A Face in the Clouds

Half Dome From Mt. Watkins 
By John P. DeGrazio 
A Face in the Clouds, Half Dome from Mt. Watkins, Yosemite National Park by John P. DeGrazio

I take a lot of photos in Yosemite that I post on this site as well as my YExplore Instagram account. Most of my shots are admittedly from my iPhone camera in an attempt to share with the world that you don’t need an expensive camera to take expressive images in a place as beautiful as Yosemite National Park. I do possess an SLR camera and share those captures as well, just not as frequently. While I understand my images are not nearly on the level as the faculty of professional photographers here at YExplore, I will begin sharing more of them here on the Can O Peaches blog as I explore the world of post processing raw files.

The first image I would like to share comes from a trip to the summit of Mt. Watkins in June 2014. I joined a Sierra Club group for a hike in Yosemite on a cold and rainy morning. While the majority of the group were improperly dressed for a hike in the rain at an elevation above 8000 feet, five of us decided to carry out our plans to hike to the summit of Mt. Watkins. It’s a peak named after Yosemite’s first landscape photographer, Carleton Watkins, whose images were instrumental in the creation of the Yosemite Grant Act of 1864. From Mt. Watkins, you are afforded an interesting perspective of Half Dome which sits directly across the Tenaya Canyon.

We followed a relatively moderate trail while being pelted by raindrops. When we reached the summit, grayness was our greeter. To borrow a local mountain phrase, everything was socked in. We ate damp sandwiches while staring into the abyss as we sat on a soggy log. Spirits were not exactly soaring, but every group member shared the same sentiment “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” As we began to pack up our belongings, I saw a faint beam of light shining through the cloud. It was just one big mass of water vapor at the time. My friend Bob and I were able to successfully lobby the group to stay for another twenty minutes to see if we may possibly encounter an Ansel Adams moment where the clouds begin to part as scattered light hits the landscape.

I grabbed my camera and raced to the edge of the rocks as tiny windows opened and closed simultaneously revealing glimpses of the majesty that surrounded us. I excitedly snapped shots of anything that was uncovered. Unfortunately, time had expired so I walked back to the group. Luckily, they were curious to see where I had been. We spent the next hour frolicking on top of this football field sized granite dome high above the Valley floor. Our moment finally arrived, and we were rewarded for our patience. The parting clouds framed the face of Half Dome perfectly, and here is one of my favorite images from the trip.

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