As the sun sets and the light starts to fade I witnessed a migration of animals. This wasn’t any ordinary animal this was the stalking photographer.
My wife and I had just emerged from the trail on our way back from the base of Yosemite Falls. We decided to cross north side drive and head into the meadow (sentinel meadow). The meadow was covered with snow. In some places we sank up to our hips in snow. This would make for some great pictures in the fail afternoon light.
As I set up my camera on my tripod to take some pictures of Half Dome and the surrounding landscape, I witnessed a migration of photographers about 100 yards in front of my position. I would say there were about 30 or 40 photographers marching in a straight line into the middle of the meadow.
I thought this was a peculiar image so I captured the moment, of photographers lined up to take pictures of half dome. Once I got the shot I was looking for, I grabbed my gear and took my place in formation along the line.
Once I got set up I asked Kevin, a photographer from Fresno what was going on. He explained that during certain times of the year, as the sun sets, the last rays of light hit the upper part of the Yosemite Valley and turns Half Dome a reddish orange color. He continued to explain that capturing the image is a rare event due to the time of year (February) and weather related issues. Fortunately we were in the right place at the right time and it was going to be a good day to get a good photograph. The weather had cooperated all day and the sky was clear, almost too clear.
As time moved on and the valley darkened, we waited patiently in the cold. Did I mention that we are at 4000 feet elevation and in the middle of winter? Yes, it was cold and as soon as the sunlight disappeared in the valley floor the temperature dropped fast.
Finally, as we watched the shadow creep up the face, and you think that the magic light or as they put it the “color” wasn’t going to happen. Poof it happens. You see the color change on the face of Half Dome from the granite gray to a light pinkish orange. The color continues to deepen to a reddish orange. The “color” only lasts for a few minutes, and then it’s gone.
Once the last of the magic color had gone, the herd of photographers packed up the 200+ thousands worth of photo gear, and retreated to the warmth of their cars. Since my arse was already frozen to point of no feeling, I decided to wait out the light and try to capture Half Dome in the very last light of the day.
I forgot about the feet. I couldn’t do it. I had to leave before I wanted to. My feet lost feeling, and I knew when that happened I was toast. I had to abandon my post and retreat to the warmth of the Element, and change my wet socks. At that point I was done.