Photographing The Natural World


Yosemite: Run Away!

(6/1/17) You are no doubt aware that California had a record rainfall and snow accumulation this year, and as a result, the snowmelt and waterfalls will be epic.  Such is the case now, as all waterfalls and some we haven’t seen in years are gushing.  The park is green, work has been completed on the new road configuration in the east end of the valley (a rare work of genius from the park service), and clueless new seasonal employees are in place.

Sounds wonderful.

Run Away!

The day trippers will be in full force, stampeding into the place on weekends like never before. Everywhere I go in Fresno, people ask “How are the waterfalls? We’re planning to go up this weekend!”  Folks who were born and raised in Fresno and have teenage children are, for the first time, planning trips.  They will leisurely pack the car and head up arriving in mid-morning to a traffic jam that would make Los Angeles blush. Hordes of uninitiated idiots will be surging in and white-knuckling their way into the valley.  It will take 3 hours to go the seven miles from the Bridalveil parking lot to day parking lot in the east end of the valley.  The park service, in it’s infinite wisdom is shutting down one lane of southside road for busses and emergency traffic.  You cannot imagine the traffic jam this will cause.  DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!!

You have been warned: Do Not go to Yosemite this weekend.

Now, if you insist, here’s how to avoid the unwashed masses:

  1. Arrive at 7am, park and take the shuttle busses to get around.
  2. Arrive at 7am, see the valley in one hour then head to Glacier Point Road and stay up there. Hike those trails, see Glacier Point, Washburn Point, Sentinel Dome, Taft Point, Mono Meadow, etc.  Go for the Big View.  Taft Point is incredible.  So is Sentinel Dome, especially at sunset.  Glacier Point will be overrun, so try Washburn Point.  It’s easy to get away from the hordes, although there will be people wherever you go.  But you won’t be overrun.
  3. Bring infinite amounts of patience for fools.

Stay away from the village between 9am and 6pm.


Hot weather coming to Yosemite; The waterfalls will be ROCKIN’!!

(5/2/17) The high temperatures in Yosemite Valley on Wednesday and Thursday of this week will be up in the upper 70’s. The high on Thursday in Fresno is predicted to be 99!  This means intense sun on the high elevation snowpack and an accelerated melt, at least temporarily. If you want to see Yosemite waterfalls at their most awe-inspiring intensity, make the scene on Thursday.  There will be flooding in the meadows and possibly on roads and campgrounds, but this is going to be something to witness.  I’m going up to shoot waterfalls and to document the flooding.

A word of warning; DO NOT go up this weekend. The hoards of day-trippers will be there, making it impossible to get around. Then, in the afternoon, when you want to leave, the line on Northside Drive will be backed up to Curry Village. An L.A. freeway on Friday afternoon moves faster. And to add to the problem, construction on the roads in the east end of Yosemite Valley is causing several traffic-choking detours.  Plus, a storm is coming in on Saturday, so the weekend might not be so good.

My Early Spring Waterfalls workshop is scheduled for next week, and those folks are in for the shooting opportunities of a lifetime. This is not an overstatement. Storms, epic runoff, flooding, raging moving water all over the place will give us endless motion-blur, clouds, mist, possibly rainbows, etc. FYI, we still have openings if you can get a hotel at this late date. Yosemite Photo Workshops

(9am, 5/2/17) Update: The Park Service just issued a flood warning! Water will be OVER Swinging Bridge and all meadows will be inundated.

Popular Photography Magazine Goes Under. RIP.

(5/1/17) It’s a new age for sure.  First published in 1937, Popular Photography magazine is no more.  I can remember when I was in high school there were articles on photo paper, developing tips, enlarger reviews, it was endless.  Then, pouring over my wish list in the mail order ads in the back…  I doubt anyone shooting today over the age of 50 has not relied on PP for at least some of their knowledge during film days – knowledge that we continue to use today.

It just never caught on in today’s digital world. It failed to keep pace and stay relevant and along with Kodak, Minolta, wet process, rolling-your-own-film and myriad other things we’ve left behind to the age of film, Popular Photography fades into the dustbin of history.  Sad day.

Read more about it here: Popular Photography Goes Under

Workshops Updates

All Yosemite Workshops now include Lodging

(4/27/17)  Beginning with the Fall Colors Photography Workshop in late October/early November 2017, all future workshops will include lodging.  See details here

Updates in Yosemite

Glacier Point Road opening soon

(4/26/17) We got word last week that Glacier Point Road is open to administration traffic only, which means the road is largely plowed, but there are a few minor tweaks they have to do to the roads before they open to the public.  This includes filling potholes, inspecting for avalanche risk and the like.  They also open the restrooms, clear the walking paths out to Glacier Point and generally ensure that it’s relatively safe to visit.  Now, this does not mean that hiking trials will be made safe for a leisurely stroll; the trails to Taft Point, Sentinel Dome and other Glacier Point destinations are still under a LOT of snow, but inevitably folks will carve out trails over the snow until it melts.  Don’t look for dry, clear trails until late in June at the earliest.

The High Country has 172% of normal snowpack, and that snowpack has the highest water content ever measured.  The waterfalls will be epic and will last well into July.  The Tuolumne Meadows area probably will not open until late June, and it is entirely possible that the High Sierra Camp system will not open this year due to the huge snowpack at higher elevations.

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