Sunset, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Sunset, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite. 35mm, 1/4 sec. at f/16, ISO 200.

It seems like a normal summer in the Yosemite high country. It’s less crowded than usual, since the park has limited the number of people allowed in. But the plants and animals are going about their business as they typically do. Creeks and rivers continue to flow. Clouds sometimes float by. It’s all serenely beautiful.

The park reopened on June 11th, with lodging, camping, or day-use reservations required for entry. After being away for three months, Claudia and I wanted to visit the park on that first day, and were able to secure a day-use reservation.

And everything seemed familiar and normal, except that the bears apparently hadn’t received the memo about the park reopening, and we saw two that first day. We found the second bear – what looked like an old male – grazing along the edge of a remote meadow. He was aware of our presence, but apparently not too concerned, allowing me to photograph him with a 400mm lens as he strolled by:

Cinnamon black bear, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Cinnamon-colored black bear, Yosemite. 400mm, 1/1500 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 800.

Claudia made a short video of the bear:

(If you can’t see the video, click here.)

Tioga Pass opened June 15th, and we took that opportunity to get into the high country for the first time this summer. The timing turned out to be perfect, as some beautiful clouds rolled in that afternoon.

They were low clouds at first, hugging the mountains, creating some beautiful dappled light. Then the light faded, apparently blocked by thick clouds to the west. But just then some higher clouds arrived, so I waited, hoping those high clouds would turn color at sunset, and they did – as you can see in the photo at the top of this post.

And I made a short time-lapse of this sunset – the first time-lapse I’ve ever made!

(Again, if you can’t see the video, click here.)

Claudia and I feel fortunate to live near this wonderful park, and to be able to visit it without traveling far, or coming into contact with many people. It’s nice to go someplace that feels so normal.

— Michael Frye

P.S. If you’re interested in visiting Yosemite, I suggest you read this page
on the park’s website that explains all the details. As the page says, you’ll either need a hotel or campground reservation inside the park, or a day-use reservation.

A single day-use reservations allows you to enter the park for seven consecutive days. 20% of the day-use reservations are held until two days before the date, so if you go to the site, and click on a date that seems to be open, but it says, “Not Yet Released,” that’s why. Getting one of those short-notice reservations requires logging onto the site promptly at 7:00 a.m. (Pacific) two days in advance, but even then you have to get pretty lucky to snag one.

Corn lilies, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Corn lilies, Yosemite. 123mm, focus-stacked with 13 frames, each at 1/30th sec. at f/16, ISO 640.

Related Posts: Deep Freeze in the High Country; Back From the High Country

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, 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: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael 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.