In my previous blog I talked about Sentinel Dome as a sunrise location, but it’s also pretty fantastic at sunset. With views in all directions, often the biggest problem photographing from Sentinel Dome at sunset is simply deciding which way to point your lens. To the west I can watch the sun disappear beneath the horizon, with Cathedral Rocks and El Capitan in the foreground. And while shooting toward the setting sun can be a difficult exposure, success is often rewarded with brilliant color.
But concentrating too much on the sky to the west risks missing the last light on Half Dome behind me. Half Dome’s elevation above everything between it and the setting sun means it gets light long after Yosemite Valley is in full shade. So with a clear western horizon, and clouds to catch the light and reflect sunset color behind Half Dome, the view east is usually my preference.
On this summer afternoon, thunderstorms darkened the sky behind Half Dome. The western horizon was clear, so I knew the ingredients were in place for great color in the east, and that’s where I decided to focus my attention. The key to success in these situations is finding my composition before the magic begins. I wandered Sentinel Dome’s flank in search of something for my foreground, landing finally in front of these dead trees.
I made a lot of images that evening. Shortly after I captured this image the sky lit with crimson so vivid that everything from the trees, to the rocks, to the hairs on my arm buzzed with red—it was as if somebody had grabbed nature’s saturation slider and yanked it all the way to the right. I understand people’s (often justified) skepticism about “aggressive” post-processing, but it’s experiences like this sunset on Sentinel Dome that convince me most people forget how vivid color can be in nature.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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