Guest Blogger: Canon Explorer of Light Lewis Kemper

  © Lewis Kemper
My guest blogger this week is fellow Canon Explorer of Light Lewis Kemper. I am sure you'll enjoy Lewis' photographs from Yosemite, as well as his tips on where and when to photograph.

In this post, Lewis specifically talks about where to photograph from sunrise to sunset.

If you plan to photograph inYosemite, Lewis' book, Photographing Yosemite Digital Field Guide, is a must.

If you are participating in my "In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams Photo Caravan," this post is for you.

If you are looking for some gear recos, here's my list.

Take it away Lewis!
Sunrise Locations

My all time favorite sunrise location is Cook’s Meadow (above), just east of Yosemite Lodge. From here the sunrises behind Half Dome, and depending on time of year illuminates Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Point, Sentinel Rock, and Glacier Point. There are many oaks and one elm tree, as well as Cow Parsnip in summer that you can use as foreground elements, in your images. If you cross the footbridge you can get reflections of Yosemite Falls, in the Merced River. I also like the view from the footbridge looking down the valley with Sentinel Rock on the left. From this one area you have a wide variety of photographic options so plan to spend a lot of time here!

 © Lewis Kemper
Another area I like at sunrise is along the Merced River on the south side, opposite from El Capitan. As you walk the river west of the El Capitan Bridge (where you can cross over to the Northside Drive), you get great reflections of El Capitan as morning sun strikes the monolith.

  © Lewis Kemper
And now with HDR, I like going to the areas that are typically thought of as “sunset” locations, which include Gates of the Valley and Tunnel View (above and below).

© Lewis Kemper

Sunset Locations

© Lewis Kemper
Off course no visit to Yosemite is complete without witnessing sunset from the Tunnel View on Highway 41. This is the classic view with El Capitan on left, Clouds Rest Rest and Half Dome in the center, and Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall on the right.

© Lewis Kemper
Outside the valley I like the views from Glacier Point and Olmsted Point. From Glacier Point you are approximately 4000 feet directly above the valley with Half Dome looming in front of you and a great view up Tenaya Canyon. From Olmsted Point, on the Tioga Road, you have an interesting view of Half Dome from the north side as it catches the last rays of the setting sun.

© Lewis Kemper
Because Yosemite Valley is so deep there really are no “Golden Hours” the sun is high in the sky before it hit anywhere in the valley and sets quickly over the valley walls. The only time you get “golden” light in the valley is if there is a great cloud cover overhead (but not on the horizon) around sunrise or sunset. But if you venture outside of the valley, especially up to Tuolumne Meadows you can find “Golden Light” that last can start about and hour before sunrise and last until about an hour after sunrise.  In the evening the nice light can last about 1½ hours before sunset and last about 45 minutes after sunset. 

Low Light Ideas

© Lewis Kemper

A nice place to visit when the light is low would be the sequoia groves. There are three in the park, two require a hike and one is accessible via a shuttle. Early in the morning or late in the evening the trees are more evenly lit and much easier to photograph.

Midday Ideas

© Lewis Kemper
If you are in the valley mid-day then I suggest you concentrate on details and close ups. There are Cow Parsnip and milkweed in Cooks, Meadow, azaleas near Gates of the Valley, and many interesting lichens and rock patterns around Happy Isles. If you leave the valley mid-day is a fine to photograph some of the high country lakes along the Tioga road.  I like Siesta Lake, and Tenaya Lake.  From Tuolumne Meadows it is a short hike to Dog Lake. Tuolumne Meadows can also be a good mid-day destination with its wildflowers and reflections in the Tuolumne River.

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Thank you Lewis for an inspiring post.

Explore the light,