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The Lower Falls - Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California

It was a misty and foggy sunrise at 2425 foot Yosemite Falls. Here, only the bottom 320 feet are visible but it is still an impressive waterfall when the volume is high, like on this morning. No HDR.


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Settings etc.:



Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 17-40L @ 20 (very wide to get it all into the frame)

1.0-second exposure @F20 (only 1 sec to show movement and show detail too)

10 minutes after sunrise

LEE soft ND grad (100x150mm) 0.9

Lee foundation kit filter holder with Lee 77mm adapter ring

No polarizer.

ISO 50

Small Slik tripod with Manfrotto pistol grip ball head

An umbrella with a towel to cover the camera

RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One

TIFF file processed with Photoshop


I think that a misty rainy day is the best time to capture a tall waterfall like this. There is more atmosphere, the mist from the falls shows up better and the soft light accentuates the color. The problem comes when you are trying to hop across slippery rocks with an umbrella and the tripod in one hand and a long walking stick for balance in the other hand. I'm glad that nobody saw me. There was nobody here at this time because of the rain and the time of day. Usually this place is crawling with tourists.


I used a 1 second exposure because a shorter exposure would freeze the water in place and a longer one turned the water into milk. This length allowed the water to paint the lower part of the image for me.


Can you believe that the waterfall you see is actually just the bottom 10% of the entire falls? The rest is hidden in the mist above.


The map shows exactly where this is. It is an easy 0.5-mile hike from the nearest road.


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Taken on June 5, 2009