Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Photographing the Beauty of Yosemite in Fall Colors

It has been quite a while since I have visited Yosemite National Park and this was my first time photographing the park with fall colors. Many months ago, I made reservations to stay at the Yosemite Valley Lodge on the valley floor and last week was the first available opening. It turned out to be great timing!

We left the San Francisco Bay Area very early in the morning to give us as much time as possible in the park. The first stop for me has to be Tunnel View - my favorite view of Yosemite. It is the most photographed location in the park, but a must capture. For this trip, I brought my Canon R5 body with the Canon RF 24-105mm lens and Tiffen Circular Polarizing filter. I also brought the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, but rarely used that. 

Once we got down to the valley floor, we were blown away with the fall colors. 

We walked around to get different views of Half Dome framed with the colorful trees.

Most of the water falls were at a fraction of their full volume, but Bridal Veil Falls still looked great. I framed this shot to get as much fall colors in the foreground of the falls.

You might be looking at this photo and thinking "Jeff - what were you thinking taking this shot?" Well...let me tell you. I took this shot from a bridge and when exposing for the trees and river, the sky was totally blown out (so bright that there would be no data to work with). I figured that the best way to capture this scene was to darken the scene to expose for the sky and then work the image in Photoshop later.

Believe it or not, this image is the exact same shot as what you saw above. I hit the "Auto" button in Adobe Camera RAW and it basically did all the work for me. Pretty amazing how much data was in the dark area. Right?

Yosemite Falls was little more than a trickle since we have not had much rain so far this year.

I love the variety of color in the trees.

We were walking through a parking lot and I saw this straight-on view of Yosemite Falls perfectly framed with the different colored trees. 

The next morning we made the strenuous hike up to Vernal Falls which was totally worth the view. In the old days, I would have brought a tripod with me to capture the falls with a slow shutter. With these newer cameras with in-camera image stabilization, I am able to handhold the camera even at a half second exposure. I prefer the slower shutter speed which blurs the water. I framed this shot to show the people off to the right, to show the scale of the falls.

We climbed along the rocks as well, and took some portraits.

We did not see a lot of wildlife on this trip, but did catch a glimpse of this guy hanging out along the side of the road.

We had blue skies and no clouds on our second afternoon in Yosemite. Luckily, this part of the river was calm and allowed for perfect reflections. I climbed out to a clearing to get the clearest shot I could. The polarizing filter really helped to accentuate the colors and mitigate any glistening off the top of the water.

(Photo credit to Laura L.)

Here I am trying to get the cleanest foreground I could find.

This is the photo I was taking from that spot.

Yeah, I love taking photos!

This reflection photo of Half Dome was taken while walking the grounds of the infamous Ahwahnee Hotel.

When visiting Yosemite, it is quite common to see people on the valley floor using binoculars to catch a glimpse of the rock climbers on the face of El Capitan. This was one of the rare times I switched to my Canon RF 100-500mm lens to get a clear shot of these guys mid climb. 

This is a tight crop of the shot above. These people are crazy! This climb takes 6 days to complete and the climbers sleep in hanging tents each night. At night, we could see the lights from each tent dotting the face of the rock. 

I took this photo about 30 minutes after sunset. To the human eye it was really dark, but when leaving the shutter of the Canon R5 open for 5 seconds, the camera (on my Gitzo tripod) picked up all the details of the valley and a star in the sky.

It was really cold shooting at the this hour, but that was easily solved with a nice dinner, a couple glasses of wine and a big hot fire back at the lodge. 

Many of these images are for sale on my new fine art web page. I encourage you to check out the new site!


• Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!

• You can now purchase Jeff Cable Photography images from my new fine art site at: https://fineart.jeffcable.com/

• If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.

• Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa Costa Rica and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. _________________________________________________________________   


Ralph Hightower said...

Whoa! Or Wow! Both? Six days to climb El Capitan? That 100-500 really brings them in.

At Wednesday 2015 practice round of The Masters Golf Tournament, I was taking a break on the bleachers at the farthest from the clubhouse. I rented the EF 100-400 lens. A group of bankers from Charlotte asked about how far the lens could go. I passed the camera to them. They were impressed. It brought the clubhouse up like you were at the start of the course.

Unless you're media, cameras are not allowed during tournament play. Cameras are allowed during practice rounds. PGA events have a lens length restriction, whereas, The Masters doesn't.

Ralph Hightower said...

PS: The first weekend of November 1994 (I hadn't made arrangements for absentee voting), when I was moving back home from Iowa to South Carolina, I had hoped to catch the fall colors on I-40. But alas, the trees were past the peak and leaves had fallen.

I did manage to photograph the "light at the end of the tunnel" (my drive-by shooting).

Mansion said...

Grateful for the time and effort you invested in crafting such an informative post. Thank you!