Yosemite National Park

Regardless of how much you enjoy these photographs, you cannot appreciate the majesty and grandeur of Yosemite Valley without seeing it in person

Tunnel View - Black and White version in honour of Ansel Adams

When I travel to my company's HQ in San Francisco, I try to bookend a weekend to take pictures around northern California. In the past I've traveled down the coast to Big Sur and up above the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County (Hmm, need a web page for that trip). In February of 2013 I booked my travel so that I had a weekend to visit to the land, as I think of it as, of Ansel Adams; Yosemite Valley in the US Yosemite National Park.

For those who would like to travel to Yosemite Valley, I recommend to plan your travel during day light hours for a couple of reasons ; first in the dark, the winding roads are a challenge and ; during the day you get to see much more beauty. My drive into the Valley in the dark was 5 hours from the airport which included some dense fog and white knuckles on the steering wheel. My drive out in the day light was 4 hours and beautiful!

Since I was arriving Friday night and leaving Sunday afternoon, I wanted to make the most of picture opportunities. I discovered that the Yosemite Conservatory offered outdoor adventures including photography. I was connected with Gabe Mange who is a professional photographer and has been shooting in the Valley for over seven years. Have a look at his web site through his name link to see the beautiful pictures he's taken.

For Saturday, Gabe took me around the Valley in the early morning then in the late afternoon. Morning and evening are the best of day for landscape pictures with mid-day light being harsher and not as photogenic.  Gabe was able to take to some great vista's that other photographers may not normally know about. Mind you, given how narrow the Valley is, there are picture opportunities all over.  On Sunday, I relied of photo vistas from an iPad App from Michale Frye who spends a lot of time in Yosemite. Highly recommended since it includes a filter for suggestions depending on the time of year you are visiting.

I stayed at  Yosemite Lodge in the park because I wanted to be close to everything and felt I could walk to many places. Comfortable accommodations, good food, and an awesome view of Upper Yosemite Falls as I walked from my room to the main lodge.Next time I think I'll find a less expensive place in El Portal just outside the park gates. I found I drove a lot to find location as opposed to walking from the Lodge. The Valley itself is only 1 mile wide and 7 miles long but it still takes time to get around.

I was there in the winter and the weather was warm during the day (60F) and cold at night (30F). This created the mist and ground fog you see in a number of the pictures below. I'd love to go back in another season to experience more of Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite is a magical place. The scenery is all around you. A camera or the human eye cannot take everything in at once. It is truly breath talking and I only saw a small piece of it.

I hope you enjoy the photos. For my photography friends, see some of my self critiques after the photos of things I feel I need to play with. There is also a map of the valley at the end of pictures for reference.


Merced River
Looking towards Leidig Meadow with North Dome in the background
It's about 7:15 in the morning and the sun is just coming up over the mountains.

Merced River
Looking at Leidig Meadow and Sentinel Rock and Glacier Point Cliff.
3 image HDR +/- EV2

Upper Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Point
From Leidig Meadow
Gabe told me we were fortunate because it is this time of year that the
sunrise hits Yosemite Falls

Upper Yosemite Falls
From Leidig Meadow (think that is Columbia Rock in foreground)

Merced River, Upper Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Point
From Sentinel Bridge
3 image HDR +/- EV2
Need to work on why the rock face is white here as opposed to
the brown above. More HDR challenges.

Upper Yosemite Falls Reflected in Merced River
From Sentinel Bridge
Picture is flipped over how it appeared in the river

Merced River, Upper Yosemite Falls and North Dome
From Sentinel Bridge
3 image HDR +/- EV2

Cathedral and El Capitan
From Leidig Meadow looking West
3 image HDR +/- EV2

Cathedral Rocks
From Leidig Meadow looking West
3 image HDR +/- EV1.3

Upper Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Point
Not exactly sure where I was here
3 image HDR +/- EV1.3

Leidig Meadow
Looking South
The sun had just started to come over the mountains
and brought out the mist and icelets on the trees

Merced River and Glacier Point Cliff
Looking at Leidig Meadow
3 image HDR +/- EV2
The water does have a green tinge too it maybe from the glacier.

El Capitan and Cathedrals
Merced River on Northside Drive looking West
3 image HDR +/- EV2

Tunnel View
From parking lot outside the Tunnel. El Capitan, Cathedrals and Bridalveil Falls.
3 image HDR +/- EV2
This is the colour version of the black and white at the top of the page
This is also one of the quintessential pictures of the Valley.

Upper Tunnel View
From parking area on the west side of the Tunnel. El Capitan and Cathedrals
3 image HDR +/- EV2

El Capitan
From Cathedral Beach

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls
Fall View on Lower Yosemite Falls Trail
3 image HDR +/- EV2
Lower Yosemite Falls
End of  Lower Yosemite Falls Trail

Bridalveil Falls
From Northside Drive pull off

Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Falls
From Northside Drive pull off
3 image HDR +/- EV2


Self Critique

I shot these pictures with a Nikon D5100. My lenses were a Sigma 10-20, Nikon 18-55 and 55-200. All pictures were taken in Nikon NEF raw and processed through Capture NX 2. Most of the the NEF pictures were only adjusted using auto contrast in colour levels with a little bit of midtone adjustment.

As you can see, I created a number of HDR pictures using the auto bracketing feature of the D5100. These I processed, from raw, using Photomatix, into TIFF's that I then processed with NX 2. This was the first time I tried this and found it a lot easier than using filters.

While I am generally happy with the pictures, there are a several things I need to revisit.

So yes, I was a bit lazy, I did some post processing but need to do more work.

Paul Naish