Archive for the ‘Yosemite Photo Conditions’ Category

First Snowfall

Sunday, November 15th, 2015
Snow-covered California black oak, late autumn, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Snow-covered California black oak, late autumn, Yosemite, Tuesday morning

I’m in Dallas today teaching a Lightroom workshop for the Sun to Moon Gallery. We have a nice group of people and we’re having a great time, but meanwhile, back in Yosemite, another storm is arriving. I won’t get to photograph this one, but did get to photograph the previous one last Monday and Tuesday.

That storm featured a brief, misty clearing on Monday morning, a dusting of snow on Monday night, and a couple of surprises. It began on Sunday night, but early Monday morning the satellite and radar images showed that there might be a break around sunrise before more precipitation arrived that afternoon. So I drove up to Tunnel View early, and sure enough, it did clear. It wasn’t the most colorful sunrise, but there was plenty of beautiful mist, as you can see in this photograph:


An Early Winter Storm

Thursday, November 5th, 2015
Clouds and mist from Tunnel View, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Clouds and mist from Tunnel View, Tuesday morning

It’s nice to see the Yosemite high country covered in snow on the Sentinel Dome webcam – an uncommon sight in recent years. On Monday a large, winter-like storm reached California, dropping over two-and-a-half inches of rain in Yosemite Valley, and from one to two feet of snow at higher elevations. The winter wet season is off to a good start.

I’m not celebrating too much yet, however, because I remember this happening before. During the last four water-starved winters several large, early-season storms have created initial optimism, only to be followed by months of sunny skies. Let’s hope that this is just the first of many big storms to arrive this winter.


A Stormy Afternoon, and a Fall Color Report

Thursday, October 29th, 2015
Sunset light, Tunnel View, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Sunset light, Tunnel View, yesterday evening

Some interesting weather passed through the Sierra Nevada yesterday. It so happened that I had an errand to run in Yosemite Valley, which gave me an excuse (as if I needed one) to go up there and check on the weather. After taking care of the errand, Claudia and I ended up at Tunnel View, where we waited out a thunderstorm. I tried to take a nap in the car, but was rudely awakened several times by loud claps of thunder. After the rain stopped I went out to the viewpoint and waited for the sun to break through, joined by a number of other photographers, including some friends and acquaintances. Tunnel View is, by virtue of its popularity, the social gathering place for photographers in Yosemite.

Finally, just before sunset, the sun did break through and light El Capitan (see the photograph above). It’s funny how all those photographers can suddenly become quiet as they concentrate on composition and camera settings.


Yosemite Valley Fall Color

Sunday, October 25th, 2015
El Capitan and the Merced River, autumn, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

El Capitan and the Merced River, autumn, Yosemite Valley. This photograph from 2006 shows big-leaf maple leaves covering the foreground shoreline.

On my way home Thursday I drove the loop around Yosemite Valley to check on the fall color progression. The first thing that struck me was the cottonwoods, which have all dropped their leaves without turning yellow. Is this a sign of the drought? Maybe, but I saw the same thing happen in 2011, after one of the wettest winters and springs on record for Yosemite Valley. There are a lot of factors that affect fall color, so it’s hard to pinpoint one cause.

Some of the black oak leaves also seem to be turning brown. I’d say half of the oaks look fine (though still mostly green), and half appear to be wilting.

On the other hand, the big-leaf maples and dogwoods look pretty normal, though they’re turning late. Many maples sport a few brown leaves, but that’s actually pretty typical. The rest of the leaves are either healthy green or starting to turn yellow, and once they all turn yellow you won’t notice the brown leaves. Most of the dogwoods look quite normal overall, though they’re turning late.


Heading Home

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015
Aspens along a creek in the eastern Sierra Nevada, CA, USA

Aspens along a creek in the eastern Sierra Nevada, from last Friday

After nearly a month on the road in Colorado and the eastern Sierra, Claudia and I are heading home today. But before making the drive I thought I’d post a brief report about fall color on the east side.

Colder weather and wind this week have caused many leaves at higher elevations to drop off, yet there are some beautiful patches of color at lower elevations, along with many still-green aspens. Lower Lundy Canyon (up to the end of the dirt road) looks really nice right now, with about 70 percent of the trees turning, 20 percent green, and 10 percent bare. The June Lake Loop from Grant to Silver lakes has plenty of color, but is still only perhaps 50 percent yellow and orange, with 50 percent green. Lee Vining Canyon is maybe 60 or 70 percent green, with the rest either yellow, bare, or brown. Up a little higher, Conway Summit has some large bare patches, but a few groves there are still quite colorful.


Eastern Sierra Fall Color Update

Sunday, October 18th, 2015
Carson Peak and aspens during a clearing storm, June Lake Loop, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Peak and aspens during a clearing storm, June Lake Loop, Friday morning

The past week has been very warm, so there hasn’t been a big color change at the lower elevation aspen groves in the eastern Sierra during that time. But there’s definitely more color in those areas, and some great spots, although much of the June Lake Loop and Lee Vining Canyon are still green. Conway Summit, which is a little higher, has some very colorful groves, although it also has some bare trees, and green ones as well. Several spots in the greater Lee Vining area seem to have more oranges and reds than usual.

We also found some beautiful color in Bishop Creek Canyon. North Lake is past peak, though there was still some nice color along the shore. But lower down we found lots of colorful trees, especially along the road to South Lake.


Fall Color in the Eastern Sierra

Monday, October 12th, 2015
Aspens and lodgepole pines, Lee Vining Canyon, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Aspens and lodgepole pines, upper Lee Vining Canyon, yesterday afternoon

After returning from Colorado, and spending a couple of days at home, Claudia and I are back in the eastern Sierra. Yesterday we scouted areas around Lee Vining, and most of the aspen groves here are at about the stage you would expect for the second week of October. That means that the lower-elevation aspens still have a lot of green, and more color can be found in the mid- and high-elevation areas. The best color we saw was in Warren Canyon (in upper Lee Vining Canyon), around Conway Summit (including the lowest part of the road to Virginia Lakes), and Dunderberg. The June Lake Loop and lower Lee Vining Canyon still show a lot of green. We didn’t visit Lundy Canyon yet, but heard there was some nice color there.

We also found some aspen groves that seem to have lost their leaves prematurely. These tend to be in drier areas, so that might a sign of the drought. But these places are a minority, and most of the aspens look healthy and are changing according to their normal schedule.


Early Fall Color Report

Monday, September 21st, 2015
Quaking aspens, autumn, Lee Vining Canyon, Inyo NF, CA, USA

Quaking aspens, Lee Vining Canyon, October 24, 2003

Claudia and I just returned from our annual trip to the Millpond Music Festival and (as Joe Craven puts it) “consciousness-raising event.” We had a wonderful time, as usual. The festival may or may not have raised my consciousness, but it sure was relaxing and fun.

Since the festival takes place in Bishop, on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, the trip gives me a chance to check on the early fall color over there. Every year, it seems, some early-changing leaves lead to online predictions that the aspens will turn early. This year I’ve also heard a lot of speculation about the effect the drought will have on the autumn color, and even seen a few actual reports of aspens turning brown and dropping their leaves early.

Driving down to Bishop last Friday, the color didn’t look early at all. There were some yellow and lime-green aspens at the mouth of Warren Canyon (along Highway 120 in upper Lee Vining Canyon), and some lime-green trees on Parker Bench, but everything else looked dark green. Warren Canyon and Parker Bench are both high-elevation, early-changing locations, so that all looked pretty typical for this time of year.


Back From the High Country

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015
Sunset clouds reflected in an alpine tarn, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Sunset clouds reflected in an alpine tarn, Saturday evening. This was a spectacular sunset that seemed to last forever. Believe it or not I actually toned down the pink color – it was pretty intense.

My Hidden Yosemite workshop with The Ansel Adams Gallery ended Sunday evening, and since then I’ve been catching up on work – and sleep! The days are long this time of year, which meant early starts and late evenings during the workshop, but it was all worth it, and we had a wonderful time.


High Mountain Sanctuary

Sunday, July 12th, 2015
Sunset at Tenaya Lake, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Sunset at Tenaya Lake, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

On Wednesday I’ll be starting my 10th Hidden Yosemite workshop. I always enjoy this class because we can do some hiking, get away from the crowds, and go to some of my favorite locations in the high country. It’s such a pleasure to feel the crisp, cool air, and see the intense light. And, of course, the area is wonderfully photogenic.