It was our last day in Yosemite. We planned to spend the morning shooting, grab some lunch and head back to San Francisco in the afternoon. After the previous day's disappointing skies, Jeff Fielding and I hoped for a little break in the weather and perhaps get a few more of the grand landscapes this place is known for. Sadly, it was not to be. This is what we got instead. Tunnel Fog

Hardly Clearing Winter Storm, eh? To top it all off, it was pouring, and Jeff and I got soaked waiting for the fog to clear. Eventually, the fog dissipated enough to get some pretty good stuff of the fog-shrouded valley, but the distant peaks—including Half Dome—were still completely invisible. Ah, well. Looked like we'd spend our last few hours here focusing on the details once more.

We again drove to the valley floor and to Yosemite Falls to see if we could find anything there that wasn't a complete white out, but we weren't too hopeful. The fog and rain were thick and heavy and pretty much stayed that way while we drove along. However, just before we got to the falls, the rain slowed and the fog began to lift a bit. We pulled over at one of the nearby meadows and hopped out of the car to see what we could find.

Valley Fog

Yeah. Now we're talkin'. While the fog was still pretty prevalent, it cleared enough to start seeing some of the valley floor and the mountains beyond. It was beginning to warm up a bit, too, so the fog also began to rise from the warmer air temperatures reacting to the cold snow on the ground.  It started to feel like there might be some cool stuff coming, so I spent quite a bit of time here, and this was by far my favorite shot.

Once we'd had our fill, we drove over to the Yosemite Falls parking lot. Here the fog was a little thicker, especially on the ground, and things were beginning to disappear again. There were a few deer grazing near the meadow, so I got a few head shots of a young 6-point buck, but there wasn't much I really liked. One of the deer, however, broke away from the group and meandered out into the meadow by himself. I immediately thought of a photograph of the buck in the meadow with the fog, the trees and the towering mountains in the background. Cool, right?

I tried. I really tried, but I just couldn't pull it off. Either the fog was too thick or the deer was in the wrong place or there was something else wrong. It was quickly turning into an exercise in frustration. I followed the buck around  for a little while (being careful not to pass him, though :-) ), trying to get the shot I had in mind.

Nope. Never worked.

He finally wandered off to the back of the meadow and into some rather thick brush. I stood there for a bit, hoping he might come back out, but to no avail. I turned to walk back to the main part of the meadow… and the fog cleared ever so slightly.

Valley Fog 2

I really like this one. It shows how quickly the fog consumed the mountains in the distance, but opened up just enough to provide the perfect context for the trees and the creek  in the foreground. When I see this photograph, it instantly reminds me of that day.

After lunch, we changed into some dry clothes and pointed the car back to San Francisco. As we drove out of the park, the sun began to poke through the clouds, the rain stopped, and the fog began to dissipate—almost as if saying, "Nice try this time, but come back again. There are more wonders here to see."

Not to worry, old man. I'll be back.