Double your pleasure

Autumn Reflection, El Capitan and the Merced River, Yosemite
Canon EOS-5D Mark III
21 mm
1/8 seconds
ISO 100

It seems that people stay away from Yosemite in autumn because that’s when the waterfalls are at their lowest. True story. But believe it or not, Yosemite isn’t all about waterfalls. El Capitan, Half Dome, Cathedral Rocks, Sentinel Rock (I could go on), are great subjects in their own right. Subtract the waterfalls but add the yellows, oranges, and reds of Yosemite Valley’s many deciduous trees and you have what I think is a pretty a fair trade. And when the water is low, the usually turbulent Merced River smooths to a reflecting ribbon of glass and suddenly, pretty much any scene can be doubled at your feet.

These reflections add layers of creative possibilities impossible the rest of the year. Sometimes I’ll split the scene in the middle for a 50/50 mirror effect; other times I’ll photograph only the reflection. In the image above I went with a more conventional composition, emphasizing El Capitan’s bulk against clouds that were spitting small, wet snowflakes.

Autumn Shroud, El Capitan, Yosemite

In this image I split the frame 50/50, but dialed down the reflection with my polarizer. Even polarized, the bright sky’s glare washed out much of the river surface, painting the outline of El Capitan like a negative that uses the trees with a jigsaw of submerged river rocks.

*    *    *    *

Leaves and Reflection, El Capitan, Yosemite

Here I used El Capitan’s reflection as a background for the Merced’s brilliant autumn veneer.

Want to photograph this in person? My 2014 Yosemite fall workshop filled months ago, but there’s still room in the
2015 Yosemite Autumn Moon workshop.

A gallery of Yosemite autumn reflections

9 Comments on “Double your pleasure

  1. Beautiful shots! Need to go there someday with my Nikon. You used HDR on a couple, right?

  2. Ahhh… think I was standing there a day ago…..I already miss it! I’ll take fall any time of the year in Yosemite! Love the waterfalls but can’t resist the colors of Autumn in Yosemite. Beautiful captures Gary.

  3. Pingback: Things You’ll Find Interesting November 29, 2012 | Chuq Von Rospach, Photographer and Author

    • Thanks. There are no secrets–I’m pretty open about my approach here on my blog. It starts with making light the priority–if the light’s not right, I won’t shoot it. Of course the best conditions for photography are usually the worst conditions to be outside, but that’s part of what separates photographers from everyone else. And of course understanding your camera’s vision, how it differs from yours, and how to manage it.

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