Photographing Yosemite

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March 9 – 13, 2009

OH wow, what a week! 5 solid days of shooting Yosemite National Park. A group of 2 participants allowed us to do what we wanted on a moments notice. And what a week it was!

Leana D. from the east coast, and Lem L., also from the east coast, arrived on Sunday afternoon, and no sooner did they set down their bags and we were out shooting! Neither Leana nor Lem had been to Yosemite and there were huge smiles on their faces. There were clouds drifting by, so Leana and I drove from the Yosemite Lodge to Tunnel View to meet Lem and on the way stopped at Valley View and shot these images.

Playing in the snow

Playing in the snow

Playing in the snow

Playing in the snow

Then, up to Tunnel View to meet Lem and wait for the sunset.  Finally, the light became right:

Sunset over Yosemite Valley

Sunset over Yosemite Valley

Moon over Bridalveil Fall

Moon over Bridalveil Fall

Sunset over Yosemite Valley

Sunset over Yosemite Valley

It was time to eat, so we went to the Yosemite Lodge Food Court and had dinner, then out for night shooting at Lower Yosemite Fall, which was right across from the Lodge. And all this before the workshop actually began!

Then, it was out to Cook’s Meadow, across from Yosemite Falls for night shots of the falls.

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls from Cook's Meadow

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls from Cook's Meadow

Monday, March 9

Since we were out until almost midnight the night before, we slept in a bit and got started about 9:30am, and went back to Lower Yosemite Fall to shoot the rainbow. We discussed the use of polarizer filters to enhance colors in rainbows and to reduce glare thereby enhancing the detail in clouds and waterfalls. We used neutral density filters in combination with polarizers and small apertures to shoot timed exposures to produce the “cotton candy” effect on flowing water.

Rainbow on Lower Yosemite Fall

Rainbow on Lower Yosemite Fall

Lower Yosemite Fall

Lower Yosemite Fall

Lem L. (l) and Leana D. (r) shooting from the Lower Yosemite Fall bridge

Lem L. (l) and Leana D. (r) shooting from the Lower Yosemite Fall bridge

Then, after lunch we headed out to Cook’s Meadow for a few shots and over to the Merced River to shoot Stoneman Bridge and Half Dome.

One small happy group!  Me, Lem L and Leana

One small happy group! Me, Lem L and Leana

Half Dome over Stoneman Bridge and The Merced River

Half Dome over Stoneman Bridge and The Merced River

Then, back to Cook’s Meadow, the chapel, and on to Swinging Bridge where Lem shot this great image of Upper Yosemite Fall.

Upper Yosemite Fall from Swinging Bridge

Upper Yosemite Fall from Swinging Bridge

Finally, we walked around behind the Yosemite Lodge on the bank of the Merced River to shoot these images in late afternoon sun. We discussed the use of split-density filters, bracketing exposures, and use of the histogram to gauge correct exposure.

Half Dome over the banks of the Merced River

Half Dome over the banks of the Merced River

Same image in black and white

Same image as above in black and white

Same image as above in black and white

We shot Half Dome and also a small grove of trees that framed nicely against the dark mountain.

Grove of trees on the bank of the Merced River

Grove of trees on the bank of the Merced River

We had originally scheduled Wednesday night as Photoshop night, but decided since we had such a volume of images this early, we would do it on Monday night. So, after dinner we set up the computers and spent about 3 hours on Photoshop instruction, including basic theory on layers, masking, and color correction, among other subjects.

Tuesday, March 6

Next day; Columbia Point. Seems the full moon was rising at 7pm, so we packed a few sandwiches and hiked the 1 mile trail (straight up) to Columbia Point and shot the sunset and moonrise. In the process I shot portraits:

Leana from the Yosemite Falls Trail as the moon prepared to peek from behind Half Dome

Leana from the Yosemite Falls Trail as the moon prepared to peek from behind Half Dome

Lem L.

Lem L.

Looking across Yosemite Valley from the Yosemite Falls Trail

Looking across Yosemite Valley from the Yosemite Falls Trail

Color image of the above shot

Color image of the above shot

Moonrise over Half Dome

Moonrise over Half Dome

Playing around with timed exposures of the traffic on Suothside Drive in Yosemite Valley.

Playing around with timed exposures of the traffic on Southside Drive in Yosemite Valley.

Wednesday March 11

Off to Mirror Lake; Although Mirror Lake is no longer a lake it is a beautiful area to shoot; unusual angles on Half Dome, lots of flowing water to shoot, nice hike.

Water cascades down Tenaya Creek at the junction between Upper and Lower Mirror Lakes.

Water cascades down Tenaya Creek at the junction between Upper and Lower Mirror Lakes.

Leana D. shooting the flowing water on Tenaya Creek.

Leana D. shooting the flowing water on Tenaya Creek.

The view of Half Dome from Mirror Lake

The view of Half Dome from Mirror Lake

Black and white version of the above shot.

Black and white version of the above shot.

After dinner at the Ahwahnee, we went to El Cap Meadow and shot the moonrise on El Cap.

Moonlight makes it's way down the face of El Capitan

Moonlight makes it's way down the face of El Capitan

Thursday, March 12

Hike to Vernal Fall. The trail was closed beyond the JMT junction, so we could not get close, which limited the ability to shoot the fall, so we shot the Merced River instead and I shot some portraits of Leana at the bridge.

“The Rules” say that strong direct sunlight is not the best lighting for portraits; it creates too many high contrast shadows on the face, it makes the eyes squint, which in turn takes the best out of a person’s appearance. But in this case I felt there was a good setup; very dark background, and I felt I could mitigate the effects of strong shadows in Photoshop. Plus, Leana has a beautiful face, she smiles really well under any circumstance, so I captured some images to see what I could get. This was the best of the bunch, and I think it’s great.

Leana

Leana

After Vernal Fall, we ate dinner at the Yosemite Mountain Room and then headed out to Tunnel View to shoot stars. What fun! We had a blast standing in the cold doing timed exposures…

Yosemite Vally at night; star trails and jet trails.

Yosemite Vally at night; star trails and jet trails.

Star trails over Yosemite

Star trails over Yosemite

Friday, March 13

Today, Lem decided he wanted to hike the entire Yosemite Falls trail, all the way to the top, despite my admonition that it was not a good idea. He decided to go anyway, and Leana and I passed. So, we went to shoot Cascade Falls on Highway 120, then to the Yosemite Lodge Food Court for more Photoshop instruction.

Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls

We shot Bridalveil Fall as a freeze-frame and timed exposure. The timed exposures were done in bright sunlight, obviously, which necessitated stacking a 4-stop and 8-stop neutral density filters, and a polarizing filter and setting an aperture of 22 in order to be able to do the timed exposure of 5 seconds.

Freeze-frame of Bridalveil Fall

Freeze-frame of Bridalveil Fall

Timed exposure of Bridalveil Fall

Timed exposure of Bridalveil Fall

We shot the Ahwahnee Hotel, exteriors and interiors

The Ahwahnee Hotel

The Ahwahnee Hotel

The Ahwahnee Hotel exterior

The Ahwahnee Hotel exterior

Dining Room

Dining Room

Yosemite Early Summer Waterfall Workshop June 20 – 24, 2011

Wow, what a workshop!  5 folks from all across America witnessed the spring runoff at full blast!  And what a great group it was!  Enthusiasm like I’ve never seen!  They ran me ragged!  We shot moving water in infinite variations, streams, waterfalls; large and small, sunsets, alpenglow…

Yosemite Landscape Photo Workshops

From left, Will Meyer, Todd Hricko, Jennifer Carlson and Lori Ransbottom.

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Workshop student Will from Sentinel Dome

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Lori scouting the top of Sentinel Dome

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Jennifer is literally moved to tears over the view from Glacier Point.

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Todd shooting from Glacier Point, which had just opened for the season on this day.

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Foolish girl displaying her poor judgment. This is how people are killed in YNP.

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Time-lapse with light-painted tree in the foreground. By workshop student Jennifer Carlson

 

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Another group shot with (from left) Will, Todd, Lori and Jennifer

 

Yosemite Landscape Photo Workshops

A timed exposure looking west down Yosemite Valley at dusk.

 

Yosemite Landscape Photo Workshops

Tioga Road had only been open for a few days when we went to Tioga Lake for some spring break-up shots. Jennifer Carlson can be seen in the lower right.

 

Yosemite Landscape Photograhy Workshops

Incredible shot from Jennifer Carlson. GREAT silhouette.

Jennifer Carlson sent me a boatload of tremendous shots.  So far I’m still waiting from shots from the others!!  So, the remaining shots will be from her contribution.

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A great shot of the tunnel.

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Lower and "middle" Yosemite Falls by workshop student Jennifer Carlson

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Great B&W treatment of this spring runoff waterfall by Jennifer Carlson

Yosemite Landscape Photo Workshops

From Tioga Road near White Wolf; sunset above a spring runoff waterfall. By Jennifer Carlson

Yosemite Spring Weekend; May 27 – 29, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend; a full house of some of the most INCREDIBLE photographers I’ve ever had.  And, as you will see, one student insisted on using an iPhone and showing some of us with full-sized DSLR how it’s done!

We had screwy weather, huge crowds and a lot of changing weather.  If you can imagine, we had snow on the highways requiring chains, they closed Glacier Point Road due to snow…  It was crazy!  But we got good shots and turned a lemon into lemonade with 7 solid hours of dramatic shooting conditions at Tunnel View.

This going to be a long post, especially for a 3 day workshop.   I have 40-some-odd shots to post, all worthy of anyone’s wall.

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Workshop student Jeff Perkins shot this tremendous image of a rainbow over Yosemite Valley.

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Workshop student Jaime caught Greg Bull shooting his dad Philip at Washburn Point...

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...and the result a fine shot with perfect fill-flash.

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This is as close as we got to a group shot; if you have any experience herding cats, you know how hard it was to get everyone in the same spot for long enough to do it. Here, Brian, Randy, Jeff and Jaime stand still long enough to capture.

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Greg Bull (blue shirt) shoots at Glacier Point

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Roberta (driving) with Jaime (back seat) off to the next shooting location

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Workshop student Jaime got this shot of the crowd at Washburn Point. This was the first day of Glacier Point Road opening for the season and there was a rush of people.

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Workshop student Jeff Altman got this great reflection shot of Upper Yosemite Fall in Cook's Meadow.

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Workshop student Greg Bull shoots Upper Yosemite Fall.

Workshop student Joel Hershman followed my advice and went wandering for different shots and came up with reflections in a standing pool of water in Cook's Meadow. We all went over to copy what he had done...

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Workshop student Roberta got this reflection of Upper Yosemite Fall.

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Phil Bull shoots Cascade Fall from under the bridge.

Workshop student Joel Hershman shot this pano from Cook's Meadow.

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Workshop student Phil Bull saw this unique shot along the Merced River.

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I absolutely love this shot. It captures the essence of the lure of shooting Tunnel View, probably one of the most photographed vistas in the world. Photo by workshop student Phil Bull

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Another great shot from workshop student Phil Bull along the banks of the Merced River.

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Workshop student Phil Bull shot this unique view of tree stumps at the Mariposa Grove of big trees.

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One more from workshop student Phil Bull from Glacier Point

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Workshop student Phil Bull with this nice shot of the night stars circling the North Star.

As promised, workshop student Jeff Perkins was a major show-off with his iPhone getting some truly unbelievable results.

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These were done with an iPhone app called "True HDR"; can you believe it?? Magnificent!

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Another iPhone shot from Jeff taken from Glacier Point

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more from the iPhone as we shot the sunset and dusk on the Merced River.

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More from Jeff's iPhone

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who woulda thunk it? From an iPhone!!

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Workshop student Jeff Altman went crazy with his B&W post procedures in this wild shot of he foothills of the Sierra National Forest looking west from Wawona Road.

More photos are coming from Roberta, and others.  Will upload them when they come in.

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Mary from Chicago got this nice shot of the Sequoias in the Mariposa Grove.

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Workshop student Mary from Chicago caught this image of Half Dome in the clouds from Glacier Point

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Workshop student Mary from Chicago got this great shot of El Capitan in the mist from Tunnel View.

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Workshop student Jason got this shot of a thunderstorm building over Yosemite Falls.

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Arwinder considering his next shot in Cook's Meadow.

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Workshop student Jason got this most excellent shot of a coyote.

Spring Week Long; May 16 – 20, 2011

What can you say about 13 excellent students, prodigies really, and a variety of weather we could not have ordered out of a Sears catalog!  And for the second year in a row, the May workshop was greeted by wintery weather, rain, clouds, cold and yes, snow!!  All perfect for shooting and learning new techniques.

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The "Partial" group shot; some students opted not to do this hike, and Kevin, the ex-marine went all the way to the top with only a knife clenched in his teeth... (not really, but almost)

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Dick composes his image.

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Laurie enjoying the day in Cook's Meadow shooting panoramas.

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Rudy and Laurie from Columbia Point on the Yosemite Falls Trail.

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Marty and Shirley also from the Columbia Point Trail

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Hal and Dave, brothers, from Columbia Point

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From Cook's Meadow, capturing panos

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Steve Bonswor captured this pano from Cook's Meadows.

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Taking in the view from Columbia Point

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Shooting Vernal Fall from the flat rock.

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Kevin (red cap) prepares to shoot Vernal Fall

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Kevin Black took this great shot of the Upper Yosemite Fall

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We did night shooting from Tunnel View.

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Interesting post procedures on this unique shot of grass in the Merced River by workshop student Steve Bonswor. Excellent example of when it's right to break all the rules.

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Kevin Black shot this tremendous image of a Yosemite Black Bear. This is a rare untagged bear in Yosemite Valley in the vicinity of Bridalveil Fall.

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Several students stayed after the workshop to shoot the "moonbow" at Yosemite Falls. They stayed until 2am! Steve Bonswor got this great one!

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Workshop student Kevin Black got this neat shot from Tunnel View. Great black and white conversion!

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Nice shot of Yosemite Creek below Lower Yosemite Fall by workshop student Shirley.

Yosemite Early Spring 4/8 – 4/9/2011

The March workshop was canceled due to the park being closed, so we had a  make-up workshop with Ashim and Chet, students originally scheduled for that class.

We had perfect shooting conditions for the weekend!  Lot’s of clouds, flowing water, etc.  It was GREAT!!

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Chet took this early morning shot

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Ashim (left) and Chet shooting test shots at Valley View

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The view from Tunnel View was outstanding!

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Another great shot from Chet of Upper Yosemite Fall in the background and the Merced River in the foreground.

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Ashim took this great shot from Tunnel View

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Ashimm took this moving water of the creek below Lower Yosemite Fall.

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Chet took this dramatic shot of Bridalveil Fall

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The light was very dramatic on this day...

Mid Winter week long; Jan 31 – Feb. 4, 2011

I had the pleasure of showing Dennis from Dallas, Texas, the wonders of Yosemite.  He’s got a natural eye and we spent a week shooting all over.  All of the shots are his, except where noted.  I dare say I could not do any better…  He’s a tremendous talent!

The HDR processing you see was done with the new Nik HDR Efex Pro software.

 

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Of course, I took this shot of Dennis at Columbia Rock on the Yosemite Falls Trail.

 

 

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El Capitan with Horsetail Fall; it was too early for Horsetail, as the sun set before it hit the fall.

 

 

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A close up of what could have been.

 

 

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Another view of El Capitan from along the Merced River.

 

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One of my favorites of Half Dome along the banks of the Merced River.

 

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This was shot just as the last twinkle of light faded on Sunday evening. Upper Yosemite Fall.

 

 

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Half Dome at dusk. GREAT light!

 

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A great shot of Yosemite Fall from the Swinging Bridge.

 

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Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View

 

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Looking west along highway 41 south of the valley.

 

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Cascade Falls

 

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Motion blur shot of Bridalveil Fall

Winter Weekend Workshop February 11 – 13, 2011

8 folks convened on Yosemite Valley to capture Horsetail Fall, and even though there was very little waterflow from the fall, a great job was done by all to capture what there was to shoot.  What a great bunch of people!  from Tennessee, Ukraine (by way of Vegas), and California.

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This was as good as it got for Horsetail. Shot by workshop student Tatyana.

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The Group along the banks of the Merced River to shoot Horsetail Fall.

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Mike (L) and Keith get set for Horsetail Fall on the bank of the Merced River

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Tatyana from Ukraine getting set for Horsetail Fall.

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Glenn and Carin from Tennessee

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Mike scopes out his shot of Bridalveil Fall

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Joel, from Alaska, standing in the freezing water of the Merced River scoping out a shot... What dedication!

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Carin sets up for a shot of Half Dome from Columbia Rock on the Yosemite Falls Trail.

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Tatyana hams it up at Columbia Rock

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Keith along the bank of the Merced River assessing his photo opportunities.

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Joel tries some macro shooting

 

 

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We did some night shooting with a quarter moon out; it was perfect!

 

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Tatyana got this shot of Bridalveil Fall at night on a timed exposure.

 

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Mike setting up for motion blur shots of Bridalveil Fall.

 

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Glenn also setting up for Bridalveil Fall.

 

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Carin had her own perch for shots of Horsetail...

 

 

February 18-20, 2011; Horsetail Fall

Horsetail Fall did not cooperate with us this year, but we were more than compensated by a world-class blizzard that dumped 3 feet of new snow on the valley floor resulting in absurdly stupendous scenery to shoot.  15 folks from all over the country convened and got shots they will be hard-pressed to ever repeat.

The workshop was dealt some difficulties due to the snow, digging out the cars, waiting for NPS to open the roads, and having to put on mandatory chains…  causing some delay in getting out to the shooting locations when we wanted.  But everyone exhibited patience in dealing with the unexpected, and GREAT shots resulted, especially at night.

So far I have shots from only one student, Clair, but it’s early yet, and as soon as folks have a chance to process their huge inventory of shots I’ll be getting more to add to this post.

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15 GREAT folks battled the elements to get a shot of Horsetail... but, alas, it was not to be. Conditions did not smile on us.

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Night shot of Yosemite Valley

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Clair got this tremendous shot of a coyote.

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Keith Kountz, from Fresno, assisted in making sure everyone had their questions answered.

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John Hampton from Sacramento always had a smile on his face.

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Absolutely stunning vistas of snow-carpeted Yosemite Valley.

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Another take on the scene.

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Pam from San Bernadino came with a brand new Nikon, and learned to use it this weekend.

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Clair got this great wide shot of Yosemite Valley.

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The view of upper Yosemite Fall from the valley floor. INCREDIBLE!

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Workshop student Lynn composes her shot from Cook Meadow

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Night shot of Yosemite Valley as cars moved through the mist on the valley floor.

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Tram provides the refreshments while waiting in vain for Horsetail Fall to light up.

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Karen gets her shot in Cook's Meadow

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Workshop student Clair got this shot of Upper Yosemite Fall

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Bridalveil Fall appears as a ghostly outline in this shot from Valley View vista.

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Lower Yosemite Fall during the blizzard.

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A great night shot of Yosemite Valley from workshop student Jenny.

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Workshop student Lynn composed this unique shot of El Capitan from Tunnel View

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workshop student Jenny got this shot of the Merced River with Bridalveil Fall in the background.

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Workshop student Jenny with a unique composition of Bridalveil Fall.

 

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Nice shot of a deer that wandered into Cook's meadow, captured by Lynn

 

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GREAT shot of Yosemite Valley from the Wawona road from workshop student Lynn

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