Horsetail Fall 2016

Copyright 2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I shared with those of you who read this blog regularly that I was heading up to Yosemite National Park on Friday to photograph something other than birds. That something was Horsetail Fall.  If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you’ve probably read about my past experiences trying to photograph it. The last few years during a major drought has been even more of a challenge.

This waterfall is fed by rainfall, and snow melt. Twice a year IF the conditions are just right magic happens. There are two conditions that must be present to make that magic. They are water flowing down Horsetail Fall, and Direct Sunlight.  If one of these two elements is missing there’s no show.  This phenomenon lasts about a week for the best lighting of the fall, but you can see it for about 2 weeks.  It happens in February, and again in October. October is a real rarity though because by then there usually isn’t any water flowing.

On Friday it looked iffy by the time we arrived in the park. Clouds began rolling in during the afternoon but, Golden hour looked great, and kept my hope alive that there was still a chance that the Sun would light it up and color it red.  We were already beginning to see a bit of orange minutes before it would be turning brilliant red!

Horsetail Fall February 19 2016
Copyright © 2016 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Do you see all those clouds behind the mountain? BTW-That’s El Capitan at the top left of the Horsetail Fall for those of you unfamiliar with Yosemite’s mountains.  I took this image at 5:26PM and at 5:30PM just when the color should have been turning a brilliant red like lava flowing down the mountain…the lights went out. Just as if someone had blown out a candle. POOOOF! All the light was gone. The sun had sunk into a low cloud bank and hundreds of us moaned in unison.

Yes, there are hundreds if not thousands of people who come to see this phenomenon each year.  We drove home defeated once again by Mother Nature and the low Cloud Bank.

Last year I was skunked entirely. There was water, but no sun at all. The clouds rolled in and foiled all hope the one day I had to go up to try to get the shot.

2014 I gave it a miss completely. There wasn’t much water at all flowing the week the sun lined up and the day  I could have gone there was no sun.

My friends and I looked at the weather, and cloud report for Sunday the 21st and thought it was worth trying again.

I spoke with the family about it, and they said it was perfectly okay if I left before Big Baby Boy and A. They had come up for the week-end to hang-out with us and #1 Grandson, and were leaving on Sunday.  I gave lots of hugs and kisses to the family and left to meet my friends to try again for that shot at Horsetail Fall.

On the way up the clouds started rolling in. I hoped they stayed high and no thick cloud bank in the west blocked up the Sun again!

We got to the Secret Spot only to find nearly 50 people!! My secret spot since 2010 is no longer such a Secret Spot! Many people are looking to get away from the maddening crowd on Southside, and Northside Drive.  So, my two friends and I set up our rigs and hoped.

We got color but not brilliant color like we got in  2012, and 2013 ,but at least we didn’t get completely skunked like last year.

Horsetail Fall 2016

I’m so grateful for an understanding family! Without their love and support I wouldn’t

have been able to spend 16 hours on the road trying to get “the shot”.  I love you, and thank God for you everyday. ♥

It wasn’t the shot I was hoping for, but it was fun trying, and if you don’t try you don’t get the shot!

I’ll be trying again next year for the shot I have in my head…if the conditions are right.

Nikon Df| Nikkor 28-105mm @ 105mm| Delking Devices Digital Film| PS CC 2016

More to come…



29 thoughts on “Horsetail Fall 2016

  1. Deborah, I admire your patience. You kept on capturing with such great, steady shots. (I know there were others discarded!) until the first golden photograph, which would have possibly satisfied me. Your having already knowledge of even better color possibilities, you kept on going. Persistence!
    This final photographs was one that I mentioned I liked a lot in your 2016 best collection, before Christmas. Not mentioning the slideshow, which had gorgeous choices and I could not choose or eliminate any. 🙂

  2. WOW what excitement, I’m feeling it myself! I just read about this few days ago, I think I saw it on I am so happy for you to get to go, what a supportive family you have! Your captures are stellar! Jumping to see your other years’ success!

  3. What an exciting story! I like the glow you got in 2013. And the composition of this year’s photo with the white background is beautiful. I can imagine that the glow can be even more majestic with more water and just the right light. Curious what it will look like next time :-)!!!

  4. It a beautiful photo and I nice that you return so often to this special spot. My photo club was on an outing to Yosemite this past weekend. I didn’t go with them. Maybe next year 😊.

  5. It may not be the shot you truly wanted but it is still a very beautiful shot Deborah! One day I hope to go to Yosemite – it looks like it would be worth the trip! 🙂

    1. Thank you Laura! Wow, I’m thrilled, and flattered to have inspired you! I’m looking forward to seeing what you paint.

      I just received some 140lb hot pressed paper I’m anxious to try out. I think I’ll like the satin finish more than the cold press 140 lb, but we’ll see!

  6. This is a beautiful photo Deborah. I know you hoped for something better, but this is very nice. I admire your determination. That’s a long round trip fpr the right shot. I think I’ve said it before, but I point to stories like this when people say “good photographers are just lucky to be in the right place at the right time.” It’s work!

    1. Thank you so much Dan! It’s labor, but for me a labor of love. It’s fun, and with all the people there it’s sort of a huge party.
      There was a big cheer from the beach area when the fall turned orange on Sunday. It echoed throughout the Valley.

      It’s a long haul though for a day trip. It’s just about 4 hours there from my house with a stop to pick up friends, coffee, and gas. It’s not the first time I’ve done this trip in a day, and I’m willing to bet it won’t be the last. 🙂

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