I have thousands of Tunnel View clearing storm images, but the day I tire of photographing this is the day I'm finished as a photographer. The only thing better than photographing a Tunnel View snowy clearing storm is having it happen when I'm leading a group. They've all seen the pictures, but no picture can do the experience justice.
This was the final morning of a workshop filled with incredible photography. The night of our first day we went to sleep knowing it was snowing in Yosemite Valley and that we'd have a great chance to capture a clearing storm. But by the time we arrived at Tunnel View, about 30 minutes before sunrise, the storm had cleared under the cover of darkness and we were left with its snowy vestiges (not that there's anything wrong with that). The entire world was white, but the sky was blue and we spent the rest of the morning scrambling to all my favorite scenes trying to get as much photography in before the sun erased the snow completely. By 10 a.m. it was pretty much gone and we went to breakfast. The group was thrilled but I was secretly disappointed that I hadn't gotten to show them a clearing storm.
Throughout the remainder of the workshop I monitored the weather. As the days clicked by it looked like our final day would be a wet one, with a warm storm on its way promising rain all the way up to 5,500 feet (Yosemite Valley is at 4,000 feet). When the rain started to fall around dinnertime of our penultimate day, I reminded my group that photographing Yosemite in the rain can be as rewarding as it is miserable, and to their credit everyone was up for a soggy day. So imagine our surprise when our final morning broke to a Yosemite Valley blanketed in white. The unexpected overnight snowfall had turned to a mixture of snow and rain and I knew the snow wouldn't last long. When we arrived at Tunnel View the ceiling was low, obscuring Half Dome and reducing El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks to dark shapes. But Bridalveil Fall was starting to poke through and we broke out the umbrellas and tripods.
Within five minutes the clouds started lifting and we were treated to a 45 minute clearing storm extravaganza. It was still going on when we left, but I knew we weren't going to get anything better than what we had there, and I wanted to share other clearing storm scenes. For 60 more minutes we photographed clouds and snow framing Half Dome and Yosemite Falls from Sentinel Bridge and Cook's Meadow. Then, just as quickly as they lifted, the clouds dropped and the rain came in buckets and we retreated to breakfast.
Most of the rest of the day was more like what we had prepared for, with lots of nice but wet photography. The day ended with another clearing storm from Tunnel View, this time sans snow. But nothing will compare to the thrill that morning when we were all surprised by Mother Nature's impromptu display.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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