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Autumn Reflection, El Capitan, Yosemite

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 6 November 2010 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

My busy fall schedule has made me a little slow to post in recent weeks. Right now I'm in Utah with Don Smith--it's the fifth of five workshops for me since the end of September. This has been a great fall, with lots of fantastic people and photography to match, and I'm sorry it's coming to an end. (I must be getting tired, but I probably won't feel it until I get home.)

Rather than wait to post until I can get to my backlog of recent images, I thought I'd put up this Yosemite reflection image from a couple of years ago. This scene perfectly illustrates a point I try to make to my workshop students: The focus point for a reflection is the focus point of the reflective subject and not the reflective surface. In other words, if you want objects in the foreground (like these leaves) to be sharp, unless you maximize your depth of field, your reflection will be soft.

This is counterintuitive for many people, but it's an easy thing to verify the next time you find yourself photographing a scene like this. Try focusing on the reflection and watch your foreground go soft; focus on the foreground and watch your reflection go soft. The solution to this to stop down to a small aperture to maximize your depth of field. If you find it impossible to get both in focus, I almost always opt for a sharp foreground over a sharp reflection.

For this reflection of El Capitan basking in warm pre-sunset light, I stopped down to f18 and focused on the most distant leaves I could see through my viewfinder (seat-of-the-pants hyperfocal focusing). My small aperture ensured that all the leaves would be sharp (the smaller the aperture, the wider the sharp zone in front of and behind your focus point), while still giving me the most distant focus point possible.

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

sunstone_maria from California, United States

as a great painting, super vibrant colors, great composition. Amazing reflections. Great!

6 Nov 2010 5:16am

Laur from Clermont-Ferrand, France

Un vrai tableau, belles couleurs et lumière !

6 Nov 2010 7:15am

CAAZ from Salamanca, Spain

Me encanta el tono y la disposición de los elementos =) Una pasada de foto!

6 Nov 2010 9:03am

Marie LC from Dauphiné, France

I love this kind of landscape. The reflection is superb and the colors

6 Nov 2010 10:00am

Tamara from Aarschot, Belgium

Golden reflections on these golden leaves... very beautiful Gary ! I love these warm tones. Enjoy your weekend :)

6 Nov 2010 10:50am

Curly from South Shields, United Kingdom

Awesome shot Gary, the exposure is spot on with excellent tonal range from the shadows upward (probably had a great histogram - something else the newcomers need to be aware of).

6 Nov 2010 10:58am

Vert Pomme from Montreuil Sous Bois, France

J'adore superbe.

6 Nov 2010 1:07pm

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

Ahhh, I gotcha! I must have missed that point before but it sure rings true and becomes another one for this aging vault I call my memory.....Gary Thank you very much, this is gorgeous and it is another "Ah Ha moment " for me..I hope you got some clouds!! All the best!

6 Nov 2010 2:37pm

sawsengee from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

superb image, well spotted & captured.....lovely colours & viewpoint

6 Nov 2010 3:14pm

Mici from Toronto, Canada

Lovely reflections and the most I like is the leaves on the water, beautiful composition

6 Nov 2010 5:30pm

Shahryar from Isfahan, Iran

beautiful shot :)

6 Nov 2010 6:07pm

✿ Anina ✿ from Auckland, New Zealand

This is so beautiful, Gary. I love the tones! My favorite part of this image is the in focus leaves on the water with the beautiful reflections as a backdrop.

6 Nov 2010 6:52pm

Ana Lúcia from Leiria, Portugal

Liquid gold! Beautiful.

6 Nov 2010 8:27pm

Barbara Lee from Oakland, United States

Gary, this is absolutely gorgeous! The colors are terrific, blue and gold always complement each other so well. Good reminder about focusing on the foreground. Well done! Can't wait to see the photos from your trip. I am flying back from Zion - waiting for my flight now - and gotta say, my first trip to Zion provided me with so much to fuel my creativity. I'll be back!

6 Nov 2010 10:36pm

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

amazing photo! by the time i manage to take my eyes from the colourful leaves floating on the water, i realise that there is a rocky face of the mountain reflected in the water - this is just sublime and makes for a superb background!

7 Nov 2010 7:17am

The MaJor from TM HooD, Iran

very beautifully caught

7 Nov 2010 10:09pm

Julie from Easton, United States

What an amazing shot!

8 Nov 2010 1:05am

Stefan from Thiersee, Austria

Ah..very beautiful!

8 Nov 2010 2:37am

Babzy from Besançon, France

Gorgeous , sorry for my english , i miss words to express my real feelings , but i just love this shot :)

8 Nov 2010 7:40am

Sylvie49 capture image from Anjou - Maine et Loire, France

waouh ! superbe.

8 Nov 2010 7:25pm

Florence from Paris, France

Colors are truly exceptional.

9 Nov 2010 9:47am

Didier DE ZAN from somewhere, France

Beautiful colors and reflections

10 Nov 2010 6:19am

Loretta from Pretoria, South Africa

Amazing yellows and golds and lovely saturation. Great image!!!

10 Nov 2010 4:43pm

Vaido from Võrumaa, Estonia

Great collection of colors, explaining this focusing tip... Excellent catch.

11 Nov 2010 11:54am

Marie from FRESNES, France

superbe tableau impressionniste !

11 Nov 2010 8:41pm

¨‘°ºO Dutçh Oº°‘¨ from Neverwhere, United States

The gold in the leaves and the mount.. just spectacular!

11 Nov 2010 11:58pm

CATURED bY Jenn from United States

This is absolutely beautiful Thank you so much for sharing

15 Nov 2010 10:59pm

Magda from Vancouver, Canada

pure gold!

16 Dec 2010 3:56pm

KriKridesign from Suisse, Switzerland

A lesson of composition!!!!

1 Sep 2011 7:23am