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Twilight Over Yosemite High Country

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 13 October 2009 in Landscape & Rural.

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Often times on clear sky days my best images will come either before or after the sun has made an appearance. What made this image come alive for me was the soft pink hues of twilight, especially vivid in the high country after the sun had set.

I captured this image while assisting Gary Hart's Eastern Sierra Workshop. We had the group at Olmstead Point in Yosemite National Park to photograph setting sun light on Half Dome. After assisting several photographers with composition and some technical concerns, I decided to wander around and see if I could find something a little different to photograph.

Gary and I often times tell our students that sometimes the best image is happening behind our backs. While everyone was looking west, I climbed up a small granite perch which afforded me a view of towards the northeast. About the time I put the camera to my eye, Gary called out to the group that some fantastic sunset alpenglow was illuminating Mount Conness (the far granite peak with snow on either side directly above Lake Tenaya).

Shortly after the warm light faded off the famed peak, a twilight wedge began to appear. The wedge is the result of the remaining warm rays of the sun bending up and over the horizon and can be seen quite vividly towards the east on a clear evening at high elevations. The dark blue which appears below the wedge is the earth's shadow (though not yet present in this image).

The lesson here is to always take the time to turn completely around and see if there are images behind or to your side. Sometimes your best image is waiting right over your shoulder.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 5 seconds F/22.0 ISO 200 51 mm

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