by Michael Frye | Mar 26, 2023 | Light and Weather, Travels and Stories
Cottonwood in snow, Zion NP, Utah
After escaping Mariposa’s snowmageddon, and spending a few days in Death Valley, Claudia and I decided to head for Zion. I’d never photographed Zion with snow, and snow was in the forecast. Well maybe. We drove there on a Monday, and it looked like some higher elevations could get a dusting of snow Monday night, followed by a more substantial storm, with colder temps, on Tuesday night. The question was whether it would be cold enough to snow on the floor of Zion Canyon. That seemed iffy, but odds were decent enough to make it worth trying.
We arrived just before sunset on Monday, with enough time to drive up into Zion Canyon before dark. While we’ve been to this park many times, it had been a long time since we’d visited the main Zion Canyon, because most of the year it’s only accessible by shuttle bus, which isn’t very conducive to photography. But during the winter (outside of holidays) you can drive in. And it was great to be back. It’s such a spectacular place.
by Michael Frye | Mar 12, 2023 | Light and Weather, Travels and Stories
Snowy mountain above salt flats, Death Valley NP, California
I love winter, and I love snow. But when Claudia and I learned that our house might get two or more feet of snow during the last weekend of February we knew things might get difficult.
We’ve lived in our house in Mariposa since 2005, and several times have received eight inches of snow, and once even got ten inches. Our road and driveway don’t get plowed, and feature a couple of steep hills, but with high clearance and four-wheel-drive we can get in and out with eight or ten inches of snow. But not more than that. With two feet of snow we’d be stuck for awhile.
by Michael Frye | Feb 19, 2023 | Light and Weather, Travels and Stories
Frosted cottonwood, Mono Lake, California
In winter, Mono Lake sometimes gets socked in with fog. Locally it’s called “poconip” fog, though it’s more widely known in parts of the western U.S. as “pogonip” fog (an English corruption of a Paiute word).
The Mono Basin can get quite cold in winter. But Mono Lake never freezes, due to its high concentrations of salt. So on cold nights relatively warm, moist air rises off the surface of the lake, meets that colder surrounding air, cools, and the moisture (water vapor) condenses into microscopic water droplets, forming a low-level cloud – in other words, fog.
by Michael Frye | Jan 26, 2023 | Light and Weather, Yosemite Photo Conditions
Mist, snow, and Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite NP, California
We had quite a series of storms in late December and early January. The Sierra foothills, where I live, didn’t suffer major flooding or mudslides, but there were lots of downed trees, power outages, and some washed-out roads.
Some nearby towns in the Central Valley, however, got some of the worst flooding in California. That includes Merced, which is about an hour’s drive from us, and Planada, a small town we regularly pass through on the way to Merced. The entire town of Planada was evacuated for two days earlier this month due to flooding.
by Michael Frye | Dec 21, 2022 | Light and Weather
Cottonwoods in late-afternoon light, Yosemite NP, California
We’ve had a great start to the winter here in the Sierra, with several early-December storms bringing rain and higher-elevation snow. Precipitation is above average for Yosemite Valley at this point, which is wonderful. Some other recent winters have also gotten off to a strong start only to fizzle in January and February, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that this winter will be different.
This winter’s early-season storms have been on the cold side, cold enough to bring snow to Yosemite Valley several times. The most recent storm (December 10th and 11th) followed a typical pattern, starting with rain in Yosemite Valley (at 4,000 feet), then changing to snow toward the end of the system as the cold front moved through. That tail end was pretty strong, dumping about eight to nine inches of new snow on the valley floor.
by Michael Frye | Dec 11, 2022 | Light and Weather, Vision and Creativity
Crashing wave in late-afternoon light, Oregon coast. We had to deal with off-and-on rain while trying to photograph large waves crashing against the shore. But then the sun broke through for about five minutes late in the afternoon, bathing this scene in beautiful light. Luckily we caught a few big wave splashes during those five minutes. 70mm, 1/500 sec. at f/8, ISO 160.
After returning from New Zealand I made a trip to the Oregon Coast for our annual workshop. This part of the world is very different from my usual mountain haunts, which might be why I enjoy it so much. There’s a wild, rugged grandeur to this coastline, and if you’re lucky enough to encounter some big waves that just adds to the sense of awe.
And we did experience some big waves. Watching – and hearing – those monsters crash ashore was an experience none of us will soon forget. But even under calmer conditions this area offers wonderful opportunities to capture moody scenes of fog, or stormy skies.