Exploring Yosemite in The Fall - Helpful tips for Photographers

We spent 6 days in Yosemite. Six days of exploring, photo’ing, and in absolute awe of the beauty and amazingness that we were constantly surrounded by. I knew it was going to be very beautiful, but it was truly way more gorgeous than I could have even imagined. We flew from Philly, to Denver, to Fresno, and drove the 2.5 hours to El Portal where we stayed at Yosemite View Lodge conveniently located right outside the Arch Rock Entrance. Some things to note when booking your hotel would be location, and if you’re a workaholic like me then WiFi is pretty important & especially hard to come by in the mountains. Cell phone service is pretty much non-existent the entire radius around the park, and within the park itself. I did have a little bit of service in the actual Valley, but other than that it was a dead zone. Our biggest inconvenience was food. We certainly didn’t know what to expect once we got there, and after 24 hours of being awake traveling with no meals, we were pretty bummed out when there were no restaurants opened when we arrived around 3:00pm. We ended up at Degnans Deli in Yosemite Valley, and apparently so did the 200 other people that were hungry at that very moment in time. That was mainly the one and only negative experience we had the entire trip, that we just were not prepared for. I was so overwhelmed by how gorgeous of a place it was that I wasn’t even sure if I could truly capture the essence of it, and I needed to begin trying immediately. I didn’t leave the house without my camera, so here is a little peak into our time in Yosemite, with some helpful tips for photographers as they capture those “iconic” Yosemite images that almost feel like you are taking a step back into the land before time. We hit just about every major spot, with the exception of the waterfall hikes since the falls are basically dry this time of year. Another thing to note is the time of year you plan to visit. If It’s the waterfalls you’re dying to see, the Spring would be ideal. If you want slightly less crowds, beautiful color, then mid- fall would be the best. Keep in mind a lot of the roads to some of the great spots are closed November-May. Here are some of my absolute favorite spots with some pics, and tips!

Glacier Point

Glacier Point was our first stop - It provides a pretty cute view of Half Dome, and doesn’t involve any hiking. It was pretty crowded but there is so much space for everyone to hang without really being in each-others way. We didn’t spend too much time shooting here, but I would definitely choose this as a location for our second time around if clients weren’t down for hiking and were up for a sunrise session. I went back here for some night sky photos, but my tripod was acting up so they came out pretty shaky. I would definitely want to revisit this spot at night, at a time where you can see the milky way right above Half-Dome. Next time!

Taft Point

Taft point was by far our favorite spot. The hike is relatively easy with little bits of incline and decline here and there. We checked this spot out next since it was where we were planning to have our engagement session done in a day or so by the ultra talented Anni Graham. I also had clients meeting me for their engagement shoot that week, so I wanted to scope out some locations for them. Taft point is pretty hard to beat if you’re shooting couples or portraits. Our first hike out there it was pretty busy with at-least 3 or 4 wedding photo-shoots happening. The second time we went was for our pictures, and we miraculously had the place to ourselves. The third time was for my clients engagement shoot, and it was a little busy but we were the only actual photoshoot happening. We were torn between doing our pictures here or within the valley, but like I said, it was really hard to beat this spot. Its just iconic, and beautiful, and it really felt like the place we were dreaming of. I will for sure share photos from our engagement session, as well as the engagement session I shot in another blog sometime in the near future. Now, lets talk about those classic landscape shots! Here are a few from Valley View, clearly one of my other favorite spots!

Valley View

iso 100 - fstop 7.1 - 13 seconds

iso 100 - fstop 7.1 - 13 seconds

iso 100 f5.6 25seconds

iso 100 f5.6 25seconds

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iso100 f5.6 5seconds

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So I am not typically a “Landscape” photographer, so I don’t have ND or Polarizing filters and I am sure they would have helped in a lot of situations while shooting, but I made it work without them. I shot these on my Canon 5d Mark IV/and Canon 1DX Mark II and Sigma 20 1.4 lens. The last shot was in the middle of the day, the other few were at sunset or just after.

Tioga Road

This drive ruled. I did get pretty tired because this was the highest elevation I think we were at the entire time, about 8,000-10,00 feet. But it was totally worth it. We pulled off the road to find some gorgeous meadows, Olmstead Lookout, and Tenaya lake.

The Valley Floor

Cathedral Beach provides a pretty cool reflection of El Capitan, and there are tons of gorgeous meadows and places along the Merced river to explore and photograph. If you just take a short walk down any path on the valley floor, you are sure to find some really beautiful scenes.

Tunnel View

Tunnel View was freaking magic during sunset, the mountains were painted hues of pink, blue, purple. It was literally mesmerizing. Its also a great spot to hang after dark for some night sky photos. You can see the climbers headlamps that are camping on El Capitan (Also, if you go hang out in front of El Cap at night, you can hear them chatting to each other and see their headlamps moving back and forth, its pretty cool!) This spot gets pretty busy during sunset, so if you want to get a specific spot I would suggest going early.

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There you have it! My faves! Can’t wait to blog our adventure engagement session soon!

Brittany Boote