Yosemite is, supposedly, a four-season park. The valley is more like a three season park since there is very little difference between Spring and Summer there. My favorite season in the Valley is autumn because, for me, it is the most challenging season to catch. While I was still working, I could only do, maybe, a long weekend which had to be scheduled well in advance. Consequently, it took many tries and some luck to coincide my visit with the Fall Foliage.
Actually, almost any time in October will treat the visitor to fall colors somewhere in the park. It took six years for it to pay off the first time for me in the Valley. During the last weekend in of October, 2006 we caught the valley in its full color.
The feature photo (above) is of the Yosemite Chapel. This image is getting hard to recreate because of the tree to the left of the stairway has gotten so big that it has become distracting. The picture is now over ten years old taken on October 27, 2006 at 3:45 PM. It was with a D70s with 18-70 MM zoom at 31 MM. F-Stop 13 at 1/60 second. ISO 1000.
This is the foot bridge connecting the path from the Chapel to Cook’s Meadow. It was taken October 28, 2006 with a D70s at about 4 PM. The aperture was f/18 at 18 mm, ISO of 1600 and 1/80 shutter speed. It was taken from the northside shore just east of the bridge. The chapel is located behind those trees (on the other side of the bridge.
This next one I call “Spring in Fall” which is some autumn leaves awash in Fern Spring. This is located just past the Pohono Bridge as you get onto Southside drive from State Route 140. This was shot October 20, 2011 at 2:48 PM with a Nikon D300 and 18-70 mm Zoom set at 55.mm. f-Stop 22, ISO 320, at 4 seconds.
“Autumn Path” was taken across the road from Cook’s Meadow on October 29, 2006 at 3:23 PM. I thought it might make a nice multi-season shot. The winter image is fine, but the spring/summer photo is kind of bland. I used the Nikon D70s with the 18-70mm Zoom at 18mm. f-Stop 9, ISO 1600 and shot at 1/360 Seconds.
Sometimes I find a shot is not about a setting but just about light. In Autumn Leaves I take advantage of a leaf being back-lit. This was taken on the trail at Wawona near the Golf Course on October 28, 2006 at 9:47 AM with the D70s and its 18-70mm Zoom set at 70 mm. ISO was 1600, f-Stop 4.5 at 1/640 second.
Also on that hike, I saw this pathway, which was so undisturbed; I had to capture a photo. I call it the “Path Not Taken”. This was taken with the Nikon D70s with the 18-70 mm zoom at 34 mm. ISO was 1600. F-Stop set to 4.2 at 1/50 second.
Though there are many photo opportunities throughout the park, I find that the richest concentration in photographic opportunities lie in the valley. The most iconic of the valley photo-ops are Half Dome, the various falls and El Capitan. However, with respect to Fall Foliage, these features seldom enter the picture. What does enter the picture are structures. Normally, I try to capture scenes without evidence of human intervention. No people, no structures. I usually try to suggest a scene untouched or affected by humanity.
In this next example (Ranger Quarters), caught in the late afternoon sun, is a valley residence located on the west end of Cook’s Meadow. Crowded and almost concealed by foliage, this structure contributes to the texture of the scene. This was taken with a Nikon D70s with an 18-70 mm zoom at a full 70 mm. It was snapped on October 28, 2006 at 3:44 PM. ISO 1600, f-Stop 5.6 shot at 1/125 second.
Our feature image of the Chapel is another example of the use of a structure harmonizing with the foliage. The first image (Autumn at the Chapel Bridge) uses the structure, literally, to bridge the foreground with the background. Autumn Path contains the post and rail fencing that delineates the path that might otherwise be lost in the undergrowth. Both of these structures provides the exception to my general rule of avoiding the encroachment of civilization in my photos. As I stated above, the Autumn Path scene was also taken during the winter with snow on the ground. The Chapel, being the oldest of the buildings in the Valley, has stature and an attraction that contains its own beauty even if it doesn’t fit in with my overall theme.
Another image using a structure is the use of the El Capitan Bridge. Without the bridge, the whole image might be lost in a kaleidoscope of the color. This was taken October 29, 2006 at about 10 AM with a D70s using an 18-70 mm zoom set at 40mm. ISO 1600, f-Stop 13, at 1/100 of a second.
Getting back to just nature, here is another candidate for the mis-named “Four Season” shot of Cathedral Rock (only a Winter image of this scene showed any promise). This was also taken on October 29, 2006 with the D70s. The zoom was set 18 mm, ISO 1600, f-Stop 7.1 at 1/200 of a second.
Back at Cook’s Meadow is Fall Trees. This was taken on the south-western end of Cook’s Meadow looking toward the southern rim. This was taken at 9:00 AM, October 29, 2006 with the D70s and zoom at 55 mm. ISO 1600, f-Stop 7.1 at 1/200 of a second.
A few minutes later I took this shot of an oak. This was at 18 mm and f22 at 1/125 second.
In October, 2005, I took my grandson to Yosemite and on one of our jaunts, we trekked up the Pohono Trail to the old Inspiration Point. The fall colors had not completely taken over the valley, but farther up fall a more evident. This leaf caught in the needs of a pine tree caught my eye. It was taken on October 22, 2005 at about 10 AM with the Nikon D70s and the 18-70 mm zoom. It was set at 70 mm ISO 200, f4.5 and shutter speed was 1/125 second.
From Valley View I captured this shot of El Capitan taken through a turning Oak. Also on Oct 22, but at 9:15 AM, I had the 70-300 mm zoom set at 70 mm. ISO 200, f6.3 at 1/160 second.
Finally, in the back country, I found this small lake. This was shot with the D70s using the 18-70 mm zoom set at 27 mm. ISO 640, f9, shutter at 1/320 of a second.