Power of Yosemite National Park

It was almost the visit that never was. I had spent 7 blissful magical days at Death Valley. Next stop was Yosemite but all accommodation was nearly sold out and all Sierra Mountain passes still snowed over. I was looking at a 2 day long detour of what is about 70 miles as the crow flies to cross the Sierra Mountain. Any roof over my head at Yosemite was going to come with a hefty price tag. It would also come with dramatically lower temperatures than Death Valley and I love the heat. I eventually relented and decided under no circumstances could I miss shooting and seeing Yosemite National Park, the hallowed grounds of Ansel Adams. I made the right decision as no classic Ansel image could prepare me for the power of Yosemite National Park.

First Contact

As I drive from the Southwest into the Sierra Mountains my jaw is already on the floor of my Nissan Spaceship. This landscape defines the word stunning. Huge granite walls flank my car and a very loud and violent Merced River provides the soundtrack. Once into Yosemite National Park I nearly drive my Nissan in the river when all towering 910 meters of El Capitan enters my world. No image can truly capture how much awe this granite monolith inspires. No amount of previous exposures through photos takes away from First Contact with Yosemite.

The Image – Power of Yosemite

This is the best of my images from Yosemite. To me, Yosemite is all about drama, power and forces beyond human understanding. This valley was dramatically carved out by a glacier moving at the speed of…well a glacier. Forces beyond our comprehension created this larger than life valley. For drama I need more help from Mother Nature, clear blue skies will not do me well here. I concentrate, relax and fortunately Mother Nature obliges and I summon a dark violent rain storm on an otherwise sunny day. I create this image, Power of Yosemite:

Power of Yosemite - blogjpg

This is a stitch of 3 horizontal images. I spent about an hour enjoying this splendid view and watching the storm move across the valley while the sun played with light beams. I click the remote shutter when I see the sun lighting up Yosemite falls. This may look quite processed but I have only added some contrast and a bit more painting with light. Mother Nature did all the work, I just captured the very right moment of time when the sun lit up the perfect scene.

Visiting Yosemite National Park

I visited in the beginning of May before the peak season and I avoided the weekend. Still, Yosemite is very popular and was very crowded. I paid a fortune for a room in a lodge 8 km’s from the park. Several times driving the valley loop I came close to dying of frustration as I could not park anywhere and missed shots. This is not a desolate one on one with Mother Nature, there are tourists, trekkers, huge crowds and tour busses everywhere. Not to mention photographers. Do not think I have met so many photogs and photo clubs in one location nor seen so many photo-vests; a rather sad sight! Cars are becoming a real problem at Yosemite, there’s only so much space in the narrow valley. As I exited the park on a Saturday morning the cars queuing to get in stretched for miles down the mountain. This winter had heavy snow fall so there was much snow melt in the rivers and waterfalls. Unfortunately this also meant Glacier Point was still under 2 meters of snow and I do not have a really satisfying image of Half Moon Dome. I must return.

Yosemite Part II

This is one location I doubt I shall ever tire off. I must shoot a panorama from Glacier Point. I must capture Yosemite during a snow storm, despite my fear of snow. I shall bring a 4WD and camping gear. I must return for more Power of Yosemite.

Enjoy more images from Yosemite in my Valleys and Canyons USA gallery – more images to come: FlemmingBoJensen.com/gallery/usavalleyscanyons/

24 Comments on “Power of Yosemite National Park”

  1. A very compelling image!

    "… image of Half Moon" You must mean the iconic "Half Dome" I presume.

    Too bad about hoardes of tourists; sometimes its even worse. One of my favorite times is late October to early November when no one is there and the Merced is low and slow at the driest time of the year. Then the Merced River sports awe inspiring reflections of the fall splendor in the liquid mirrors. Ahhhhh….

    BTW, you'll have to teach me those cloud conjuring tricks; that could be very handy. Some sort of incantaton perhaps? ;~]

    1. Thanks Zane! Eh and yes, well spotted, not half a moon but Half Dome of course! Got a bit of Ansel's titles mixed in there. Glad you like the image. There certainly were no reflections when I was there, very fast running Merced River. Sounds like a good plan to hit it October to November but then also perhaps February and catch some snow covered scapes of Yosemite!

      The cloud magic trick, have you seen the movie Men Who Stare At Goats? 🙂

  2. Nice image Flemming! It looks like an amazing place, I am reading a book by Michael Frye, he has some awesome shots of Yosemite. Lucky bugger lives close by!

    1. Thanks Tim! Yes it is absolutely mindblowing. Michael Frye has some excellent work, so has Galen Rowell. Some of Galen's work is displayed in the Ansel Adams gallery in the valley village and Galen is a huge inspiration for me.

  3. I think this picture is timely in another way. As the grandeur of Yosemite has for ages been touted as expressing the American 'Way' and its 'Largesse', your taking a stormy view of the mighty scene, seems to correspond – in my mind – to the USA being a dark and threatening power, as your version of the scene today calls to my mind.

    1. Hi Frank. That's certainly one way of looking at it. Interesting interpretation. For me, most of my landscapes though are escapisms into Mother Natures slightly otherworldly world.

  4. Perfectly captured in your signature format, Flemming, the sky is absolutely fantastic. The bliss of visiting outside tourist season (yeah, right ;-). Funny, though, the last time I was there was early June last year and we arrived around five in the morning – hardly a soul in sight, the bears were still checking out the garbage bins, and parking was readily available. Luckily, we didn't have to pay for lodging (I know it's outrageously expensive). Maybe you'll have better luck next time. Speaking of next time, Tuolumne Meadows is an absolute must, I kid you not. Check it out on Google when you get a chance.

    1. Hi Marianne, and thanks very much, happy you like it. You're right that for sunrise I was fairly alone in Yosemite. But in the middle of the day it was very crowded. Next time I'm bringing a tent, none of this lodging crap 🙂 Thanks for the tip on Tuolumne Meadows!

  5. very nice Flembot. love that amazing light play!! 🙂
    great stories, and what a shame that it is so touristy.
    reckon it'd be extremely frustrating to have to share such an amazing place with so many others.

    as I say with the Stirling Ranges, I think everyone should visit there, and I want everyone to experience it- but just when i'm not there…. hehe 😛

    1. Cheers matey! Light play and clouds are my favourite parts too. Yosemite is 3 hours from San Fran and incredibly popular. It's good and bad. Brings in a lot of money to the National Park so they can preserve the place. Bad when it starts to feel too crowded and of course, to us landscape photographers we feel we deserve the place for ourselves. It's only fair. We're creating art, please get out of the way 😀

  6. Powerful image Flem – Yosemite certainly is an incredible place and one that I hope to experience myself someday. What time of year do you think would be the best to visit ?

    t 🙂

    1. Hi Tone, thanks mate. I feel I did actually really capture the power of Yosemite.

      Yosemite has very different looks in different seasons so one visit will not suffice. Anything from May to October is probably quite busy! Winter will be cold but spectacularly beautiful. But then some walks and Glacier Point are only open in Summer. I am sure my friend Zane in SF can help a lot more with info about the seasons in Yosemite, I shall ask him.

  7. Yosemite is high on the bucket list for me! I just wish it wasnt so popular and you could really 'escape in the landscape' (nice use of your line there Bo haha :))…

    1. Hey 'Escape in Landscape' is copyrighted, you must pay me royalties if you say that out loud mate 😀

      Yes I too would like a week all alone in Yosemite. Or at least with only a few likeminded photographers. Unless they get in my shot. Then they'll be bear food.

      Yosemite is so incredible though that even with crowds one is still very awed.

I'd love to hear your comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.