Reflection of Yosemite Falls!

Location: Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park
Time: Midday
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5/6 IS STM | 13mm | f/8 | 1/50s | ISO 100

This was taken during my visit to Yosemite National Park in February to capture the Natural Firefall. I processed this photo a while back but didn’t publish it as I had several others that I personally liked much better than this one. I probably wouldn’t have published but the two friends I went to Yosemite with both published a photo that is very similar to this one. All 3 of us shot standing right next to each other. They asked that I publish mine as well so all 3 can be compared in terms of how we shot as well as how we processed.

The other two guys shot it (or cropped it) almost identically. They also processed it very similarly. Both are good shots. I like how theirs turned out. I was using my ultra-wide lens so my shot is wider compared to theirs. My processing is also different. I dodged and burned a bit more than they did. For some reason, I dodge & burn my B&W photos but not my color photos. I need to play around to see if I can add dodging & burning to my regular post processing workflow.

In terms of the shot, we were going around Yosemite Valley stopping anywhere we could to get shots during the day. One of the stops was Sentinel Bridge to shoot the Half Dome. We can clearly see Yosemite Falls from the Sentinel Bridge parking lot. We notice a puddle of water in the meadows next to the parking lot. Reflection of Yosemite Falls was pretty clear on the puddle so we decided to try shooting.

As I said, all 3 of us were standing right next to each other. For most of the trip, we were standing shoulder to shoulder. I didn’t know they were going to convert this photo to B&W. I did it because the contrast called for it and honestly, B&W looked better than the color version. Coincidentally, they processed in B&W as well.

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Road to Half Dome!

Location: Yosemite National Park, California
Time: Sunset
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS SM | 14mm | f/8 | 1/200s | ISO 100

After catching the spectacular ‘Natural Firefall’, we went to Valley View and Tunnel View to see if we could get any post blue hour shots. Nothing really worked; at least for me. We then went back to the Cabin so we could grab dinner. We had some awesome home-made parathas and some cream rolls. After dinner, we relaxed for a bit in the heated tent cabin and chit chatted.

After an hour or so, we ventured out to try some light painting. Well, I really didn’t shoot as I was waiting to see how it was going to turn out. I was just standing in the middle of the road enjoying the night sky. So many starts! Going to Yosemite (or I would imagine anywhere with no light pollution) to see the night sky is absolutely worth it. Anyways, light painting didn’t really yield the results we were looking for. So, we decided to head to Tunnel View to see if we can capture the starts. That didn’t workout either.

When we got back to the cabin, I was ready to hit the bed. Even though my friend asked me to, I forgot to bring a sleeping bag and I suffered; a lot. It was extremely cold. The heater in the cabin helped but only to a certain degree. I didn’t get a lot of sleep.

We woke up early in the morning to catch sunrise at Tunnel View. That was a bust as there were no clouds, no colors, and no drama. I still got some good shots that I can turn into B&W. After sunrise, we went to get some breakfast.

After breakfast, we were near Curry Village and I saw this road leading to Half Dome. Actually, I saw it before as well but every time we were in this road, there were lots of cars. The park was pretty empty Sunday morning so I went to the middle of the road and took this shot. I wanted to take a few more shots but cars started coming in.

I like the way it turned out. Processing was pretty straight forward. I bracketed these shots so I converted them to HDR in Lightroom and followed my usual workflow.

Snowy Reflections!

Location: Yosemite National Park, California
Time: Midday
EXIF: Canon EOS 7D | Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM | 18mm | f/8 | 1/500s | ISO 100

As mentioned in my previous post, a few of us decided to head to Yosemite to catch the ‘Natural Firefall’. We started from the Bay Area around 9 and we were in the Yosemite Valley right around lunch time. The last time I was in Yosemite (during early December), there was a lot of snow. It wasn’t fresh snow so we didn’t get the shot we were looking for. Nevertheless, there still was enough snow for us to get some great shots of Yosemite in Winter.

This time around, not so much snow in the Valley but there still was snow in the higher peaks. We just stopped at some of the usual places that we go to in Yosemite and experimented with some shots; primarily reflections. We then decided to check into our cabin at Curry Village (formerly Half Dome Village). After registration, we walked o this meadow where lot of snow was accumulated. When I saw that much snow on the ground, my aim was to get a shot of the snow covered Half Dome with lot of snow in the foreground.

When I started walking towards the meadow, I noticed puddle of water that had great reflection of Half Dome. I now decided to focus on getting the reflection. Getting to a spot where I could get the reflection was a bit tricky. Water was running everywhere and we really didn’t find an easy path close to the puddle where we could stand.

We somehow managed to get there and I got several shots from this location. This is one of my favorite shots from that series. I tried processing it in color but since it was shot midday, the colors weren’t that good. It was rather harsh. Given the contrast in the scene with the snow and the dark mountain & trees, I decided to go B&W. I really like the B&W rendition of this shot. I dodged and burned a little; added some contrast, and then touched up a little in Lightroom.

Week 8 – B&W

The goal for Week 8 of the 52 Week Landscape Composition Photo Challenge is to shoot Black & White. I love B&W Photography. I have always been drawn to B&W photos. Ansel Adams is one of my favorite Photographers. What he was able to do with his photos as well as Photography in general is unbelievable. I take a lot of inspiration from Ansel Adams as well as several Photographers from that timeframe who primarily shot in B&W like Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Mary Ellen Mark, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange, and many others.

Black & White Photography is extremely rewarding to me. What I have seen is that even people who aren’t into Photography are usually drawn to a great B&W image. My friends, many of whom are not into Photography, are drawn to my B&W shots more than color.

What I have learned is that images that taking a Photo and merely processing it to B&W may get you good results but often times, you’ll be disappointment. To get best results with B&W photos, you have to not only think about post processing but also deliberately think about B&W while shooting a scene. You have to assess a scene to see whether or not it would work well in B&W. You’ll have to look at things like Tonal Contrast, Texture, Pattern, Lines, Shapes, Forms, among other things.

I have seen a lot of people say that they convert their photos to B&W if lighting is bad. This may work but unless you look at things I mentioned above and deliberately shoot a scene with the intention to convert to B&W, the results are not going to be optimal. Don’t get me wrong, B&W does ‘soften the blow’ when you are dealing with bad lighting but there’s more to B&W than just converting to B&W in post processing.

To be honest, I do both. Meaning, I deliberately look for scenes that will be good in B&W as well as convert shots that don’t look good in color to B&W to see if turns out better. I have definitely had better results with the former approach rather than the latter.

One of the places that I look to capture in B&W is Yosemite National Park. How can I not think about B&W given that some of my favorite photos of all time are Ansel Adams Yosemite series? Yosemite definitely screams B&W, especially during winter. I have several shots from Yosemite where I shot with the intention of converting to B&W. A couple of shots in this Photo Challenge series are B&W shots from Yosemite.

This particular shot was taken during my recent visit to Yosemite. We didn’t have fresh snow during our recent trip but all the mountains and peaks were covered in snow. We went to Tunnel View for Sunrise and I zoomed in on the Cathedral Rocks with the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls and decided to capture that with the intention to go B&W for multiple reasons: 1) the tonal contrast in the scene 2) the snow capped Cathedral Rocks with dark rocks 2) the bright Bridal Veil Falls and 4) B&W was basically the only option that day as the weather wasn’t ideal.

Definitely not the best B&W I captured but I think it turned out well. The best thing was I went with the plan to shoot B&W and executed my vision.