You win some, you lose some.

4:20pm Horsetail Fall,  in Yosemite National Park glowing in the afternoon sun teases all the photographers who came from near and far to try and catch the sun light hitting the water just before sunset.

For a several days the sun lines up with this fall; in February, and again in October when it does it lights it up.  The preferred time for photographers to shoot this is in February when there is a better chance for snow melt, and water running down the east side of El Capitan. When the sun hits the water the phenomenon can be awesome.  This shot was made famous by famed Yosemite photographer Galen Rowell with his photograph “Natural Firefall”.

Ansel Adams famous for his black and white photography has also taken this shot.  Since then many nature, and landscape photographers have been trying to “get the shot”. Me included.

I first shot this fall last February seen here:

The color and light were good, but it’s not “the shot”. I was hoping for more intense reds and yellows.  I’m not expecting to ever get a shot better than Galen’s he has set the marker high.

This year I tried a different location too. There were quite a few photographers here.

They came from near and far. Next to me were friends who traveled 3 days by car from Colorado to shoot the valley and, try to get the Horsetail Fall shot. Behind me was a photographer from San Diego, CA, and behind him a videographer from Lake Tahoe.  The man that set up on that little island of snow got there at 11am to claim that spot  I was told. Behind that hill of snow, and tree roots the bank is lined with photographers. My friends are over there somewhere. I said I was heading left. I think they veered right.

This year the shot was not meant to be. Two times myself and few friends drove the 4+ hours to get here and both times the clouds blocked the sun. By 4:30PM the first day the clouds began to creep lower, and at 5:32PM I took this shot:

…as you can see the clouds had crept in and blocked the sun.  The photographers around me and myself started making plans to do weather checks and see if it might be possible to try again the next day. By 5:42PM when the sun set we all started packing up. The next day we did return, but the day was more overcast and the shot eluded us once more. We headed over to Cook’s Meadow, and saw the sun did peak through the clouds and light up Half Dome so we raced over to Sentinel Bridge to get that shot before the sun went down.

Not the shot we hoped to get, but a shot I’m happy to have photographed:

I left the park that evening with my spirits high. I came with good friends and had a great time, and with luck I’ll return next year to try to get the fire of Horsetail Fall.

All photographs Copyright © Deborah M. Zajac.  All Rights Reserved

Click the photo to view it large.

Author: circadianreflections

My name is Deborah Zajac. I'm a photographer living in Nevada at the base of the Eastern Sierras. I am a passionate nature, landscape, night/astro photographer. I shoot predominately in color and use Nikon Digital Cameras, and lenses. I hope you enjoy seeing some of the photos I've taken while on my travels. Please feel free to leave a comment I'd love to hear from you.

4 thoughts on “You win some, you lose some.”

  1. Great read and image work. Felt like I was there with you, sans cold.

    I must say, your storytelling is really stepping up. You have set a very high bar, yourself.

  2. I love your spirit, Deborah. A great series and a good description of the scene @ Yosemite. A lot of tripods there. I really like that parting shot of Half Dome with the sun. Well done.

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