Carved by glaciers over millions of years, Yosemite Valley attracts visitors from around the world for its unparalleled beauty and grandeur. The oldest of the rocks in the valley are 114 million years old and the youngster of the group Half Dome (pictured here) is a mere 87 million years old. The valley itself is approximately 7.5 miles long and up to 5,000 feet deep. The valley is surrounded by huge granite rock formations and its floor is made up of forest. While Yosemite National Park is much bigger than the valley, visitors flock to the valley because of all of the attractions there. The valley gets the bulk of the over 4 million visitors each year.
There are two locations that give a true glimpse of the valley: Tunnel View and Glacier Point. While Tunnel View gives a ground level view into the valley, the view from Glacier Point, pictured here, does the best job at showcasing it. The best time to capture this view in September is near sunset. The challenge in photographing it is that when the valley and Half Dome are fully lit, the light is rather harsh. To get the great soft light, you have to shoot it closer to sunset because that renders the valley floor dark as the sun sinks below rock formations to the east. Regardless of the challenges, it is a wonderful scene to watch in person.