Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Reflections and Meadows in Yosemite National Park

Of course where there’s water, there are opportunities for reflections—that is, if the water isn’t moving too quickly, and if the air is quiet enough so as to not create ripples.  Such were the opportunities for us last week in Yosemite.  Whether it was shooting Yosemite Falls across the quiet Merced River at Swing Bridge, or gazing up at Half Dome through the reflections in water pools in Cook’s Meadow or up at Mirror Lake, reflections were abundant.  There is something about the symmetry of seeing an object and it’s reflection all at the same time that photographers can’t resist.

In spite of all the water flowing throughout the Park, it was often the meadows that held secrets of beauty for those willing to seek them out.  And with the chilly mornings, there was also a low foggy mist that clung to the ground just long enough to decorate meadows.

It was paying attention though that often had the biggest payoffs.  At one point I’m taking pictures of Half Dome in the distance with a beautiful meadow carpet leading you to it, when I noticed this lone photographer out in the middle of the meadow, tucked up against some trees.  He was sitting in a stool and his camera was on a tripod.  He was camped there, but for reasons that were not immediately clear—for I had a good angle on Half Dome, how could his be better.  It was after I decided to satisfy my curiosity and be social that I started walking out to him.  It quickly became clear why he was where he was.  Because just in front of him was a small pond of water, just big enough to give him a fantastic reflection of Half Dome if you were close to the ground with a low angle.  I smiled at him, patted him on the shoulder, and thanked him for staking out such a great location.  I asked him where he was headed next…he wouldn’t say! 

You can view the entire Yosemite collection on my website gallery at http://www.costamesaphotography.com/Northern-California-Central/Yosemite

If you have questions or comments, please don't hesitate to send me a note at CostaMesaPhotography@gmail.com

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Monumental Beauty

As you first enter the Yosemite National Park (if you come from Fresno that you most likely be highway 41), you are surrounded by trees and greeted with winding roads.  Yosemite Valley is at about 4000 foot elevation, but it will be 30 minutes of driving from the park entrance until we get there.  You know that your final decent into the valley is nearly complete when you enter a long tunnel.  It’s dark in the tunnel which all the more increases the anticipation and drama of what lies at the other end.  Directly at the end of the tunnel is parking lot, and for good reason—it’s the iconic view from this point (referred to as Tunnel View) that first takes your breath away and gives hint to what lies ahead.  It’s so amazing and surreal that it’s hard to take it all in and make sense of it.  The towering cliffs, vast valleys of trees and grasses, snow-capped peaks, and gushing waterfalls combine to present a visual fantasy that only the Great Creator could have imagined.  Breathtaking, literally.

Throughout our journey, the different monoliths of granite showed off their size and grandeur from every location around the valley floor.  With famous names like Half Dome, El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, Leaning Tower, The Three Brothers, Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome, etc… there was always a good landmark to help orient you, and amaze you.

The lighting in Yosemite can be a bit tricky for a couple of reasons.  First of all, there isn’t really a sunrise and sunset in the traditional sense where a horizon in the distance reveals and conceals the beginning and end of days.  Because you’re in a valley surrounded by steep geological formations, you begin to see the very tops of these features kissed with sunshine to begin and end each day.  The second reason the lighting is tricky, is that the angles of the sun favor shooting different places at different times of the day.  Some areas are best shot in the morning, others are best shot during the afternoon, and some are even best during the middle of the day when the sun is just right to highlight a feature that is mostly in shade the rest of the time.
You can view the entire Yosemite collection on my website gallery at http://www.costamesaphotography.com/Northern-California-Central/Yosemite-1
If you have questions or comments, please don't hesitate to send me a note at CostaMesaPhotography@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Ghost Town of Golden, New Mexico

Golden is a sparsely populated ghost located between the towns of Cedar Crest and Madrid.  Golden was inhabited by Native Americans and Spaniards long before American settlers came to the area. However, it began to boom when gold was discovered in 1825. Years before the California and Colorado gold rushes, the site of Golden became the first gold rush west of the Mississippi River.  Mining continued on a small scale until about 1892 and ranching continued to be a mainstay of the economy. In 1918 the Golden General Merchandise Store opened, which is the only business in town that continues to operate today. It is now referred to by the locals as Henderson General Store, giving credit to its owner.

By 1928, the population was so reduced that the post office closed and Golden officially became a ghost town. For years afterwards, its many abandoned buildings remained, tumbling down between its few remaining occupied structures. Golden's most photographed building is the San Francisco Catholic Church, which was restored by historian and author, Fray Angelico Chavez, in 1960, while he was the padre of the St Joseph Church in Los Cerrillos.

It was still very early in the morning when we stumbled into Golden.  The first few sights were those of desperately abandoned structures—some less habitable than others.  But up on a hill easily accessible by walking up a snow covered dirt road was the church—a shining beacon on a hill if you will.  The brisk mountain air accompanied by the snow crunching under our feet combined to create a wonderful sense as we took up various position for making photographs.

The charm, and enchantment of New Mexico is ever present along the Turquoise Trail.  You can see more at my website gallery at:  http://www.costamesaphotography.com/Arizona-New-Mexico/Turquoise-Trail