Jan 13

David and I decided to take advantage of the Glacier Point Road being open this late in the season to photograph the sunrise with Half Dome.  I’d recently posted to Google+ a collage I’d made with David’s cast off photographs and trial prints of my giclees.  A fellow photographer on Google+, Vincent Goetz, offered his cast off photographs for collage use as well.  He decided to be at Glacier Point for sunrise also.

Raven Collage


The three of us were disappointed there wasn’t a cloud in the sky at sunrise so our next stop was Bridalveil Creek on Glacier Point Road.  The creek was frozen solid and the temperature was 19 degrees.  Even the ravens looked cold.  They were walking half squatted as if trying to keep their legs warm.

Boring sunrise.

7:14am HalfDome

Raven huddled on a branch.

8:03am Raven

Breakfast at the Ahwahnee was next on our stop.  Vince was driving ahead of us in his truck.  In the valley he came to a stop by the chapel  so a  bobcat could cross the road in front of him.  None of us had seen a bobcat in Yosemite before.  It was very healthy looking.

Bobcat in the Chapel parking lot.


Our other photography interest was the late afternoon moonrise.  We wanted to be in the Tuolumne Meadow/Tioga Pass area.  As we left the valley after breakfast, we stopped at Bridalveil Creek along the main road in the valley.  David was interested in ice pictures, then we headed for 120.  Though it was a sunny day, at 12:30 it was 35 degrees.

Tioga Pass is now open the latest in the season on record, which gives us a chance to explore the area in winter.  We stopped at Tenaya Lake which is frozen solid and had lots of people on the ice engaged in various activities.  There were ice skaters, ice hockey players, lots of people playing and a few with picnic tables set up on the ice.  It was really creepy to stand on the shore and listen to the ice making lots of weird and distressing sounds.  You could see the ice move as well.  I decided not to walk around on it.

Tenaya Lake.

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Around 3pm we stopped at a pull out near the Tioga Pass gate.  We had an hour before the moon rise.  The wind was bitter cold.  We could photograph while we waited or we could drive down to Lee Vining and have a meal.  We chose the latter.

Ellery Lake, elevation 9538 ft,  taken through the window as we drove by.  I really liked the long shadows on the surface of the ice.

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Mono Lake was a gorgeous deep dark blue as we dropped down the grade.  I wish I’d gotten  a picture of the lake….and of the moon rising over it.  By the time we’d finished our meal the moon had risen quite a bit.  We dashed back up the grade and found a pull out to photograph the moon.  It was so cold with a blasting frigid arctic wind.


The colors of the meadow were stunning.


The view behind me, which Vince suggested I turn around and see.  It must have been a beautiful sunset at Tenaya Lake and Olmstead Point.


My last picture of the day, and my favorite.  Perhaps I was still shivering as I took this through the windscreen.  It’s very Bill Neill-ish without even trying, a happy mistake.


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Oct 28

        We decided to go to the east side of the Sierra Nevada in search of fall color.  We couldn’t go the week before due to commitments and our daughter’s wedding.  It is late in the season but we really wanted to see what was left of the fall color.  Our photographer friend Franka Gabler joined our ‘day trip’.  She met us at our home at 3:15am.  We loaded her equipment into our car and left about 3:35am, the morning air was 47 degrees.  Dave and Franka talked about cameras and photography most of the time.  We passed Olmstead Point around 5:40, it was 30 degrees.  Without a moon, the sky was brilliant with stars, there were even a few bright shooting stars. 

    When we reached the stop sign at the foot of 120 and 395 it was 6:30am, 23 degrees.  By the time we arrived at the June Lake Loop a few minutes later the temperature had dropped to 16 degrees.  We drove past Grant Lake, then Silver Lake before we chose our first stop to photograph.  At 17 degrees it doesn’t take long for the fingers to start feeling the cold, then the pain sets in.

First Stop.  First photograph of the day.

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Franka’s body language said, ‘it’s cold!’.

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Our next stop was along the river between Silver and Grant Lakes.  We had finally warmed up by the time we reached this destination.  The mist was rising from the river.  This side of the road was in the shadow of the mountain and wouldn’t receive sun for quite a while.  Despite being 17 degrees the plants didn’t look frosty.  The peak of color is obviously gone but there was still some areas with color.  The bare trunks of the aspen are always interesting subjects.

  David, in my photograph, geez.  The white strip is a nice size waterfall.

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The plants along the edge of the river were frosty.

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When we got back to the car at 8:40 we were all in pain.  Our fingers and toes were frozen.   During the hour+ we’d spent photographing the temperature had gone from 17 to 19 degrees.  Our next stop was the Mono Lake Committee Visitor Center to inquire about fall color….and to get some hot coffee. 

Refueled with coffee and giant cookies from Latte Da Coffee at the El Mono Motel we were ready for our next location.  As we left Lee Vining we noticed a hillside along the highway that had good color.  We were on our way to Lundy Canyon.  The color there was past peak but there were other nice elements that caught our eyes.

Lundy Lake

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We left Lundy Canyon and returned to the hillside outside of Lee Vining.  I like the airy grasses in the amber light of the aspen trees.

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David photographing in the distance.

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Looking out to Mono Lake from the hillside.

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At 2:30, 48 degrees, we leave the hillside and drive back to June Lake Loop to explore Aspen groves  on the opposite side of the road from where we photographed along the river.  Dave and Franka were uninspired by the light of this time of day….I’m just a painter so I was in heaven taking reference photos and enjoying all the possible paintings running through my head.

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Looking from the Aspen Grove down to the car which is near the truck that is barely visible.

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Franka sitting on a rock looking through the pictures she’s taken.  We were waiting for Dave who was still in the grove you see here.

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At 4:30 we leave June Lake Loop and start our journey home.  The light on the mountains of Tioga pass was beautiful.  We were hoping for a pretty sunset from Tenaya Lake or Olmstead Point. 

Near the top of the steep grade of Tioga Pass, taken out the car window.

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Just inside the Yosemite Park Gate.

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Looking back at Tuolumne Meadow.

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Tenaya Lake.  (they actually stopped the car for me)

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We were very hopeful there might be a nice view from Olmstead Point.  It was almost dark when we rounded the bend at Olmstead Point and could see down the valley to the side of Half Dome.  Franka started squealing like a stuck pig or a kid who gets to go to Disneyland.  The valley was covered in rolling fog with Half Dome poking through the fog and an orange glow of sunset laying on the horizon.  Streaks of pink lingered in the sky.  It was beautiful!  I posted a photograph from the same area so you can see Half Dome lit by the setting sun to compare it to what we witnessed.  I captured a few photographs before my battery died with perfect timing.

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