Each year, I have a go to destination that I want to visit for landscape photography, and this year it is Yosemite Valley. I have seen countless photos of the Valley draped in a fresh coating of snow, or shrouded in fog. Now I want one for myself. With the El Nino rains bringing plentiful snow to the Sierra, Yosemite has turned into a winter wonderland. Over the past few weeks, I have watched on the webcams as epic conditions unfold without being able to be there in person. I finally had the chance this past weekend. I did the 3.5 hours drive and arrived around lunch time to find some decent clouds remaining in the sky after a clearing rain storm. I made sure to photograph from Tunnel View first, since the light looked nice on El Capitan.

Mid afternoon light hits the face of El Capitan with Half Dome in the distance

Mid afternoon light hits the face of El Capitan with Half Dome in the distance

Later, I went on a few brief hikes through the Valley, but didn’t find any grand vistas that I liked, so instead, I focused on photographing the smaller things that many people drive right by without paying any attention to.

I loved how the green moss on this tree popped when contrasted against the rich brown bark of the tree. The moss really is this green!

Green moss thriving as a result of the moisture the park is seeing this winter

Green moss thriving as a result of the moisture the park is seeing this winter

I also really liked the luminous glow coming off of this tree that was lining one of the meadows in the Valley.

The bark of this tree had a luminous glow

The bark of this tree had a luminous glow

Around 3:45pm, I made my way back up to Tunnel View, as I noticed some rain clouds blowing back over the park. Not having any experience with a sunset shot from this location, I did not realize that it can become very crowded up to an hour before the magic hour. As a result of my inexperience, I went and set up my tripod thinking I would take a few shots and then get back in the car to stay warm as I waited for sunset to approach. Not long after I set up, two workshops with about 15 students each, plus all of the other people wanting to photograph the view staked their claim to the prime photo spots. Of course I had only come prepared with a light fleece, and my jacket was still in the car. I pretty much had resigned myself to shivering for the next hour so I wouldn’t lose my spot until I heard someone say my name. I turned around to see another photographer friend who I had shot with before in the Bay Area. Neither of us knew the other would be in Yosemite, so it was quite a coincidence. Thankfully, I was able to run to the car and get warmer clothes while he held down the fort for our two tripods.

The crowd of photographers was quite impressive

The crowd of photographers was quite impressive

We ended up seeing some nice fog form, but I still want to return to capture even more images of the park.

Rain overtakes a portion of the Valley behind Bridalveil Falls

Rain overtakes a portion of the Valley behind Bridalveil Falls

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