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.
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.