Posted by: kerryl29 | July 11, 2017

Day 3: More From Yosemite

The weather forecast for my second full day at Yosemite National Park called for partly cloudy conditions in the morning with increasing cloudiness around noon with rain likely in the afternoon.  My original plan was to head back to the Cook’s/Sentinel Meadow area for daybreak but for some reason, as I approached the turnoff for the Wawona Road, I decided to give Tunnel View a try instead.

Bridalveil Falls from Tunnel View Black & White, Yosemite National Park, California

The classic shot of Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View–one of the most recognized scenes in the world–is made at sunset, but since the view is ostensibly east-facing I was intrigued with the possibility of a colorful sky and morning mist in the valley (given the chilly temperatures and relatively high humidity), creating a somewhat different look to this iconic scene.  It’s only a few minutes from the turnoff to the overlook; it was still dark when I reached the viewpoint and there were only a few other people present.  As the light came up, mist in the valley was indeed revealed; I’d made at least one good call.

Bridalveil Falls from Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California

As I waited to see if the sky would light up, I concentrated on long lens views, focusing my attention on Bridalveil Falls and the fog that was weaving its way through the forest in the valley below.

Yosemite Valley in Fog from Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California

Eventually, the clouds to the east began to light up very quickly.  I switched cameras and went with a wider, more traditional perspective, including El Capitan on the north side of the valley.

Yosemite Valley at Sunrise from Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California

It became clear after a few minutes that the color wasn’t going to expand very far into the sky so I went back to the telephoto lens and zeroed in on Half Dome and the slopes at the east end of the valley.

Half Dome at Sunrise from Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California

The color started to fade only minutes after it had arrived and I went back to the wider angle.

Yosemite Valley at Sunrise from Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California

Clouds began to take over the eastern sky completely and it became evident that the dawn color had peaked.

Bridalveil Falls from Tunnel View Black & White, Yosemite National Park, California

I grabbed a telephoto shot or two more in the even light and then grabbed my things and raced back down to the valley floor in the hopes of capturing some misty scenes before the fog lifted.

Sentinel Rock Moonset, Sentinel Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

Upper Yosemite Falls from Sentinel Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

The mist was already being depleted when I reached Sentinel Meadow, but I managed to nab a few images before it burned off completely.  The sun was piercing through what was left of the clouds and the fog.

Sentinel Rock Moonset, Yosemite National Park, California

Upper Yosemite Falls from Sentinel Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

I slowly made my way through Sentinel Meadow to the Merced River, ultimately crossing a bridge, which took me to Cook’s Meadow, on the north bank of the Merced, in the direction of Yosemite Falls.

Upper Yosemite Falls from Sentinel Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

White-Tail Deer, Sentinel Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

Upper Yosemite Falls from Sentinel Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

Upper Yosemite Falls from Sentinel Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

By the time I crossed the river the mist was all but gone and the sun was starting to directly impact the granite walls on the north side of the valley.

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls from Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls from Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

Upper Yosemite Falls from Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

Upper Yosemite Falls Reflections from Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

I retraced my steps back toward the river and made one image on my way back to my starting point.

Upper Yosemite Falls from the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California

I then drove around to the north side of the valley, crossing Sentinel Bridge, and stopped near Yosemite Falls.

Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park, California

Then I continued west until I reached El Capitan Meadow.  Unlike the previous day, where I’d only scouted, I pulled out my gear and wandered around a bit, surprised to find occasional bits of lingering morning mist.

El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

Tree Cluster, El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

The forecast had called for increasing clouds as the morning wore on and that’s indeed what happened.  By the time I reached the Pohono Bridge at the western end of the valley it was almost totally cloudy.  I stopped at the bridge to work with the dogwoods located along both sides of the river.

Dogwood from Pohono Bridge, Yosemite National Park, California

The wind was much lighter than it had been the previous day so I concentrated on intimates of dogwood branches arching over the river.

Dogwood from Pohono Bridge, Yosemite National Park, California

I also spent some time working with river abstracts.

Merced River from Pohono Bridge, Yosemite National Park, California

Merced River from Pohono Bridge Black & White, Yosemite National Park, California

When I was done at this spot it was around noon and completely cloudy.  Coupled with the light winds, the conditions were perfect for a return to the Tuolumne Grove in the high country, where I’d been washed out the day before.  I had discovered phenomenal dogwood blooms in the grove and now I had an ideal opportunity to produce the images I’d had to forego the previous day.  Just prior to the turnoff for the Tuolumne Grove on CA-120 I took note of the scene in the Crane Flats meadow–a nice assortment of freshly budding aspens were in evidence.  I figured I’d take another look at this spot on the way out.

Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

It took better than a half-hour to reach the grove parking lot, which was no more than half full.  With no rain in sight–it was a bright overcast–I made a hasty hike down to the sequoias.  The interspersed dogwoods were, if anything, even more magnificent than they’d been the afternoon before and since I’d scouted the grove in the rain I knew just where I wanted to go.

Sequoias and Dogwoods, Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Sequoias and Dogwoods, Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

On some of the wider images I had to wait for people to move out of the way, but there weren’t that many visitors and very few of them spent much time lingering in the places I was photographing so there wasn’t much of an impediment to deal with.

Sequoias and Dogwoods, Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Dogwoods Blossoms, Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Dogwoods Blossoms Closeup, Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

While my attention was principally on the dogwoods, they weren’t the only subjects of my images.

Sequoias Black & White, Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Forest Floor Closeup, Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

But inevitably, I returned to the dogwoods.

Dogwoods, Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Sequoias and Dogwoods, Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

After several hours with the dogwoods and sequoias, I returned to the trailhead and made the very short drive to reexamine Crane Flats.  When I got there , there was a jam…I figured wildlife, and I was right.  A momma bear and two cubs were far off in the meadow.  I saw them, and pulled my gear out, but they were too far away to be anything but specks.  A park ranger, wisely, was hanging around to make sure that none of the 20-odd visitors present did anything stupid, like walk into the meadow to approach the bears.  After about five minutes, the bears wandered into the trees at the far end of the meadow and the other attendees all gradually left.  I then scoped out the shot that had attracted my attention in the first place–the aspens.  The composition I liked was attainable from the edge of the road.

Aspens, Crane Flats, Yosemite National Park, California

It started to drizzle, briefly, while I was at Crane Flats, but it never amounted to much and by the time I was descending back toward Yosemite Valley on Big Oak Flat Road it had ceased completely.  On the way down, I stopped at a pullout that I’d scouted the day before, which provided fairly easy access to both Cascade and Tamarack Creeks, both of which were torrents of snow melt runoff.

Cascade Creek, Yosemite National Park, California

Cascade Creek, Yosemite National Park, California

I crossed the road several times and was able to check out a number of different perspectives from the bridges that span the creeks.  A number of other people were examining the creeks from the bridges as well and taking pictures of themselves and/or others in front of the creek waterfalls…often by standing in the middle of this winding, blind-curve-filled relatively high-speed road which made me repeatedly shake my head as cars routinely screeched to a stop.  Fortunately, there were no accidents.

Cascade Creek, Yosemite National Park, California

Tamarack Creek, Yosemite National Park, California

I found ways to safely descend to near-creek level for both Cascade and Tamarack, but I didn’t find any (safe) photo points that I liked as much as the ones from up on the bridges, so I didn’t make any additional images.

It was late afternoon when I reached the valley floor and I decided to check out the area around Bridalveil Falls.  I had taken a quick look the day before; the parking area astride the short trail to the base of the falls remained partially flooded, and after pulling into a spot in a dry section of the pavement I found a photo location that I liked, at the far end of the lot.  I moved around a bit before settling on a specific long lens composition.

Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park, California

I wandered into the forest surrounding the Bridalveil parking area and found another couple of images, far off the beaten track, that I decided to capture.

Dogwood, Yosemite National Park, California

Conifer Forest, Yosemite National Park, California

I went back to the foot of Bridalveil Falls and found the conditions similar to the previous day:  the amount of wind being produced by the waterfall itself was driving mist all over the viewing area, soaking absolutely everything and everyone.  Attempting to photograph from this spot would have been an exercise is frustration.  So, I went downstream to check on the creek that serves as an outlet for Bridalveil; it ultimately drains into the Merced River.  After poking around a bit, I found a couple of compositions that I found interesting, including the one you see below.

Bridalveil Outlet Stream, Yosemite National Park, California

It was early evening by the time I wrapped at Bridalveil; it was still cloudy and that plainly wasn’t going to change.  I decided to spend the remaining daylight photographing along a section of the Merced River west of the park, in the Sierra National Forest; I’d driven through this area on the way in on the first day.  So I meandered around a section of the river roughly 10 miles west of the park boundary, in an area known broadly as the Merced River Canyon.

Merced River Black & White, Sierra National Forest, California

Merced River, Sierra National Forest, California

Even this far downstream, the Merced River was simply flying, a function of all the water resulting from the slow melting of the snow pack in the High Sierra.  I dabbled around five or six different spots along a five-odd-mile section of the river, along CA-140.

Merced River, Sierra National Forest, California

Merced River, Sierra National Forest, California

As the light faded, I found one final location, east of the previous spots, and settled in for the last couple of shots of the day.

Merced River, Sierra National Forest, California

Merced River, Sierra National Forest, California

And that brought the end to a long–approximately 15 hours all told–day of photography.  This was to become a regular timetable for me on this trip, including the next full day at Yosemite.

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Responses

  1. Once again, I feel like I am right back in Yosemite. You have really captured the beauty of the delicate dogwoods, the grandeur of the trees, and the power of the water. You chose the perfect time to visit the park.

    • Thanks, Ellen!

      The timing of the visit worked out really well, other than the limited access to the high country. But there are always trade-offs. Given the amount of snow that fell in the Sierras this winter, I’ll take the water flow that was ubiquitous in the valley this spring. The dogwood blooms–which, interestingly, were simultaneously at peak down in the valley and up in the Tuolumne Grove–were a major, major bonus. Yeah, all things considered, the timing really was as close to ideal as it gets.

  2. Wow! Your pictures are amazing. I like the little details and your way of editing!

    • Thanks very much!

  3. Beautiful work Kerry. Really enjoying all of these images.

  4. Beautiful.

  5. Beautiful!

  6. Gorgeous shots! What a beautiful area of the country…

    • Thanks…and I agree, Yosemite is indeed a beautiful park.

  7. Beautiful!

  8. Amazing photos!!! Really love your travel. I really like the first shot in b&w. I imagine if you crop the mountain top off, it can become a abstract nature.
    I really like the photos of waterfall and the meadow, really great composition. Which I like in landscape photography.
    Really great place, making me wish I can go to Yosemite one day.

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment; I really appreciate it.

      I think if you crop the first b/w as you suggest you end up with something very close to the third shot in the sequence (which I converted to black and white, but didn’t include in this particular presentation).

      I hope you do have the opportunity to visit Yosemite at some point; it’s a beautiful place.

  9. Lovely!

    • Thank very much!

  10. […] I mentioned in my description of Day 3 at Yosemite, there was valley mist early in the morning.  A perusal of the expected weather […]


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