Copyright ©2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
It was quite a weekend for me with two back to back trips to Yosemite National Park. We begin on Saturday Feb. 11th; my friend Dali, and I headed out early for the park traveling route SR120 which was open when we left the Bay Area but, when we got near the gate to the park there was an electronic sign saying there was no access to the valley from that entrance due to a rock slide. The Ranger told us there was an alternate route into the valley but it was a 2.5 hours journey from there to the valley. Unfortunately, that would have put us in the valley after 5pm and we needed to be in place, camera set up, and ready to start photographing by 5pm or hours sooner knowing what the crowds can be like at this time of year. So, disappointed we turned around and headed back home. That was 8 hours on the road and nothing to show for it. It’s not the first time!
Not totally defeated, and ever the optimists we knew we still had Sunday! We met earlier Sunday morning the 12th, and drove the slightly longer southern route to access the valley. The southern route is lower in altitude and usually open all year, but even this year with all the rain there were rock slides, and it was closed for a day the week before, and on “call ahead” status for days after before we left! Fortunately, Sunday morning the road condition site said Open so, we forged ahead ever hopeful. With a stop for lunch, and gas we made it into the valley without any delays, and hiked to our spot in plenty of time to set up and photograph what we had planned.
What would entice us and hundreds of other people to spend 16+ hours driving back and forth to Yosemite National Park in two day you may be wondering? If my post’s title didn’t give it away… Horsetail Fall! 🙂
In mid February for about two weeks (give or take a day or two) if the conditions are just right the sun will shine on the waterfall and light it up orange-red. It’s amazing it looks like lava flowing down the cliff face.
What are the perfect conditions to see this? There has to be water flowing. This waterfall is fed by rainfall, and snow melt, and there has to be sun to light up the waterfall.
In February having sun isn’t a given. I’ve been skunked in years past waiting and hoping the sun would peek out from the gray clouds to light up the fall only to be totally skunked. No light what-so-ever hitting the cliff face or waterfall. It was still fun waiting and anticipating the event with hundreds of other photographers, and vowing to be back next year to try again. I did show up the following year, after year, after year.
Having water hasn’t been a given these last 6 years either. Being in California with the drought there were years it was just a trickle. This year with all the drought busting rain, and snow up in the mountains we knew there would be more than a trickle of water flowing but, we had to have sun too. Thankfully, we had perfect conditions Sunday. Water flowing and Sun!
Here is an image from the peak of the phenomenon. This is very nearly straight from my camera. I ran this frame through Adobe Camera Raw for Lens and Camera Corrections, and I did correct the sky. To capture the true color of the fall my camera washed out the sky. I added the blue back in the sky, and removed my dust spots, and I opened up the shadows a little bit. Overall very few post development adjustments were added to this image. This image was shot at 120mm.
I thought I’d try making a Timelapse from the stills I made. It’s crude, and a bit jumpy as I zoomed in and out a few times to get a closer look, and I change the angle of my camera once during the shoot in the beginning.
Timelapse made with 145 still images.
If I’m going to do more Timelapse videos I’ll have be more disciplined about my set up and shooting. I hope you enjoy it despite my shortcomings as a videographer.
This is the 7th year I’ve been photographing this phenomenon. So, was it worth the 16 hours on the road? OH YES! I’d do again. “)
Nikon Df| Nikkor 80-200mm| Delkin Digital Film| PS CC 2017
More to come…