Merced Reflection - El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California

Picking where to kick off our short visit to Yosemite at sunrise is no easy task. There are so many choice subjects that we could have picked in the Valley. A bit of research into where the sun would be rising, specifically in late September, helped narrow down the choices. Then, trying to figure out when the sun would rise high enough to light up the valley was a bit more of a challenge, Finally, as every landscape photographer has experienced, be prepared for the unexpected. In our case, the prior two days in the Valley with two large pieces of granite falling from El Capitan (with one death) caused utter confusion, as a considerable portion of Northside Drive was closed. Suddenly, one-way roads were converted into two-way roads with very little notice and signs.

In the end, we ended up at Cathedral Beach, which is along the Merced River. From this spot we were able to get El Capitan and later, the Three Brothers, reflected in the river's still waters. I have been there to this spot a few times in the past. I am always amazed that this spot is almost always deserted in early morning but am also very thankful for it. Mike Louthan and I had the whole stretch of the river to ourselves. We patiently took in the serenity of being there, watching the sun slowly light up El Capitan until it was fully lit. I didn't count the number of shots I took as the sun moved down the granite monolith, but I know it was a lot. I decided to post this one first, as it was fully lit and the water still unbelievably still.