Before Nikki, B and I went camping in Yosemite last year, I had only been once, when I was 8, and I really don’t remember it since we didn’t really stay so much as we just drove through. So, when we rounded the bend and got the first full view of the valley, it was really me seeing it for the first time, other than in photographs. Looking across the valley floor, seeing Half Dome in the distance, I was absolutely dumbstruck with how beautiful it was. It was late afternoon and the light was perfect, at least that’s how I remember it. For the next four days, two things kept running through my mind. The first was “I get it. I get why Ansel Adams and countless other photographers come here, year after year, to make photographs.” The other was that, now that I am here, none of those photographs, not one of them, is able to fully capture how stunning the actual place is. While photographs can provide a glimpse at perhaps a piece of Yosemite, it is experiencing the place itself that’s so magic. It’s how the spray of Vernal Falls as you make your way up mixes with the smells of the forest. It’s the random cacophony of sounds in Upper Pines as you lay in your tent. That’s what makes Yosemite special. To me, the photographs simply help me to remember how I felt, surrounded by such immense beauty, and they remind me that I need to keep going back.
If the video above by Project Yosemite inspires you to plan a trip and you want to camp, you’ll need to make reservations about 6 months in advance. If you would prefer to stay in a hotel, The Ahwahnee offers gorgeous rooms as well as private cottages.
Award-winning nature and landscape photographer Michael Frye has lived either in or near Yosemite since 1983 and, in addition to offering workshops through the Ansel Adams Gallery in the park, has written two fantastic eBooks that will help you to get better, more dramatic nature and landscape photographs.
Light & Land is written specifically for landscape photographers who want to clarify their own unique vision. Michael walks you through the development of five different images, discussing the hows and whys of each one.
There is more to exposure than just getting the right amount of light into the camera. Exposure For Outdoor Photography is about natural-light photography and the creation of exposures that are not only technically perfect, but aesthetically compelling.