On the last evening of my Eastern Sierra workshops I take the group up into Yosemite via Tioga pass and through Tuolumne Meadows. We make one or two stops as conditions dictate, but the ultimate goal is Olmsted Point, one of my favorite places in Yosemite. The view from the parking area is great, but a five minute walk takes you out to the point itself (actually more of a dome), with views of Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Mt. Watkins, Tenaya Lake, and a whole host of high Sierra peaks.
The prime feature here is a fresh perspective of Half Dome, visible at the end of Tenaya Canyon. Half Dome's face is still visible, but we're viewing it from the opposite direction we're accustomed to seeing in Yosemite Valley. While the view of Half Dome from Yosemite Valley is away from the setting sun, from Olmsted Point you're looking toward the sunset. The other great thing about Olmsted Point is the wealth of foreground features, which range from glacial erratics (large boulders deposited by retreating glaciers), glacial polish (granite scoured smooth by glaciers), and patterned joints splitting the exposed granite.
On this evening we arrived shortly after a heavy downpour that had filled the potholes dotting the granite. I positioned myself to include a couple of these pools in my foreground, and used a couple of erratics to balance the right side of the frame. The storm cleared rapidly, leaving just a few vestiges of clouds to hold some of the sunset color. By the time I snapped this frame, Half Dome, at 8800 feet above sea level, was the only feature still receiving direct light.
In my second fall workshop a week later, Olmsted Point was completely shrouded in fog, obscuring all but the closest elements. The group learned an important lesson that evening: Never be disappointed when conditions don't match your expectations. Of course I always hope for something like this at Olmsted Point, but even though the view was gone that evening, we all had a fantastic time photographing the wonderful foreground elements as looming shapes behind the opaque shroud, with everyone (myself included) coming home with something we'd never photographed.
Next post: August 1 (please view my previous posts by clicking the arrow in the upper left of today's image)
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