I know I have been delinquent since October of last year. I apologize. My teaching schedule has had me on the ropes for much of that time and even though working with students on some pretty incredible science and engineering projects leading up to the county science fair is creative, its just not the same as losing oneself behind the camera and producing a piece of art that just touches the soul.
To remedy my absence and get my creative photographic juices flowing again I decided on heading out to the happiest place on Earth. No, not Disneyland….but Yosemite! I could not think of any better place to immerse myself in inspirational beauty.
I usually come into the Park from the northern entrance, but this time I wanted to challenge myself to see the park differently, so I drove in via the southern entrance and Hwy 41 out of Fresno. I think I might have only come through this way once, maybe twice in my life. So seeing the park from this ascent really got my eye primed for looking at the park in a different way. I left the Bay Area mid morning and hoped to get into the Valley for the late afternoon light and catch sunset. It would be a quick jaunt, just one day, maybe stay later into the night for some star trail photography, but then, maybe not. I would just let my luck fall where it may.
Normally coming in from the north, the road leads me to Valley View, which is down on the Merced River. I almost always stop there to whet my lens an burn a sheet on El Capitan there, as sort of an homage to the Captain. This time however the road brought me to Tunnel View which is about 500 feet higher in elevation giving a very different perspective on the Valley. Thus I decided to stop there to warm up.
As I arrived there must have been what looked like 50 to 60 photographers all lined up on the overlook pad with tripods all interlocked! As I walked up after parking and gathering my gear it sounded like crickets or cicada buzzing with all the shutters going off. I almost gave up and walked off when I suddenly spied a fellow Bay Area photographer, Richard Wong. He was there right in the middle of the fray and I called to him. He turned and was just as surprised as I was to meet each other there. What were the chances!? Looks like luck might have smiled on me. We spoke for a bit and then he said “here, I’m done, take my spot, you wont get in otherwise”. So as he slipped out, I wiggled my way in and started to set up. Hopefully we would meet later in the park, but for now I had to work quickly as the light was just getting good and I did not want to throw away an opportunity to capture such a unique moment.
Working with the 4×5 is slow, but over the years it has become almost second nature to me and I could get a photo made in just under 5 minutes from dropping my backpack to tripping the shutter. The resulting photo from this most fortuitous meeting is below. One of my best Yosemite photos to date!
As I was finishing up and starting to get packed up I started to reflect on the good fortune I had to get this spot among the hoard of photographers and I suddenly felt very generous and wanted to pass this opportunity forward. I looked behind me to see if anyone was waiting photograph there as well when I suddenly saw another good friend of mine from the Bay Area, Gary Crabbe of Enlightened Images Photography! What are the chances of seeing two good friends there on the same day!!? I offered my spot to Gary and stepped aside. As he got situated we spoke for a bit. I asked that he let me know what he comes away with. I did not see Richard again on the trip, not sure where he wandered off to, but Gary did share with me his view, another stunning view from Yosemite, if I do say so myself.
Sometimes getting the creative edge in photography is being at the right place at the right time, and meeting up with the right people too.
Till next time, Peace.