• 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
  • Landscape,  Travel,  Yosemite National Park

    Fire and Ice

    First field session this morning with Charlotte Gibb and Michael Shainblum. Few spots around Sentinel Bridge, starting at 6:45h and ending 9:45h. Well-known views as well as more intimate compositions. Impressive was a rainbow in Upper Yosemite Fall, burning like flames when viewed as time-lapse.

    Flaming rainbow at Upper Yosemite Fall © Julian Köpke

    Warm reflections came over to Merced river from the granite walls. Together with blue ice and a pine cone this was quite appealing.

    Cone on ice at Sentinel Bridge © Julian Köpke

    In the afternoon we ended uo at Cooks Meadow, now far from our lodge. I worked out a structure containing trees in sunlight and some in shadow.

    Trees © Julian Köpke
  • Landscape,  Monochrome,  Travel,  Yosemite National Park

    Yosemite Valley

    We are one day earlier in Yosemite Valley, meaning two days extra in this beautiful spot. Yesterday has already been a gorgeous afternoon. Lower Yosemite Fall had been our first walking destination.

    Lower Yoemite Fall © Julian Köpke

    This morning we made a short tour to Valley View, Tunnel View and Bridal veil fall. 

    Valley View Yosemite Valley © Julian Köpke
    Tunnel view at Yosemite Valley © Julian Köpke

    After recovering from carrying around lots of gear I expected the Moonrise to be at 4 o’clock. Just a 2 minutes walk down to the banks of Merced river were good to reach a wonderful spot.

    Moonrise in Yosemite Valley © Julian Köpke

    At the end of the day there is usually a total break down of any WiFi connectivity here in Yosemite Valley. Like this evening.

  • Travel,  Yosemite National Park

    Berkeley

    Berkeley is my first stop. Here I meet my friend Harold and his wife Phyllis. Last decisions to take. After a very long day with a pleasant flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco the night was interrupted by short wake-ups due to time shift.

    As breakfast was not included in my hotel room I went around with a camera at my hand. The morning sun just came over the hills. Small signs explain the advantage of succulents during the increasing drought of the region, because so much water can be saved.

    Succulents © Julian Köpke

    As I move on, I am increasingly surrounded by students who have left for lectures. A lot of homeless people catch my eyes. One of them stands there with his pants half pulled down and shouts at everything and everyone with an aggressive tone of voice. He is near the globe with many layers of complex surfaces that I want to photograph. I’m glad I can disappear.

    Many layers on the globe in Berkeley at Shattuck Avenue © Julian Köpke

    An hour to sunset: we climb up the Berkeley Hills that show a splendid view on Golden Gate bridge and San Francisco downtown. Many young people drinking and smoking drugs up there.

    View on San Francisco downtown at sunset © Julian Köpke
    Sunset Golden Gate bridge © 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