The Path to Yosemite

Usually for me it is either to completely unplanned picture or the picture that I had to work to get the shot that I like the best.  The image below is the exception to that rule.

I had been wanting to get this picture for a long time now.  For one reason or another it never seemed to work out.  Earlier this year part of Tioga road was closed down due to the rim fire.  This prevented people from the central valley and coastal regions of California from having an easy way to get to the Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite.  This, in turn, enabled me to get in a last minute trip to the area in September of this year.

The second night I was there I drove over Tioga Pass and down the road a little way.  There I setup my camera, framed the picture, took a couple of shots to get the exposure I wanted, and then waited for a couple of cars to come up the road.  As soon as I saw a car at the bottom of the road (just out of frame) I opened the shutter and waited.  a few seconds into the shot car came from behind me driving down the hill (you can see the red tinge in the light streak in the shot.

The Path to Yosemite
Cars traveling to and from Yosemite at night.

Settings:

Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T2i
Lens: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
24mm
300 secs
f/5.6
ISO 100

So while planned the shot was almost easy to get for me that night.  Things just worked out.  I ended up taking a couple more pictures just to be save but this first one was by far my favorite.

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Storm Over the Falls

This is another one of my favorite pictures from my February trip to Yosemite.  What is interesting about this one is when I first went through my pictures I totally dismissed this picture.  It was, of course, in color and looked totally flat.  It wasn’t until several months later when I was going back through some of my pictures that I wondered what this one would look like as black and white (you can see the straight convert here).  After playing around with the contrast and clarity a bit I arrived at the below picture:

Storm Over the Falls
Early morning winter storm rolling into Yosemite Valley

Settings:

Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T2i
Lens: EF20mm f/2.8 USM
1/320 secs
f/2.8
ISO 100

I am not real happy with the edit yet.  To me it feels a over done but when I try and tone it down I feel like the image doesn’t pop.  Regardless, it has become one of my favorite images from my trip.

Polaris over the Falls

In February of this year I took a camping trip to Yosemite in hopes of seeing Horsetail Fall illuminated by the setting sun.  Unfortunately while I was there the show was less than I was hoping for.  There just wasn’t enough water flowing for the sun to light up.  Fortunately for me I was still in Yosemite and there was plenty to see and photograph.
 
One of my favorite photos from the trip mostly happened by accident.  The first night I was in the park I decided that I wanted to try my hand at some night photography.  I had not done much night photography in recent years so I was not exactly sure where to begin.  I started with what I remembered back in the days of using my fathers venerable Canon AE-1 Program.  I locked the shutter open and hoped for the best.  I took some test shots and had all sorts of issues with focus, exposure, noise, and light from cars reflecting off of my lens.  
 
I made some adjustments and by the third night I started seeing some better results but still nothing that I liked very much.  I was tired and it was getting late but I decided to try one more picture at a different location.  I drove to the new location, took a couple of test shots to make sure the picture was framed the way I wanted, and then I locked the shutter open and waited.  Cold and tired I waited for what felt like hours, in truth was only 25 minutes, closed the shutter, and then turned in.  I didn’t even look at the picture until I got home the next day.  When I finally did look at the picture I was astonished to see that the image was framed to put the north star fixed in the upper right corner of the picture.   While setting up for the shot I did not even consider where the north star was.  I feel quite lucky to have captured an image where you can see the stars circling around the north star above Yosemite Fall…
 
Yosemite Falls at night
Stars circle around Polaris over Yosemite Fall

Settings:

Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T2i
Lens: EF20mm f/2.8 USM
1500 Seconds
f/10
ISO 100

As much as I love this image it is by no means perfect.  In fact technically speaking it probably isn’t that good and there are a lot of things that I wish I had done differently.  I wish that instead of one picture I would have taken many and stacked the images to produce more pronounced star trails.  I wish that I had shot for 2 or more hours and not just 25 minutes.  Finally, I wish the image was better exposed (it is a little under exposed).  But even with all of its shortcomings it is still one of my favorite images from the trip.

Kings River – Kings Canyon National Park

Los Padres National Forest, Jalama Beach, & La Purisima Mission

Here is another picture from my drive through the Los Padres National Forest: 

A lone tree in the forest.
A lone tree in the forest.

After exiting out of the national forest I headed up north along the 101 and the PCH and camped at Jalama Beach.  Here are a couple of pictures from there: 

The road to Jalama.
The road to Jalama.
Fishing the shoreline.
Fishing the shoreline.
Railroad tracks at the beach.
Railroad tracks at the beach.

The next morning I continued up the PCH to Lompoc and stopped off at the La Purisima Mission State Park.  I love taking pictures of missions.  Here are a couple from this trip: 

Under the arch.
Covered walkway
Columns
Mission creek
Mission creek

Los Padres National Forest

I took a drive this weekend through Los Padres National Forest near Frasier Park.  I had been dying to get up into the mountains and hoped to do some car camping.  Unfortunately the higher elevation camp grounds were still closed for the winter. 

Mt. Pinos area of Los Padres National Forest
Stargazers at Mt. Pinos

One of the many snow melt/rain runoff ravines coming out of the higher elevations.
Mud flow
Mud flow close-up
Mud flow close-up

Sequoia National Park Fall Camping 2009 – Video

This past November I drove up to Sequoia National Park to do some car camping. 

I had wanted to go for months but seemed unable to make the time till November.  I took a couple of days off work and spend Thursday through Sunday at campsite number 66 at the Lodgepole campground.  The goal was to spend some time in the Sierras, dust off my gear, and test my outdoor skills.

It was a great trip and I had a ton of fun but there were definitely a few challenges.  It snowed on me Thursday night, rained & hailed on Friday night, the temperature dropped into the low 20’s, and my car wouldn’t start Friday morning.  All that said I still enjoyed several hikes, snow covered trees, amazing scenery, mist filled forest, and much more.

I took a video camera with me but did not film as much as I was planning but still put together a short video of my trip.  I hope you enjoy it.