Friday, October 31, 2014

Travel: Yosemite National Park In Autumn - Photography Notes

Arches From Glacier Point - Yosemite National Park, California
I tilted the camera a little to make the composition more interesting. There are several areas of high contrast on the granite to draw the viewer's eyes. Because this image is about light contrast and not color, I converted it to black-and-white.

In this post I've included a bunch of photographs from my recent trip to Yosemite National Park. Some of these are my favorite images from that trip. Others are photographs that I wanted to comment about.

I used a Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 40mm AF-S DX F/2.8G Micro lens for most of the photographs. The other camera I used was a Nokia Lumia 1020. I used a vintage Sunset aluminum tripod a couple of times. I screwed a circular polarizer filter onto the end of the lens for many of the images.

All of the post-processing was accomplished using Alien Skin Exposure 6 software. I love Exposure because it gives me the look that I want quickly. My workflow has become much more efficient since I began using this software, and I'm able to more accurately achieve the desired results.
Half Dome & Pine Tree - Yosemite National Park, California
I'd like to say that this image is an original idea, but it is not. I've seen an almost identical photograph somewhere before. I think the deep shadow at bottom-right is a bit distracting.
Two Photographers At Glacier Point - Yosemite National Park, California
I liked the balance of this scene. You have repeated lines and elements, a leading line, contrast, positive and negative spaces, scale, and a human element.
Evening At Tunnel View - Yosemite National Park, California
This was captured at dusk. It's a one-second exposure. I put the camera on a tripod, but just to ensure no camera shake I used "Live View" (which raises the mirror) and set the self timer.
Autumn Leaves In Fern Spring - Yosemite National Park, California
I like this image and the one below together. The water is so still in Fern Spring, and yet it is really flowing in the Merced River. These two scenes were found close together and the images captured nine minutes apart, and thematically they are similar, but the feeling is completely different between the two.
The Merced River - Yosemite National Park, California
This photograph is about an overall feeling more than any one element. The 1/125 shutter speed was just slow enough to show so movement in the water.
El Capitan From Bridalveil Creek - Yosemite National Park, California
I pulled over and exposed this frame standing next to the car. It's about contrast, and since color wasn't important I converted it to monochrome.
El Capitan Reflection - Yosemite National Park, California
I like this photograph a lot. The base of the trees blend right into the rocky shore. The little ripple and the leaves in the sky give it away that it is a reflection. I flipped it so that you wouldn't have to view it upside-down.
El Capitan From Cathedral Beach - Yosemite National Park, California
I digitally used a "red filter" to darken the sky, which made the granite rock stand out more.
Rainbows Over Cathedral Rocks - Yosemite National Park, California
This is a cool natural effect called cloud iridescence. The circular polarizer filter helped enhance it.
Cathedral Spire Veiled - Yosemite National Park, California
This took a few tries to get just right. The sun was going behind the clouds, and the wind was blowing the tree branches a little. I had to dial the exposure compensation down a couple of stops. 
Columbia Rock - Yosemite National Park, California
I needed a wide-angle lens to effectively capture this scene, so that meant using my cell phone.
Trees At Swinging Bridge - Yosemite National Park, California
This scene was back-lit, but that helped to make it stand out against the shaded mountain in the background.
John Muir - Yosemite National Park, California
This statue is in the visitor's center museum. I wanted to make a portrait out of it, as if it were John Muir himself sitting in the park.
Royal Arches From Curry Village - Yosemite National Park, California
This image was cropped square because there were distracting elements on the left side that needed to be removed.
Two Bikes - Yosemite National Park, California
This photograph is about color contrast between the red and green.
Autumn Colors - Yosemite National Park, California
Same thing--red and green color contrast. This was captured in Curry Village.
Cathedral Spires From Cook's Meadow - Yosemite National Park, California
This might be my favorite photograph of the trip. It seems to have the right balance of elements, and the lighting just worked out so well. It looks like an old-school black-and-white landscape photograph captured on film.
Valley View - Yosemite National Park, California
A wide-angle lens was needed so I used my cell phone. I darkened the sky to simulate using an orange filter.
Cathedral Spires From Valley View - Yosemite National Park, California
There is a good balance of elements and positive/negative space. I digitally used an "orange filter" to darken the sky.
Tunnel View - Yosemite National Park, California
This isn't quite as good as "Evening At Tunnel View" but I still like it. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Travel: Yosemite National Park In Autumn - Day 2, Part 2

John Muir - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 3200, f2.8, 1/50, 10/20 at 1:03 PM

We started off the afternoon in Yosemite Village. It wasn't necessarily crowded, but this had by far the largest concentration of people that we saw anywhere in the park. After a quick rest and some light refreshments we explored this area.

The first stop was the Ansel Adams Gallery. I've wanted to see this place for years, but what a disappointment! I was expecting some sort of exhibit, but this is nothing more than a store of (mostly) Ansel Adams' images. People are making big money off of the art of someone who passed away many years ago. They should have a little museum telling his story and exhibit his most memorable work. But that's not what this place is. Sad.

We made a stop at the little museum inside the visitors center. It was decent enough and the kids were entertained. We also made our way through the native-american village. The kids liked going inside the teepees. We then had lunch. 
Yosemite Girl - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 560, f10, 1/125, 10/20 at 2:15 PM
After that we hopped on one of the shuttle buses and rode it around to Curry Village. By this time of the day Curry Village was shaded and quite cool. Almost immediately we spotted nearby a mommy bear with a little cub. Talk about experiencing nature!

We spent about an hour looking around this area, visiting the gift shop and just being out in the forest. After that we got back on the bus towards Yosemite Village.

The shuttle dropped us off pretty much right next to our car. We loaded up and headed towards our final stops, winding down our trip.
Bears At Curry Village - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 3200, f5, 1/125, 10/20 at 2:40 PM
I had wanted to experience sunrise at Cook's Meadow, but missed the opportunity. I didn't want to leave the park without at least stopping at this site, and I was glad to capture a couple of images. There were several photographers "camped out" for the sunset.

After that we headed to Valley View. I wasn't sure exactly where the pullout was and I accidentally past it by. I saw a crowded lot, but by the time I decided that it was the well-known Valley View site, it was too late to pull in and park. Instead, I found a pullout just beyond Fern Spring, just on the other side of the Merced River from Valley View. I then hiked through the weeds (there was a trail--sort of) very close to the famous spot. I captured a few photographs and trampled back to the car.

The final stop was Tunnel View. It was still an hour before sunset, but the light was good. After snapping a few frames I placed the camera on the tripod for one last image: a family photograph.
North Dome - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 320, f10, 1/125, 10/20 at 2:42 PM
We got back in the car and left the park. We had a lot of driving left and still needed to eat dinner. The kids were troopers through it all, and I think we maximized the experienced.

Yosemite National Park was just phenomenal. There wasn't much in the way of water. Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Falls were dry, as was Mirror Lake. The Merced River was low. Despite that, the place was filled with beauty, and amazing sites were found around every corner. It was also nice to see the park with hints of autumn colors.

I plan to return to Yosemite National Park in the spring, perhaps in mid-May. I think that trip might be a bit longer. It will be interesting to see how much different the park is in the spring. Funny thing, my five-year-old son has been asking when we'll go back to Yosemite.
Royal Arches From Curry Village - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 100, f5, 1/200, 10/20 at 3:08 PM
Two Bikes - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 2000, f4, 1/125, 10/20 at 3:14 PM
Yosemite Boy - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 2800, f4.5, 1/125, 10/20 at 3:18 PM.
Autumn Colors - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 1800, f4.5, 1/125, 10/20 at 3:27 PM
Cathedral Spires From Cook's Meadow - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 220, f7.1, 1/125, 10/20 at 4:20 AM
Half Dome From Cook's Meadow - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 100, f7.1, 1/160, 10/20 at 4:25 PM
Valley View - Yosemite National Park, California
Captured using a Nokia Lumia 1020.
ISO 100, f2.2, 1/1299, 10/20 at 4:52 PM
El Capitan From Valley View - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 160, f9, 1/125, 10/20 at 4:52 PM
Cathedral Spires From Valley View - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 320, f10, 1/125, 10/20 at 4:53 PM
Tunnel View - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 100, f8, 1/200, 10/20 at 5:04 PM
The Family - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 500, f10, 1/125, fill-flash and tripod used, 10/20 at 5:16 PM

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Travel: Yosemite National Park In Autumn - Day 2, Part 1

Autumn Leaves In Fern Spring - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 1250, f3.2, 1/125, 10/20 at 10:20 AM

My original plan for this day was to get up early, make the one-hour trek into Yosemite to catch the sunrise, head back to the hotel in Mariposa, eat breakfast and check out, then head back to the park with my family. But that plan wasn't very good and didn't end up working out.

Instead we stayed together, and were on the road by 9:15, heading towards Yosemite Valley. We were well rested and had a good breakfast at the hotel.

The first stop inside of Yosemite National Park was Fern Spring. This is an unassuming pullout just past Pohono Bridge. There is a natural spring that someone a long time ago put stones around. It was a good stop to let the kids stretch their legs after the drive in.
The Merced River - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 1000, f9, 1/125, 10/20 at 10:29 AM
Across the street from Fern Spring is a short trail that leads down to the Merced River. I went by myself, and that turned out to be a good choice because the trail was quite rough at times. The river was obviously low, but it was good spot to capture some autumn images.

We then got back in the car and headed further into Yosemite Valley, making a very quick stop at the Bridalveil Creek pullout. After that we made our way to Cathedral Beach, which turned out to be a great stop.

We arrived at Cathedral Beach at 10:45 AM and stayed for 20 or 25 minutes. The river was low so the beach was large. At times we were the only ones there.
Merced River At Fern Spring - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 2500, f9, 1/125, 10/20 at 10:29 AM
Cathedral Beach is a great place to photograph El Capitan. I was even able to get a good reflection photograph of the giant rock, thanks to the smooth surface of the Merced River.

On this trip I kept the camera equipment light and simple. I had a Nikon D3300 DSLR with a 40mm AF-S DX f/2.8G Micro lens attached. I brought along a vintage Sunset aluminum tripod, which folds up small and is lightweight, and a circular polarizer filter, which I screwed onto the end of the lens at this stop. I also had my Nokia Lumia 1020 cell phone with me and used it when I wanted to go wide-angle.

The next stop was Swinging Bridge, which offered good views of the Cathedral Spires and Columbia Rock (at least that's what I think it is called), as well as the Merced River. There was a nasty stench coming from the restrooms here, almost ruining the experience. We stayed for about 15 minutes.
El Capitan From Bridalveil Creek - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 200, f10, 1/125, 10/20 at 10:36 AM
Thy skies had remained bright blue during our visit except for a brief period before lunch when some high clouds moved through. It created a weird "rainbow" around the Cathedral Rocks that lasted several minutes. It also added some sky interest to a few of my photographs. Before long the sky was back to being blue.

The final stop for the morning was Yosemite Village. We arrived just before noon with the intention of eating lunch and visiting the museums, galleries and shops. I snapped a quick image of Half Dome from the parking lot.

At Yosemite Village we saw deer and all sorts of other wildlife. The kids really loved that part. We grabbed some refreshments and took a little rest before continuing on with our adventure.

Trees At Cathedral Beach - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 560, f11, 1/125, 10/20 at 10:47 AM
El Capitan Reflection - Yosemite National Park, California
I flipped this image so you wouldn't have to view it upside-down.
ISO 800, f9, 1/125, 10/20 at 10:48 AM
El Capitan From Cathedral Beach - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 100, f9, 1/160, 10/20 at 10:49 AM
Merced River At Cathedral Beach - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 360, f13, 1/125, 10/20 at 10:59 AM
Merced River And El Capitan - Yosemite National Park, California
Captured using a Nokia Lumia 1020.
ISO 100, f2.2, 1/1404, 10/20 at 11:04 AM
El Capitan - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 160, f13, 1/125, 10/20 at 11:04 AM
River At Cathedral Beach - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 250, f13, 1/125, 10/20 at 11:04 AM
Merced River At Swinging Bridge - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 250, f9, 1/125, 10/20 at 11:24 AM
Rainbows Over Cathedral Rocks - Yosemite National Park, California
This was a weird phenomenon that briefly occurred.
ISO 100, f9, 1/800, 10/20 at 11:26 AM
Cathedral Spire Veiled - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 100, f9, 1/400, 10/20 at 11:29 AM
Columbia Rock - Yosemite National Park, California
Captured using a Nokia Lumia 1020.

ISO 100, f2.2, 1/1372, 10/20 at 11:30 AM
Trees At Swinging Bridge - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 720, f13, 1/125, 10/20 at 11:37 AM
Half Dome From Yosemite Village - Yosemite National Park, California
ISO 220, f13, 1/125, 10/20 at 11:58 AM