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Yosemite - recs for sunset/nighttime/sunrise locations

K S , Jul 19, 2013; 03:43 p.m.

I'm coming from England and will be visiting Yosemite national park in California on Monday.

I will have a car and will be there during be day on monday, will be staying out in the evening to get some sunset photos, overnight to try to get some Milky Way photography and early morning on Tuesday for sunrise shots before I leave to goto Lake Tahoe.

Was wondering if you guys could recommend some decent spots so I can get some great/interesting foreground during these different lightning conditions. I've heard of lots of different spots within Yosemite but its confusing which ones I should visit since I only have a limited window to achieve these shots in the time period I am going to be there.

Your help is much appreciated!


Leszek Vogt , Jul 19, 2013; 04:52 p.m.

There are too many to list, since you can find a tree or a nice branch in the valley or above....and you can do a lot with it.....assuming you know what you're doing. You can also use the iconic spots like Half Dome, Glacier Point, El Capitan, etc. I was able to pull pretty good Milky Way from a v. little known campground (6300' elev)....and probably could have done it better if I used my 50mm at F2.

My advice is to get to the park in the daylight (2-3hrs to spare) and check out the locations that you are after.....so you are familiar...whether you need to do a hike to grab the required spot or shoot near your vehicle.

Both, Half Dome and El Capitan are on the valley loop....soo your driving is not extensive. You'll be given a map at entry point. If you are "borrowing" campground space (I found the best view from one site) make sure you alert the folk that occupy this spot (explain your situation)....or they might mistake you for a bear :>). I didn't mention falls, since extended shutter (over 3-4 seconds) is not v. friendly to water.

Enjoy your trip and post some shots when you get back.


El Capitan....as viewed from rd to Fresno....you could get closer.

K S , Jul 19, 2013; 08:53 p.m.

Thanks for the response! What do you mean by long shutter speeds being unfriendly to water?

Leszek Vogt , Jul 20, 2013; 02:51 a.m.

From my experience, and unless you scrim it somehow, long water exposure normally results in bright highlight and v. little creamy texture. Soo, the longer the exposure, the worse it gets. You may get a better understanding by doing some test exposures.

One more thing, being that you'll be fairly low (as in the valley)....the sun seem to hide quicker and you lose light without having the luxury of seeing it on the horizon....as oppose to onlookers that are located at higher elevations. Hope this helps.


Alan Klein , Jul 20, 2013; 08:51 p.m.

Don't forget Inspiration Point. Many shots are taken from here but for good reason. I remember running into by accident not know at the time what was coming. You go through this tunnel on the west end of Yosemite to get into the park. You come out of the tunnel and there's this awe inspiring, jaw dropping view that you will never forget. You'll want to cry! The best part is there's a great parking lot right there where you can set up and relax in getting your shot. Although not shown here in my shot, there's Bridalveil Falls to the right that drops about 1200 feet adding to the view. The photo shows Half-dome in the background in Alpenglow and El Capitan on the left. Good luck and good shooting.

Darron Spohn , Aug 02, 2013; 10:04 p.m.

Check out The Photographers Guide to Yosemite by Michael Frye. He lives near the park and knows it well. As mentioned above there are too many excellent locations in Yosemite to do them justice in a web reply. You can find beautiful scenery everywhere in that park.

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