Last Light, Tuolumne River

Last Light, Tuolumne River. Yosemite National Park, California. July 10, 2009. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell - all rights reserved.




The last light touches the top of Lembert Dome and the peaks of the Sierra Crest beyond and the light from lenticular clouds is reflected off the surface of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California.


If you don't like sunsets... you may want to check back in a few days - this is the second* of what will be a sequence of at least four photographs taken on one amazing evening in Tuolumne Meadows in the Yosemite high country of the Sierra Nevada. I posted one from the series yesterday, so I won't repeat the entire story, but here is a bit of background information.


*Actually, to put them in chronological order, this one should be first and the one I posted yesterday would be second. And here are links to the third and fourth.


There is a particular set of Sierra Nevada weather conditions that I've experienced only a few times in its perfect state - but when it happens the sky does absolutely astonishing and magical things. There is at least one photograph in this series that may make you think that I invented the colors in post, but I assure you I did not.


Sometimes in the afternoon a stable wind pattern sets up over the peaks on the Sierra crest. The clouds, in this case the curving lenticular clouds seem to just park over the ridge. If this continues, late in the day the number, height, and size of these clouds can increase dramatically. But, as spectacular as this may be, it isn't quite enough for the conditions I experience this past week. For this to happen, some broken high clouds should extend to the west of the range - clouds to create color when lit by the last light of the setting sun, but broken so that the light can project east onto the lenticular clouds over the crest.


On this evening I saw all of the pieces falling into place and thought that maybe, just maybe, it might happen. With this in mind I was in Tuolumne Meadow nearly two full hours before the actual sunset. I spent the first twenty or thirty minutes scouting out my location - I needed to know exactly where I would shoot from since I didn't want to be caught looking for a composition when/if this light arrived. With a composition scoped out I spent perhaps 30-45 minutes wandering around nearby shooting various subjects as the evening wore on. An hour before sunset I was back at "the spot" - covered in mosquito repellant! - and watching and waiting.


I won't tell the whole story here - but this photo was made at just about the time it became apparent that the "magic light" was not simply possible but actually quite likely.


This photograph is not in the public domain. It may not be used on websites, blogs, or in any other media without explicit advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.G Dan Mitchell Photography

  • davidkiene 6y

    Love those lenticulars!
  • Ali Shokri 6y

    great scene photo captured, thanks
  • Buck Forester 6y

    Beautiful image and the lenticulars really make this one stand out as a shot that can't be replicated.
  • sheenjek 6y

    quite a perfect image, the lighting is absolutely wonderful and the sky like an oil painting.
  • Shane 6y

    Wonderful landscape
  • BigPhilUK 6y

    Those clouds are superb Dan
  • Henk Meijer Photography 6y

    Lovely image Dan, great perspective and with some beautiful light and great sky you have a real winner here...

    Seen in the group"U.S. National Parks" (?)
  • Jeff Clow PRO 6y

    Magnificent piece of photo magic, Dan........
  • Diogo Gasparetto 6y

    Fantastic !!!!!!
  • The Man in Red PRO 6y

    nice lenticulars, this is such a great curve in the I would assume this would be Friday night since that looks like it had conditions ideal for this kind of thing....the wind pattern this time of year is actually very conducive to lenticular development on most days the problem is you dont get moisture quite like this....moisture associated with the remnants of TS Blanca got entrained into the flow and shot directly perpendicular to the crest.....musta been a great day to be up there!
  • Kahlee Spiritdancing PRO 6y

    Phenomenal image, Dan. You really nailed it. And congrats on Mother Nature's cooperation in the set of up these beautiful conditions.
  • Valerio P. 6y

    what's wrong in that insane flickr? one foto like a that 9 fav and 12 comment !
    bah ???
  • Canon in Dylan 6y

    I'd have to agree that the sky is almost like an oil painting! Excellent capture!
  • fotoglamour PRO 6y see it is to believe it..but you have captured what often only the eye can see at yosemite
  • Barry Hamilton 6y

    Another delight to view, Dan. Thanks!

    Seen in my contacts' photos. (?)
  • CindyFull 3y

    Love this set! I spent many years in Tuolumne Meadows but back then I wasn't a photographer.
18 faves
Taken on July 10, 2009
  • EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM
  • ƒ/9.0
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