Cliché for a reason

Autumn Snow, Valley View, Yosemite

Autumn Snow, Valley View, Yosemite
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
1/15 second
ISO 100
24 mm

It’s actually even a cliché just to say it, but some things really are “cliché for a reason.” And as much as I try to avoid the cliché shots in Yosemite, sometimes they just can’t be helped.

My Yosemite Fall Color workshop began yesterday, and even though I’d spent all day Saturday in the park, yesterday morning a storm filled Saturday’s blue skies with rain and I felt like I should go check on the conditions before we started. The wet weather had slowed me enough that I didn’t really have time to take pictures, but when I found not only the red and yellow leaves I’d seen on Saturday, and the swirling clouds I’d hoped for, but also Yosemite Valley’s colorful trees and meadows etched with snow, I was tempted at every turn to reach for my camera. Nevertheless, with the exception of a brief breakdown at Cook’s Meadow, I managed to resist temptation.

Unfortunately, the Cook’s Meadow stop had put me even more behind schedule, so I told myself while approaching Valley View that any stop here would be just reconnaissance. And anyway, Valley View images are a dime a dozen, clichés that I’d done more than my share to perpetuate over the years. Then I got there….

I mean seriously, cliché or not (deadline or not), how does a photographer pass up a scene like this? With my group meeting me in just an hour, I really, really didn’t have time for pictures, which is exactly what I kept reminding myself as I leaped from my car, snatched my camera and tripod, and sprinted down to the river. I only snapped four frames, two vertical and two horizontal, before racing back to the car and toward my impending rendezvous.

It’s images like this that remind me that nature’s beauty transcends any human judgement of “cliché.” Pro photographers, myself included, can get a little snobbish about frequently photographed scenes. And while I think it’s important to take the time to find a unique perspective, sometimes it’s best to let Mother Nature speak for herself.

Happy ending

I made it to my workshop with minutes to spare, conducted a lightning-fast orientation, and hustled everyone back outside as quickly as possible. We ended up circling Yosemite Valley several times, photographing without a break until dark. I heard no complaints.

A gallery of clichés

8 Comments on “Cliché for a reason

  1. Gary,
    Great picture, brings back great memories of my trip with you. Good luck with the crappy weather and more great shots.

  2. I don’t think you can ever have enough pictures of Yosemite or Valley View for that matter. There is always something new about THAT moment and that time. Great Shot.

  3. Gary, it was nice meeting you at the Valley View on Thursday night with your workshop group.

  4. Pingback: Seeing the trees for the forest | Eloquent Nature by Gary Hart

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