Yosemite National Park in California offers some of the world’s most photogenic vistas. For landscape photographers, this is just about as good as it gets. I’ve been a frequent visitor over the years and in November I wrote about aerial photography and illustrated the article with some shots of Yosemite taken from the air.
We have just returned from a more down-to-earth tramp around Yosemite and I decided to share some of the images with readers of Macfilos.
We flew into San Francisco late on a Monday afternoon and first thing Tuesday (well, first-thing by our standards, meaning about eight-thirty) we headed east on the 258-mile trip. Before leaving the hotel, we had watched the Weather Channel which talked about big snowstorms coming in from the North. We found this difficult to believe as it was bright and sunny, although a little on the chilly side.
Snow chains, Sir?
On arrival at the entrance to the park, in the early afternoon, the attendant asked if we were carrying snow chains, as they were expecting heavy snow after three. I thought he was taking the proverbial, as it was bright, with a temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit. However, I did agree to buy some. I thought a close relative might have owned the snow chain store and decided to be charitable.
The Yosemite Valley was as beautiful as ever and I quickly snapped the following three images.
Three o’clock came and I made the comment to my wife that my watch must be wrong as there wasn’t a hint of snow. Must learn to take the locals seriously, though, since, by four — only an hour late — the white stuff started to fall heavily, as can be seen in the following image.
I’ve just checked my Lightroom catalogue and the last “clear image” was taken at 3.51 pm and this was taken three minutes later.
Since I’ve never fitted snow chains before, I didn’t want to start so late in the day. It was getting dark, so we headed for our hotel in El Portal. However, I was really looking forward to the following day. That night in El Portal it rained cats and dogs but, of course, eleven miles away, higher in the Sierras, that rain was falling as snow.
When we got to the park on Wednesday morning there was a police roadblock diverting everyone into a parking area where snow chains had to be fitted. Having bought them the previous afternoon, we were lucky in that we didn’t have to wait for the thirty-odd people, who would have been before us, buying and having them fitted.
There can’t be much to this, I thought, and proceeded to fit them. Feeling proud of myself, we started to drive on, but after about half a mile I decided to pull in and check everything was okay.
I was horrified to find the nearside chain missing and so we had to turn around and look for it. When we pulled into the original parking area an infuriatingly knowing teenager was dangling the offending chain and said, “I suppose this is yours”. After a refit the darn things stayed on, but I would still stop often to make sure I hadn’t lost one.
All the above images, with the exception of the lead one of El Capitan (Monochrom Mark I), were taken with the Leica SL and the 24-90mm or 16-35mm lenses. Thankfully, both camera and lenses are weatherproof. Otherwise, I’m sure they would have died.
Because of the unfavourable conditions (in one way), I hope you’ll excuse me if I include a trio of images from previous visits:
Yosemite is one of my favourite photographic locations in the world (well it’s really a toss-up between Yosemite and Yellowstone) and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to visit it so many times over the last forty years or so.