Visiting Yosemite Park has always been on my top ten Bucket List goals since I fell in love with Ansel Adams’ photos as a child. I would look at the photos he made over decades and dream that some day I too could visit these spectacular spots and take my own pictures. The intensity of the black and white images set in the dramatic landscapes of massive granite domes and billowing cumulus imprinted themselves in my mind. It was only a matter of time!
Recently, I made the pilgrimage to Ansel's home and playground, where I had the privilege of having assistant Curator and photographer of The Ansel Adam’s Gallery, Michael Wise, as my guide for two days. I wanted to see all of the places that, up until now, I had only seen on paper and in the images of my own mind: Half Dome, Vernal Falls, Yosemite Falls, Sentinal Dome, Taft Point and the majestic 2307 meter granite boulder known as El Capitan. It was a bit daunting that 2016 is Yosemite’s 150 birthday and the park has anticipated over 4 million visitors, mostly in the summer, when I was also going to be there. For someone who prefers to be in the mountains alone, and who has an aversion to large crowds, this was a huge challenge to take on but I had no other choice. Michael was amazing because he not only preferred to travel against the grain, but he actually had special places where we could be off of the beaten track. We were able to find places to shoot where we were often the only ones. This was paradise for me.
Our first morning we met up at 4:00 am to catch the sunrise coming up behind Half Dome. Yosemite is huge and it often takes hours to get anywhere especially as there is only one main ring road, which is often backed up for miles with traffic. But at 4:00 am we were the only ones around and quickly arrived to make our way to set up on Glacier Point. One of the things I love most about being a landscape photographer, besides being in nature, is that I actually live and breath the making of my photo. It takes me a while to set up because I want to know the space, so I often sit and just look around and feel where I am. Being at Glacier Point standing out on the 2199 meter high precipice at 5:30 am waiting for the sun to rise was an incredible experience.
There was no one around. No other tourists or photographers. Standing on top of this point looking out over Half Dome and all of the other granite mountains in the valley which were formed over hundreds of thousands of years during several ice ages, made me realize yet once again, how miniscule we are in not just our size but also the in the time which we inhabit this planet on which we live. It brings very clearly home the importance of sustainability and how absolutely necessary it is if we are to continue to enjoy the beauty of nature’s bounty. I feel privileged to be able to document the things I see.
Stay tuned for more adventures on my ‘Ansel Adams’ Tour’ which involves the Eagles, police and campsite like no other. Photos from my real camera can be seen in the Yosemite 16 folder.