The Other Side of Half Dome

Olmsted Point, Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park is one of nature's most beautiful places. Yosemite Valley, where most visitors head, offers more natural wonders than just about anywhere else. From most spots in the valley, one can see El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls, Sentinel Dome and Half Dome. All of these have been photographed many times over and it is very hard to get an original perspective. One of my favorite "off the beaten path" places in Yosemite is Olmsted Point. This location is about 45 miles from Yosemite Lodge on Tioga Road. Olmsted Point looks southwest into the valley giving a view of the northern side of Half Dome and a view of Tenaya Lake to the east.

On this particular evening, we had eaten dinner in Lee Vining (home to Mono Lake) and we were heading back to the valley. I just had to stop at Olmsted Point when I saw the beautiful glow of the setting sun on Half Dome's sheer face.

Merced Light

El Capitan and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California

The Merced River is a 145-mile tributary of the San Joaquin River flowing from the Sierra Nevada to the central valley of California. The most famous section of the river is where it travels through the renowned Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park. The Merced drops over the Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls and passes into the valley, where it flows in the pine forests that fill the valley floor. Visitors to Yosemite Valley can go almost anywhere along the Merced's banks and see the famous granite cliffs and formations. This image shows one of the most famous formations, El Capitan. It was early morning and the light started to bathe the formation and the opposite bank. It's no wonder that the Yosemite Valley is one of the most visited national parks in the US.

Nature's Cathedral

Cathedral Rocks, Yosemite National Park, California

Cathedral Rocks and Spires are a prominent group of cliffs and pinnacles located on the south side of the Yosemite Valley near the entrance to the valley. There are three main sections of Cathedral Rocks aptly named Higher, Middle, and Lower Cathedral Rocks. Adjacent to Higher Cathedral Rock are the Higher and Lower Cathedral Spires, the most impressive spires in Yosemite. Bridalveil Falls flows between Cathedral Rocks. Like almost every formation in the park, Cathedral Rocks beckons to photographers to capture them. While trying to get a different perspective of the formations, it is most likely impossible as Yosemite is probably the most photographed national park. Regardless, I and many others, continue to try to capture their beauty.

Tioga Road Beauty

Yosemite National Park,California

Many of the visitors to Yosemite National Park enter the park from its western entrances as it is the closest to the major California cities. The western part of the park is also home to the famed Yosemite Valley where many of the major attractions are located. Many visitors stay in the valley and never travel to the eastern side of the park. That is a shame as there is a lot to see and has a unique beauty of its own. To drive from the valley to the town of Lee Vining (home to the famed Mono Lake), the only choice of roads is Tioga Road. The trip is about 75 miles one way and the road peaks at nearly 10,000 feet at the Tioga Pass. This is one of the most scenic drives in America and is only open in season which is generally late May to October, depending on snow. We left around noon to explore Tioga Raod, making stops along the way and ultimately having dinner in Lee Vining. When we left town, is was approaching sunset and the light was phenomenal. Along the way, we stopped along the road to take this image. I highly recommend taking this road the next time you are in Yosemite.

Around the Bend

Mered River, Yosemite National Park,California

When I was planning last year's vacation to Yosemite National Park, the biggest challenge was how I was going to fit in all of the parts of the park that I wanted to photograph. Since I was the only photographer in the group and we were only there for three days, I had to be totally organized to make the best of our visit. Researching on the internet for the best locations to shoot proved to be extremely challenging. Not only are there are so many places to see and photograph in the park but knowing what time of day to shoot at each location was proving impossible. It was then I found the book "Photographing Yosemite Digital Field Guide" written by Lewis Kemper. I found the book to be exactly what I needed. Not only does the book outline tons of locations, it also provides photos from most of the locations as well as the best times to shoot. Armed with this guide, I found it easy to plan my short time in the park. I would highly recommend this book for anyone that is interested in shooting in Yosemite. You can buy the book on for $13.59. Note that I have no affiliation with the author.

This shot was taken from just after dawn from Sentinel Bridge (one of the locations noted in the book). It shows the Merced River going around the bend just past the bridge. While I was hoping for the golden glow of the sunrise, I wasn't too disappointed in the clouds as I think they add an air of drama against the rock formation.

Before the Crowds

Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California

One of my favorite places to photograph is in Yosemite National Park. It's rugged scenery contains memorable granite formations and has been attracting visitors since its discovery. The park itself is about the size of Rhode Island and contains hundreds of lakes; miles and miles of hiking trails; and two rivers. Located in the Sierra Nevada of California, it is about 4 hours  from San Francisco. Walking in the footsteps of John Muir and Ansel Adams leaves you feeling like you are treading on hallowed ground. The best time to capture Yosemite Falls is very early morning before the crowds show up. This photo was shot at 5 am and as you can see, I was the only one out and around (except for a bear at the other end of the meadow). The day was a bit cloudy so the early morning sun was not to be seen. Nonetheless, the majesty of the falls can easily be seen.

The photo was taken from the Sentinel Meadow & Cook's Meadow Loop hiking trail.