Tag Archives: Yosemite National Park

View From Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park


View from Glacier Point, looking up Tenaya Canyon

View from Glacier Point, looking up Tenaya Canyon – Click image to enlarge


It’s hard to believe that it will have been 6 years this coming May since I visited Yosemite National Park. I enjoy going back through my older photos, especially my images of Yosemite so I think that makes it seem like it wasn’t that long ago. I find that looking at my older photos is a great learning experience since I take the time to look at my composition along with the exposure metadata and usually realize that I probably could have composed a better shot. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, especially with all the metadata that’s saved with our digital photos that can be viewed and analyzed. I know I’ve become a better photographer because of it.

All these images are taken from Glacier Point. As you can probably tell from the harsh look of the images, it was mid-day and photographically speaking not the best time of day for photography, but that’s when I was there and I knew I wouldn’t have a chance to go back so I was shooting anyway. From Glacier Point you can look down into Yosemite Valley, see Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, Vernal and Nevada Falls and of course the great granite massif Half Dome. The first image is a view up Tenaya Canyon with Half Dome on the right, and the Royal Arches and North Dome on the left. The black and white conversion was done in Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2 from the original raw file with Lightroom adjustments. The second images is a nice view of Vernal and Nevada Falls. Climbing the Mist Trail up to the top of Vernal Falls, I didn’t realize that it and Nevada Falls were fed by the same water source.


Vernal Falls (lower left) and Nevada Falls (upper right) from Glacier Point

Vernal Falls (lower left) and Nevada Falls (upper right) from Glacier Point – Click image to enlarge


Yosemite National Park is a very special place. If you get the chance to go there, don’t give it a second thought, go and you’ll be glad you did. I can’t wait to go back for a longer time and more serious photography!

To see more of my photography of Yosemite National Park, please visit my gallery here. If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

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Thinking Of Yosemite

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls - Click image to enlarge

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls – Click image to enlarge


As I’m sure you are aware, Yosemite National Park has been in the news quite a bit in recent weeks because of the massive “Rim Fire” that as of September 26, 2013 has burned 257,134 acres or 402 square miles in and around the park.  Currently the fire is 84% contained, and fire crews are continuing to extinguish hot spots near containment lines.  Firefighters continue to monitor the slow spread of the fire in the Yosemite and Emigrant Wilderness areas between Cherry Lake and Hetchy Reservoir according to the latest fire update.  Fortunately, the fire did not enter Yosemite Valley.

Given all the recent attention on Yosemite because of the fire, it prompted me to look at my images from the park.  Yosemite is a stunningly beautiful place and although it has been almost 5 1/2 years since I was there, it seems like it was only yesterday.  The image above is of Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls photographed through tall lodge pole pines during my first few hours in the park, truly a stunning view.  Taken together Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America, and 6th highest in the world.

The image below is a black and white image of Tenaya Canyon, viewed from Glacier Point on a completely cloudless day.  At the right is the iconic granite massif Half Dome.  In the center is Mount Watkins, and just below it at the mouth of the canyon is Mirror Lake.  On the left are the Royal Arches with North Dome above them and beyond is Mount Hoffman covered with snow.


Looking Up Tenaya Canyon - Click image to enlarge

Looking Up Tenaya Canyon – Click image to enlarge

Although I have many places on my list to photograph, I wouldn’t have to think twice about going back to Yosemite.  To see more of my photography of Yosemite National Park, please visit my gallery here.

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

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Mirror Lake – Yosemite National Park

Mirror Lake and reflection of Mt. Watkins – Click image to enlarge


Mirror Lake, named for its clear reflections is located in Yosemite Valley directly below Half Dome.  This isn’t a very good place to photograph Half Dome since the immense rock appears very distorted from this angle, but there are several nice subjects that can be photographed like a reflection of Mt. Watkins.  The image above was taken in May 2008.  Although not photographed at the most ideal time (1:45 PM) I was at least able to position the sun behind the trees in the upper right of the frame.


Over the years Mirror Lake has been slowly filling with sediment brought by Tenaya Creek, but it still nicely reflects Mt. Watkins in the spring and early summer.  By autumn, the lake is almost completely dry and this image isn’t possible unless the valley has gotten a fair amount of rain.  In 1935 Ansel Adams photographed this same scene.  At that time there was a lot of water in the lake and the rocks you see on the left side weren’t visible at all in Ansel’s image.  The trees weren’t nearly as tall either so more of Mt. Watkins was visible.  If you’re in Yosemite Valley, be sure to take the time to visit Mirror Lake.  It’s a very peaceful place and you’ll be glad you went.


I reprocessed the image recently and created a black and white version that you see below.


A Black and White version of Mirror Lake reflecting Mt. Watkins – Click image to enlarge

You can see more of my photography of Yosemite National Park in my Yosemite National Park gallery here.

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

Posted in National Parks

Ansel Adams

I am a big fan of Ansel Adams and I’ve been reading a new book about Ansel and his photographs titled “Looking At Ansel Adams: The Photographs and the Man” by Andrea G. Stillman.  I’ve learned a lot from Ansel’s teachings and photography so I thought I’d use this post to talk about him briefly.

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico by Ansel Adams – Click image to enlarge

Ansel Adams (1902 – 1984) is America’s most honored photographer and is best known for his stunning black and white photographs of the American West and Yosemite National Park in particular.  His ability to pre-visualize a particular scene and then print it the way he had visualized it was unsurpassed.  Ansel was also one of America’s most influential and effective environmental advocates.  His persistent advocacy helped expand the National Park system, and laid the foundation for the park system we have today.  He has an extraordinary body of published writing – his autobiography, picture books, technical manuals, articles, and lectures.  Today, almost 30 years after his death his photographs are very popular and still reproduced on calendars, posters, and in books.  In 2006 a print of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico made in December 1948 sold at a Sotheby’s auction in New York for $609,600!  Among his many credits, Ansel developed the Zone System with Fred Archer as a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print.  He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1966 and in 1980 President Jimmy Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.  Ansel’s photograph “The Tetons and the Snake River” has the distinction of being one of 115 images recorded on the Voyager Golden Record aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft.  Amazingly, Voyager 1 is now more than 11 billion miles from Earth, still partially operating more than 35 years after launch and is nearing interstellar space!  Ansel’s lasting legacy is helping to elevate photography to an art comparable with painting and music, equally capable of expressing emotion and beauty.

Regarding  the book,  “Looking At Ansel Adams: The Photographs and the Man,” Andrea Stillman worked closely with Ansel for seven years in the 1970’s as his executive assistant at his home in Carmel, California.  For the book Andrea selected 20 of Ansel’s photographs based on whether it was one his best, whether it had a compelling story, preferably told by Ansel, and did it illuminate some facet of his life – either personal or artistic.  She then developed a chapter around each.  10 of the photographs are considered his greatest such as Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, Monolith: The Face of Half Dome, and Clearing Winter Storm.  With this book, Andrea wanted to bring Ansel to life and to encourage people to look at his photographs anew.  In my opinion she succeeded brilliantly.   Each chapter is filled with interesting information about the particular photograph it discusses and gives a fascinating insight into the story behind the photo.  Chapters 9 and 1o about Clearing Winter Storm, and Moonrise, Hernandez are wonderful.  Chapter 9 about Clearing Winter Storm chapter includes a diagram Ansel drew to guide him in printing it.  Chapter 10 about Moonrise, Hernandez has a picture of the original negative and various prints Ansel made over the years showing how he worked to achieve a print equal to his original visualization of the scene.   The book is excellent and I highly recommend it!

Clearing Winter Storm by Ansel Adams – Click image to enlarge

One of Ansel’s many defining gifts was his ability to approach new things with curiosity and enthusiasm.  Ansel saw the digital photography revolution coming.  A year before in died in a May 1983 interview with Playboy Magazine, Ansel gave his thoughts about the future of photography, he said:

In electronics, the technology we have now can do far more than film.  As the world’s silver resources are depleted, these new technologies are particularly important…..Electronic photography will soon be superior to anything we have now.  The first advance will be exploration of existing negatives.  I believe the electronic processes will enhance them.  Then the time will come when you will be able to make the entire photograph electronically.  With the extremely high resolution and the enormous control you can get from electronics, the results will be fantastic.  I wish I were young again!

I believe that if Ansel were alive today he would have fully embraced digital photography in every way.  Given the techniques Ansel used to develop his negatives and make his prints; mixing various chemicals, dodging and burning, using different papers, etc., he did in the “chemical” darkroom what we can now do on our computers using the digital darkroom and we have more control today than he ever dreamed possible.

Below is my first view of Yosemite Valley in May 2008.  While maybe my image isn’t quite up to Ansel’s standards, my first experience seeing the valley was just as exciting and special as Ansel’s was in 1916!

Yosemite Valley by Jeff Sagar, May 2008 – Click image to enlarge

If you’d like to read more about Ansel Adams and his photography, I recommend the following resources all of which can be found on the world wide web.

Ansel Adams: An Autobiography

Ansel Adams: A Biography by Mary Street Alinder

Looking At Ansel Adams: The Photographs and the Man by Andrea G. Stillman

Ansel Adams in the National Parks by Ansel Adams

Yosemite and the High Sierra by Ansel Adams

Yosemite by Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams: Examples, The Making of 40 Photographs by Ansel Adams

If you have any questions about this website or my photography, I’d love to hear from you.  Please click here to email me.

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Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Blue Hen Falls in Autumn – Click image to enlarge

Located between Akron and Cleveland in northeast Ohio, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is Ohio’s only National Park. The park covers 33,000 acres, has 186 miles of trails, and is the third-smallest park in the National Park System yet ranks as one of the ten-most-visited National Parks. Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s namesake river flows north and south.  The Cuyahoga River begins its 100 mile journey in Geauga County, flows south to Cuyahoga Falls where it turns sharply north and flows through the park.  American Indians referred to the U-shaped river as Cuyahoga or “crooked river.”

The history that influenced this area of Ohio goes back several hundred years with the opening of the Ohio and Erie Canal in 1827. The canal took two years to build and was dug by hand between Cleveland and Akron. A parallel towpath for mules that pulled boats loaded with freight and a system of forty-four locks was also built. By the early 1900’s the railroad brought about the demise of the canal, and by the 1920’s roads were built through the Cuyahoga Valley. Today, restored sections of the canal alongside a restored towpath follow the route of the Cuyahoga River.

Sunrise at the Beaver Marsh – Click image to enlarge

You can see more of my Cuyahoga Valley National Park images in my gallery here. If you have any questions about this website or my photography, please click here to email me.

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More from Yosemite

Sunset view of Yosemite Valley - Click image to enlarge

Every so often I take the time to look through images I’ve taken, and as much as the images remind me of a particular place and time, it’s a learning experience as well.  It always seems like I see something different in almost every image and think of a certain feeling or experience when I look at again after not seeing it for a while.  Next month it will have been 4 years since I visited Yosemite National Park, and after looking through all the images I took there, it seems like it was only yesterday that I was there.  As I stated in my previous post on Yosemite here, it is a stunningly beautiful place.  Whether you are a photographer or not, you just have to go there and experience it.  Christopher Robinson, Editor of Outdoor Photographer Magazine, says in his “In This Issue” column of the May 2012 issue that “Yosemite National Park is the George Clooney of the nature photography universe.  Its celebrity is unparalleled, it’s instantly recognized, and photographers flock to the iconic park in droves, jostling for spots to capture the view of the valley like paparazzi wrestling for a place near the red carpet of a film premier.”  Christopher goes on to say that he recently heard an interview with Clooney that made him think of a comparison to Yosemite.  As an international superstar, Clooney has no privacy, and just like Yosemite, everyone wants to take his picture.  What he has observed is that whether he’s saying hello to a fan or signing an autograph, the person has a camera phone sticking up, shooting video or snapping pictures.  Clooney’s observation was spot on when he said, “I think most people are experiencing less and recording more.”  My point in mentioning this is that as photographers we want to capture all the iconic images of great places like Yosemite, but we have to be sure to experience the place while we there.  Put down your camera for a few moments, listen to the sounds, smell the smells, and let your eyes take in the sights around you.  When you pick up your camera again, I guarantee you that you’ll take better images!

Upper Yosemite Falls from the valley - Click image to enlarge


Reflections - Click image to enlarge

Except for the Yosemite Valley Sunset, the other images were taken during the last few hours of our time in Yosemite.  Several times a day the Ansel Adams Gallery sponsors a photography walk with a gallery photographer.  During a fun and informative 2 hour walk around Cook’s Meadow in Yosemite Valley, the gallery photographer gives many great tips on how to set up and photograph various subjects during the walk.  It was great just wandering around the valley for a few hours.  I mostly listened and looked around as we walked, trying to take in the last few moments of my Yosemite “experience.”

You can see more of my Yosemite images in my gallery here. If you have any questions about this website or my photography, please click here to email me.

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Yosemite – A Special Place

Yosemite Valley - Click image to enlarge

There are many stunning landscapes all over the world, but there are only a few that will stir your soul like your first view of Yosemite Valley.  My first view was at 2:34 PM PST on May 12, 2008 from the “Tunnel View” location, and I will never forget it.  From this vantage point, the valley stretched out before me and I could see El Capitan , Half Dome in the distance, and Bridalveil Falls in full flow.  The view was absolutely breathtaking and so stunningly beautiful that it completely overwhelmed my senses such that I could barely set up my camera and tripod.  The thought that Ansel Adams created some of his most famous photographs within a few feet of where I stood, maybe even from the very spot I was standing on didn’t make it any easier.  The image above is the view I had that day, it’s is a favorite of mine it, and I still feel the excitement I felt that day every time I look at it.

Before going to Yosemite, Lisa and I read as much as we could about the park, I studied many of Ansel Adams’ famous photographs of the park, and put together a plan of everything I wanted to photograph so I was ready to “hit the ground shooting” when I got there!  After our first view of the valley I realized that what was most important wasn’t getting all the shots I wanted, it was about experiencing the “journey” the park offered, getting completely absorbed in its sights and sounds.  During our time in the park, we went to Mirror Lake, then we hiked past Happy Isles to Vernal Falls, up the mist trail to the top of Vernal Falls and on to Nevada Falls.  We stood in awe of the view from Glacier Point, drove to Mariposa Grove to see the magnificent Giant Sequoias, and wandered through the meadow on the floor of the valley.  Snow made the Tioga Road impassable so seeing the Toulumne Meadows and the high Sierra back country will have to wait for a future trip.  Over the 4 days we had to spend in the park I captured almost 1,000 images.

Half Dome from Cook's Meadow - Click image to enlarge

Yosemite National Park was established on October 1, 1890, and is this country’s 3rd oldest national park.  The park covers 1,200 square miles of the western Sierra Nevada including scenic wonders like the granite massifs El Capitan and Half Dome, alpine and subalpine wilderness, three groves of giant sequoia trees and waterfalls that are some of the world’s highest.  Yosemite was the birthplace of the Sierra Club and in 1984 became a World Heritage site.  4.1 million people visit Yosemite annually.

The wide expansive vistas with waterfalls dropping thousands of feet down vertical granite walls are overwhelming and will frustrate any photographer trying to capture it all.  That’s the problem with a place like Yosemite, everywhere you look you’re surrounded with such beauty that you want to photograph everything, and no matter how hard you try you just can’t capture it all.  Yosemite is truly a special place, and I know I’ll go back many times.  If you haven’t been there yet, it is an experience not to be missed.

To see a gallery of my images of Yosemite National Park, please click here.  If you have any questions about my photography or my site, please click here to email me.

More information about Yosemite National Park can be found at the National Park Service Yosemite Welcome Page, and at the Yosemite Convervancy.

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