A couple of weeks ago I was catching up on a pile of work on my computer when I came across an LA Times story describing how the Merced River was approaching flood stage due to the heavy run off from the record breaking snowfall earlier in the year. A few hours later I was headed out of my driveway at 2 AM to make a stop at the Alabama Hills for a quick sunrise shot before heading across to Yosemite via the 14, 58 and 99. By mid afternoon,
UPDATE – FEBRUARY 2017 – Over the past two years, the recent tree die-off has opened up several new vistas around the park for taking shots of the Horsetail Fall in February. While the loss of a huge number of pines throughout the valley is a tragedy and will affect the appearance of the valley for decades to come, this die-off has definitely created new opportunities for photographers as there were just a couple of spots to shoot from previously due to the view being obstructed by trees. Galen Rowell’s spot was just East of the El Capitan Picnic area, but there are now several alternate views and some of these might even be superior to Galen’s vantage point given that Galen jumped out of a truck and ran to the first open spot he could find before the light faded off of the falls. If you arrive early on the day of your shoot, you might want to do some exploring instead of camping out with the other 200 photographers who will be trying to cram into that one area. There will be another 100 or so on the South side viewing area and these photographers would also do well to explore a bit as the trees have been dying at a horrific pace during the last two years. When these trees become a hazard, the National Park Service has been cutting them down. My shots of the mist billowing up were taken well East of the traditional spot at the Picnic area last year. I chose to go for the mist, but there were several other spots… further toward the East and South that would have created the same Galen Rowell red lava effect. If you choose to explore, keep in mind that some of those fallen trees are still very unstable and could shift or roll on you. If there is any kind of a strong wind coming through the valley, I would definitely be concerned about some of those trees coming down, so use caution, even at the picnic area. Several trees came down in the last storm!
After several years of drought here in California, we are finally having a true rainy season this year. Over the past few weeks, a series of storms rolled through our state providing much needed water for our reservoirs and snow in our local mountains and the Sierras. All of this extra moisture has caused some problems for the park rangers in Yosemite who had to close the park twice in one month due to flooding concerns as well as rockslides due to the heavy rainfall. Having to deal with tire cables, road closures and delays on my two recent trips to Yosemite were definitely a pain, but the opportunities that were waiting for me when I arrived were just too good to pass up.
This is the third year that I’ve put together a video to look back over my shots from the entire year. Included in this video are any shots that I posted either here on my blog or on my other social media sites. This year, Instead of posting them in chronological order I posted them from Sunrise to Sunset in a “Day in the Life” format. Here’s a look back at 2016:
Around this time last year I posted an article detailing the annual pilgrimage of hundreds of landscape photographers who have been making the drive up to Big Sur each December in an attempt to catch the magical light pouring through the keyhole arch. My last attempt was in January of 2015 and I came back with mixed results. The tide was much too low and I wondered if I came back on a day closer to the actual solitce if I would have better light.
After catching the first bus out of Lake O’hara, we headed straight back to Banff to return our camping gear before heading off to Jasper National park in a driving rain. We had been keeping an eye on the weather for the past couple of weeks, and while we were hoping for some clouds, we definitely did not want to get rained out…especially in Jasper.
Last week, I took off on the first free weekend that I’ve had in a month. I had spent the previous few weeks up to my eyeballs in work between beginning a new school year and various home improvement projects. Somewhere in there I also found time to build a makeshift platform for a bed of sorts in my Prius and I was eager to try it out on a quick two night trip up to the Eastern Sierras in an attempt to grab some Autumn color before it was gone for the year.
Last September, my three compadres and I flew in to Calgary airport from literally all over the country for a quick trip through the Canadian Rockies. Todd flew in from North Carolina, Mark caught a flight in from Orlando and Tom shopped around for a better flight than mine and came in from LAX. The airport was a bit smaller than what we were expecting but we were through customs and on the road in our rented mini van faster than I would have expected. I think Todd was the last one in, and we wasted no time in setting off for for Banff.
In the Spring of 2015, I decided that my next photography trip would be to the Canadian Rockies. I wasn’t sure who would be going with me, but I decided that I wasn’t getting any younger and that if I was going to go off hiking in Canada, I would need to get on the stick. So I threw the idea out to some of my photography buddies and fortunately, three of them said yes. I immediately began scouting for shots online.
Over two years ago, I mentioned to my hiking buddy Tom Bricker that I was interested in finding some alternate locations to shoot in Yosemite as we were beginning to shoot the same locations over and over on our frequent visits. By that point, we had already been up the Four Mile Trail, Olmsted Point and out to Cathedral Lakes, but we began to look for other locations that were a bit more off of the beaten path.
A few weeks later, Tom came upon a blog post which listed several lesser known trails, some of which didn’t really exist or were difficult to find. At the top of this list was a location known simply as the Diving Board. Ansel Adams had hiked to this location quite some time ago and it was from this spot that hie took one of his most popular black and white photos in Yosemite. Both of us were hooked at this point, but we had no idea of what to expect as there didn’t seem to be a clearly defined trail to this location.