The first time I became acquainted with El Capitan, I was ten. It was in a Weekly Reader we received in fifth grade. It was over thirty-two hundred feet high and one solid piece of granite. All I could think was “Wow.” I first saw it a couple years later when our Boy Scout troop drove through the park after a week’s stay at the nearby Camp Dimond-O. As always, click on any image to get a better view.
My first photo of it was May, 2000 (From Cathedral Beach).
El Capitan is a real challenge because there just aren’t that many places where you can get enough of it into a photo at all. I’ve taken a few pictures from this location (see From Cathedral Beach In Fog).
More than any other park feature, El Capitan lends itself to “portrait” pictures. Generally, I like to do “Landscape” because they work better for calendars and framed photos. It is true, though, that some of the more striking photos are in Portrait orientation (for example, see In Clearing
Fog). This image was taken from Tunnel View in February of 2003. Tunnel View is the modern day “Inspiration Point”; depicting El Capitan on the left and Bridalveil Falls on the right and Half Dome in the middle.
El Capitan is a 3600 foot high monolith of granite and one of the largest exposed pieces of granite in the world. In addition to being very photogenic, “El Cap”, as it is called by the rock climbers, is The premier rock climbing wall anywhere. It was first scaled by Warren Harding and team in 1958 after he failed to make the first climb of Half Domes north face earlier in the year. There is some discussion of the history of rock climbing in Yosemite in a previous post.
Probably the two most picturesque locations for capturing El Capitan is from Tunnel View and Valley View. This photo (El Capitan at Dusk) was taken February 23, 2007 at a little after 6 PM from Tunnel View. Its sister photo (El Cap in Snow) was taken at Valley View a few minutes earlier.
This other, wider, picture was also taken at Valley View in the winter and on the following day at about 3:30 PM (sees El Capitan in Winter). Sometimes, I find I can get a number of photos from the same scene by just zooming in to various aspects. The original shot was the whole Valley View scene (Valley View in Winter). And then I isolated just the El Capitan portion and finally zoomed into just El Capitan.
These next images are not so much “picturesque” as they are informative. There is a lichen stain on the wall to the east side of “The Nose” that looks like the North American continent (if you give the stain some liberty). Consequently, it is called the North American Wall. It is also called “The Dawn Wall” because the morning light will hit it first (The Dawn Wall is actually just a bit to left of the North American “scar”).
A shadow seems to fill in part of the image obscuring what otherwise would look like the “Hudson Bay” portion of North America (North American Wall).
In this close up, it seems a bit clearer (North American Wall Close-Up).
These names are more popular among climbers as they depict the location of various climbing paths. As I pointed out in a previous post (Rock Climbers: Not To Be Outdone), Warren Harding chose “the Nose” as the first path up El Capitan[i] (see El Capitan – The Nose). Royal Robbins, who followed Harding up the rock later climbed The Dawn Wall.
[i] I hesitate to say, “of all the possible paths up El Capitan, he picked the nose”.