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Frozen Black Oaks, Yosemite National Park

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 16 December 2009 in Landscape & Rural.


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Yosemite's El Capitan Meadow is one of my favorite locations in the valley for making backlit images in the spring and fall. The light is generally dramatic, as the sun backlights the foliage, and the large monolith granite below Cathedral Rocks serves to hold the scene and allow the colors to radiate.

Yet on this freezing-cold, late-fall afternoon, another unexpected lighting scenario caught my eye. These snow-covered black oaks were receiving warm reflected light as the sun (camera left) was front-lighting the massive monolith of El Capitan (to my back), and radiating its warm light back onto these trees.

The trees took on a iridescent glow and in turn had a bit of "pop" as they would have otherwise been lit by only open-shade, indirect light. This is actually one of five frames I used to make a pano of these trees, but unfortunately, it would have displayed too small for Aminus3. The pano file will be sent to Getty Images and will hopefully be a big seller.

Because of the dramatic rise of the granite walls in Yosemite Valley, unique lighting scenarios are usually in abundance depending on the time of day one is out. Unique light will always serve to elevate an image from average to extraordinary, we just need to keep our eyes attuned to the possibilities.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/10 second F/16.0 ISO 200 51 mm

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