What was your first impression of Yosemite?
For those of you who have been there, just curious what you thought about Yosemite? Is the park overhyped, or is it near impossible not to be blown away by all the breathtaking scenery and shooting opportunities (yes, loaded question, lol)?
I've been toying with the idea of visiting for years, but have been reluctant to go because of all the stories I've heard about crowds. Of course, I'm thinking mid/late October, which won't be nearly as busy.
If I did go, I think I'd spend less time in the main areas (where all the cliché shots are captured), and more time visiting the lessor known locales - as the thought of visiting yet another tripod hole (as it is affectionately called) has kept me away thus far.
So generally speaking (taking into consideration that any experience is a personal subjective thing), did the park meet or exceed your landscape photography expectations?
Sure, we've all seen the breathtaking shots. But many of these come from photographers who have frequent access to the park or have spent years gaining location and ideal timing insights. That's not to say that a photographer visiting for the first time (who has done some decent research) won't be able to capture some worthy shots, but you can do that anywhere.
#1. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 0esantos Nikonian since 10th Nov 2002Fri 08-Feb-13 07:09 PM
Yosemite is absolutely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been fortunate to visit. But honestly, my short time there was a frustrating ordeal fighting large crowds and very slow traffic inside the valley. I must be fair and point out that I was there the Monday after Memorial Day (the unofficial start of the summer vacation season). By shear luck I was able to get a wall tent accommodation for the night, otherwise we would have probably just left and moved on to the Owens Valley. While most of the great shooting locations are breathtaking, they have, as you have stated, been photographed millions of times. Unless you have intimate knowledge of the back country and the lesser known gems I don't see how to get around this.
I would recommend doing your research on this, possibly getting some good topo maps of the area to help identify some potential targets. I would also agree that your choice to go in the fall is probably a good idea. Winter while being limited to access is also the best time. If I ever go back I will go in the dead of winter. I think you can get some really crazy good light at that time of year. With a little luck and some snow on the ground you could do pretty good for yourself. Well, there it is, an opinionated perspective from someone who is hardly qualified to give you solid advice on the location, but you asked.
#3. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 1Sun 10-Feb-13 01:50 AM
Ernesto, thank you very much for your opinion. Your comments sort of mirror why I've been staying away all these years. I'm still leaning towards going, although as you say, I need to really pick and choose my locations. I plan on combining this trip with some Arizona Route 66 photography, so it should be an interesting week regardless. Thanks again!
#2. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 0
In my opinion, Dan, Yosemite is one of the crown jewels of the National Park System. That, of course, is its blessing and its curse. The good new is that the curse (crowds) are easily avoidable. Just don't go when they go.
I've only shot the park once, and it was in February. No crowds. I was fortunate to be there when a couple of minor snowstorms blew through. It was just enough to dress the park for winter, and my photos are something I'll treasure forever. You wouldn't catch me within 100 miles of the place in summer, but I'd return again in a heartbeat for another shot at winter. I should mention that the first part of my trip was with a photography tour group, which greatly helped me get familiar with the park and significantly improved my results. I stayed a couple of days after the tour was over to do things on my own, which I really enjoyed. But starting out with a photo guide who knew the park like it was his back yard was a good move for me. It enhanced the value of a visit that was all too short.
While I haven't visited in fall, I would imagine the fall colors in Yosemite's magnificent setting would be reward enough to tolerate whatever small crowds might be in the park. Someone else will no doubt offer a better feel for your planned dates. But I can tell you that I would look forward to a fall visit to Yosemite.
If you'd like me to post a few of my winter Yosemite photos in this thread, let me know.
#4. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 2Sun 10-Feb-13 01:52 AM
Thank you Russ - great suggestion on hiring a guide (if only for a day or two just to get started).
And yes, please feel free to post any images you'd like. Thanks for asking.
#7. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 4russg Nikonian since 03rd Nov 2007Sun 10-Feb-13 08:21 PM | edited Sun 10-Feb-13 08:23 PM by russg
Well, here goes. It was difficult to limit myself to a half dozen shots. Now, I realize that these are shots of the iconic locations. As Antero mentioned, the high country is inaccessible in the winter months, which limits you to the valley. But oh, what a valley. There's a reason these locations are "tripod holes". Winter offered the valley in beautiful form, with absolutely zero crowds. I would expect fall to offer it's own special take on the valley, and crowds might be a bit more of an issue, but nothing like they are in summer. All of these wee shot with a D300
Tunnel View (Major Tripod Hole)
El Capitan (This one was selected for a chapter opening image in Darrell's 'Mastering the D300/D300S' book)
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#5. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 0
I was there with my wife in early October 2009. It might be risky to visit later than that. This is because on a couple of days we were in the park, the Tioga road was closed on account of snow. Absolutely no problems with crouds. The downside of being there in October is that the waterfalls are at their driest. I'd say it was worth a visit from Finland, although we also visited Death Valley, Valley of Fire (60 mi NE from Las Vegas), Sequioa and Kings Canyon Nat. parks, Big Sur, Monterey and SF.
#11. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 5Mon 11-Feb-13 03:04 PM
Yes, October is generally a dry month. I did look up year-over-year Tioga road closings, and most were in November and beyond. There were a few October closings, so it is possible.
Been to Valley of Fire (and excellent park) - but never to Sequioa or Kings.
#6. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 0
Just a follow up to our exchange over in the Travel forum, most of the crowds everyone talks about generally pertain to the valley itself. There are many other parts of the park which offer excellent photography opportunities which are uncrowded. Below is a link to a great little book written by a photographer for photographers......and it is only about $10. I have used it many times.
#8. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 0
Barry pointed you to the book I personnally used when I went there, twice (early April 2009 and mid-Octobre 2010). These were very short trips each time (1 day) and there was no crowd.
I'd like very much to go in Winter as this is when the scenery seems to be at its best.
Nevertheless, I have a different opinion than most people here: Yosemite is nice but there are several nicer places in Western USA and elsewhere. I've traveled in more than 30 countries and seen many natural parks. I admit that the rocks are impressive, however it is all grey (perfect for B&W photography such as those of Ansel Adams). One can include colors with plants and trees and Michael Fryes does a fantastic job as this (as well as the photos in the post above). The challenge: to make breathtaking photos without bad weather.
When I have the choice, it is not the first place I go (same thing for Grand Canyon IMHO). In western USA, I prefer Valley of Fire, Zion, Owen Valley and Monument Valley because I like their color. Mono Lake also impressed me.
Please note that I come from a place where grey granit is all around, this may explain why Yosemite doesn't impress me as much.
BTW, when I went in mid-Octobre, Tioga Pass was closed a few days before because of snow. I was lucky and the Pass opened the day I wanted to drive to Mono Lake.
I hope this point of view brings a different light that will help you in your decision.
Quebec Fine-Art Landscape Photographer
#13. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 8Mon 11-Feb-13 03:13 PM
Thank you Yvan - I appreciate your perspective.
I know that Yosemite is not known for its fall color - and I will be going during a dry period.
I tend to shoot intimate landscapes, so I'd probably appreciate hanging out by the Merced River, or visiting places like Mariposa Grove.
Having been to both Zion and Valley of Fire, I do agree that they are stunning locations - and I certainly hear what you're saying about color.
As for Owen Valley, I'll have to check that out - as you're not the first person who has brought up this location. I've got a lot to think about.
#15. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 13newbird Nikonian since 25th Apr 2006Wed 13-Feb-13 05:08 AM
Fall colors in Owen Valley are very nice even if mostly yellow.
I liked very much Alabama Hills.
I loved Galen Rowell gallery (I found it nicer and higher class than Ansell Adams gallery in Yosemite)
Mono Lake is superb place
Bodie Ghost Town is worth going. There is a photographers' Saturday once a month where it opens half an hour before sunrise (i.e. a few hours before tourists start arriving). It is great to photography a ghost town when there is almost nobody
There are several nice streams as well and a few nice lakes.
It is worth staying 3 full days minimum.
Quebec Fine-Art Landscape Photographer
#9. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 0
We were there in mid October 2011. There were crowds but the traffic wasn't too bad. We were lucky that it had been rainy so the waterfalls were still flowing, typically some dry up by fall. We did have a little snow but not enough to prevent us from driving where we wanted to, although we ended up spending most of our time in the Valley. The only times we had to contend with crowds for a photo were from Tunnel View, and from Sentinel Bridge at sunset.
We went to Sequoia and Kings Canyon afterward and I'd say we enjoyed those as much, if not more than, Yosemite.
Nikonians Team Member
#16. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 14mark95841 Registered since 02nd Sep 2010Wed 20-Feb-13 04:03 AM
I was there for the first time on Thanksgiving 2012. First impression was how small the place was. To drive the whole valley circle was short with so many amazing sites in such a small area. Second thought~ how touristy it is with more non Americans there on Thanksgiving Day. I guess most Americans were still inside eating turkey and watching football. It was pretty crowded which was a shame, it reminded me of Disneyland. Tip~Hike up to Glacier Point, that will give you some views that are less than conventional and not seen by all tourist.
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#17. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 0
I was in Yosemite for the ANPAT several years ago. Michael Mariant is a true expert on the park and his workshops are highly recommended. There are very few people that know the park better than Michael.
The main valley is small and congested, but you can get away from the crowds with early morning or late afternoon walks along the river.
The classic scenes tend to be crowded. You probably want to get those images, but they are only part of your trip.
We found Yosemite to be huge with a lot of driving. It's two hours from Yosemite Valley to Mono Lake for sunrise. On the ANPAT we made trips to Mono Lake, Bodie Ghost town, Tioga Pass, etc. Once you get out of the valley, crowds are small and you get much better photos. Mono Lake is an exception - it is very crowded at sunrise and sunset. There are some good little motels near Mono Lake.
October is not a slow period in the valley. In the valley accommodations are fully booked.
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#19. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 0
I am a bit late to this post, but I can say I loved Yosemite and since I went in December, the crowds were not there. I'd recommend a winter visit, (with 4WD of course).
The only think that can be an issue that time of year is the valley getting socked in by fog, which is what happened to me. I would probably go back at that time of year again, but would plan to spend more time.
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#21. "RE: What was your first impression of Yosemite?" | In response to Reply # 0
I live 90 minutes from the park. Here is the deal.. it is a must see.. and you will never see all of it in a week, but timing is everything. Late October and early November are good times.. on weekdays. Even living so close to the park, I never spend weekend time there as there are usually quite a few from the SF bay area and central valley that make day trips and the roads get busy. I would recommend if you are certain that you will be here in late October to spend a few days in Yosemite.. and then drive over highway 120 (the northern Yosemite Highway) to Mono County. It is about a 2 hour drive to there from the Yosemite Valley floor. Mono county is absolutely stunning in October and in my opinion makes Yosemite look tame. Countless lakes, high granite peaks with snow, golden aspen and high desert make for some killer photography. As a matter of fact, over the past three years I have spent about 80% of my time in the sierras in Mono county and only about 10% shooting in Yosemite.. the other 10% shooting in the foothills. So that is my endorsement and recommendation to you
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