Yosemite is beautiful any time, under any conditions, but adding stars to the mix is almost unfair. I started doing night photography here on full moon nights about six or seven years ago, but recently I’ve enjoyed photographing the exquisite starscape of moonless Yosemite nights. With no moonlight to wash out the sky, the heavens come alive. Of course without moonlight visibility is extremely limited, and focus is sometimes an act of faith. But eyes adjust, and focus improves with experience (I promise).
After photographing, among other things, Yosemite Valley with a fresh blanket of snow and Horsetail Fall in all its illuminated splendor, last month’s Yosemite winter workshop had already been a success. Nevertheless, after dinner on our next to last night I took the group to this peaceful bend in the Merced River to photograph Half Dome beneath the stars.
I started with a high ISO test shot to get the exposure info for everyone, then converted to a long exposure that allowed me to ignore my camera for a half hour or so while I worked with the rest of the group. Helping with focus, composition, and exposure, I made sure everyone had had a success before suggesting we wrap up.
The fabulous photography is only part of what makes these night shoots memorable–they’re also just plain fun. That night we ended up staying out for about an hour, shooting, shivering, and laughing–lots of laughing. And as the group packed up, I returned to my camera and found this waiting for me.
Check out next year’s Yosemite winter workshop.