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    Half-Dome

    I stumbled upon this site completely by accident. I started at the lower Yosemite falls, and walked up the valley looking for good shots. I had even stopped in the Ansel Adams gallery, seeking inspiration. I left inspired, but realizing that my photo skills paled in comparison. I admit I was a bit depressed after I left!

    I wandered through a couple of fields, some snow banks, and a construction zone and stumbled out from the woods to see the sublime half-dome towering in front of me, with a calm river snaking through the foreground. It wasn’t until I left after the second visit that I saw the parking lot right next to the site. On that second day, when I set up early to capture the sunset (those pictures later…), as I was congratulating myself for finding such a spectacular site, a group of 25 photographers came hustling in, lead by National Park staff photographers. They set up their tripods and their (fancier than mine) cameras… it was like photographer row at the World Series. Most of them had graduated neutral density filters, which they were using to even out the foreground and sky. Cheaters.

    These pictures are from mid to late afternoon, across 2 days. The first day I found this site, I must have taken 100 shots. It wasn’t until I went back go my room and scanned the shots that I realized they were all terrible… except for the next-to-last shot I took, which is the one shown here. I had become so engulfed in the beauty of half-dome that I had centered it in most of my shots, and the trees on the right created black hole of negative space. On this shot I brought in the cliffs on the left, which were nicely lit by the sun at my back. Those cliffs become the focus of the picture, and when you there you’re drawn to half-dome, creating really nice flow.

    I’ve included several other, quite similar, shots. Some of them in B&W, which suit Yosemite perfectly. Ansel knew what he was doing! I’m not sure I have the best shots here. To be honest, I took too many, and it’s taking me forever to sift through them. Lesson learned: have some confidence that I got the shot. No need to shoot 300 back-ups.

    Half-Dome Gallery.

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