It’s been quite dry in Yosemite since December, but there’s still some snow on top of El Capitan, and I thought that the warming weather over the last few days would melt some of that snow and increase the water flow in Horsetail Fall. But the flow is still disappointingly meager. I had a chance to photograph Horsetail last night, and I would say the water level is about the same as last year. The accompanying photograph was made from the Southside Drive area at about 5:30 p.m. yesterday. What water there is gets nicely highlighted when the light is just right, especially near the bottom of the fall, but… I wish the flow was better.
With low water like this I think the Southside Drive spot (Location 10 in my Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite book and iPhone app) works a little better than Rowell’s View near the El Capitan picnic area along Northside Drive (Location 1). From Southside Drive you’re a little further away, and you can see a bit more of the bottom of Horsetail Fall, which is the part that shows up best with conditions like this.
It’s supposed to be warm again today, so that might help increase the flow, but then temperatures are expected to trend downward tomorrow and Monday. On Tuesday forecasters are predicting the arrival of a snowstorm, which is expected to leave even colder air in its wake. The bad news is that the colder temperatures will slow down the flow in Horsetail Fall. The good news is that… a snowstorm is coming! And that, of course, brings the possibility of photographing snowy trees and cliffs, and maybe a clearing storm.
Even without snow there are always plenty of other things to photograph in Yosemite besides Horsetail Fall. I’ve found lots of interesting frost and ice lately; I’ve included a couple of recent examples below.
Whether you’re photographing Horsetail Fall or something else, good luck, and have fun out there!
— Michael Frye