By John P. DeGrazio
My goal was to photograph a sunset in Yosemite Valley after a fresh snowstorm so I left my home in mid afternoon and made the drive into the park. Great big white puffy clouds filled the blue sky. I chatted with a friend of mine at the gas station, and let him know of my intentions. We both looked up at the sky, and he agreed that “days like these” were ideal for photography unless those puffy clouds turned dark and gray. At the time, I did not realize it would be the most profound statement of the day. While driving through the recently burned out scar of the Rim Fire on Highway 120, the most beautiful light of the day shone on the freshly burned trees. The contrast was spectacular as snow clung to the mosaic of living evergreens while light filtered through the juxtaposition of the living and the dead. “This is the story of the day” I told myself and contemplated stopping to photograph. But I drove on after only a brief hesitation. After all, my intended goal was to photograph Yosemite. It was a missed opportunity and a lesson learned.
I arrived in Yosemite and the light was utterly spectacular. Although my anticipation was building, I resisted the urge to speed through. Once I arrived at an overlook above Foresta, I was compelled to get out and photograph the scene with my iPhone. I did not want to lose precious time to set up for my big shoot. As I was scanning the area to find trees freshly covered with snow, I noticed an ominous force creeping over my shoulder. It was a new storm approaching rapidly. It was beautiful and awesome, but I realized this incredible phenomenon very likely could literally put a damper on my plans for the late afternoon.
As I drove toward the Valley, I noticed El Capitan disappearing into this encroaching front. I scrapped my plans and headed toward Bridalveil Fall. Walking along the Bridalveil path, I felt raindrops begin to fall. I rushed up the trail to capture a few images and a short video. Growing to understand the power of social media, I have decided to share different images from Yosemite on different platforms. I’ll share some on Instagram that broadcasts to Facebook and Twitter, but that doesn’t reach our Google + audience. Then, of course, there’s Vine which I only share again with our Twitter followers. Confused yet? I am. Anyway, I am sharing these on the blog which then gets broadcast to Twitter (where we seem to be most popular) and can’t forget LinkedIn. Where was I? Oh yes, the rain came down a little harder, and I knew I had only about an hour before sunset so I headed to Tunnel View.
I met two other photographers at Tunnel View, one from Oakland and one from Fresno who had similar intentions to mine. We were each optimistic and were eager to reap the rewards of our patience. The rain quickly changed to snow, and despite the fact that my camera never made it out of its bag on this day, it was an incredible scene. I used some time to make another short video I shared on Instagram and explored around some rocks by the Wawona Tunnel. Since I couldn’t make any landscape images, I found some interesting lichens to shoot with my iPhone. We packed up our tripods and said our goodbyes after unsuccessfully trying to wait out this storm, and one of the photographers said “I’d do it all over again.” We all nodded in agreement. There’s nothing wrong with failing at something, and even in failure, we can find our successes.