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
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