Yosemite High Country, California, USA by Brenda Tharp

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Picture Story

When the snows have cleared, I like to make my pilgrmage up to Sentinel Dome in Yosemite's high country, as it affords the most amazing 360 degree view of the high country. On this Autumn day, the clouds were quite dramatic, threatening storm but never producing one. It looked like the conditions would be great for a large landscape, so we headed out on the trail. Previous storms had filled the few depressions on the granite and now held reflections of the clouds, making it a great foreground and expressing the grandeur of the large-scale view of Half Dome and the surrounding mountains.

The sunlight came and went in the background, but the foreground remained in shade and was therefore quite blue due to both the shade and high altitude. While that could have been corrected in post-processing with some work, I began to instead consider that a monochromatic image would produce the drama that I was seeing. The light/shadow made great contrast, something a monochromatic image often needs. I quickly changed my camera to jpeg and took a black and white to confirm my thoughts, and then switched back to RAW. I made many exposures that afternoon as the clouds passed and the sun came and went across the mountains. I took a low point of view to include clouds reflecting in the water pocket and chose my spot of focus very carefully so as to get the foreground and the background sharply in focus. I felt like I was 'channeling' Ansel Adams that afternoon, and was so pleased with the results of that field session. I have hiked there many times since, but nothing has compared to the light of this day!

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