The day had come. Jeff and I tossed our gear, some warm clothes and a little food into the car and headed out of San Francisco to our destination: Yosemite National Park. As we drove from the city to the park, we passed some very interesting landscapes I would have gladly spent several days photographing—including an abandoned orchard and a rock-strewn cattle farm—but our destination awaited and we were excited to get there. (So excited, in fact, that we were given a warning by a ranger for speeding in the park. Oops.)
This is of course the famous Tunnel View through the Yosemite Valley and includes El Capitan, Half-Dome, Cathedral Rock and several other recognizable landmarks of the park. It also the location where Ansel Adams shot Clearing Winter Storm, one of my favorite photographs from him. (I looked for his tripod holes, but alas could not find them.) As you can see there was no storm today with the setting sun emblazoning El Capitan with a golden hue. As in San Francisco, I did take a few of the "trophy" shots, partly because they were irresistible, but also because I once heard a photographer (I think it was Art Wolfe) say you need to "shoot through the clichés." In other words, and in this case, I needed to go ahead and get the iconic shots just to get past them and try to find my own personal interpretation of Yosemite. So Jeff and I spent a little time shooting from this overlook before heading into the Valley to see what else we could find.
Since we'd spent the morning driving, we didn't have too much time to explore but we also managed to stop at Bridal Veil Falls to do a little shooting as well. It had been cold and a bit rainy recently and the path to the falls was wet and icy. we spent quite a bit of time trying not to fall as we walked along. The falls itself was interesting, but as it was late in the day, the light was not very good. Again, I shot a few images just for the record, but never really got a near shot of the falls that I liked.
So what do you do when the landscape in front of you isn't quite as interesting as you'd thought? Why, you turn around.
This photograph was the first one where I felt I began to photograph my own personal interpretation of the park. One of the first things you will notice in the Yosemite Valley is the towering rock all around you; enormous walls of granite soaring hundreds of feet into the air. It's hard to imagine the forces at work to create such monoliths. It felt a bit like walking through downtown Manhattan a few weeks ago, feeling more than seeing the skyscrapers all around me. That was my immediate impression of this place and the one I tried to convey in this photograph. I would continue to work this theme throughout the following days in Yosemite.