Half Dome, Sunset Haze

Equipment Info
Canon Canon EOS 7D
Nearest Area

The High Sierra Winter. These words evoke a feeling of deep contentment that resonates within my soul. I think about the bone-chilling nights that I have spent gazing out into the vast sky for a single glimpse of the crimson peaks as the sun sets on these magnificent monoliths. I think about the many nights I have spent huddled in my tent during a snowstorm waiting for the warm breathe of the early morning light. There is nothing in this universe that is quite like it – the peerless, white, snowcapped peaks extending as far as one can see, the wind-swept trees bending as if bowing to the greater power of the harsh winter, the gentle whispers of the chilling mountain air, and a silence that is both comforting and foreboding, a silence that beckons the artist. During the winter months, the park goes mostly silent. The traffic dies down to a low rumble and faces become scarce in the expansive stretch of the valley. It is a wonderful time to be a photographer in Yosemite. The tripod holes of summer enthusiasts start to disappear and places that are as packed as any other summer beach become vacant. These are the times that I most enjoy photographing. Like my fellow artists, I also enjoy the views from Cook’s Meadow and Sentinel Bridge. However, my favorite places are far away from any roads. As the weather gets colder and the park empties, I head out into the backcountry. It may take me a day or two to get to many of these spots, but I am rarely disappointed. I find that, the higher I go into the vastness of the Sierra, the more beautiful the light gets. Last winter, I stumbled across just such an example of beautiful light. The accompanying photograph is taken from atop Mount Watkins during the first storm in February 2014. Standing at 8,500 feet above sea level, the massive Mount Watkins offers outstanding views of Clouds’ Rest, the Clark Range, Half Dome, North Dome, Mount Starr King, and many more. As I stood on top of this enormous mountain, I watched the storm clouds build around me in every direction. I set up my tripod on the east side of the mountain to exemplify the sloping east face and add an interesting angle to the photograph. Just as the sun was setting, a few light and wispy clouds came into view and caught some of the vibrant orange light, creating a hazy effect. The hues changed from yellow to orange, and then from red to pink. I made this exposure just as the sun burst through a cloud system to the west, forming a hard line on the face of Half Dome and illuminating the sky a final time for the evening.

Date Added
February 17, 2015
Date Taken
February 17, 2015
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