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Twilight Moonrise, Sentinel Dome, Yosemite

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 24 March 2010 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

Successful photographers photograph in reverse. While most people will see a pretty scene and contrive a composition with little consideration of the light, a good photographer identifies the best light and crafts a composition that highlights it. I can cite this approach as responsible for many of my favorite images. And when the light's not right on a particular scene I want to photograph, I figure out when the light will be good and return then. Of course this approach applies to more than just light--clouds and the moon can also trump a scene. And sometimes you get all three.

Sentinel Dome's 360 panorama makes it a great place to be at sunset, but its high elevation makes it inaccessible by car for seven months of the year. Three springs ago I headed up Glacier Point Road shortly after it had opened, itching to get back up to Sentinel Dome. I'd timed my trip to coincide with the full moon, but when I arrived atop the dome I thought I might be shut out by afternoon clouds that had accumulated along the Sierra crest. Fortunately, as the day's heat diminished so did the clouds, allowing the moon to appear right on schedule.

While the popular view (and my usual target) from Sentinel Dome includes some combination of Cathedral Rocks, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Nevada Fall, that evening my interest was drawn east and south, where the rising moon hung suspended between rock and cloud. With a telephoto lens I framed the scene to make the moon the focal point, using the peaks and clouds as framing elements. I underexposed slightly to eliminate distractions in the shadows and emphasize the warm sunset light skimming the peaks.

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

KriKridesign from Cully, Switzerland

WOW! What else...? ;-)

24 Mar 2010 8:38am

Tamara from Aarschot, Belgium

Beautiful landscape ! Wall done Gary :)

24 Mar 2010 8:55am

lil-ing from Singapore, Singapore

you definitely managed to capture all three: fantastic light that illuminates the peaks, dramatic dark clouds, full enchanting moon. great capture, well timed and planned.

24 Mar 2010 9:27am

sawsengee from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

splendid light, colours & gorgeous landscape composition

24 Mar 2010 4:23pm

PD from Overland Park, Kansas, United States

Very cool with the clouds in the upper frame

24 Mar 2010 5:11pm

Stefan from Thiersee, Austria

Great landscape, fantastic image!

24 Mar 2010 7:57pm

alex centrella from California, United States

perfect timing on the light !

24 Mar 2010 10:29pm

Sandy Weston from Madison, Maine, United States

Gary....incredible shot....the clouds are awesome in the shot and that moon makes you feel like it's right there!

24 Mar 2010 11:25pm

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

Magical! I love the rose tones in the sky and mountains- this is quite a majestic scene :)

25 Mar 2010 12:32am

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

fantastic photo! excellent composition with superb bronze tones of the mountains and haunting clouds over the top - the moon is just a perfect icing on the cake here - superb stuff!

25 Mar 2010 2:24am

Barbara Kile from Ft. Worth, United States

I like the underexposure - a moody feel with the dark clouds overhead.

25 Mar 2010 2:37am

steve loos from hollister, United States

Sentinel dome is one of my favorite walks and views; so close to the road yet many don't know its there. Very nice image Gary. I would love to sit up there with your group and shoot star trails some night!

25 Mar 2010 3:22am

Daniel from Kenmare, United States

very nice with the dark clouds & moon.

25 Mar 2010 12:46pm

Martine Lapointe from Québec, Canada

I love it!

25 Mar 2010 1:11pm

Vitor Martins from Lisboa, Portugal

Beautiful composition. I like the image ambience and the moo is superb.

25 Mar 2010 2:03pm

Julie from Easton, United States

The lighting is very eye catching. Beautiful landscape shot!

25 Mar 2010 5:21pm

Self-Indulgence from Chicagoland, United States

That's an interesting approach that I have actually started to use as of late so that I can.. boost my photo opportunities. Sometimes I go out for something in particular and other times I go out to just find things. It's the finding things that leads to light studies and.. well maybe that won't shoot well in this light however.. that over there will. Then I recompose. Might even get good at it one day ;) It looks like here you got the moon's blessing.. so my question is.. the light on the mountain tops, that's receding sun isn't it?

25 Mar 2010 7:55pm

Florence from Paris, France

A nice red ang big moon (I like it like that). A superb panorama. Thanks for sharing.

25 Mar 2010 7:56pm

Marleen from Doesburg, Netherlands

This result is worth all the 'hard work' ....excellent 5* shot!

25 Mar 2010 8:04pm

jamesy from christchurch, New Zealand

wow what a shot It is fabulous

25 Mar 2010 8:04pm

Jack Johnson from Beloit, WI, United States

Absolutely beautiful image with great atmosphere, Gary!

I didn't know about your book - I'll definitely be getting a copy!

- Jack

26 Mar 2010 1:37am

larry from Singapore, Singapore

Hi Gary, do allow me to pay compliments to your work.
Your landscapes exude a sense of serenity and peace. I start picturing a figure, painstakingly setting up the tripod, filters and what nots and waiting patiently for that right moment to pull that remote release, and going back to repeat the process time and again to get that one perfect shot.
It is a process I would never go through as I'm more inclined towards photographing people.
What I'm trying to say is, your landscapes are a testimony to patience, and careful planning, and relentless determination, and I hope people see pass beauty alone.
Thanks for transporting me to places I've never been before. I'll set my imagination free to roam each of these locations.

26 Mar 2010 2:45am

Scott F. Schilling from San Martin, United States

Gary this has fantastic light and great details! I just read your article in OP - I enjoyed it and thought you did a great job! Thanks for the tips and have a great weekend!

26 Mar 2010 4:34am

dkc from Xanthi, Greece

You used the available light with a great photographic ability to produce such a nice photo! Thank you for sharing the info with us!

26 Mar 2010 7:22pm

Elora from Genoa, Italy

Ah, happy shivers run down my spine!

28 Mar 2010 5:20pm

Marie from FRESNES, France

magnifique, ce paysage aux belles couleurs.

11 Apr 2010 3:40pm