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  1. #1

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

    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. #2

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    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. #3

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    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. #4

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    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. #5

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    Ha! Michael and I on the same track, I see. I'd think that would mean others would share the same advice.

  6. #6

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    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. #7
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    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. #8
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    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.

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    Last edited by djhopscotch; 03-14-2012 at 09:36 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #9
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    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
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  10. #10
    ROL
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    Quote Originally Posted by billbretz View Post
    You've heard the joke about the visitor who asks a park ranger what to do if they only have one day in Yosemite?
    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.

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