Yosemite Photo Conditions

Autumn on the East Side

Autumn hillside, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Autumn hillside, Bishop Creek Canyon

We just finished our Eastern Sierra Fall Color workshop, and start another workshop tomorrow, so I just have time for a quick post. But we had a lot of fun last week with our group. Autumn arrived early on the east side, and then a storm came through just before the workshop, closing many Sierra passes and blowing leaves off the trees. But we still found some beautiful color; I’ve included a few photographs here made during and just before the workshop.


North Lake Sunset

Sunset clouds over North Lake, autumn, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Sunset clouds over North Lake, autumn, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Claudia and I are back home, but we had fun photographing on the east side last week. Every day we saw more color in Bishop Creek Canyon, and the high-elevation aspens were looking great when we left yesterday.

I made this photograph Friday evening. We had been photographing intimate scenes along the south fork of Bishop Creek for a couple of hours, but there were some clouds hugging the crest of the mountains, so I headed to North Lake where I could get a wider view if the clouds turned color at sunset.


Early Autumn Color

Aspens, reeds, and reflections, Bishop Creek Canyon, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Aspens, reeds, and reflections, Bishop Creek Canyon, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Claudia and I are over on the eastern side of the Sierra checking out the early fall color. The high-elevation aspens typically start turning over here in late September, and they’re right on schedule, or maybe even a little early compared to some years. We drove up Bishop Creek Canyon yesterday, and found lots of color near the 9,000-foot level around Lake Sabrina and North Lake. I’d say these areas are near peak already, with a few bare trees, and some green, but probably 70 to 80 percent of the aspens turning.


Over Tioga Pass

Ice and reflections in Ellery Lake, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Ice and reflections in Ellery Lake, Inyo NF, Wednesday evening

Claudia and I love going over Tioga Pass on the day it opens, whenever possible, and we managed to tear ourselves away from our desks on Wednesday afternoon and do just that. I photographed some beautiful puffy clouds and reflections from Tuolumne Meadows late in the afternoon. Towards sunset the clouds started to dissipate, so we headed over the pass to Ellery Lake, which had some great ice patterns.

Tenaya Lake was totally free of ice, while Tioga Lake was almost completely frozen. Ellery Lake just right, with a photogenic mixture of ice and open water. But I’m sure that will all melt soon, while Tioga Lake should be getting more open patches of water.

Meanwhile, the park did get some showers on Friday and Saturday, with a dusting of high-elevation snow. The Tioga Road has been closed off and on since Friday night, though as I write this it’s open. With showers in the forecast over the next few days it’s possible that the road may close again temporarily.


Tioga Pass is Open!

Mammoth Peak reflected in snowmelt pond, near Tioga Pass, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Mammoth Peak reflected in snowmelt pond, near Tioga Pass, Yosemite, from 1993

Tioga Pass opened today. I love photographing the Yosemite high country when there’s still snow on the peaks and ice covering the lakes, so this is a great time to go up there. However the forecast calls for snow on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the higher elevations of Yosemite. The park service has been ultra-cautious about the Glacier Point Road this spring, closing it when there’s any chance of snow. They’ll probably be even more cautious with the Tioga Road, so I expect it will close again on Friday, and probably remain closed through the weekend. 🙁 I could be wrong, but if you have a chance to go up today or tomorrow, take it!

— Michael Frye


May Showers

Spring sunrise, Gates of the Valley, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Spring sunrise, Gates of the Valley, Yosemite, Sunday morning

First, to my subscribers, thanks for your understanding about the email glitches yesterday. I really appreciate all the supportive emails so many people sent. Your kind words turned a frustrating day into a great one.

I haven’t posted anything new on the blog for awhile because I was teaching a workshop, and then working on our new website. The new site is still a bit of a work in progress, so if you find any broken links or other issues please let me know. But the new site better integrates the blog with the other content, makes it easier to add and update portfolios, and will work much better with phones and tablets, so I hope it will be a better experience for everyone.

Meanwhile we had a great workshop, with flowing waterfalls, fresh spring greenery, dogwoods, and some interesting weather and clouds. And the cool, showery spring weather has continued, which I love. I’m not ready for the summer heat, and always happy to have clouds and mist to photograph.