Archive for the ‘New Images’ Category

San Joaquin Valley Sunset

Sunday, March 20th, 2016
White-faced ibises, goldfields, and a vernal pool at sunset, San Joaquin Valley, CA, USA

White-faced ibises, goldfields, and a vernal pool at sunset, San Joaquin Valley, Calfornia

There’s often an element of luck in landscape photography. Of course, as Ansel Adams said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” You have to try to put yourself in the right place at the right time, and then make the most of the opportunities you get. But sometimes luck goes above and beyond.

Yesterday Claudia and I made a day trip to the Bay Area on business, and on our way home we decided to check out some vernal pools in the San Joaquin Valley. Vernal pools fill with water during the winter rainy season, and then slowly evaporate during the spring. As they evaporate, flowers grow along their shores, sometimes forming concentric rings of color. As California’s Central Valley got plowed and paved over, vernal pools became increasingly scarce, so they’re home to several rare species of plants and animals. Most of the remaining vernal pools can be found along the edges of the valley, where the land rises slightly, but the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge complex and Great Valley Grasslands State Park have preserved some vernal pools in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, and that’s where we headed.

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A Clearing Storm by Starlight

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Stars, mist, Three Brothers, and the Merced River, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Stars, mist, Three Brothers, and the Merced River, Yosemite, Sunday night



Every storm has to end eventually, of course. Even Noah got a reprieve after 40 days and 40 nights. I didn’t have to wait quite that long for this past weekend’s storm to clear, but at first it seemed like the timing was less than ideal.

There was a small chance that the storm might clear before sunset on Sunday, so Claudia and I drove up to Yosemite Valley that afternoon. It was snowing when we got there, and kept snowing, and it soon became apparent that clearing wasn’t imminent. I photographed snow-covered trees until it got dark, then we joined our friend Charlotte Gibb for drinks and dinner at the Yosemite Lodge bar.

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Stormy Weather

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
Yosemite Valley through the mist from Tunnel View, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Yosemite Valley through the mist from Tunnel View, Yosemite, last Tuesday afternoon

We had a great time during our workshop last week in Yosemite, with a wonderful group of people, and some interesting weather. Although we didn’t get any new snow, we were able to photograph two clearing storms, plus two moonrises, and some misty trees. I’ve included a few of my favorite images from the week here.

We’ve had sunshine the last few days, and the fair weather is expected to continue until Friday, when another storm is predicted. The National Weather Service is expressing uncertainty about the strength and timing of this upcoming system. It should start off with high snow levels, which means rain in Yosemite Valley, but then the temperatures might drop enough toward the end of the storm to bring some snow down to the valley. We’ll see. But either way, more precipitation is good news in this state.

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Misty Morning

Sunday, January 17th, 2016
Half Dome and North Dome above Yosemite Valley, winter, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Half Dome and North Dome above Yosemite Valley, Friday morning, 8:24 a.m.

I’m so grateful for all the rain and snow we’ve been getting. After four years of drought, it’s wonderful to have a normal, wet winter. We’ve had storm after storm, and although most of the recent ones have been small, they add up. Yosemite Valley has received 24.63 inches of rain since July 1st, which is well above average. Badger Pass, at 7,200 feet, has 60 inches of snow on the ground, and the deepening snowpack raises hopes of full waterfalls this spring.

All this weather has been great for photography. It seems like we’ve already had more snow and clearing storms this season than the last four winters combined.

The latest in the series of small storms came through on Thursday night. I didn’t pay much attention to it, because it was predicted to be a weak system, and a warm one. I happened to wake up at about 4:00 a.m. Friday morning, and checked the radar images on my phone. It was raining pretty hard at our house, but the radar showed that the precipitation might end soon, possibly right around sunrise.

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A Snowy Day

Sunday, January 10th, 2016
Snowy oaks, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Snowy oaks, Yosemite. 1/125th of a second at f/11, 800 ISO, 150mm.

On Wednesday Claudia and I were in Yosemite Valley during a snowstorm. At times the snow was heavy, and wet, with big, fat flakes falling. It’s difficult to keep the camera dry and prevent water drops from getting on the lens under those conditions, but if you can manage that stuff you can find some beautiful scenes. The falling snow thickens the atmosphere, creating a fog-like effect, and the falling flakes themselves add to the snowy mood.

When it’s raining or snowing a lens hood is essential to keep water drops off the front glass. You also need to constantly check the front of the lens to make sure it’s clean, because it’s hard to see the drops through the viewfinder, but they become glaringly obvious later when looking at the images on a big screen, and are often impossible to clone out or otherwise fix. Telephoto lenses have longer hoods, which are better for keeping the front glass dry; all the photos here except one were made with my 70-200mm zoom.

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That Moonlit Night

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

Half Dome, North Dome, and the Merced River by moonlight, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Half Dome, North Dome, and the Merced River by moonlight, Yosemite. This photograph was made about 11:30 p.m. When I first arrived at this spot Half Dome was completely obscured by fog. But I waited, and soon Half Dome and North Dome started to appear through the mist. I made a series of images with similar compositions as the clouds and mist shifted, but I particularly liked the light in this one. Sony A7rII, Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 lens, 20 seconds at f/4, 4000 ISO.



I promised to post more moonlit images from last Saturday night and Sunday morning, so here they are. In case you missed them, I posted a photograph from that night made at Gates of the Valley here, and another image from Tunnel View here. But it was such a beautiful night, with fresh snow, and mist that stayed around for a long time, so I photographed for almost four hours, and was able to try many different viewpoints and ideas. I’ve included extended captions to give a little more information about each photograph here.

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Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24th, 2015
Yosemite Valley lit by the setting moon,  with Jupiter above, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Yosemite Valley lit by the setting moon, with Jupiter above, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

To all of you who celebrate the day, Claudia and I wish you a very Merry Christmas! We hope you have a wonderful holiday, full of peace, joy, and the love of family and friends.

This is another moonlit photo from Saturday night (actually early Sunday morning). After making the image Gates of the Valley that I posted on Sunday, I headed up to Tunnel View. When I arrived the valley was hidden by a thick bank of fog, but eventually the mist parted, revealing stars, Jupiter, and cliffs lit by the setting moon. Claudia thought this had a Christmas feeling to it, and I had to agree, so it seemed like an appropriate photograph to post today.

We hope you have a great holiday season!

— Michael Frye

Gates of the Valley by Moonlight

Sunday, December 20th, 2015
Gates of the Valley by moonlight, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Gates of the Valley by moonlight, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

A small storm arrived yesterday morning. It looked like it might clear before sunset, but by early afternoon it became obvious that showers would linger throughout the day. There was, however, another window of opportunity, as the two-thirds-full moon was due to set at 1:45 a.m. When the clouds started to break up around 9:00 p.m. I drove up to Yosemite Valley.

This storm was a little warmer than the previous ones, bringing mostly rain instead snow to Yosemite Valley, but in typical fashion the temperature dropped at the tail end of the storm, and I found a light dusting of snow. I arrived just before ten o’clock, almost four hours before the moon was due to set, so this was the lunar equivalent of an early-afternoon clearing, with the moon still high overhead. But there was abundant mist, and moonlight breaking through clouds, so it was quite beautiful. And the mist lingered for hours, so I stayed and kept photographing until after the moon set.

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A Snowy Morning

Thursday, December 17th, 2015
Reflections along the Merced River, winter, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Reflections along the Merced River, winter, Yosemite. I tried several different versions of this photograph. I initially wanted to include a wider view, with more trees on the sides, but a distracting log just out of the frame on the right bothered me. In the end I liked this tighter, simpler, distraction-free version better.

Yosemite Valley received two doses of snow this past weekend, first on Friday night, and then again on Sunday night. I wasn’t able to make it up there on Saturday, but Claudia and I drove up early Monday morning after the second snowfall.

The storm had cleared around midnight, and temperatures then dropped down to 25 degrees. Below-freezing temperatures inhibit the development of fog and mist, so the skies were clear when we arrived in the valley. But we found three to four inches of fresh, fluffy snow coating all the trees.

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A “Poor” Autumn

Sunday, December 13th, 2015
Aspens and sagebrush, autumn, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Aspens and sagebrush, autumn, Inyo NF, CA, USA

In most people’s estimation – including mine – this year was a poor one for fall color on the eastern side of the Sierra. Some aspen groves just turned brown and dropped their leaves early, probably because they were stressed by the drought. Other more well-watered groves turned late. It was hard to find areas where most of the trees were at peak color at the same time.

And yet, despite all that, we found some wonderful color on the east side this fall. I had a great time photographing the aspens before, during, and after our workshops. I posted a couple of eastern-Sierra grand landscape scenes earlier, but here are some more intimate views of the aspens on the east side. Whether the color is early or late, good or bad, there’s always something to photograph over there in October. Nature is resilient, and ever-beautiful.

— Michael Frye

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