Winter Compositions, Part 4 — Reflections and Yosemite’s Unique Light

Reflections, Merced River, Winter 2014

Yosemite National Park’s iconic landmarks  — Half Dome, El Capitan, the grand waterfalls — are most frequently the main subject of photographs, and for good reason. They are dramatic, photogenic representations of a very beloved place. But what makes Yosemite Valley really special is the unique quality of the light there. The Valley’s towering walls of granite, which lay in an East to West orientation, reflect warm light into the shadows all day long. Reflections in the Merced River take on whatever color is happening at that moment — it could be the alpenglow on the granite just after sunset, or the soft, morning light illuminating the trees along its banks.

Twigs and El Capitan, Merced River, Feb. 2014

Finding compositions in this landscape is not difficult, but it takes training one’s eye toward the less obvious. For me, it meant looking at things differently — using a telephoto lens, for example, as opposed to a wide angle lens. This immediately lends a certain intimacy to a composition, while still conveying a sense of the place — a peacefulness that is all around you in Yosemite.

Ripples, Merced River, Feb. 2014