Afternoon Light on El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

Afternoon Light on El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

My trip to Yosemite in March was fairly brief, and we spent a bit of time in the afternoons to scout locations to shoot for the sunrise. I know the "Devil's Elbow" - this particular bend in the Merced River - is a great place to catch the morning light on El Capitan, but the only time I had previously been here was around mid-night on a previous trip and it was, not surprisingly, far too dark to tell if I was in the right place. When we stopped here late in the afternoon I was pleased to see the late afternoon light was just catching the distinctive profile of El Capitan with a warm glow. We did return the next morning but the overcast skies kept the light very flat, and in the end this is the view I preferred.

This particular image is actually the crop of a composite of 30+ individual frames. There's something about the enormity of the scenes in Yosemite that I feel can only really be appreciated with a large print, and a large composite image is a great way to produce a large print, so I try to remember to occasionally put one together. There were several ways to crop this - a little further to the left would have captured the trees on the opposite bank of the Merced River, and to the right you'd see the flow of Horsetail Falls famously catching the last rays of afternoon light. I settled on this crop focused mostly on the monolith itself. I did the black and white conversion with a blue-green filter applied, which kept the face of El Capitan flatter and lower in contrast than if I had applied a red-orange, opting for a more literal interpretation of the scene than a dramatic one. A cloned out a small trace of contrail (I wish planes didn't have to fly over Yosemite at all) because I found it very distracting.

And as I always must say... Go to Yosemite!

Nikon D90 | Nikon 35mm f/2.0 | f/8 | 1/320s | ISO200 | Handheld | Composite

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