Boundaries between disparate elements create interest. Clashing personalities, day moving to night (and back), the coastline dividing land and sea, all generate tension that draw and hold us. It's this way in life, literature, cinema, and... photography.
The weekend before Thanksgiving I was fortunate to have been in Yosemite for the first significant snowfall of the season. This early winter overlapped a late autumn, providing a rare opportunity to photograph fall's transition to winter. Months prior I had scheduled a one-day class to coincide with the November full moon, but certainly with no expectations of snowfall. But snow is what we got, and despite dire predictions from the weatherman, we made the trip and spent Saturday photographing my favorite Yosemite locations, all frosted with white, an unexpected bonus for all. Our visit culminated with a dramatic rising full moon at sunset.
This experience reminded me that while I don't have a favorite season in Yosemite, I can say with a fair degree of authority that Yosemite is never more spectacular than when it's blanketed with fresh snow. Unfortunately, Yosemite Valley only gets a few snow storms each year, and the snow rarely remains on the trees for more than two or three hours--if you wait until you hear it snowed in Yosemite, you're too late. In other words, you really should be in Yosemite Valley during the storm. So it didn't take much thought to jettison my plan to drive home after the class ended Saturday evening--with the promise of more snow overnight and all day Sunday, my daughter, brother, nephew (who had all joined the Saturday trip), and I found a room just outside the valley and returned to the park Sunday morning. We weren't disappointed.
When Yosemite is like this it's pretty much impossible not to get beautiful images. But I'm afraid beautiful images of Yosemite are a dime a dozen, and as you may know by now, my goal is to find something unique. I don't always succeed, but that's the challenge I give myself. Circling (and circling and circling) Yosemite Valley that day, I looked for opportunities to emphasize winter's abrupt collision with autumn. As we wandered the north bank of the Merced River, the light snow that had been falling all morning intensified, obscuring all but the closest elements of the scene. When I came across this snow-fringed branch still decorated with the colorful vestiges of fall, I recognized a great opportunity to capture the rare autumn/winter transition in a single frame. Finding the right composition involved an intuitive tight/wide, left/right scan until something clicked in my brain. With the composition firmly locked on my tripod, I bracketed several apertures and shutter speeds for a variety of focal depth and snowfall motion to choose between when I got home. I selected this one because it provided the depth necessary for foreground sharpness while maintaining enough background blur to minimize distractions, and gave me just enough motion blur in the falling snow.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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