Day 18 – Friday October 13, 2017
Well, it’s hard to judge when last night ended and today began because so much went on after my dinner at Nicely’s ended with a slice of great blueberry pie. I had planned some Milky Way shots while here, but felt it getting colder and I assumed it would be much colder several thousand feet higher in Yosemite’s High Country. Either way, I needed to make the trip up the Tioga Road to Tioga Pass and either find a place to spend the night, or head to Olmstead Point where the iconic tree and boulder lay waiting for my arrival. When I reached the park, the temperature gauge in the car was reading mid-twenties, but luckily at Olmstead Point, there was no wind so I decided to give it a try. As I scrambled in the dark to the tree, I easily found the Milky Way and amazingly, it lined up right between the tree and boulder!! All I had to do was get the correct exposure, line things up within the frame and make sure the focus was correct. I had to use a smaller aperture, rather than wide open at f/2.8, to keep the tree and stars both in focus. The two main obstacles were light painting the boulder correctly, and airplanes screwing up the shot leaving a telltale line across the stars. Eventually, I was finally able to light the boulder from the right and left sides to avoid black blobs of unlit rock in the frame, by first lighting the right side, and then gingerly scrambling to the left side before the shutter closed.
After I was finally satisfied all the elements for a final image were accomplished, I packed up and drove to a place outside the park to avoid “being towed”. But waking up at 4:00am, now with the half moon out to provide some general lighting, I decided to drive back and photograph the spot illuminated by the moon. Using some of the intrusion lines in the granite, I hoped to make a composite using those lines in a final image. But after taking the initial shot, the line I chose was already clearly visible!! No need for special processing afterward, it was all done on sight except there are actual stars in the dslr version rather than the iPhone image seen here taken when it was much brighter. Because I saw what I thought was fog in Yosemite Valley (seen here as the tiny white spot to the left of the bump of Half Dome) I decided it was worth the many miles of extra driving to photograph the valley in fog. But disappointingly, the fog turned out to be smoke from controlled burns in the valley!! But I did take some shots of the valley at the point of discovery, and again at Siesta Lake who’s waters were so still, the lake looked like a mirror. It turned out that between the shots at June Lake, Mono Lake, the two night shots and those of Siesta Lake, I was very happy photographically with the last 24-hours. But was not happy with the lack of sleep, which necessitated a 15-minute power nap on the Tioga Road to recharge and avoid driving off a cliff on the way back down to the valley.
So onto Bishop with a reservation in hand for a much needed shower and bed. Not much color left in the aspens in this area compared to the abundance around June Lake, so not too much in the way of photography. Only two more nights of car camping left until my flight back home on Tuesday. The question remains of where to go tomorrow as I make my way back to LA where this all began.