This weekend I am up in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Right now there is a typical Fall Nor’Easter blowing through and the ocean is really angry. Seas are around 4-7 feet and rising. I came home late this evening and noticed that I could see the white water really well. At first I thought that the moon was lighting up the white water of the waves but there was no moon. Then I thought it was a few street lights shinning on the ocean but I could see waves way out to sea and there were really no lights bright enough on my block to make it to the water. Then I noticed that the waves out farther were green compared to the white waves closer to shore. I then realized what I was seeing. It was bioluminescence. I walked out on the beach where it was nice and dark and let me eyes adjust to the darkness and was treated to a sight I have never seen in all my years hanging out on the outer banks. As each wave broke, green light would light up all the way down. Farther out past the sand bar where the waves weren’t as large and just the peaks capped white, the green and blue light was unmistakeable. As I write this now I can look out my front window and see the colors in the water. When I started taking photos the moon had risen and was creating moon rays as it peaked in and out of the clouds. What a sight! Enjoy!
Last but certainly not least is a set of images from up at Glacier Point. This view takes my breath away every time. I always forget how large half dome is from the point. I made it up here my first full day in the park this trip and went up just in time for an awesome snow storm. Temperatures were hovering around 28-30 degrees F and there was a brisk breeze on top. Regardless I spent about 5 hours up at Glacier Point watching the white puffy clouds roll across the valley casting shadows and rays of light across the granite. Eventually the snow storm that had been in the forecast started to show its face. Off the in the distance I could start to see whisps of snow coming out of the clouds. Eventually the clouds got darker and closer and the temperature started plummeting into the low 20′s. I stayed and shot the clouds rolling across half dome while snow flurries fell all around me. Just my kind of photography; adverse conditions always make the great photo more worth all the trouble. Eventually conditions went to a near total whiteout and the park rangers kicked everyone off the point.
By the end of the trip I had finally figured out what I should have been focusing on to get a unique photo: The mayhem of the park. The photos of the scenic views are really a complete illusion of what this park is like. I am not saying that its not beautiful because it is some of the most amazing land in the world. But the truth is that when you drive around the park there are orange cones and barrels lining the road way all around the park, constructions signs, heavy machinery and hoards of people driving like crazy people to get a parking spot. There are long lines to get unhealthy food at Yosemite Village and even larger crowds of photographers at all the hot spots. I took a single shot that I think is the start of my theme for my next visit to Yosemite; I plan on documenting the chaos in this park (at least in the valley, the real Yosemite is out in the backcountry). This photo shows how many people are there crammed into these view areas all trying to get the same shot. I tried to get the shot they were getting, no reason not to, it was a gorgeous scene. With 20 people crammed tripod to tripod it was impossible so I opted to photograph the photographers. In the end I shot over someone’s shoulder at a higher ISO so I didn’t have to use a tripod and got the shot. I personally don’t even like the shot and thought the other less crowded views were better. In the end it is still great that all those people have gotten off the couch and made an effort to enjoy the great outdoors.
Continuing my quest for unique photos in the park I stayed up pretty late to photograph the usual scenes but at night. I thought that I would be in complete solitude in the evening but as I stood on the main road in front of El Capitan I had to battle with a steady stream of cars pouring into the park all night long. I wasn’t able to get a single 5 minute exposure off without a car driving past me and lighting up all the foreground and ruining the shot. Luckily switching the shots to black and white made it a little better looking. I have kind of developed a love hate relationship with this park. It is so beautiful yet so overcrowded (I am not part of the solution to that problem by any means). Maybe I am just selfish and want to enjoy the park without anyone there, which will never happen. It really bothered me to stand at a overlook and spend several hours there taking it in and thinking about what I was really looking at and then have 3 tour buses pull up and unload 300 people who walk out and take a quick snapshot and get back on the bus. I think it should be a entrance requirement that you spend at least an hour at any one spot to enjoy it. Photos are a great keepsake but it doesn’t compare to sitting there and letting the scale of the area sink in and blow your mind. All that to say that even at night I wasn’t able to get away from the crowds that rush to this park year round to hopefully enjoy its beauty.
One technique I used in hopes of creating a unique view of Yosemite was to shoot digital infrared. My Nikon D3 with liveview has revolutionized infrared. Composition, focus and metering are all made easy with the live view feature as it is capable of seeing the IR wavelengths that the human eye can not see. Infrared always makes a familiar scene completely new. An ordinary mid day scene of green trees is transformed into a wonderful winter wonderland or so you think. The filter I used for these shots is called a Hoya R72 (for those interested in giving IR photography a try).
I spent three and a half days this weekend in the Valley of Yosemite National Park. My original intent was to really focus on finding a new and unique perspective of the park through my photographs. I failed at this goal miserably. As usual I was sucked into the grand, breathtaking views that the park offers along with the hoards of tourists coming off the buses. The views from the standard view points are so grand that it really overwhelms my senses and I can’t help but sit and gawk like every other tourist. As a result of this I took more or less the same photo over and over again and it turned out to be a great timeline of a day in the park. One of my favorite views is the Tunnel View where there is a great overlook of the valley with Bridal Veil Falls, El Capitan and Half Dome. On this weekend I was lucky enough to have a cold front push through which provided all kinds of interesting weather. The conditions ranged from perfect cloudless skies all the way to total white out conditions from a snow storm and just about everything inbetween. I enjoyed coming to that same view multiple times during the day to see how the light had moved through the valley and watching it play along the cliffs. I spent several hours at a time there just starring out into the valley waiting for the right clouds and rays of light to hit El Capitan. I even had someone come up and ask me what I was doing since I had all my fancy camera gear setup but was just sitting there with it not taking any photos. My answer was simple; I was enjoying and waiting. The shots here are presented in chronological order from morning to evening over a couple days.