Hidden Yosemite Workshop

Sunrise illuminates North Peak. I like the rippled reflection, preserved by a fast shutter speed (1/90th sec)

Sunrise illuminates North Peak. I like the rippled reflection, preserved by a fast shutter speed (1/90th sec).

Teaching my Hidden Yosemite workshop last week was so much fun. We had some wonderful clouds to make the skies more interesting, and a great group of people, plus it’s always fun to get away from the roads and into some beautiful areas that you just can’t drive to.

Weather forecasts before the workshop called for clear skies, but our first evening we photographed some amazing lenticular clouds, including two UFO disks over Mammoth Peak, and another formation to the north resembling an Imperial Star Destroyer. Later in the week the sun broke through overcast skies just before sunset and lit up the clouds over Gaylor Lakes, and the next morning we watched sunlight poke through more clouds to illuminate North Peak. And then it snowed. Meteorologists try to predict the future, which is a difficult job. This is one time when I’m glad they were wrong—the clouds definitely made things more interesting.

But the weather was really just a bonus. The main focus of the workshop was teaching and learning. My super-assistant Mike Osborne and I both love to teach, whether in the classroom doing portfolio reviews or in the field working with students one-on-one to refine compositions or understand histograms. I know everyone in the workshop learned a lot—and I did too. When you explain something to others you have to understand it thoroughly yourself. The process of teaching helps increase my knowledge of photography, which allows me to share that knowledge with all of you, which then deepens my understanding—and on and on. If you’ve reached a level in your photography where you feel you can help others, I highly recommend teaching as a way to improve your own skills—even if you’re just helping a friend figure out how their camera works.

Anyway, here’s a mini-portfolio of images from the workshop. I’m already looking forward to doing it again next summer!

—Michael Frye

Mike Osborne and I caught a colorful sunset from Conway Summit before the workshop.

Mike Osborne and I caught a colorful sunset from Conway Summit before the workshop.

The moon, Venus, and Jupiter in the dawn sky over Mono Lake.

The moon, Venus, and Jupiter in the dawn sky over Mono Lake.

UFOs over Mammoth Peak

UFOs over Mammoth Peak

Lenticular cloud at sunset on the first evening of the workshop

Lenticular cloud at sunset on the first evening of the workshop

Small waterfall and reflections

Small waterfall and reflections

Sunset over Gaylor Lakes

Sunset over Gaylor Lakes

Mike and Mike working on a composition (assistant Mike Osborne is wearing the plaid shirt).

Mike and Mike working on a composition (assistant Mike Osborne is wearing the plaid shirt).

Julie photographing columbines

Julie photographing columbines

Peter waiting for the light

Peter waiting for the light

The group with North Peak

The group in front of North Peak

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBooks Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, and Exposure for Outdoor Photography. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.

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18 Responses to “Hidden Yosemite Workshop”

  1. Michael, I really like your philosophy on teaching and it reinforces what many of us enjoy about photography and our professions. Many decades ago when I was in medical school we lived by two mantras: “Watch one, do one, teach one” (that is the way we developed skills at doing procedures such as starting IV’s, etc.), and “To teach is to learn”. These two rules of life have served me well over the years as, apparently, they have served you.

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thank you James. I didn’t know that’s how they taught things in medical school (or at least some medical schools), but it sounds like a great way to learn, and it sounds like that training has served you well in other areas of life besides medicine.

  2. William Hocking says:

    Michael,
    Looks like a wonderful workshop and experience. Hope to do this sometime soon. I know from experience what a wonderful teacher you are.

  3. Vivienne says:

    Michael, looks like you got some great conditions! I love the subtle reflections in the small waterfall shot. Reminds me almost of fall.

  4. Denise Dewire says:

    Great images! I am so looking forward to your Eastern Sierra workshop in October!! Can’t wait! You were so lucky to have those clouds. We were in Yosemite the previous week and had hoped for some great clouds, but all we had were blue skies!

    • Michael Frye says:

      I’m looking forward to the Eastern Sierra Workshop too! Sorry you didn’t get any clouds on your last visit. Maybe we will in October, but mainly we’ll hope for some great fall color. :)

  5. Paolo Nadeau says:

    Hi Michael,

    Looks like you had a really nice group for your workshop.

    Wish I could have been there. :-)

    You have some incredible work posted from the workshop.

    Your photo of the moon, Venus, and Jupiter over Mono Lake really blows me away!

    I love the glow on the Tufa.

    How long an exposure did you use to achieve that?

    Have a great weekend.

    Paolo – Jacksonville, FL
    http://www.panoramio.com/user/6757938

  6. Andrys says:

    I just love your photography, every single one of these shots. Wish I could have been there. I hope to make one of your workshops that isn’t too strenuous (or try to get myself into shape).

    Thanks for these. It’s so refreshing to see just simply beautiful images.

    Am continuing to learn from your “In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters (as well as the older copy of the Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite and am waiting on the pre-order on the revised one).

    Will you be making a LARGER book of some of your compelling images with your advice?

    Will an Android app of the Photographers Guide to Yosemite be made soon? (So many questions.)

    • Michael Frye says:

      Thanks very much Andrys! Very kind of you. I don’t have any plans to make a larger book at this point, but maybe someday. As for the Android app, we’ve run into some problems with this, but we’re still working on it. :)

  7. Aaron says:

    That sure looks like a great trip. I don’t make it to Yosemite nearly enough. Thank you for sharing these images. It is always a pleasure to view your work.

  8. [...] If you want to try making photographs from such a spot anyway, here are a couple of suggestions. First, don’t try to include the whole panorama; everything will just look small, distant, and uninteresting. Use a telephoto lens, pick out an interesting detail, and zoom in on it. While I didn’t find this kind of telephoto composition on Shuteye Peak, from a high vantage point on Yosemite’s Pothole Dome this summer I zoomed in on distant peaks and spectacular cloud formations (see the fourth and fifth photographs in this post). [...]

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