A quick trip to Yosemite

Started Oct 9, 2010 | Discussions
Tony Beach Forum Pro • Posts: 10,928
A quick trip to Yosemite

Dave Anderson and I took the rather long drive up there yesterday, and having started late we were rewarded with surprisingly sparse crowds and decent light. It was mostly a scouting trip -- a chance to get a feel for the place.

The first three shots here are of Bridalveil Falls. I got my left foot wet on this one:

I took off my shoe and sock and rolled up my pants first though, so it was deliberate if not also a little cold.

I took two shots, stitched them together, and then applied Perspective Correction in Photoshop to it:

I goofed up on that shot though. I meant to spin the PC lens around 180° and instead I spun it 150°, so the bottom ended up being cropped more than I intended, but that turned out fortuitous because I like the proportions of the final photo. BTW, after all was said and done, this file ended up being about 14 MP, which is one of the reasons having a larger sensor with lots of pixels can be important to me.

All the shots I took yesterday were taken with my A850 and Schneider Super Angulon 28/2.8 PC; except for this one of Bridalveil Falls, which was taken with my A850 and Dave's Minolta 100/2.8 (an excellent lens BTW):

Handheld and taken from the parking lot, we were trying to capture the rainbows that were forming in the fall's mist as the sun shined on it, you can see a little of that at the bottom.

I'm sure we could have spent the rest of the late afternoon there, but it was time to go off exploring some more of the valley floor, and time was a "wasting."

Speaking of time, if we had more of it then I would have broken out the 50mm for this shot as well, but I do like the way the road comes up to the viewer at this AOV:

Did I mention that the place was pretty quiet while we were there?

Here's Ahwahnee Meadow:

When the light isn't the greatest, consider B&W.

Finally, El Capitan as the sun was setting:

Even with the Perspective Control on the lens I was using, shots like this one still required additional correction in Photoshop. The valley floor is pretty steep and narrow, so I was looking up a lot and my neck was a little stiff as we left the park (the long drive may have been partly to blame for that as well).

As I said, it was a scouting trip, so we're planning on returning as the seasons change, and the late spring should be especially rewarding as the waterfalls all come to life and the meadows turn into small lakes that reflect the domes. The way I figure it, you get one or maybe to really good shot opportunities a day, so it's going to take awhile to accumulate what I would consider an adequate collection of "keepers" from this iconic venue, and it's going to involve a lot of 7 hour plus round-trip drives over the next year or two. Anyway, it's a start.

Feel free to share some of your own Yosemite shots if you have them. I'm pretty sure Dave has some and I hope to see some of them here too.

Cheers,
Tony

beespeckled
beespeckled Senior Member • Posts: 2,174
beautiful

Thanks for posting these, we hope to go to Yosemite some time, sounds like Fall is a good time.The El Capitan w/the stark branched tree, and the B&W Ahwahnee Meadows are abfab!

 beespeckled's gear list:beespeckled's gear list
Kodak EasyShare P850 Fujifilm FinePix X100 Fujifilm X10 Sony RX1 Sony SLT-A77 +10 more
SpikeTheGlynn Junior Member • Posts: 49
Re: A quick trip to Yosemite

Thanks for these. I've visited Yosemite 3 times (I'm an Aussie) and always recommend it to travelers going to the west coast. Seeing your images brought back a number of memories (of its grandeur and visual splendor) and made me anticipate my next visit (whenever that might be, but this time will be with a DSLR).

Thanks - Spike

OP Tony Beach Forum Pro • Posts: 10,928
Re: beautiful

beespeckled wrote:

Thanks for posting these,

You're welcome.

we hope to go to Yosemite some time, sounds like Fall is a good time.

Visitation peaks between May and October: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/visitation.htm Late Spring and early Summer are the best times for the waterfalls, wildflowers don't start to bloom until Summer, and Glacier Point Rd. is typically closed between the beginning of November until the end of May: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm

The El Capitan w/the stark branched tree, and the B&W Ahwahnee Meadows are abfab!

Thank you.

OP Tony Beach Forum Pro • Posts: 10,928
You're welcome Spike

Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts.

garykohs
garykohs Veteran Member • Posts: 4,664
Breathtaking pictures.

Thanks for sharing.
--
Gary

 garykohs's gear list:garykohs's gear list
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Canon EOS-1D X Sony a99 II Sony a9 Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM +16 more
JusLookN Veteran Member • Posts: 4,276
Re: Breathtaking pictures.

You guys are tugging at my heartstrings! You know I'm interested in the Full Frame Alpha and you keep posting these wonderful photos! I'm trying to wait a bit longer! LOL

Fantastic shots Tony! Can't wait to see Dave's.
--
Glenn

I'm kinda partial to video, but I'm hangin!

 JusLookN's gear list:JusLookN's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A100 Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 Nikon D3S Sony a77 II Nikon D810 +1 more
OP Tony Beach Forum Pro • Posts: 10,928
Re: Breathtaking pictures.

Thanks for the kind comment.

garykohs wrote:

Thanks for sharing.

You're welcome.

OP Tony Beach Forum Pro • Posts: 10,928
Re: Breathtaking pictures.

JusLookN wrote:

You guys are tugging at my heartstrings! You know I'm interested in the Full Frame Alpha and you keep posting these wonderful photos! I'm trying to wait a bit longer! LOL

Yeah, the A850 is definitely a great camera, a huge improvement over my D300 for landscapes and such.

Fantastic shots Tony!

Thank you Glenn.

Dave_Anderson Senior Member • Posts: 1,471
It was a great trip!

It was a bit of a hike to be sure, would have been a shorter outbound trip if I hadn't missed a turn. We were using the time to chat about everything under the sun and I wasn't paying enough attention.

When we arrived in Yosemite Valley though, I could see that it was worth every minute on the road, every drop of gas -- even though the skies were a bit boring for my taste, the light was pretty good and the landscape was just stunning.

Tony, that first shot of the falls came out gorgeous. Good eye, seeing that angle. My first shot was just off the path in the other direction. Lacking a PC lens, I tend to embrace the perspective distortion. I kept the 20mm on all day, and while I do regret not playing with the fisheye a bit I'm pleased with the captures I brought home. Here is my first shot of the falls:

I love the texture in what I like to think of as the "Bones of the Earth" and the late afternoon light was very cooperative in bringing that out. Here is another from the same spot -- I couldn't quite catch the glow that I saw on the peak to the right:

Nobody is immune from making stupid mistakes, I am no exception. I have been using a DSLR for over a year, and sometimes I just forget things that I never had to care about with film. I have finally trained myself to do the right thing with the SSS switch when going from tripod to handheld and back, but I still forget about ISO. The first shot above is ISO 250 -- I shoot 250 or 320 by preference -- but I had dropped to ISO 100 to try to get a long enough shutter speed to blur the water, then forgot to set it back for the rest of the day. It's hard to remember your own name, let alone ISO settings when in the presence of such magnificence. At least, that's the excuse I'm going to use for this shoot.

In this next shot, the WB is a bit more "corrected"(I used "Daylight" WB for all shots, and mostly used the "Daylight" setting in LR):

Tony chasing the light... I'm not sure either of us managed to quite capture the amazing light on these trees.

The lens flare on this shot was intentional, the intent being to lead the eye down the valley instead of down the path. Some people hate lens flare and toss all pics that exhibit it. I occasionally like to play with it.

"The Prow" and HalfDome:

Like Tony was saying, when you get a lemon you make B&W lemonade... I actually have a B&W process that I think I can use to bring more out of this, but I just desaturated in LR for now. This was an east face that was in shade.

Finally, a couple of El Capitan:

This is the first time Tony and I have ever shot the same subject at the same time(except for some lens tests) so it's very interesting to me to note our differing preferences in post. Of course we are two completely different people and "saw" and composed differently, even the one time we were standing almost shoulder-to-shoulder at Bridal Veil Falls. I found it mildly entertaining that for the most part, when we saw something we wanted to shoot and stopped the car, we often grabbed our gear and took off in opposite directions.

I look forward to doing a lot more shooting in Yosemite Valley. Probably no "Dead O Winter" shots till next winter, but as Tony says Spring/Summer should be amazing. Hopefully we can get out there again this year before the snow takes over. BTW Tony, you left a rear lens cap in my car. I'll try to drop it in the mail before I go on my next trip, next week.

Took me a bit to get these up as I had a list of honey-dos yesterday including fixing the clothes washer, also I put a bit of work into some WB test results for another thread. Hopefully it was worth the wait.

NOTE: All pics shot RAW with a900 and processed with LR 3.2, NR/sharpening @ defaults. Some sharpening applied by SmugMug upon resize. All EXIF should be intact.

OP Tony Beach Forum Pro • Posts: 10,928
Re: It was a great trip!

Hi Dave,

I like your interpretations, and looking at these reminds me that I need to go back over the files to see what I may have missed. That last shot of El Capitan was the shot of the day; after all, isn't the last shot always the shot of the day? I kept avoiding that tree on the left even as I wanted to incorporate the tree on the right into the composition, and I like the way you used both trees to frame El Capitan.

I almost turned around and went back up there yesterday. My girlfriend wasn't feeling well so I didn't visit her this weekend; but I ended up not going because of the cost of gas and all those hours of driving, the conditions and lighting were unchanged from the day we went, and I slept in a little that morning. In retrospect, I should have just done it, but hopefully we can do it again together soon.

We should organize a carload of photographers late next Spring, or even a small caravan. Hey, I got that annual pass, that'll pay the entrance into the park for one non-commercial vehicle full of photographers and gear.

JusLookN Veteran Member • Posts: 4,276
Re: It was a great trip!

More wonderful splendor, Dave! I can imagine the feeling you guys have in such a place. Dave your shots all could be made into postcards! I have to admit, when the forum here gets out of hand, I venture over to DPI to see what you guys are up to. I just don't have anything comparable to post there, and no time to shoot anything except a race here and there when time permits.(shiftworker, "on call" most times). I need to get my post count up over there. Thanks for sharing these beautiful images!
--
Glenn

I'm kinda partial to video, but I'm hangin!

 JusLookN's gear list:JusLookN's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A100 Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 Nikon D3S Sony a77 II Nikon D810 +1 more
Dave_Anderson Senior Member • Posts: 1,471
Re: It was a great trip!

Tony Beach wrote:

Hi Dave,

I like your interpretations, and looking at these reminds me that I need to go back over the files to see what I may have missed. That last shot of El Capitan was the shot of the day; after all, isn't the last shot always the shot of the day? I kept avoiding that tree on the left even as I wanted to incorporate the tree on the right into the composition, and I like the way you used both trees to frame El Capitan.

Thanks Tony... Yes, often it is the last or near-last shot, though I often try to push the envelope and shoot past the ideal time, especially with sunsets. On my last Mount Tam trip, the Ranger was kind of tapping his foot at the gate waiting for me to pack up and leave - it was full dark by then.

I almost turned around and went back up there yesterday. My girlfriend wasn't feeling well so I didn't visit her this weekend; but I ended up not going because of the cost of gas and all those hours of driving, the conditions and lighting were unchanged from the day we went, and I slept in a little that morning. In retrospect, I should have just done it, but hopefully we can do it again together soon.

Yeah, I'd like to go back when there is more going on in the sky, though that's a bigger gamble. For me, going back before I had time to thoroughly go over my RAWs would be premature.

We should organize a carload of photographers late next Spring, or even a small caravan. Hey, I got that annual pass, that'll pay the entrance into the park for one non-commercial vehicle full of photographers and gear.

Intriguing idea, my biggest concern would be setting the right expectation. I'm not sure either of us know the park well enough to be ideal guides at this point, so if we were to do this next weekend I think we would be able to offer shared transportation at best. That situation should improve as we follow through with our intent to visit regularly, certainly by Spring 2012 we should be able to offer a lot leading a group.

I know there is a group(Guy & Jack) that run this sort of thing on a whole other level, providing transport, 4-star hotel & lodgings and pro guidance to the tune of $3,500/person for a couple day's outing.

I think something along the lines of sharing rental fees for an RV plus the cost of campground/camp meals could get us into the few hundred $/person range, depending on how many photogs would be willing to rough it a bit. I think RVs like the one we got stuck behind on the grade run around $1500 for the weekend.

We should discuss offline, such an endeavor would take a LOT of advance planning.

Dave_Anderson Senior Member • Posts: 1,471
Re: It was a great trip!

JusLookN wrote:

More wonderful splendor, Dave! I can imagine the feeling you guys have in such a place. Dave your shots all could be made into postcards! I have to admit, when the forum here gets out of hand, I venture over to DPI to see what you guys are up to. I just don't have anything comparable to post there, and no time to shoot anything except a race here and there when time permits.(shiftworker, "on call" most times). I need to get my post count up over there. Thanks for sharing these beautiful images!
--

Thanks for the nice words, Glenn. The last one would make a funny-shaped postcard to be sure. Are you unable to carry your gear when "on call"? I used to have a job like that, but wasn't allowed to carry any non-essential gear. I remember many times seeing something special(esp. around sunrise) and being disappointed that I didn't have my camera with me.

Craig Gillette Veteran Member • Posts: 9,736
Re: A quick trip to Yosemite

Yep, still using my D200 but I'd like to be able to get to either the A850/A900 as I still have some of my Minolta gear, including the 28-70/2.8 G. My daughter and I made a fairly short notice trip to Yosemite in September and were unable to reserve a campsite in the valley. Which is my way of getting to suggesting that if you are planning a group go of some sort, plan far enough ahead to reserve the camp sites you might want. Of course, that may also limit the flexibility to take advantage of weather changes.

We ended up in the far end tent section of Wawona campground and right next to the river, a beautiful camp ground, btw. However, we also found that if you wait out sunset at various locations, it will be dark when you get back to camp so meal planning may be a touchy thing. As it was, we ate simple and didn't have a lot of extra prep and clean-up to deal with. With a group? Gets more complicated.

We also ended up with fairly uninteresting skies, only a few hours of interesting clouds one afternoon. I'm not sure you'd need to worry too much about "guiding" others, just get there and turn yourselves loose? I'd also suggest that if you do the big RV thing, you take a drive around vehicle to avoid horsing a monster RV all around and avoid parking, set up and take down times, etc.

OP Tony Beach Forum Pro • Posts: 10,928
Re: A quick trip to Yosemite

Thanks for the suggestions Craig.

dlkeller Veteran Member • Posts: 6,922
Comparison

Tony, compare your exposure to Dave's. I feel his slightly lower exposure really added "pop" to the colors. Just an idea as you do have some nice pictures and I am very envious of both of you as I haven't yet visited that park.

OP Tony Beach Forum Pro • Posts: 10,928
Re: It was a great trip!

Dave_Anderson wrote:

Yes, often it is the last or near-last shot, though I often try to push the envelope and shoot past the ideal time, especially with sunsets. On my last Mount Tam trip, the Ranger was kind of tapping his foot at the gate waiting for me to pack up and leave - it was full dark by then.

Yeah, me too. What I meant was the last shot you keep, and I was being just a little facetious when I said it. Sometimes, it's the first shot, but we never know enough to just turn around and go home after getting the one winner of the day.

...I'd like to go back when there is more going on in the sky, though that's a bigger gamble.

Yeah, it's high stakes photography. Lower stakes for us being 4 hours or so away then it is for people coming from further away (especially from other countries); but still a not insignificant investment of time and money, and coming away with nothing memorable would be a bummer.

We should organize a carload of photographers late next Spring, or even a small caravan. Hey, I got that annual pass, that'll pay the entrance into the park for one non-commercial vehicle full of photographers and gear.

Intriguing idea, my biggest concern would be setting the right expectation.

That's easy, no expectations and every person for themselves. Get there, and use the Shuttles and/or your feet to go where you want, and then all meet back at the vehicle an hour or so after dark.

I think something along the lines of sharing rental fees for an RV plus the cost of campground/camp meals could get us into the few hundred $/person range, depending on how many photogs would be willing to rough it a bit. I think RVs like the one we got stuck behind on the grade run around $1500 for the weekend.

Craig had some good suggestions below about that. I think you are right about planning well ahead for something like that. By spreading the timeframe out to a few days it increases the chances of getting better skies and such, and going in late Spring insures that the waterfalls would be going strong.

We should discuss offline,

We will.

such an endeavor would take a LOT of advance planning.

Yep, in the meantime we just need to get up there as often as practical and start soaking the valley and its surrounding in.

OP Tony Beach Forum Pro • Posts: 10,928
Re: Comparison

dlkeller wrote:

Tony, compare your exposure to Dave's.

Having shot side by side and compared our exposures in the field, we were generally pretty close. That said, Dave took more time processing his shots and used Lightroom whereas I used Capture One. I had already noticed that the brightness in some of the photos seemed too hot, and my crummy LCD screen with its different brightness levels based on whatever angle of view I'm viewing it at doesn't help matters any for me (not that I'm making any excuses, I just sometimes tend to rely too much on what the histogram is telling me about the scene).

Here for instance is a quick side by side comparison of a basic EC adjustment of one of the photos I had in the OP (without the cropping, which of course is another one of those debatable post processing decisions):

To my eyes, lowering the EC definitely brings out more detail in the granite and makes the trees look more natural. I already knew that shot was too washed out and could be improved, it's just that I haven't taken the time to do it and what I posted the day after we went there is what I posted and I can't unpost it without leaving a hole in the OP.

There are lots of other things that can contribute or hurt the final photo as well, such as increasing or decreasing saturation, contrast, and sharpening. It's one thing to get the exposure and composition in the field; getting things right in the processing and post processing of the capture is what really leads to the success (or lack thereof) of the photo. As Ansel Adams said, "You don't take a photograph, you make it."

I feel his slightly lower exposure really added "pop" to the colors. Just an idea as you do have some nice pictures

Thanks, I appreciate your feedback. I'm sure Dave will be pleased with what you wrote as well.

and I am very envious of both of you as I haven't yet visited that park.

Yosemite is a definite "bucket list" venue for just about every photographer. Hey, if things line up, we can go up there together sometime soon -- if you're interested in that.

dlkeller Veteran Member • Posts: 6,922
Re: Comparison

Didn't really mean to sound critical. Your photography speaks for itself and I'm sure I could learn a lot from you. I know what you mean about screen angle. My desktop with a nice big CRT monitor is getting really sick so I'm doing most of my processing on my laptop. It is very difficult to judge exposure as it is so dependent on screen angle. I just took a photoshop course at a college with nice big calibrated monitors--I'm saving up now but really want some lenses even more.

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads