Saturday, September 26, 2009

First Snow, Yosemite Valley

It's been suggested that readers would enjoy hearing the stories behind the pictures. So, here's the story behind my picture, First Snow, Yosemite Valley.

In Autumn of 2003, I came to Yosemite Valley to photograph the Fall foliage and then the ice formations at the start of Winter. At first, the weather was unseasonably warm and dry. The daytime temperatures were in the upper 80s Fahrenheit, and even the overnight lows were warm enough for comfortably walking around without a jacket. The earth was parched, and the sky was thick with the yellow haze of dust and campfire smoke.

Then, on the evening of Halloween, the weather changed in an instant. The haze disappeared, a chill wind blew, and billowing clouds, rose colored in the day's last rays, piled up high on the edge of the sky. The next morning, the world was white with an eight inch thick cover of snow.

I was out photographing before dawn, excited to shoot as much as possible, before it all melted and disappeared. (In patches, it had melted entirely by mid-afternoon.) I chose to take a picture which emphasized the meadow's leaning grasses, laden with sticky, granular snow, because this shows the unique character of a first snowfall of Autumn. The snow would melt away, then fall anew, several times more, before it finally heaped into a blanket that remained for the season – but the grasses would already be entirely crushed flat before the next snow fell, irreversibly changed until next year's new growth. In this way, the picture shows a brief slice of time, and hints at the many special ways that only the first snowfall transforms the land.

While towering granite cliffs are iconic of the Yosemite Valley, they are mostly excluded from the picture, to focus on a more intimate sense of the changing of the seasons. After a little while waiting for the fog to rise a bit, the rising fog outlined the trees and obscured the granite valley walls, and gave a sense of the seasonal weather and evanescence.

Photographed with a Canon EOS 1Ds, and a Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens.

If you enjoy reading the stories behind the pictures, and would like more, please let me know. If you'd rather I stick to other topics, instead, I'd like to hear that, too.

Thank you, Rhonda Harrison Cole, for suggesting posting about the stories behind the pictures.

First Snow, Yosemite Valley

All pictures and text are © Mike Spinak, unless otherwise noted. All pictures shown are available for purchase as fine art prints, and are available for licensed stock use. Telephone: (831) 325-6917.


Paul B said...

Excellent Mike, as always, love your powerful images AND the stories. This image has great depth and strong anchors.

Mike Spinak said...

Thanks, Paul.

It's good to know that stories are also appreciated

gardenpoet said...

Stories are good. This is such a beautiful photo. It makes me feel like I am an animal at ground level looking over my backyard, feeling both at home and a little anxious.

Iris Greenwell said...

Great idea! I love stories. I think it is facinated to read about how the photographer got insired about a subject and explored it.

Mike Spinak said...

Thank you, Nancy.

Thanks, Iris.