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Horsetail Fall II | by CircadianReflections Photography
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Horsetail Fall II

Copyright © 2012 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.


I was fortunate enough to have the time free to be able to return to Yosemite for another chance of seeing Horsetail Fall light up on Thurs. Feb. 23, 2012. I’m in several Photography related Meet-up groups and I went up with several photographers from one of these groups.

This event though possible each year isn't guaranteed. All the elements and conditions must come together to see it.


On Tues. there were clouds in the sky and the sky got really gray about 40 minutes before sunset. On Thurs. the sky was blue and clear. I hoped it stayed that way right up until sunset.

This trip was an encore to the trip here February 18, 2010 to see Horsetail Fall light up.

14 photographers from a Bay Area Meet-up made it this year. I rose at 12:01AM on Thurs the 23rd then dressed, ate a light snack, got my gear in the car and left at 2:30AM to meet 2 companions 30 minutes away. From there we were to car-pool to Livermore an hour away to meet several more photographers. Then we car-a-vanned to Yosemite. We arrived at our first shooting location in the park before 8 A.M.

There we started photographing in the cold 32 degree morning at Swinging Bridge. We weren't alone. Down on the river we ran into Michael Frye and 3 of his students.

From here we went to several well known and wonderful spots in the park.


Mid afternoon we made our way over to our "spot" to photograph the sun hitting Horsetail Fall.

We didn't expect anyone to be in this spot. It's not well known. We arrived to find it as expected empty. We fanned out and set up our cameras, tripods, trail stools, and some stretched out on the soft pine needles and took a nap.

About an hour later a lone man slowly walked by nodded and kept walking. 20 minutes later he came back with his camera and tripod.

20 minutes later out of the trees came Michael Frye and his 3 students. His face was full of surprise to find us there.

A little later another lone man emerged from the trees with his camera and tripod. There were about 20 people there by then.


Right on time the light on the cliff face began to change and the show was on. All joking and talking stopped as we jumped into action and soon all you heard was the soft beeps of camera AF motors, and shutters clicking. Once in awhile I heard Michael giving his students a direction or making a comment. Then right before the color reached its peak a couple came walking up and sat down to watch the last few minutes of the phenomenon.

At the peak there was a spray of mist or perhaps evaporation that could be seen fanning out from the cliff face that added to the glow.


As you see there's very little snow up there. We were really lucky this year to see this.


Because the sky was clear the whole mountain had a glow so I framed more of El Capitan to capture it all. In less than 10 minutes it faded completely so it was time to pack up.

Isn’t it wonderful how something can look so different from day to day.

It was a Marathon day filled with laughter, adventure, good people to hang out with, and at the end of the day Mother Nature’s light show was the Pièce de résistance.


Nikon D700| Nikkor 80-200@ 105mm| f16| 0.4 sec| ISO 160| Manual Mode| Tripod| Self Timer| Circular Polarizer


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Taken on February 23, 2012