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National Parks Assignment Winner Kristal Leonard

Winter Moonrise Over Half Dome Yosemite by Kristal Leonard

Winter Moonrise Over Half Dome Yosemite by Kristal Leonard

Photographer: Kristal Leonard

“I live in Yosemite Valley and was enjoying watching the snow fall throughout December 27, 2012. I was hoping that the storm would break once it got dark so I could get some photos of the fresh snow in the moonlight. Sure enough, the snow stopped just after sunset and the full moon rose over Yosemite Valley. It never ceases to amaze me how bright Yosemite Valley is under a full moon, especially in winter when there is snow covering everything. It really looks like it is daytime! When I saw how pristine everything looked under the moonlight, I put on my boots and warm clothes and headed out for a walk with my camera and gear. After spending a couple hours taking the shots I had been visualizing, I was heading home and crossed Sentinel Bridge. I saw this scene looking towards Half Dome and the Merced River and it took my breath away! I set up my camera and intervalometer for a 1 minute exposure and used my headlamp to lightpaint some of the trees facing me, which were in shadow. I had to keep reshooting due to cars driving by, which would either throw in some red light from their brakes or yellow light from their headlights. But after about half an hour I had a couple shots that had no car lights affecting them. In post, I did some minor processing for contrast, sharpening and noise and removed some small lens flare. This was my favorite shot from the night and it became my favorite from the entire year!”

Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens, tripod, intervalometer, headlamp