes.  These smaller changes in full view of El Capitan seem to be reasonable, even if sad.  Photographically, the place can be a real challenge because there is such a wide dynamic range that we want our cameras to capture in the same way our eyes do.  Our cameras generally cannot do that.  It makes me appreciate the great photos taken by other photographers that represent the very best in Yosemite.  They worked hard for their shots.  Few good shot happen accidentally in Yosemite.  We hope that if you have never been to Yosemite that you will want to go and see for yourself.  Our images, which I would like to think of as good, are simply not the same as seeing it for yourself.

A two rainbow Bridalveil!  To get rainbows like this you need the sun to be at the correct angle behind you.  It lasts for several minutes. This particular fall is moved back and forth across the rocks by wind, appears very transparent against the dark rocks and is sometimes seen actually falling  upwards from the top!  I feel the fall is aptly named.

El Capitan from across the Merced River.  Tom looked a long time for just the right foreground in place.  That is another conundrum in photographing Yosemite, to make a shot special the iconic part has to be framed in an interesting way.  A huge granite rock like El Capitan gets old real quick unless we change the window you see it through.

Mid-morning stroll down Merced River.  Breathe deeply, Carol.  This is heaven!

A story here.  The evening we shot Bridalveil Tom saw a 'green pond' opportunity while walking back to our car.  I was way ahead of him (imagine that).  He lagged behind to get his shots of this pond..  When he got into the car and showed me what delayed him I was jealous.  "You should have called me to share the opportunity.  You are holding out on me!"  In the end, he did not like his shots because they were out of focus.  I insisted on returning to the pond the next day to get my turn at this shot.  But, when we got there the pond was not green.  It was a gorgeous mix of browns.  Like Bridalveil, this pond requires light be reflected in just a certain way.  A late winter storm was already developing so clouds were passing by and when the pond was in shadows of passing clouds in becomes darker, as it was late in the prior evening.  I patiently waited, and waited, and waited . . . finally, one with enough shadows that you can see the green.  But in this image you can also see a bit of brown where the sun streak crosses the water.  I have my shot!

Yosemite is a photographer's happy challenge.  Almost every shot offers up a dynamic range that pleases your senses beyond your imagination.  Your camera cannot easily scan that range. Some of our favorite shots were not the iconic images that make Yosemite the park that it is but the images captured along the way, such as this one, where a little light can make a shot special.

This is an image of Half Dome taken from Sentinal Bridge.  This is the most common spot for taking shots of Half Dome. We were told to check out the spot along the river from Parking Lot A.  We liked it better.  Either place collects photographers at sunset and it is a good idea to stake out your place early. Half Dome stays lit long after the foreground goes dark.  It is not gold every night as we see in photos taken by others.  It can be a dull gray with only a yellow tinge.

We owe a great deal to John Muir.

Tom's take on the rainbow at Bridalveil.  

Male Northern America Robin.  His mate was nearby getting her cold bath in the Merced River.

Female North America Robin.

This image was possible because I was brave (foolish) enough to walk a precarious narrow path along the upper road with tripod and bag!  To get this I used a Big Stopper filter that steps down my exposure by 9 f stops.  Shutter speed was set at 15 seconds.

A good night shot from Parking Lot A of Half Dome. From here an hour plus drive back to Mariposa, dinner at Savoiry's and then another 20 minutes to our room.  It would be after 10 before we opened the door.  Batteries to charge.  Cards to download.  Gear to clean, maybe.  With smiles we realized how blessed we were to have each other for adventures such as this one, to have friends to share it with, to have another day to do it all over again.

We are so glad you have joined us.  We are still processing images (imagine that).  Next week I will pull the very best together and create a gallery.  I will let you know when that is posted.  

More From Yosemite

This morning we woke up to a late winter storm impacting Yosemite.  The upper Tioga Pass was closed.  That was our planned exit on our way to Mono Lake and Bodie State Park!  We had a great trip in spite of a disappointing last day.  Here are some more of our favorites.  We hope you enjoy them.

A meadow looking back at granite.  I think this is looking towards Cathedral Rocks.

Half Dome in mid afternoon.  The clouds were building up and we were hopeful, but they blew away.

Just one of those pretty shots.

View of Cathedral Rocks from the Merced River.

Upper Yosemite Falls from downriver along the Merced.

Half Dome from Cook's Meadow.

Lower Yosemite Falls.

Bridge near Yosemite Falls.

Hmmmm . . . not sure where this was taken.  It looks a bit like El Capitan.

Look west from banks of Merced River.

Half Dome at Sunset from Parking Lot A.

We were looking for a reflecting pond . . . all dried up!  So how about a big downed tree as a foreground object? Above, you saw a longer view from this same meadow that was taken by Tom.

All for tonight.  We have more that have just been downloaded from our cards.  Will post them tomorrow.