Yosemite’s Treasures

Spring is an incredible, magical time of the year. The trees are waking up from their long winter’s nap and spreading new leaves with vim and vigor. Birds are displaying their best plumage in hopes of attracting the perfect mate. Flowers begin to spring up and bloom, eager to participate in the bright sunny days ahead. And in Yosemite National Park, California, the waterfalls are roaring, full of newfound run-off, echoing and booming throughout the storied valley. Yosemite’s Treasures is a collection of four of my favorite Yosemite photographs to celebrate this famed park.

Yosemite's Treasures: Yosemite View

When we think of Yosemite, we almost without fail think of Yosemite Falls, one of the star attractions of the park. These falls, which tumble over two thousand feet into the lush valley below, are at their peak in the spring. Fed by Yosemite Creek, the echo of the falls is a constant background sound, ebbing and flowing for reasons all its own. Standing across the Merced River, on the other side of they valley, gives us a Yosemite View, a classic view of this iconic waterfall. Interestingly, although the Merced River looks calm and serene here, it is a mighty river in its right, and there is a significant current. As the river traverses the park and the valley, it picks up more tributaries and creeks, such as Yosemite Creek, on its long journey to the Pacific. We’ll revisit the Merced in at the end of Yosemite’s Treasures.

Yosemite's Treasures: Cathedral View

A little further along the valley, just across from El Capitan, one can find the Cathedral Rocks, an impressive grouping of rocks and spires. In spring, small seasonal ponds sometimes form, such as this one, which gives us the equally impressive Cathedral View. As spring turns to summer and the summer wears long, this small pond will quickly dry up, along with some of the waterfalls themselves, and scenes such Cathedral View quietly disappear.

Yosemite's Treasures: Lupine's Day

Still further along the valley, well past the towering granite cliffs, we find the setting for Lupine’s Day. The lupine grows throughout the region, and this grouping, coupled with the absolute perfect clouds, combine to make this stunning photograph.

As is turned out, I was not the only one interested in the flowers. As I was making Lupine’s Day, the bees were busy weaving in and out of the flowers, meaning I was busy weaving in and out of their way, lest they take too much of interest in me. I was equally invested in creating the photograph as I was not being stung, making quite an exciting dance amongst us all. In the end, I came away sting-free–whew!

Yosemite's Treasures: Stormy Valley

Finally, as promised, we return again to the Merced River. Beautiful, sunny days in Yosemite make for fantastic photography, but so do the storms that notoriously roll through the valley. Stormy Valley is one of those moments. I like the contrast of the lush green grass, the flowing river, and Bridalveil Falls against the stormy skies above. There’s something powerful and dramatic about the contrast, and it draws me in time and time again.

Yosemite National Park is full of wonders, small and large, and it was hard for me to settle on just a few images. Rest assured, for more stories await us there!

Capture Yosemite’s Treasures for yourself!

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Explore Yosemite View

Explore Cathedral View

Explore Lupine’s Day

Explore Stormy Valley

Keyhole Arch

There is something about an arch that draws us, pulls us in, and generally commands our attention. Perhaps it is the fact that an arch is, essentially, a hole in a rock. Perhaps arches represent strength and holding rock up. Or perhaps it is just that they are, after all, very cool. We love to look through the arches to see what is on the other side. And sometimes, like in this case, something looks back at us through the arch.

Keyhole Arch is a small arch in a medium-sized rock just off of Pfeiffer Beach in the Big Sur area of California. Standing just a few yards offshore in the Pacific Ocean, this rock with a tiny opening is neat to look at, although most of the time, beyond the fact that it is in the ocean, it is mostly unremarkable. Waves crash through the arch, which is also fascinating to see. I should know, for on a previous trip to this arch I watched the waves surge through the arch for over an hour without realizing the time had gone by so quickly.

As in many areas of life, however, timing is everything. Right around the Winter Solstice, if weather and conditions are favorable, the setting sun lines up with this arch perfectly, allowing the sun’s rays to shine directly through the arch for just a few magical moments. And the word “magical” is exceptionally applicable. This easily ranks as one of nature’s finest shows and is mesmerizing to witness.

Keyhole's Solstice

This display took my breath away. As the waves careened through the arch, they hit the rocks on the other side of it; they were in turn lit up by the golden rays of the dying sun, and, well, the results are above. It was heartbreaking when the sun went below the horizon, and within the space of seconds, the light went out. It was almost as if someone flipped the switch, so fast the transition was.

Looking at the sun directly through the arch gives another interesting perspective, too. And yes, I wore sunglasses. This scene was incredibly bright, as you can well imagine. Still, I think it turned into an incredibly dramatic photograph.

Flaring Arch

Eventually, the sun slips below the distant horizon, and the light fades out of the day. That’s OK, though, because it leaves us with one more scene:

Keyhole's Night

As the year ends and January rolls around the display fades away and we need to wait again until next year.

All in all this small arch packs quite the punch, if you know when to look. Then again, isn’t that the case in so many areas of life?

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Big Sur

Contrasts make for very interesting subjects; and we find contrasts throughout our everyday lives. I love the desert Southwest, and all of its beauty, and all of the contrasts one can find within it, yet, I also wanted to provide an even bigger contrast. What better way to do that than with the Pacific Ocean off the California coastline? The Big Sur area comes to mind, so let’s celebrate those contrasts. Big Sur is indeed a very real town along the coastline, yet it refers to the entire area as well, and generally encompasses the coast from just south of Monterey, California to somewhere around San Simeon and the Hearst Castle area. The exact delineation isn’t important; the beauty is. As a whole, the coastline, just like the deep desert, provides different looks and moods, depending on when you are there. Spring, for me, is one of my favorite times to be out there, as there is some green and some flowers, although, not quite as much green as you would expect for spring. Still, it is a very dynamic time of the year and sometimes conditions can change within an hour. Point Sur The view above, for me, represents the classic coastline; long beaches, outcroppings that reach into the sea, and the vast, empty ocean, tranquil yet powerful. This the Point Sur light station, still in operation, and still guarding this section of the coast. I stood at this point for the longest time, transfixed by the never ending waves that rolled in. Wave after wave, each following the other, just kept coming, broken up only by a slightly larger wave now and then. The sea was calm, and the overall scene was very tranquil for me. After a while I knew how I wanted to present this image, and Point Sur is the final result. McWay's Paradise This is, of course, not the only awesome location in the Big Sur area. Tucked away in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is McWay Falls, a waterfall that falls directly onto the shoreline of the Pacific, making it a highly unusual waterfall. Before 1983 it used to fall directly into the ocean, making it even more unusual, but a fire in the area, along with a massive rockslide, changed the topography this cove around; the end result is that the waterfall moved back a little bit. However, in that process the secluded beach was created, so there is a little give and take going on. I enjoy the mood that this photograph gives me; we are peeking through the trees into a tropical paradise that few know about. Are we supposed be there? What if someone catches us looking in on it? And who lives there? Today, there is certainly no problem being here, as this section is protected as a state park for everyone to enjoy. The beach is not only off limits, but it is completely inaccessible, save by boat. Although this was once private property, it has been set aside for everyone to enjoy today, and thanks to that generosity, generation upon generation will be able to enjoy this view, and marvel that such a place can exist anywhere, let alone, right here. Of course, the Big Sur coastline wouldn’t be complete without the fabled fog, so let’s not forget that. Foggy Fishing This scene is one of my favorites. The fishing boat, barely visible through the fog, is just getting started on a foggy morning. The gentle ripples are on the only visual clue that the boat is, in fact, on the water, and the fog blankets the rest. I love the aura of mystery that surrounds time image. Of course, as the morning wore on the sun eventually won out over the fog, yet this image lingers, also well representing the Big Sur. All in all, Big Sur is a gorgeous area, and contrasts well with the Southwest as a whole.