When Does Close Count? In Yosemite, of Course

Moonrise Above Half Dome by John P. DeGrazio

Half Dome and Moon: Yosemite Weekly Photos 2.13.14 

By John P. DeGrazio 

Half Dome grabs your attention in so many ways. Wherever you are in Yosemite National Park, it will make an impression on you when you see it. I enjoy looking for Half Dome when I reach the summit of certain peaks and particularly enjoy looking at it from Olmsted Point on the Tioga Road. There is something about this peak that mesmerizes adventurists and makes them do things they normally would not. Every year, thousands of people visit Yosemite in the summer season to reach its summit. A guided Half Dome Hike remains one of our most desired trips. At this time of year, most views of Half Dome come from the Valley but there are some places to look at it from above.

Clouds Rest and Half Dome from Dewey Point by John P. DeGrazio

Yesterday I had an opportunity to view Half Dome from the top of the South Rim of Yosemite Valley. I led a visitor on a Yosemite snowshoe hike to Dewey Point. We enjoyed the view so much we decided to photograph from the point twice. We actually backtracked because we dropped a water bottle on our return trip and tried to retrieve it. Our friends at Leave No Trace will be happy to know we found the water bottle just 100 yards from the point so we returned for more photos.

When our hike ended, I decided to drive into the Valley hoping to capture an image of the ‘firefall’ effect of Horsetail Fall. Although I enjoyed meeting a small group of photographers with the same ambition as my own, we were equally disappointed by the afternoon clouds that obstructed any light from shining on El Capitan during sunset. The peak time for good light of this effect is still a few days away but we thought we’d give it a shot because the water running from Horsetail Fall has been abundant since this past weekend’s storm. All of the conditions must align perfectly to get a good shot of this phenomenon. The light was nice earlier in the afternoon but the steady increase in clouds left us saying “we were close but not close enough”.

Half Dome and Moon Meteor Reflection by John P. DeGrazio

On the way out of the Valley I drove over Sentinel Bridge happy to have made some new acquaintances and generally pleased to spend some quality time on the banks of the Merced River. Then, I looked to my right and saw the moon rising over Half Dome. Several photographers who were skunked by the latest no-show of the Horsetail glow decided to take this opportunity to photograph Half Dome. Photographically, it might not compare to other compositions of the Tissiack, but it was another one of those magical moments that happen in Yosemite on a regular basis. I was just glad to be there. I began to shoot with longer exposures (20 seconds) and really enjoyed capturing this shot of the moon reflecting on the Merced in the form of a meteor.