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Winter's Chill, Upper Yosemite Falls

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 6 January 2011 in Landscape & Rural.

UPCOMING 2011 WORKSHOPS:

Winter Big Sur Photo Workshop - Magic Light and The Pfeiffer Beach Arch - January 11-14, 2011 (Workshop Sold Out)
Northern Arizona Photo Workshop - Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Sedona - March 16-20, 2011
(Workshop Sold Out)
Spring Big Sur Workshop - 4th Annual Wildflowers and Color - April 17-20, 2011 (5 spots remaining)
Springtime in Lake Tahoe and the Mokelumne Wilderness Photo Workshop - May 14-17, 2011 (space available)
Northern California - 3rd Annual Redwoods and Mendocino Photo Workshop - May 23-26, 2011 (space available)
Second Annual Garden Isle and Tropical Paradise - Kauai Photo Workshop - July 8-12, 2011 (only 5 spots remaining)
Summer Big Sur - 3rd Annual Mystical Fog and Colorful Headlands Photo Workshop - August 23-26, 2011 (space available)
Full Moon Over Red Rock, Arches, and Canyons - 3rd Annual Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - October 9-13, 2011 (only 4 spots remaining).
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In my previous post I discussed making a connection with your scene prior to photographing it. Let's discuss a bit more what I mean by the word connection. Often times while teaching workshops we arrive on a scene and inevitably someone will ask, What are we photographing here? It's as if they are waiting to be hit over the head with the obvious image. This is what I mean by a literal representation of the scene. Alright, there is Half Dome with a double-rainbow emanating from it so that must be the picture, why else would we be stopping here?

When we take the step forward from literal to expressing an emotional representation of the scene, what one is expressing is how the scene makes them feel. There must be that connection when you put the camera to the eye where your pulse skips a beat, where you say to yourself, Whoa, look at that! If that is not happening, how can you expect your viewer to respond to your image?

When photographing in an icon-laden location such as Yosemite Valley, I try to challenge myself to look away from the obvious (easier said than done). Yet, there are times when the icons reveal themselves in such a manner that they cannot be ignored. Today's image was one that simply could not be ignored. After photographing the Valley floor for three hours in early morning light, the sun began to make its presence and it was time to break for a late breakfast. While driving towards the Yosemite Lodge, I came across this familiar scene of upper Yosemite Falls from across Cook's Meadow and stopped dead in my tracks. I have past this scene countless times and have witnessed it under many types of light, but on this bone-chilling 14-degree morning, the sun's heat warmed the ice and snow along the ridge of the falls and created an appealing mist that added that extra touch to a familiar scene. Without a doubt, I had my whoa look at that moment!

The foreground cottonwoods were still in heavy shadow and worked perfectly to frame the bottom of the frame. I tried some frames that included the base of the trees but the snow around them distracted my eye from the lit portion of the frame, thus, I cut the trees in half to clearly indicate I wanted them cropped.

So the next time you are on location looking for images, frame your scene then check your pulse. Are you having that whoa moment? If so, work the scene for as many compositions as possible. I guarantee your image will resonate with your viewers. Bottom line: trust your emotional response to a scene!

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/30 second F/16.0 ISO 100 54 mm

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