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Uncolored Firefall : Yosemite National Park

Uncolored Firefall : Yosemite National Park


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My first big photography adventure of 2021 was Yosemite, with the trip centered on the annual post-winter-solstice “Firefall” event, which is where the angle of the sunset aligns through the length of the valley in a manner that backlights Horsetail Fall, a seasonal waterfall on the eastern ridge of El Capitan.  The event has become hugely popular over the past decade and on my bucket-list for many years now.  I had flight points burning a hole in my digital wallet, so I booked the cheapest 5 day trip I could manage and headed out for the last 4 days of this 14 day event.  I arrived in the valley about an hour before sunset and raced down to the parking and one-mile hike to one of the common viewing areas.  Throughout the week I ended up viewing the event from three different spots, and while this first vantage point is the most common one, I came away with my favorite shot of the experience from here.  There was very little cloud cover, which is what you want for a guaranteed backlit scenario, but lucky there were a few isolated systems moving through, and I went into long exposure mode as one of them moved in.  I love the color image, but once I started editing the monochrome conversion, I knew it would be my preference.  The natural contrast and the play of vertical lines in El Cap and horizontal lines in the cloud movement really pulls me into this shot.  I love seeing the silhouettes of massive trees on the ridge, and all the chiseled faces illuminated by the reflection of the horse’s tail. The image is usually dark, overall, but this allows for a wide dynamic range of light to offset the brightness of the fall.

: Sony α99ii 80-200f2.8 @ 160mm - 20 seconds f11 - ISO 100 - 3-stop ND filter

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