The View From Yosemite’s Diving Board

DivingBoard16.3.11.6Over 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.  

Tips For Shooting El Matador Beach

ElMatador16.9.4.7It was only a few months ago that I finally made the dirve up to El Matador Beach which is arguably the most photogenic beach in Southern California. Located just a few miles North of the glamourous movie star-riddled enclave of Malibu, El Matador boasts several hundred yards of sea stacks, hidden coves and small caves. If you are thinking about heading out there to take advantage of this gorgeous stretch of coastline, here are a few things that you should keep in mind:

Fern Ledge : One Of Yosemite’s Hidden Treasures

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After shooting in Yosemite for several years, I began to look for locations that were more off of the beaten path.  A couple of years ago, I finally ventured up the side of the valley and found an alternate location from which to shoot the Horsetail Falls in February.  I also began going on longer hikes up the four mile trail, the Upper Falls trail and out to the Cathedral Lakes.  After finding the alternate location from which to shoot the Horsetail Falls, I began to wonder what other opportunities I might be missing.  Yosemite Falls was my next logical choice and I began to notice that most, if not all of the shots of the falls were either from the valley floor or from the Upper Falls Trail.  After looking online, I finally found a couple of spectacular shots that were taken from the East, but I had no idea where they were taken from.  I spent a few hours one afternoon looking for spots to shoot from in the residential area above Yosemite Village, but the angles were not what I had in mind.

Finally, my hiking buddy Tom sent me a link to an article which mentioned a location referred to as the Fern Ledge.  In the article, they mentioned how John Muir had hiked out and had become enamored with this location.  He spent long hours listening to the falls, and actually walking out behind them.  After checking around a bit more, I found that Ansel Adams had also made the trip up and had taken photos from there.  Why hadn’t I heard of this place before?

Tom and I set this as one of our goals and on our next trip, we were resolved to find the trail to Fern Ledge head on up.  But we only had one article to go on, and the article stated that the trailhead was somewhere behind the Yosemite Stables.  When we reached the stables, we got the distinct impression that we weren’t supposed to be in that area and we chickened out.

I spent the next year or so investigating this trail, and couldn’t find much.  From what I read,  the trail could be very dangerous.   I could expect steep inclines, sections where the trail simply fell away over steep precipices, and rattle snakes.  Others online were reluctant to give away too many details as they feared hordes of hikers would head up there and cause damage to the habitat surrounding the trail.  Others were concerned that people simply didn’t understand how dangerous this route really was.

Undeterred, I made my first attempt a couple of weeks ago.  

Last Man Standing At Glacier Point – (Autumn In Yosemite, Part I)

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Last year, I headed up to Yosemite on Halloween for several reasons. First, I knew that there would still be some color in the valley as many of the Oaks and Cottonwoods hold on to their leaves into November. Secondly, the first Winter storm of the year was due to roll in. Lastly, the road to Glacier Point was still open, but it was due to close for the season as soon as that storm blew in. With the promise of colorful leaves in the valley along with some shots of new snow on the surrounding peaks, I took off with high hopes.

Of Resonance And Landscapes

Some of you may be surprised to learn that I have been directing choirs in the Southern California area for nearly 30 years.  I have spent a good part of my life practicing on instruments, learning to read music, singing in various choirs, and eventually earning a Bachelors and a Masters in Choral Conducting.  There was a time, in the not too distant past, when I was convinced that I would continue to teach until well into my seventies as many of my colleagues have done and are continuing to do.  I have been very fortunate over the past three decades or so to have had a job that I love and look forward to going to each day.  But in 2006, I picked up a Nikon DSLR camera for the first time and suddenly I found myself considering a second, part time career .  It was the first time I held a decent camera in my hands since shooting landscapes with a Canon AE-1 after I had just graduated from high school.  For the next three or four years, I shot everything.  Portraits, street photography, macro…it didn’t matter.  I just wanted to get out with my camera whenever I had a chance.  In 2009, I took my camera to Yosemite and to Laguna Beach for the first time, and began to realize that my true passion in photography was landscapes.