May 17, 2011

Yosemite 2011

Headed down to Yosemite National Park in attempt to photograph moonbows, unfortunately the weather didn't permit, but still managed to capture some of the beauty of a cold and wet Yosemite. Huge thanks to my sister who let me borrow ALL of her amazing camping gear so I didn't freeze to death!!

The moonbow trip was coordinated by my buddy Nathan Yan who I met when he was a photographer for the Daily Cal. Also traveled down with another former Daily Cal photographer, Alan Wong, and a current Daily Cal photographer, Sean Goebel.

We left Sunday and arrived just in time for snow fall at Tunnel View. Yup, snowfall in the middle of May!

Next we headed up to Bridalveil Falls, but I couldn't tell whether it was raining or just an overwhelming amount of mist.

Now, I have to give a huge shout out to Colin at the Berkeley REI store who helped me fit my new boots Sunday morning. I walked in asking for a pair of hiking boots (not an extreme hiker) that would fit today, that were relatively cute, that I could wear to Yosemite in the snowy/weather, but also wear hiking this summer. And man, he did a great job. As I climbed up Bridalveil and the runoff covered the trail in about 3 inches of flowing water, I was incredibly happy 1) I didn't slip 2) my feet stayed dry!

After checking into our tent cabin that my mom so cleverly reserved for us (camping that involves electricity, nearby flushing toilets and a heater, I certainly can't complain) we headed back out in the night. Though conditions weren't right for moonbows, we still spent some time with long exposures, and what fun.

Well until someone decided to park across the valley and leave their lights on.

But only for a short period, then we were able to continue photographing.

And this fun shot courtesy of Nathan firing his off camera flash.

photo by Nathan Yan
Woke up to try and catch sunrise, but the haze didn't permit.

Though we still found some general nice light to photograph El Capitan.

After sunrise, headed back to the valley to get some fun shots of Yosemite Falls.

And mama duck with her baby ducks, so cute!

And of course, moody atmospheric shots.

Next, the boys decided to take a couple hour hike up Yosemite Falls, but I scheduled to meet my mom and grandma who decided to come down for the day at 12:30. I had some time to kill so I walked along the valley trail to Camp Curry where I said I'd meet them.

Though I love traveling with people and I'd never recommend hiking alone, especially if no one is planning to account for you in a few hours, I very much enjoyed the walk.

Being in nature by yourself offers a new perspective on your surroundings. I find when I'm with people it's "what should I be photographing" and when I'm by myself it's "what do I want to photograph" and it makes it each image that much more meaningful... at least to me =)

After my load of cameras, lenses, laptop, food, and water seemed too heavy, I stopped by the creek and sat awhile. Though most of the rivers were dangerously white tipped hurling downstream, this one was slow and calming. A nice place to rest awhile before meeting up with the ladies.

Once I met up with them, we cruised around for some quick stops and headed back up to Tunnel View which then allowed views of everything but Half Dome was still a little covered by fog.

Then we saw a bear! Though in it's natural habitat and certainly a wild animal, it's ears were tagged which sort of destroyed the "in the wild" look.

We also spotted some deer. And while thinking on it, should take a moment to warn: don't approach wild animals! Though deer may seem like Bambi, it's not a good idea to let your 8 year old daughter try to pet it. Though it might work and she can feel like Snow White for the day, it could also go horribly wrong. The rangers said the more a wild animal loses it's natural fear of humans, the more agressive it becomes. Though I like pretty pictures, I'd much rather see a deer run from me, than run at me!

Then time for lunch. The only real meal I had along the trip apart from an absurd amount of Ritz cheese crackers, Clif Children's Z Bars, canned mandarin oranges, a bagel, trail mix, and one much too large bowl of chili.

Met up with the guys again for some more cruising. A lot of the places I had already stopped with my mom and I feared all my photos started displaying on the mighty beauty of Yosemite, so I took out my macro and started taking more intimate shots, dogwood, bugs, bark, moss. The quiet elements that make Yosemite so beautiful.

Unfortunately moonbows didn't happen again the second night. Woke up in the morning and headed back home. Such a great trip!

More photos from this trip and other Yosemite trips up for viewing and available for purchase at: 
and some select black and whites at

Thanks for viewing, Hope you enjoyed =)


  1. Awesome photos Kelley.....Can I go next time? John

  2. Thanks John! Yes, you totally need to get out to Yosemite. Next moonbow prediction is June 13-17.