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Dawn Jewels, Yosemite

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 27 May 2009 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

This silhouette of Yosemite Valley was taken about 20 minutes after the image in my previous post (click the arrow in the upper left corner of the image). You can see that the sky has started brightening a bit, though a few stars are still visible. Venus, easily the brightest celestial object after the sun and moon, has just risen above Cathedral Rocks.

There's something about being out at sunrise that just can't be duplicated at any other time of day. Part of it is the quiet--it's as if the noise of the artificial world has been peeled back to reveal that nature is alive and well. But more than the quiet, for me it's also the stillness I can only describe as the utter absence of human energy focused on "going" and "doing."

Visually, one of my favorite things about sunrise is the transition from deep indigo overhead to brilliant amber on the horizon, a metaphor for the promise of a new day. I try without success to find the precise point where the sky ceases being night and becomes day, but nevertheless appreciate my good fortune to be out there to watch it happen.

When photographing a crescent moon at sunrise, I try to capture the moon somewhere in this advancing transition zone between day and night. Because these shots are toward the brightest part of the sky, I usually turn the foreground to silhouette to avoid washing out the rich color. When photographing silhouettes, it's best to find objects with distinctive shapes that stand out against the sky. Tunnel View is one of my favorite locations for this. For my Tunnel View sunrise shots I spot-meter on the brightest part of the sky, setting my exposure to no more than one stop above middle tone. Slightly underexposing the sky like this brings out the natural color that's easily overwhelmed by the growing light, and ensures that the foreground outline is a nice, rich black.

My final (and most important) advice is to not get so caught up in the photography that you forget to appreciate what you're seeing.

Heads up (5/28): I just returned from a one day trip to Yosemite where I was fortunate to witness a spectacular rainbow from Tunnel View. Definitely not cliché. I'll post a sample in the next day or two.

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Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.

Lee from Fort Frances Ontario, Canada

A marvelous capture Gary. I have to say, I wish I were a little closer. It would be worth my while to attend some of your workshops.

27 May 2009 12:05pm

@Lee: Hey, you're not that far--Canada's just one country over. Seriously, I get people from all over the world so you're welcome to join whenever it works out. Thanks for your kind words.

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

Oh, I love this! Just seeing this scene might be enough for me :)

27 May 2009 1:15pm

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Marvelous. It creates a strong sense of peace and serenity in me.

27 May 2009 5:01pm

Caryn Caldwell from Southwestern, United States

This is gorgeous! I love the silhouette of the cliffs and the half-moon and the gradiated blues and the way the star seems to balance out the moon. Nicely done!

27 May 2009 5:38pm

Judy from Brooksville, Florida, United States

I'd like to spend a week, camped at the 'tunnel view' site to capture photos like this.
Thankfully, we got there once in our lives and have wonderful memories of it. ♥

27 May 2009 10:32pm

Myrtle beach from myrtle beach, United States

Are you sure it's Venus? I think it's the third moon of Tatooine.

28 May 2009 2:50am

Cash from Dallas, United States

That takes my breath away...Thanks for the image. I'm an urban pup, and rarely get to make it even to the roof, so this image is inspiring in so many ways. Thanks, and keep posting the goods!
Love, Cash

29 May 2009 5:27am

@Cash: Thank you, Cash. If you can't go to nature, I'm happy to bring nature to you.