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Edge of the Light - Yosemite Valley

Edge of the Light - Yosemite Valley. Yosemite National Park, California. October 31, 2009. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell - all rights reserved.


Late afternoon autumn light falls across a grove of trees on the Merced River with the cliffs of Yosemite Fall beyond.




On the weekend of October 31 and November 1 I made my annual "Yosemite Valley Fall Color" trip to The Valley - to photograph autumn subjects including the maple, dogwood, oak, and cottonwood trees. While some say that these trees may not provide the same kind of color found in New England, they still draw me back to the Valley every autumn.


This photograph was made in one of the busiest and most popular tourist viewpoints in the Valley, in Leidig Meadow near the chapel. On a busy high season day, perhaps hundred of people will briefly park their cars here, get out, point their cameras up, and make (another) photograph of Yosemite Falls. In some ways this sounds like just about that last place that I would want to photography, but I've come to like the late afternoon light in this meadow, especially in the autumn as the grasses turn brown, the cottonwood trees along the Merced start to lose their leaves, and the low angle of the sun creates interesting back-lighting and shadows.


I'd like to say that I planned to capture exactly this lighting, with the edge of the sun/shadow line falling just across this band of trees and picking up the small tree to the left of the larger group, but that would be a bit of an exaggeration. In truth, I did plan to shoot the trees against the shadowed background before the light left them too, but I was thinking more about having the background cliffs in shadow than I was about the trees right behind the cottonwoods. So I was shooting something else when I happened to look up and see that these trees were just barely catching the last light and that the one solo tree on the left was slightly set off from the others. - so I quickly set up this composition and managed to make a few exposures before the light quickly left the trees.


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


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Taken on October 31, 2009