Dappled light on Half Dome and Yosemite Valley from near Old Inspiration Point, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Dappled light on Half Dome and Yosemite Valley from near Old Inspiration Point, Saturday afternoon

Two storms unfolded almost exactly as forecasters predicted last week. On Wednesday night the first system dropped about 1.5 inches of rain on Yosemite Valley. The second storm on Friday dumped almost exactly two inches of rain. Badger Pass, 3,000 feet higher than the Valley, got about 18 inches of snow overall.

Despite these storms, rainfall totals are still only about 50% of average. In a normal year, Yosemite Valley would have received 26.9 inches of rain since last July 1st, however the current rainfall total for the season is only 12.9 inches.

But things are looking a little better after these recent storms. Conditions seem fairly normal in Yosemite for early March. There’s a snowpack in the high country, and the waterfalls are flowing well – a bit below average perhaps, but not dry, or nearly dry, as they’ve been for most of this winter. It seems as if the strange, dry pattern we’ve been in has ended, but we need a lot of wet storms to make up for all the rainless months. Some light showers are expected tonight and Wednesday night, and there are hints of a more substantial storm early next week – hopeful signs.

It’s been fun to finally have some interesting weather to photograph. On Thursday morning I found some beautiful, misty, black-and-white scenes at Tunnel View. Then on Saturday afternoon Claudia and I hiked up to a spot near Old Inspiration Point (I described our first journey there last year) and watched a spectacular, ever-changing display of dappled sunlight and flowing clouds. You’ll find a little mini-portfolio from both of those days below, plus one more image from Saturday at the top of this post.

I made all of these photographs with a Sony A7r, rented from Borrowlenses. I’ve been looking forward to testing this camera, since it uses essentially the same sensor as the Nikon D800E, but I can use an adapter to mount my Canon lenses on it. Because it’s a mirrorless camera, the A7r is very different than anything I’ve used before, so it takes some getting used to. But it’s growing on me, and the image quality is fantastic. I’ll post a full review soon.

I also saw many photographer friends and acquaintances around Yosemite this past weekend. There were some fun events going on, like the Yosemite Renaissance opening reception, and the Range of Light Film Festival, but for photographers I’m sure the main attraction was the weather. Where the average tourist hopes for sunny skies, we look for storms. It would be great to see some of the photos everyone made, so if you were one of the Yosemite storm-seekers during the last week please post a link to your images in the comments!

— Michael Frye

El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall from Tunnel View, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall from Tunnel View, Thursday morning

Clouds and mist from Tunnel View, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Clouds and mist from Tunnel View, Thursday morning

Swirling mist, Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Swirling mist, Bridalveil Fall, Thursday morning

Delicate arch over Half Dome, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Delicate arch over Half Dome, after the sun came out Thursday morning

Yosemite Valley from near Old Inspiration Point, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Yosemite Valley from near Old Inspiration Point, Saturday afternoon

Half Dome and Cloud's Rest, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Half Dome and Cloud’s Rest, Saturday evening

Related Posts: Approaching Storms; A Harebrained Idea

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Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to YosemiteYosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael 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.