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.

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.