A very smoky visit to Yosemite National Park, July 2-5, 2009

I have mixed feelings about this trip.  On one hand, I was thrilled to finally visit Yosemite for the first time, and completely awestruck by its beauty.  I fell head-over-heels in love with the place, and I can’t wait to go back.  On the other hand, however, I was frustrated by the very smoky conditions from multiple wildfires inside the park.  Smoke and haze make for very poor photographs, and even my trusty circular polarizing filter was rendered mostly useless.  It was impossible to get clear shots with pure, intense colors.

I was only able to glimpse the iconic Half Dome through a gauzy haze from every angle–Glacier Point, Olmstead Point, the valley floor (and it was completely invisible at Tunnel View).  The good news is that I was able to salvage some pictures through conversion to black and white, which turned out just okay, and the better news is that I now have a better feel for what I want to photograph, from what angles and at what time of day the next time I return–hopefully sometime this fall.

So here are my first pictures of Yosemite, which now put me in the not-so-rarefied company of millions of other photographers and park afficionados.  I look forward to taking more and better photos of this amazing place in the coming months.

A few color photos first, then the black and white pics in a day or two.

The stately looking El Capitan, which instantly became my favorite edifice in the park.


The beautiful Ahwahnee Lodge, with Royal Arches in the background.  The smoke that settled into the back end of the valley makes the sky look badly over-exposed (no matter what I did to compensate with exposure and polarizing filter).


Royal Arches–note the haziness near the top of the arches; that’s where the layer of smoke began to get thick.


Smoky, hazy, but still awesome and beautiful–Half Dome.


Bridalveil Falls, still going strong mid-summer (pic of the lower part of Bridalveil follows).



Tunnel View, which shows off all the major edifices in the valley.  Note that Half Dome is completely invisible thanks to the smoke (in the back of the valley), and the dark shadow cast in front of Bridalveil Falls is from the plume of smoke rising from the Grouse fire.


Glacial erratics at Olmstead Point.




A jeffrey pine like the one made famous by Ansel Adams.


A wide-angle shot of the Grouse fire.


This very noble-looking fellow posed for us at Glacier Point, right in front of the view of Half Dome.


The view from Glacier Point–smoky, but still breathtaking.


The only kinda-sorta clear picture I was able to get of upper and lower Yosemite Falls (from Glacier Point).


A lovely sub-alpine meadow near Glacier Point, and even nearer to the Grouse Fire.


We even made it up to the seldom-visited Hetch Hetchy reservoir; the Wapama Falls are visible just left of center.


We stayed overnight in a tent cabin in Tuolumne Meadows (elev. 8600 feet); below that, a shot of the meadow itself.



And finally, a picture of the peaks at Tioga Pass, as we were leaving the park.  I can’t wait to go back again.



~ by Robin Black on July 5, 2009.

4 Responses to “A very smoky visit to Yosemite National Park, July 2-5, 2009”

  1. […] I realized as I was sitting here thinking about my trip to Yosemite that there IS an important budget angle to all of this that I should pass along to […]

  2. I checked Budget Girl all excited about seeing the pics today! I loved “This Noble Fellow” the best! The pics are awesome. Thanks so much for posting so quickly.

  3. […] sure to head over to Robin’s photoblog and check out the rest of the awesome photos from her trip and other trips […]

  4. […] and I grab any opportunity I can to get outside and take pictures, whether it’s up in Yosemite National Park, or closer to home here in downtown Los […]

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