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Cloud Forms #3 - September 16, 2012 | by G Dan Mitchell
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Cloud Forms #3 - September 16, 2012

Cloud Forms #3 - September 16, 2012. Yosemite National Park, California. © Copyright 2012 G Dan Mitchell - all rights reserved.


Evening sky above Olmsted Point in the Yosemite Sierra.


On my return from a mid-September eastern Sierra backpack trip, I again passed through Yosemite National Park on the Tioga Pass Road. By a bit of luck combined with some planning, I managed to time of my passage so that I could be there during the last hour or so of the day, figuring I might try to grab a few last opportunistic photographs before driving back to the Bay Area after dark. With that long, dark drive ahead of me, I decided to aim for a stopping point a bit further west along the route, and I stopped about a half hour before sunset at Olmsted Point.


Although I have a number of photographs of the iconic image of the "backside" of Half Dome from this location, the lighting here can be interesting enough that I'll stop and try "one more time" if I happen to be there. As is often the case, the lighting did not initially appear too promising. The typical autumn wildfire haze was in the air, lending a bit of a yellow/brown color to the hazy lower atmosphere, and the higher clouds seems thin. But if there is one thing that I (and just about any other landscape photographer!) have learned by now, it is that the last minutes of daylight {and the first moments after the sun sets} can be full of surprises. I began with the practical step of scoping out a composition of the iconic dome, but then I turned my attention to lots of other subjects that surround Olmsted Point: the sparse trees ascending the granite slabs across the roadway, higher ridges across Tenaya Canyon and in the opposite direction, the Sierra crest around Mount Conness, and the sky. For a brief moment after the sunlight had left Olmsted Point, the final rays passed through atmosphere near the western horizon and lit up the patterned layers of clouds and drifting wildfire smoke.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.

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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are 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 September 16, 2012