Tunnel View 3
Yosemite in Winter
Additional images of Yosemite in Winter can be viewed here.
I've spent a lot of time in Yosemite in cold rain and slush, schlepping around the valley floor in misery. With overcast skies and muddy roads, I keep telling myself that the color is so fantastic, it's not. Yosemite valley is only a few thousand feet above sea level but is surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountain chain. Those so-called water proof boots you buy for $100 at sporting goods retailers won't stand a chance after a couple days. You're better off with cheap rubber boots with insulation in this situation.
Now for the good part. I went up on a Wednesday in late February and had the aforementioned experience of rain and slush. Even on Friday, the weather forecast called for more snow on Saturday. Ugh. Expecting the worse, I got up a little latter on Saturday morning, and wow, the sky was solid blue. With a fresh coat of snow covering everything, we headed into the Valley from El Portal. At first the group leader was a little apprehensive about driving to Valley View, but we were so tired of shooting in lousy conditions, that the decision was made to make the trek. It doesn't get any more beautiful than this. A few clouds might have helped but the Yosemite Valley after a snow storm is gorgeous.
Remember I said that the Valley floor isn't all that high in elevation. With temperatures rising quickly into the 30s, it's best to shoot and move quick. The personality of the Valley will change within hours as the snow melts from the trees. Therefore, it is imperative to loop the Valley floor at least a couple times to maximize photo opportunities.
I'm not a great technician so my main goal is to get the image. A lot of photographers spend a lot of time determining exposure and playing with camera controls. My favorite saying is "F8 and be there". I always use a tripod and bracket
(0 / +1 / -1) every image. I typically shoot jpegs and RAW in case an image needs a lot of help in post processing. I spend most of my energy on composition. I did not use a graduated neutral density filter on this trip although it is considered mandatory equipment. Instead, I depended on bracketing as mentioned above. Yosemite is a great place to utilize, exposure bracketing, focus bracketing, horizontal panoramas, and vertical panoramas. With these techniques, which are all demonstrated in the link below, I have very few images that can be presented straight out of the camera. A substantial amount of post processing is required on each image to duplicate the experience I witnessed in the field.
The great thing about Yosemite Valley is that always presents different and new photo opportunities. I never seem to miss capturing at least a few images that I really like. Of course, photographers flock to Yosemite to capture iconic images but that is not always possible. Even Ansel Adams spent most of his time shooting small "detail" images although he is known for his outstanding landscapes.
Image shot with a 24-120 F4 VR lens on full frame DSLR mounted on carbon fiber tripod and ball head.