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Yosemite Winter Morning

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 27 December 2009 in Landscape & Rural.


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Redwoods and Mendocino Coast Photo Workshop - June 15-18, 2010 (space available)
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After a few days off for the Christmas holiday, it's tough to get the engines going once again (I'm sure all of you are feeling the same). First off, thanks for all the kind comments on my last post.

Today's image is another from the day spent in Yosemite earlier this month with my good friends Mike Hall and Scott Schilling. In fact, if you would like to hear a podcast that Scott recorded from that trip, please click here: Yosemite Podcast. Scott does a great job with these podcasts, so please check it out!

This image was captured in a location that not many people know about; it is in a small, obscure, meadow area below the base of El Capitan. In the winter, the Merced River moves very slowly due to the small amount of runoff, thus this area provides excellent reflection possibilities. If you have been following Mike's, Scott's, or my blog, you know that the morning was a chilly 16 degrees Fahrenheit (8.9 degrees Celsius). Needless to say, the Merced was virtually frozen.

I noticed this crack in the ice downstream from my initial position, and also noticed that the tip of El Capitan was directly lit with warm light from the rising sun. Similar to rainbows, if one moves lateral to a reflection, it will move with you. Thus, I simply walked down the bank of the river, and brought my warm, reflected light right along with me until it lined-up directly over the crack in the ice.

This lone rock with a beautiful cap of snow served as a perfect anchor point to allow the eye a jumping off point, and I simply framed the scene with my 70-200mmL lens, turned my polarizer, and made my image.

Oftentimes (especially early and late in the day) nature provides scenes that encompass warm and cold tones, and this creates an emotional stir for the viewer that serves to make the image more powerful. I decided to double-process this RAW image, once for the warm reflective light, and once for the colder blueish ice, then I simply placed the colder version over the top of the warmer version in Photoshop, added a mask, then painted away the cooler looking reflection to allow the warmer reflection from the underneath layer to show through.

This technique (which I go into in more detail) is one of fifty Lessons that I have encompassed into a new book titled: Refined Vision: 50 Lesson to Improve Your Digital Landscape Photography. The book is now in the proofing stage, and if all goes right, it will be available for purchase from my website in both printed and e-book form by mid-January. I will be updating its progress in my upcoming posts!

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/8 second F/16.0 ISO 200 150 mm

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