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Vernal Fall Along the Mist Trail

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 12 June 2009 in Landscape & Rural.

For those of you who have ever had the pleasure (and pain) of hiking Yosemite's Mist Trail, you will know exactly where this image was made. I have captured other images from this similar location, but I will have to acknowledge, never with this much mist present!

Photographing Vernal Fall can be an exercise in frustration. The cool aspect is that the rainbow(s) is vivid and present much of the day (assuming the sun is out); where one finds them is just a matter of hiking to a higher or lower vantage point. Remember when shooting rainbows, where your angle of view and the sun's angle of view intersect (looking down one's shadow line) should be where the rainbow appears, assuming it is at an intersection of no more than 42 degrees.

The trick comes in photographing the rainbow and fall together. In order to capture the best rainbow, one must place themselves (and camera) smack in the middle of the heaviest blowing mist. With such a volume of water crashing over the fall, Vernal Fall creates its own wind! My preparation involved putting on a rain poncho (pretty useless if one intends to spend more than a minute or two in the mist - think heavy rain). I also covered my camera with a 10-gallon plastic garbage bag. I would then expose the front of the lens and try my best to find focus, then, turn the polarizer to get the rainbow to appear as vivid as possible. I would then recover everything, wipe down both camera and lens with a heavy duty chamois, then quickly uncover the lens and trip the shutter as quickly as possible.

Of the 15 images I attempted, this was the "cleanest" I could find. My Canon 1DsMKIII was getting so soaked, I dared not push my luck any further.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/40 second F/16.0 ISO 100 16 mm

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