• Long time exposure,  Monochrome,  Travel

    Origin and destination

    On the penultimate day of our Out of Yosemite conference in Yosemite Valley, the Bridalveil Fall with Charlotte Gibb as instructor was on the agenda that Saturday morning at 6am. I hoped that by participating in her workshop I would gain a less technical or more creative approach to photography of waterfalls.

    She gave us the topic of long time exposure in the preliminary discussion. The spot offers little freedom of movement. There was not much room for all of us, and on top that there were every now and then some people walking around in our compositions.

    Bridal Veil fall © Julian Köpke

    Bridalveil Fall shows a strong variability of location due to the influence of air movement. Especially at sunrise you can clearly feel the rising winds. So you don’t have much time for camera setup. An ensemble of stones in the waterfall can all of a sudden become dry and the composition becomes useless. In return, the neighbouring region becomes dripping wet and appears in a new light.

    Bridal Veil fall © Julian Köpke
    Bridal Veil fall © Julian Köpke

    I know pictures from long time exposures with moving water. They’re interseting sometimes. I rarely find them really good. Often they exhibit a strong technical assessment and their message ist not really accessible to me.

    I begann to study sections of the waterfall, which meant that the rock formations in the composition always showed a new character. That way many compositions can be made.

    Bridalveil Fall © Julian Köpke

    Probably an image that expresses changeability and constancy is best suited to make us think about the origin of the world. Planets orbiting their central star are a well known example for this. Or stars that orbit the black hole of our Milky Way in 11 years.

    My last picture of Bridalveil Fall, with its interplay of light and dark, of flowing and solidification, steps and flow, forms and dissolution of forms, shows the coexistence of changeability and constancy. That’s what makes it so attractive to me.

  • Travel,  Yosemite National Park

    From Yosemite Valley to Death Valley

    Today gusty winds at Tunnel View. I didn’t feel challenged to leave a fully extended tripod to the gusts. With low setup and the cheaper camera with long focal length I made a composition of the valley. We only had one hour, which was far too short at the end. It was, so to say, the last elephant of this safari.

    Tunnel view at Yosemite Valley © Julian Köpke

    The violent gusts the night before had toppled many trees. Over Route 140 we could still leave the valley and drove via Fresno and Bakersfield to Mojave. Behind Bakersfield we drove through a gentle hilly landscape with green meadows. Often only the hilltops were inhabited and the beautiful houses were surrounded by trees.

    Gentle green hills © Julian Köpke
    Near Caliente © Julian Köpke

    A single tree seemed to stand out in the skies.

    Tree in the skies © Julian Köpke
  • Landscape,  Monochrome,  Texture,  Travel,  Yosemite National Park

    New workflow

    The eye is easily deceived. Especially when working at a screen. Early printing, starting with low contrast, simultaneous editing of several images, pausing is part of Charles („Charly“) Cramers recipes. The necessary development times in the analogue laboratory, not least the drying process, always forced the photographer to interrupt. Brain always takes some time to understand.

    And he gave strong arguments against the prejudice, analog photography meant no image manipulation. In contrary, every image processing has always been manipulation.

    Bridal Veil Creek © Julian Köpke

    This day ended up with 100 GB of RAW image data. Work for a year to process them. With some winds below Bridal Veil Fall there was a movement of the camera that can be seen.

    Bridal Veil Fall © Julian Köpke

    So often I had good photo opportunities at Valley View. So it was today. A golden light from the setting sun shone for us, lit some bushes and warmed up the rocks.

    Light on bushes at Valley View © Julian Köpke

    The rise of a full moon took place at sunset. Only with a 9 EV HDR the light could be captured. It was a wonderful evening. Only hunger could us make driving back to our lodge.

    Full Moon at Valley View in Yosemite Valley © Julian Köpke
  • Landscape,  Travel,  Yosemite National Park

    Meadows

    Exceptional light conditions characterize Yosemite Valley. The unspoiled nature is over. There isn’t a square inch of floor that isn’t full of footprints, mine included.

    The large rock faces reflect the light into the valley before the sun has risen, the wide trees and the meandering Merced river do their part. In broad daylight, it makes little sense to trace or search for nuances of light. Nevertheless it is beautiful, wonderfully bright, pleasently warm. As soon as the sun stops sending its warm rays, it becomes unpleasantly cool.

    As attendees of the conference Out of Yosemite we  gather on the different Meadows of the valley or banks of the Merced river, which can also be called beach. This morning we’ve been to Tahiti Beach.

    Reflections El Capitan (Tahiti Beach) © Julian Köpke

    The afternoon session was with Harold at Cathedral Beach. Some ice on Merced river, few warm reflections of El Capitan. Some inspirations of Charlotte Gibb in mind I took some shots there. The cotton trees were my favorites.

    Yosemite Valley Cotton trees at Merced banks © Julian Köpke

    Like in a forest of a fairy tale you might stumble over monsters:

    Tree mimicking an animal. © Julian Köpke
  • Travel,  Yosemite National Park

    Yosemite during the winter

    On my own I’ve been twice to Yosemite Valley and once with Harold to Yosemite National Park. This valley is small and a dream of light and nature for visual artists. I’ve never been able to see this little patch of earth with realistic eyes. I wasn’t really serious about that either.

    Before I fly to the ambitious conference „Out of Yosemite“ tomorrow, I’d like to review some older images.

    Already my first visit began with a surprise. Just arrived, the hotel wanted to send me back immediately in December 2016, as the electricity had failed and there was no heating. After a short back and forth I was allowed to stay and the heating went on again at 10 o’clock in the evening. 

    Internet connectivity was terrible. No images could be uploaded for those who stayed at home. I really don’t expect it to be different this time. The following images might give a foretaste of what awaits us.

    Half Dome in winter © Julian Köpke

    Many spots are known to photographers all over the world. This time I have the chance to meet experienced photographers that share their knowledge. Harold is one of the instructors.

    When leaving Yosemite Valley, before the road hits Pohono bridge at the entrance, there is a spot called Valley View, which in fact looks back where the glaciers came from long ago.

    Valley View in the morning. Ground fogs can be seen.

    During construction time of the road up to Glacier Point the road workers had a storage area for construction equipment, located in front of a tunnel. This is why the spot is also called Tunnel View. It is a parking lot today. The image I took was honored in Flickr in Explore. A nice view is also some steps above the tunnel !

    I took 9 EVs for this HDR at Tunnel View in Yosemite Valley. No tripod ! You can see here the glacial origin of the U-shaped valley. In former times there was a lake. © Julian Köpke