As a landscape photographer I spend a fair amount of time outside. Over the last two years I’ve learned to plan my shoots much better. However, sometimes, no much how well you plan in advance for a trip there are some things you can’t control. One of the biggest is the weather. In this article I’d like to share an experience from a trip to Yosemite. I want to share this with you because it is a lesson of being patient and making the best landscape photos you can in less than ideal conditions.
Tunnel View – February 2018
Whether you’ve been to Yosemite or seen pictures of the valley, you probably know Tunnel View. It’s a great spot to get a perspective of Yosemite to whet your appetite. Also, because of its fame and the fact there is a parking lot ready to greet you it can also be a busy location.
When I arrived in the late morning the crowds were out in force. As a result, I decided to hike to a similar viewpoint nearby. Shortly after I arrived, the weather started to worsen. The crowds cleared as clouds blanketed the sky, casting a deep shadow across the valley and snow flurries started falling. Although I wasn’t hopeful the clouds would clear before sunset I chose to be patient. This might also be called stubborn, depending of your definition.
As a way to kill time, I set up my camera to capture a time lapse to capture the clouds moving across the sky. While my camera clicked away the clouds started to pick up the late afternoon colors. Finally, after nearly six hours, a ray of the setting sun pierced the clouds and moved up the face of El Cap. To me, it created a neat effect when compared to the doom and gloom from the rolling clouds.
I jumped for joy as the ray moved across the valley! I felt grateful for the chance to see this moment.
The title image is from one of the time lapse frames. It wasn’t the photograph I had planned to capture, but I like it nonetheless. Every time I see this capture I’m reminded of how the sunset made it worth shivering in the cold for a few hours.
Don’t head in right away
You’ll visit places where all the planning was complete, only to have clouds obscure the great light you wanted. Other times, you’ll set up based on great interesting clouds only to have them clear out before sunset leaving a clear blue sky. While both of these situations are frustrating they can teach you a great lesson about photography.
Plan for the best, prepare for the worst. Get creative. Be patient. And, if all else fails, just enjoy being outside in a beautiful place. Or, you know, run for the hills if it is that kind of day.
Here are a few things you can get up to while your camera clicks away for hours.
Sketch what you see
Take BTS photos of the gear
Just enjoy the view
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please drop me a comment with any questions you might have. Until next time. See you on the trail.
Matt is a creative fine art landscape and commercial photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He stepped away from a successful engineering career in the midwest and moved to California to chase his dream of becoming a full-time professional photographer. Over the last two years, Matt has traveled the world chasing light and capturing one-of-a-kind landscapes.
He enjoys sharing his adventures with family, friends, and strangers along the way. When he is not hiking to a remote location, Matt enjoys volunteering for local and national conservation organizations. His mission is to share the world with people, inspire a sense of adventure, and to make a difference for the planet.