...If you had only ONE day to photograph Yosemite...

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by BardParker, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. BardParker

    BardParker Member

    Messages:
    101
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Location:
    Tyler, Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Going to San Francisco for a meeting Saturday March 24, so airfare covered. I've finally arranged to fly out on Thursday afternoon,3/22/12, arriving about 6pm. Planning on renting a car and driving to Yosemite that evening, staying at a motel outside the park entrance. Will get up early Friday and be in place for sunrise shots, and shooting throughout the day. Will need to be back in San Francisco late Friday evening.

    So, If you only had ONE day to photograph your first visit to Yosemite, where would you start, and what would be your progression of photo sites throughout the day? I've never been there before, so learning all I can. Planning on bringing my Pentax 645N plus 45-85mm, 80-160mm, and 75mm lenses. Will bring lots of Velvia, TriX, TMax 100. Please feel free to chime in with suggestions for film, location, technique, etc.
    Sorry, I was only able to arrange one extra day off work. But that's my work situation at present. I envy all of those retirees out there...
    Thanks,
    Kent
     
  2. werra

    werra Subscriber

    Messages:
    334
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Location:
    Tallinn, Est
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It will be quite a rush.
    Was in the even worse situation in last november, started in the morning from SF. Basically made it to the Glacier Point only to enjoy the sunset.
    I your situation Valley tour with El Capitan, Tunnel view, Half Dome sounds manageable.
    How's the snow situation there right now?
     
  3. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,200
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't think I could do it. If I had one day and I had never been there (which I haven't) I imagine I'd have to just walk and explore. Of course I'd want to see half dome and and a few other famous sites for my first time, but from a phtographic perspective I doubt I'd by able to do anything more than tourist snapshots.

    I "grew up" on Ansel's pictures, and it would just be too overwhelming to be there so I'd really need to "settle down" before trying to actually see any new pictures that wouldn't be copies of Ansel, Sexton and others. I'd just enjoy it without a camera and think about what I might want to explore with a camera when I came back one day, maybe some of the less outwardly spectacular parts that yielded some of Adams's quieter images. I really don't know. It's a big park with a lot of photographic history and it would take way more than a day for me to even figure out which parts I might want to explore more deeply, let alone photograph with any kind of personal vision.

    That's just me though.
     
  4. billbretz

    billbretz Member

    Messages:
    243
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Never been, so I have different advice... don't photograph anything. Maybe a few cell-phone souvenirs. Take the day, enjoy the park, make lots of notes about where you would like to return (you suggest you will be back). I, personally, wouldn't hope to get much done in one day (and really only a few hours of good light) but I would sure like to have a day in Yosemite to take the place in if I had the chance. You've heard the joke about the visitor who asks a park ranger what to do if they only have one day in Yosemite?

    Okay, maybe I wouldn't put the cameras away completely, but I would concentrate on one area or subject. I would not be there to see how much of the park I could get before my lenses, but would likely settle on a spot, hope for good light and try to slow down and enjoy the view.

    The way you ask about a "progression of photo sites" makes it sound like you are ticking shots off a list, a sort of shopping list or photo scavenger hunt. Personally, making any sort of meaningful photographs would not be a result of such planning. I don't want to be a downer, and applaud your enthusiasm! Wish I could have a day there, sometime.... Please let us know how the trip goes, sounds like fun!
     
  5. billbretz

    billbretz Member

    Messages:
    243
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ha! Michael and I on the same track, I see. I'd think that would mean others would share the same advice.
     
  6. BardParker

    BardParker Member

    Messages:
    101
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Location:
    Tyler, Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't necessarily need a progression of photo sites, I would be content to stay in one or two spots all day. I do plan on going back, but I can't imagine going and not taking even one picture? It's just that this meeting in SFO was hastily scheduled and it works out to have one extra day in the park...
     
  7. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

    Messages:
    9,183
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington D
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Your day will be pretty tight if you have to be back in SF by evening. It's easily 2 1/2-3 hours to drive there. And much of the trek is on small roads that go through towns, not on expressways. It's not a trip I would want to undertake after dark when I'm tired. As far as an approach to visiting Yosemite on just one day, you've got two options - the Valley or NOT the Valley. If you go to the Valley, you'll only have time to take the typical tourist shots unless you ignore the landscape and focus on things like macro work or architecture (yes there is man-made architecture at Yosemite, and some of it is photographically interesting). You could also bypass the Valley and drive on up to the Tuolemne Meadows area and take in the lakes and rock formations there. You could even go all the way through to the Tioga Pass entrance (if it's open - may not be due to snow) and down into Lee Vining. I don't know where my 4x5 transparencies of my Sierras trip went - they're in a box somewhere in the house - but there was some spectacular scenery in that high country on the east side of the Sierra. At that point you're just a pebble's toss from Mono Lake, which is worth a visit in its own right. No matter what you do, you'll have some spectacular views to take in.
     
  8. djhopscotch

    djhopscotch Member

    Messages:
    148
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Tioga pass is closed for the winter, usually opens in may, no easy way to get to mono lake from the west side of the park. So the Valley floor would be your best bet. Go and hang out in the valley, you will see a lot, and will have time for a shorter hike.

    Sent using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2012
  9. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

    Messages:
    5,124
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    They are going to get some rain and snow in the Valley this week. As mentioned Glacier Point and the Tioga Pass roads will be closed.

    Just drive around the Valley. As you arrive into the Park, keep an eye on the river before the road becomes one-way...nice rocks in the river. Check out the bottom of Lower Yosemite Falls, wander in El Capitan Meadow, take a short hike up to see Vernal Falls from below or a short walk to see Bridalveil Fall. Drive up 120 to see Cascade Creek Falls from the road bridge. Take the shuttle to Happy Isles. Take a stroll along the Merced River...lots of trails.

    For culture, check out the Yosemite Renaissance show (multi-media competition) at the Indian Museum.

    Take lots of pictures!

    Vaughn
     
  10. ROL

    ROL Member

    Messages:
    792
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The "joke", as you so crassly put it, was the sincere advice of legendary naturalist/ranger Carl Sharsmith, with whom I studied for a couple of weeks one summer in Tuolumne in the 70's. The story goes something like this:

    A lady tourist rushed up to Sharsmith, 'I've only got an hour to spend at Yosemite,' she declared. 'What should I do? Where should I go?' Sharsmith replied, 'Ah, lady, only an hour.' He repeated it slowly. 'I suppose that if I had only an hour to spend at Yosemite, I'd walk over there to that big rock by the Merced River and sit down and cry.'​


    But the advice is valid. If you are seeing something for the first time, why place a camera between yourself and the experience. I wandered around the Sierra for many, many years before including a camera in my kit and committing experience to film.

    March is not a conventionally scenic time in Yosemite, particularly this year, with so little snow. The high country roads are closed, save Glacier Point Road as far as Badger Pass. The Valley is brown and will not see new season growth or leaving trees for another few weeks. The waterfalls are barely running and the streams are low. Still a day in Yosemite is still worthwhile at any time, and I would suggest walking some of the circumnavigating Valley trail sections (23 miles) or partial ascents up the 4 Mile Trail, Yosemite Falls Trail, or Old Inspiration Point for lesser known vantage. If you're lucky, it may even snow by the 22nd. If still available, sign up for inspirational "print viewing" at the AA Gallery. That's something unique to the Valley.
     
  11. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,075
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I actually did have one [good] day there and I just enjoyed driving through. I spotted some lichen in a tree and that was my best shot. I'd say, don't chase epic shots or try any grand tours in such a short time; just pick a spot that feels right, enjoy what you see and let your instincts guide you. If there's a good shot to take, take it. If not, just breathe the nice air.
     
  12. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

    Messages:
    879
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2003
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Only one day.....Go see Ansel's work at the AA Gallery. Dawn on the valley floor can be just wonderful (fog if you are very lucky). Have Fun!
     
  13. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

    Messages:
    5,124
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    And while there you could ask to look at my work -- a few carbons and a few platinum prints. :whistling:

    Vaughn
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. billbretz

    billbretz Member

    Messages:
    243
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    "Crassly"? Oh, ROL, you make me LOL. Steady, my friend, not worth getting bent out of shape about.
     
  16. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,516
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's me, too. Been to Yosemite twice and not exactly added anything significant to my body of work. I've been to San Xavier del Bac several times looking for AA's tripod holes, and finally came to the conclusion that it had "been done", and by better folks than me. Seriously, I've come to a point where I want to see things more than I want to photograph them; especially things that have been photographed to death. I travel a lot lighter these days. Just because I am a photographer, I don't need to take a camera everywhere. I also have a degree in music, but don't feel the need to play every piano I see.
     
  17. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,516
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's me, too. Been to Yosemite twice and not exactly added anything significant to my body of work. I've been to San Xavier del Bac several times looking for AA's tripod holes, and finally came to the conclusion that it had "been done", and by better folks than me.

    Seriously, I've come to a point where I want to see things more than I want to photograph them; especially things that have been photographed to death. I travel a lot lighter these days. Just because I am a photographer, I don't need to take a camera everywhere. I also have a degree in music, but don't feel the need to play every piano I see.

    To the OP, If I did go to photograph and only had one day, I'd stick to the valley.
     
  18. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

    Messages:
    4,182
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2011
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Heck. For decades I had a ranch just down the hwy a ways, but never took more than six shots in Yos Valley in
    my entire life. Most were done on a single day during a heavy Jan snowstorm when nobody could get into the
    park and I left my truck parked right in the middle of the road (no turnouts were plowed that day). Me and my
    nephewe hacked our way up a big ice cone below El Cap Fall and I chiseled the top off with the ice axe for a
    tripod platform for my Sinar. Been through the Valley countless times returning from backpack trips on the east side of the Sierras. Plenty of things to photograph there obviously, but I just prefer a lot more solitude - which
    is in fact easy to get in Yosemite Park per se, as long as one avoids the Valley and the Tuolumne area, and a
    couple of other spots. In summer the Valley can be so filled with smoke that one can barely see the rim. Don't
    know why they allow campfires. It's hot and smoggy at that elevation anyway in Summer, and more of a theme
    park. Should be nice right now however, with snow forecast.
     
  19. ROL

    ROL Member

    Messages:
    792
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    Not bent out of shape at all, another of your inaccurate statements. Simply correcting ignorance using appropriate terminology. Your characterization of an incident for which you have no reference is simply lacking in sensitivity, refinement, or intelligence (i.e., crass) to the memory of a man whose importance to the history and environment of the park in question is bettered only by Muir and, perhaps, Adams. I indicated in my post that I agreed with your advice. And once again, I do agree, someone obviously is "bent out of shape". If you care to avoid bending in the future, use due diligence before before relating matters of fact, and provide source.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2012
  20. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

    Messages:
    4,182
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2011
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    For those of you who think it all been done before by AA, you should dig the archives here at the Oakland
    Museum to see the work of photographers doing remarkable work in Yosemite before AA was even born.
    Even the same tripod holes won't fetch the same shot - never will. When I was a kid my older brother would
    save up his money for those big glossy Eliot Porter coffee table books. I'd flip through the pages with a sheet
    of cardboard to visualize my own "crop" of the scene - which was always tighter than Porter's. Then the light
    is rarely the same twice. I've had well-known photographers dump their workshops on me so they could wander
    off and do their own thing in peace. "Just follow the guy with that big camera". Annoying - but even standing
    side by side they'll never get the same shot. Too many nuances.
     
  21. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

    Messages:
    615
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Location:
    Los Altos, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree with most of the responses, that there really isn't time in a one day first visit to really appreciate where to point the camera. So point it everywhere and don't worry about getting that perfect landscape shot. Take lots of photos, yes, but don't let that distract you from spending time appreciating the place. Don't sit it one spot, instead, find several, get a feel for the place. Plan to come back with a plan and a week if you wish.

    I like the valley floor in the early morning.

    Regarding your film, my only comment is that it doesn't feel like a Tri-X location to me, but that's probably just me. At Yosemite I like color and fine grained black and white. I might suggest saving the Tri-X for the San Francisco streets - but be careful waiving that big expensive looking 645 around in the middle of the city, especially in the Mission and Market Street areas (where the Tri-X grain seems most appropriate to me...)

    I'm sure others have perfectly good opinions that are opposite of mine... ;-)
     
  22. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

    Messages:
    4,182
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2011
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I'd wait one more day, and with luck it is due to snow again. With better luck you'd get snowed in
    and stuck, and be forced to miss the flight, and have more time to enjoy the place!
     
  23. billbretz

    billbretz Member

    Messages:
    243
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    ROL-

    You must be a hoot at parties!

    First I "crassly" miscategorize an anecdote as a joke, now I need to use "due diligence" and have to "provide source." This is a discussion board, not a dissertation. Relax.

    Apologies to everyone else for continuing this tangent on an otherwise worthy discussion.
     
  24. BardParker

    BardParker Member

    Messages:
    101
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Location:
    Tyler, Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Got my Film Back!

    Here's the follow up. I was waiting until I got my film back. Flew out Thursday 3/22, drove rental car to Oakhurst Best Western. Glad I had my Garmin GPS on those roads at night! Got up early Friday 3/23 and drove to Tunnel view before sunrise. I was the 2nd person there, (and the only one I saw all day with film cameras). Viewed a spectacular sunrise with constantly shifting cloud patterns. Drove down to Bridal Veil falls. Continued down the road to the chapel and Sentinel Bridge. Went to the Ahwahnee Hotel for lunch on the back patio. (What a view!) Walked around in the woods behind the hotel. Then walked the meadow by the lodge. Drove about 3 circuits in the valley, stopping at various pullouts. Finished up at Tunnel View until about 30 min prior to sunset, then had to get back to SFO for the meeting the next day. Anyway, i have been many places all over the world, and I was struck by the amazing beauty of Yosemite. I followed the forum's advice and didn't really have a rigid schedule or bucket list of photos to take. Thanks to the many posters who replied. I can certainly say, I am glad I took my cameras: Pentax 645N and Olympus XA. Almost all the other photographers there had their DSLRs snapping away with hundreds of time lapse photos. I was forced to be much more selective using film. All in all, it was a great day! The following images are all process and scan, no manipulation except for resizing:
    Kent :smile:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/64835566@N04/sets/72157629460441880/
     
  25. batwister

    batwister Member

    Messages:
    921
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2010
    Location:
    Midlands, UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The most spectacular landscape I've seen is probably the Welsh mountains! If I ever got the chance to visit Yosemite, I genuinely think I'd be too overwhelmed to make any photographs, never mind decent ones.
    I'd simply have to bask in the splendor of it all. Suppose it would be like being starstruck, unable to speak due to the awe. Hope you enjoyed it.
     
  26. BardParker

    BardParker Member

    Messages:
    101
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Location:
    Tyler, Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It was a great day, and exceeded my expectations! It is a place of spectacular beauty and grandeur. I was also struck by how it changes from minute to minute, with the clouds moving in and out of each scene. I can't wait to go back for much more than one day! You really must go sometime...

    Regards,
    Kent