A Spring Visit To Yosemite Valley


It has been several years since I have visited Yosemite in the spring and the last few days prior to departure had me pacing around my house filled with excitement.

Fun Facts:

Miles Driven: 912

Miles Walked: 20+

Days with Thunder and Lightning: 2

Days with Rain: 3

Days with Snow: 1

Cups of coffee consumed: 23

Number of critters spotted: 11 deer, 18 squirrels, 1 skunk, 1 trout and 1 opossum

Shutter Releases: 1446

Photographs Created: 78

Trip Summary and Notes:

Monday 5/14/18 - 130AM Alarm. On the road at 205AM. It seemed to take forever to get through L.A. and on the "right side" of the Grapevine (the darkness does that.) Sunrise occurred when I was somewhere just north of Bakersfield. I made my usual pit stop in Selma to top off my tank and make room for more coffee. I wiggled my way up the mountain and into the park via HWY 41. I made my first photograph in Yosemite Valley just a few minutes before 10AM.

The Three Brothers - One of the first photographs I made on this trip

Tuesday 5/15/18 - 330AM Alarm. Sunrise at Tunnel View was a bust. Spent the entire rest of the day photographing at various locations throughout the Valley.

El Capitan reflected in a seasonal pond near the edge of a meadow. It's finds like these that motivate me to get out and go for a walk.

Wednesday 5/16/18 - 330AM Alarm. Yosemite Falls, Starry Skies and Sunrise. Started working areas near El Capitan Meadow. I was 10 minutes on foot from my vehicle on my way to another off the beaten path spot I like to visit. When for reasons unknown to me I turned around to look back towards where I came from. It was then that I noticed clouds spilling down into the west end of the Valley. CHANGE OF PLANS!

I immediately turned around and fast walked back to my vehicle knowing that I was now heading to Tunnel View! As I slowly drove through the Valley I silently prayed that the cloud event would not fall apart. It took me nearly 15 minutes to reach Tunnel View, (it felt like an hour.) When I arrived, I was surprised to see only two other people there and ample parking.

As I approached the rock wall at the vista I now understood why there were so few people there. We were completely socked in. Visibility was maybe 20 feet! Fast moving low clouds were streaming from just over my left shoulder and smashing into the invisible canyon wall to my immediate right. Surreal!

Cold, damp, breezy and white. Down jacket, beanie, fleece gloves, and coffee!

I spent nearly three hours there and was treated to several breaks in the clouds which revealed El Capitan and or Bridalveil Fall. I never saw Half Dome during this event. I was able to create a few interesting photographs like the one below.

Tunnel View - Morning Drama

After nearly three hours I decided to go look for other ways to take advantage of the clouds and weather event. I was not disappointed with what I found.

Yosemite Valley - El Capitan, Fast Moving Clouds

Thursday 5/17/18 - 300AM Alarm - Star Trails at Tunnel View was my plan. To cloudy for star trails when I arrived. At 431AM the sky was now clear and filled with stars. I released my shutter thinking I did not have enough darkness remaining to create my intended 60 frame series (1 30 second exposure after another for 30 minutes.) I was right :( the results are nowhere near usable. Lesson learned.

I spent the rest of the day wandering throughout the Valley looking for and making photographs.

Yosemite Falls (All three sections)

Yosemite - Tunnel View, Building Storm

Yosemite Valley - El Capitan

Friday 5/18/18 - I slept in! 4AM Alarm - Sunrise at Valley View was my plan. 100% boring blue sky - bust. That's how it goes. I only get up here a few times a year so I have to plan the best I can, take advantage of all of the best opportunities, but most importantly be flexible and roll with the punches. If only I lived closer :)

I spent the rest of my day chasing the light throughout the Valley while looking for opportunities to work on one of my favorite types of landscape photography, abstracts. I really enjoy the challenge and creativity that goes into identifying and transforming a fragment of my immediate environment into an interesting and enjoyable abstract photograph like the ones below.

Yosemite Valley - Merced River, Spring Flow

Yosemite Valley - Three Trees

Yosemite Valley - Merced River and Rocky River Bank

Saturday 5/19/18 - 2AM Alarm. On the road at 230AM. I got all the way down into the small town of Mariposa before I encountered the first vehicle on the move besides myself. I rolled into my driveway at 1050AM with the entire day ahead of me. I could not wait to start processing my photographs! I started the upload process and was able to completely unload my vehicle and put everything away before the upload process had completed. Let the fun begin!

Yosemite Valley - Seclusion

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