Monday, March 4, 2013

Contender James Snyder

The 1934 Yosemite Stamp inspired American Landscape contest Contender James L. Snyder's photo of Yosemite Valley

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Photographer: James L. Snyder

Location: Southside Drive, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, CA

When did you take the photograph? October 20, 2009

Linhof Master Technika 2000 4 x 5 large format view camera, 65mm Schneider Super-Angulon f/8 lens, Fujicolor Pro 160S film, Gitzo GT2540LLVL leveling tripod, Arca Swiss Monoball Z ball head

Please describe how you got this photo.
On a clear autumn day I arrived at the south shore of the Merced River in Yosemite Valley at sunrise to watch the sunlight work its way down El Capitan - the largest exposed granite face in the world.  In autumn, the river runs very slowly and produces perfect reflections.  On this morning a slight fog lingered above the water, giving the shaded parts of the scene a cold and caliginous appearance. Here is an extremely wide angle view looking north to east just as the sun began rising above Taft Point, casting the day's first sunlight upon El Capitan Meadow.  Moments later the river was awash in sunlight also, drastically muting the reflections and completely transforming the scene.

Did you use any special techniques?
I used a super wide angle lens and made four separate left-to-right exposures on film that were later stitched together using Photoshop CS5 into one final panoramic image.  I was careful to keep the camera level so that there would be no convergence of vertical lines in the scene and so the reflections of objects in the river would be directly below the original objects and not off to the side.

Why is this scene of the American Landscape special to you?
I love El Capitan and I love Yosemite!  Growing up in New York City, I first learned of Yosemite National Park from a green one cent US postage stamp depicting El Capitan that I found in my father's stamp collection.  According to the stamp's 1934 first day of issue envelope: "Yosemite, the second-oldest of our National Parks, was established in 1890.  It is located in middle eastern California.  Its area, 1162 square miles, embraces a valley of world-famed beauty bounded by the high Sierras.  Waterfalls of extraordinary height, three groves of big trees, glorious vistas and good trout streams are but a few of Yosemite's attractions".  Now that I have had the privilege of visiting Yosemite, I fully agree with the Scottish-born American naturalist John Muir who wrote: "It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter."


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