Yosemite National Park Firefall 2019 - Horsetail Fall - Landscape Photography

Oh man was I hesitant to go to Yosemite for a second time to capture the firefalls. I kept thinking

you aren’t going to see it…

whats the point…

why do you continue to do this to your self? (put yourself through stress etc)…

Is it worth it?…

You aren’t a real photographer anyways (imposter syndrome at its finest)…

Let’s just say this battle went on for quite a bit but holy moly am I excited that my better side one :)

The Adventure

So my first attempt to see the firefalls was a bust. If you want to see more of that adventure head on over to Yosemite National Park Firefalls 2019 First attempt 1. Now in this attempt I learned alot of things. Things that made my second attempt go much smoother. One thing was the fact that Hwy 140 is a much easier drive when there is snow because they actually freaking plow that road. Hwy 41 was an absolute mess and took me over double the amount of time to get to the valley than it should have taken.

Yosemite National Park Photography by Bessie Young Woman Outdoor Photographer - Horstail Falls Yosemite Firefall

This attempt was so so so much smoother. I checked the Yosemite webcams and was able to see that the weather was looking amazing. I gathered all my gear and off I went.

The drive was beautiful! I always plan for breaks and hiccups along the way, so I left with ample time to get to my spot. As I was driving along hwy 140 there were signs for road construction…. ugh….

Slowly I turn each corner until I finally see the man with a big ole red stop sign. There I sat for almost an hour. Yep, didn’t plan for a one hour delay. Naturally, I am getting a tiny bit worried, but I did schedule for quite a bit of a buffer to be able to find my perfect spot, set up my gear, and not feel rushed.

Finally, the man let me though and I was off!

Yosemite National Park Firefall 2019

On the Yosemite National Park website there is a spot specifically discussing the Firefall. It had explained that there was absolutely no parking along the south side or north side drive of the Yosemite valley loop. The place you could park was in the Yosemite village parking lot. The park had closed down one lane for pedestrian traffic with the expectation that there were going to be hundreds upon hundreds of people trying to see this natural phenomena. The walk to the perfect spot, or at least the spot I planned to shoot from, is about 2 miles the parking spot.

So, I parked, gathered my gear, and began my trek. It was icy, super slippery, and incredibly cold. I believe it was supposed to get below twenty degrees that night. As I was walking I was keeping a close eye on El Capitan. Sunset was scheduled to begin about 5:20 or so, and I was right on time no thanks to the awesome construction I had to wait through.

All of the sudden, it started to look like it was going to happen. I was still about 1 mile away from my spot. Now, even with running, this would have taken me 8 minutes to get there. I didn’t have 8 minutes, but I started running anyway. Frantically looking from side to side to see if there was a good spot to set up. I was worried, I started to freak out, “i am right here and not going to be able to get a good picture of it” …. Let me tell you, alot of negative self talk was happening at this moment.

Finally I found a crowd of people and the absolute perfect spot. I waded through the crowd and found an opening with an amazing angle looking right up at the falls!!!! Thank you LORD!

I set up my gear and not moments later did I begin shooting…

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The face of El Capitan started to go from an normal granite blue color to a golden yellow. It then changed from a golden yellow to an orange and then it all of the sudden went dark. Like completely dark! Everyone sighed and some people even started to leave thinking that the show was over.

Slowly from the bottom the color started to come back, slowly the golden yellow started to glow, then the orange, and then the entire fall looked like it was on fire! This lasted for so long I was amazed. The colors then faded into a pink, to a purple, and then back to a blue as the sun started to set and the night began to fall upon us.

IT. WAS. AMAZING!

Long Lens Vs. Wide Angle:

The very very first time I was able to capture the firefalls I had done all the research. Everything said that you need to shoot with a long lens, or a telephoto lens. So naturally I used my 100 - 400mm lens. Now at the time I didn’t know any better and at the time I wasn’t lucky enough to have multiple camera set ups.

When I was taking the shot, it wasn’t exactly the shot I wanted. I ultimately wanted a wider shot. A bigger landscape shot, cause… duh…. that is what I love!

So this time I wanted to share with you some examples of a long lens vs. a wide angle lens. This way you can decide what image you actually want to get and be prepared to capture the image that you are dreaming of.

Set up 1:

Sony A7riii

Sony 24-70mm G master F2.8

Set up 2:

Sony A7rii

Sony 100-400 G master F2.8

I set up my cameras right next to each other. This way you can get the best comparison available. So here it is … Long Lens vs. Wide Angel: 35mm vs. 250mm

How to capture the Firefalls?

Make sure to head on over to my blog on “How to shoot the Yosemite National Park Firefalls” . This blog gives you all the details: What gear to bring, how to see it, where to go, what it is, so on and so forth.

So where was I for this shot?

I parked at the lodge and walked West along the North Side drive for about 1.5 miles. Here is a little aerial of where I was. I wasn’t quite at the El Capitan picnic area.

Patience, Persistence, Love, and Grace

I have to put this in here, because this was a huge part of my adventure and a huge part of my trip. I had tried to capture this image the previous day. I was feeling defeated after not seeing it, and after how stressful that day really was.

Ultimately, I didn’t want to try again. I was feeling super discouraged. I was having all sorts of negative self talk, and it just sucked. I wanted to give up. Wasn’t really being able to pin point why I was doing this in the first place. Once I thought about this long and hard, it helped me to get my lazy booty off the couch and go have an amazing adventure.

Yosemite National Park Firefall 2019 - Horsetail Fall - Landscape Photography by Bessie Young Photography 1.jpg

While I was in the park, running to my location because the firefalls were going to start without me, I began that negative self talk again…

So what is my point here. My point is to not give up and to freaking give yourself grace. It doesn’t always work out as planned. It doesn’t always go smooth. It doesn’t always even work, but you know what…. it is always worth it. You are always worth it. Doing what you love and what sets your soul on fire is always worth it; however, when you are struggling, just try to be nicer to yourself along the way. You can’t control everything. Remember that. For this trip… I coudn’t control that I was stuck in construction, yet I wanted to give all the reasons as to why it was my fault that I was running behind. IT ISN’T ALWAYS YOUR FAULT. YOU CAN’T CONTROL EVERYTHING.

If you can remember this while things are going a little sideways it is going to make your life, your outlook, and pretty much just everything that much better.

The other little part of this is patience and persistence. You are never going to get the shot that you want the first time. You will walk away from multiple adventures without the shot. This is landscape photography. You have to realize that you are working with Mother Nature and let me tell you, she doesn’t care what you want, she doesn’t care about your plans, and she won’t listen to your ideas. You have to be patient. You have to be persistent. You have to KEEP TRYING.

Ok…. enough said….

Have you ever seen the Firefall? Did you even know about it before you saw this post? Comment below and let me know.

Do you have any questions on how to shoot the falls? Ask your question in the comments below and I will get back to you.

Wishing you the very best!

Bessie

 

P.s. Love this post? Check out these similar ones:

Yosemite Firefall 2019 - Horsetail Fall - Attempt 1 - Landscape Photography

The Adventure

Horsetail Falls Yosemite Firefall is a sight to see. I have only ever seen it one time, but I have tried multiple times. This year I tried again.

The adventure started like every other one. Plan the trip, pack up the gear, and go. It should have been easy peasy right? WRONG! It typically takes me 2 hours to get to Yosemite Valley. I left around 1pm which meant that I would have over 2.5 hours to find my spot, set up, and enjoy the view.

The drive started out nice. You know, a nice clear sunny day, but as I started to get into the mountains the roads started to get a little snowy. Now I had planned for this. I drove my truck, brought my chains just in case, but I wasn’t prepared for the roads to be completely snowed over.

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There were cars everywhere. Most were pulled over putting on chains, some were stopped while their kids went sledding, and others seemed…. well…. stuck.

This slowed me down quite alot. I was only able to drive about 15-20 miles per hour due to the cars in front of me with chains on. As I approached the entrance of the park it was already 3:30. That is 2 hours already. I should have been on the valley floor by this time, but I was still an hour away if things went smooth. The firefall should start at 5:20 - 5:40.

Since I was already so far behind, I almost turned around, but I figured I had made it this far I might as well keep going. Unfortunately the roads were the exact same condition almost the entire way to the valley floor.

As I approached Cathedral Beach Picnic area it was already 4:50pm! It took me almost 4 hours to get to the valley floor. That ate away all my cushion time to adventure around and find the perfect spot. I only had 20 minutes to get to my location and set up. By the way, my spot was about a quarter mile hike to the river in the snow.

As I tried to hurry, I slipped quite a bit on the ice and in the snow, but I made with over 10 minutes to spare! YAAAASSSSSS!

I set up my gear and got ready for the show. The sun was setting and the light was looking just right. There was even a super neat little cloud right over the face of El Capitan.

It was 5:20. As the sun lowered, the falls started to turn yellow. It was happening!

Then, all of the sudden, out of now where, the light went away. Everything went dark except that tiny little cloud over El Capitan. It stopped. The firefall stopped! I sat there and waited…

Nothing.

5:30 came around and Horsetail falls was still dark.

Still Nothing.

5:40 came around and everything began to get blue… blue hour was upon me and it was obvious that it didn’t happen that night.

So, I took advantage of where I was and got a few pictures with the remaining light that was in the sky.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it, but this was only Attempt 1. I am determined to see it, so stay tuned for Attempt 2…

To Be Continued.

Luckily I was able to see it in 2016 so I wanted to share that series of images with you:

Yosemite Firefall Series - Yosemite National Park Landscape Photographer Bessie Young

How to Photograph Horsetail Falls Yosemite Firefall

Let’s talk about what the Yosemite Firefalls actually is, how to see it, and how to photograph it…

1. What is the Yosemite Firefalls?

This is an amazing natural phenomena that occurs in Yosemite. Basically, it is where the waterfall that runs off of El Capitan, called Horsetail Falls, lights up and looks as though it is on fire as the sun sets. It turns a bright yellow, then orange, then pink color.

Yosemite National Park Photography by Bessie Young Woman Outdoor Photographer - Horstail Falls Yosemite Firefall.jpg

2. How to see the Firefall

In order to to see the Firefall off of Horsetail falls you have to have all the right conditions. It is a little tricky:

  1. The Horsetail fall waterfall that runs off of El Capitan must be flowing.

  2. The western sky must be clear. Basically, you don’t want any clouds to cover the sun as it sets or else you won’t see the falls change colors.

  3. You have to be there at sunset (this year it was around 5:20)

  4. You have to be at the right angle. You need to be on the east side of the waterfall looking up at it.

  5. The angle of the sun has to be just right in order to hit the waterfall and create the gorgeous colors. This only occurs in late February. Basically the 2nd and 3rd week of February are the optimal times to see it.

3. How to Photograph the Natural Phenomena

Alright friends this is where it gets fun! So obviously you have to be there at the right time of year, have the right conditions, and be at the right angle. Now how do you make sure to get the shot you want?

You need to explore Yosemite and decide where you want to take the picture from. Try to envision the photo that you want to take. Do you want a tight cropped photo? Do you want a wide landscape photo? Once you figure out the composition that you want, this will help you choose your spot.

4. Other Gear You Need (Not Photography Related)

SO MUCH GEAR! lol, no not really, but kind of. Ok so you need your photo equipment obviously, but you also need to bring other things.

  1. Water

  2. Snacks

  3. A chair to sit and be comfy in (not necessary but nice)

  4. A head lamp to walk back to your car

  5. WARM CLOTHES - This happens in February in the High Sierra Nevada Mountains. Think COLD. This year it was getting down into the teens people. I bring:

    • Yoga pants under my hiking pants

    • Thick wool socks

    • Hiking boots

    • Beanie

    • Base layer long sleeve shirt

    • Down Jacket

    • Gloves

  6. Hand warmers. This things are amazing if you get cold easy.

  7. Backpack to carry all your things

5. Other things to consider

According to the Yosemite National Park website they are going to be implementing a permitting process. It was supposed to start this year, 2019; however, due to the snow they decided to push out the permit requirement to start next year 2020. I am uncertain as to how that his going to look, but make sure you are prepared so you don’t go to all the planning just to get to the entrance of the park and have to turn around.

Have you ever seen the Firefall? Did you even know about it before you saw this post? Comment below and let me know.

Do you have any questions on how to shoot the falls? Ask your question in the comments below and I will get back to you.

Wishing you the very best!

Bessie

 

P.s. Love this post? Check out these similar ones:

Super Blood Wolf Moon Landscape Photography

I have the absolute best people in my life. My sister and her husband originally told me about this natural phenomenon. Then, a couple weeks later a couple of good friends asked me if I heard about it. Finally, a few days before the occurrence, my mom sent me a text telling me about it. Seriously though? How cool is that? I have such an amazing support system for my photography. Whenever something cool is happening, I know that I will hear about it one way or another.

Super Blood Wolf Moon Landscape Photography by Bessie Young Photography.jpg

The Planning

When my sister told me about it, obviously I began researching it. When is it? What is it? Where to see it? I mean all the things 😊 If you want to learn a bit more about all the details make sure to check out my recent post on ‘How to Photograph the Super Blood Wolf Moon’. This blog will give you probably a bit more information than you were expecting about this awesome show that the moon put on.

My original plan was to head out into the foothills of my hometown to get some pretty images; however, that plan got thwarted when the weather called for rain. I’m not talking a slight drizzle either. I’m talking about a down pour. As I started to search for places to go and check the weather, it seemed like the majority of the State of California was going to be cloudy during the Super Blood Wolf Moon. Northern California was calling for thunderstorms and Southern California was calling for full cloud coverage. So, I got a little discouraged and figured I wasn’t going to be able to see it. Then I found the spot! The spot that might have a potential to be partially clear during the Super Blood Wolf Moon…. Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills.

The Adventure

The question was, do I want to spend all the time, money, and effort to head over to the Alabama hills with pretty good odds not to see it? Well, I’m somewhat of a gambling girl, so I hopped in the car on Sunday to go and take my chances.

The drive to Alabama Hills is about 5 hours from my town. Not too terrible, but leaving on a whim left me in a little bit of a hurry. The moon was supposed to rise around 5:30pm and I left at 11:30. The eclipse wasn’t supposed to happen until 8pm or so; however, I really wanted to get an image of the Super Moon coming up over the mountain tops.

I rolled into Alabama Hills about 4:30. PERFECT Timing let me tell you. I was super stoked because I also got to get some amazing sunset images. I mean seriously though, I took way too many sunset pictures. The clouds kept changing and things just were getting better and better. It was absolutely gorgeous. I wish I could share all the images with you.

Alabama Hills California Sunset - Fine Art Photography by Bessie Young Photography
Rising Super Blood Wolf Moon January 2019 by Bessie Young Photography Landscape Photography

Actually, I got so caught up in taking sunset images, I didn’t leave much time to set up for the moon rise. Luckily, I was able to get both sunset and moon rise! YAS!

The sky was partially cloudy, which made for some amazing sunset pictures, but it sure made me nervous for the moon. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to see it at all.

Since the Blood Moon wasn’t supposed to begin until around 8pm, I had plenty of time to go grab some dinner. After dinner I headed back out. Let me tell you friends, it was freaking windy and cold. Like cold, cold cold. I had my down jacket on, a beanie, and hand warmers, and man it was cold.

Rising Super Blood Wolf Moon January 2019 by Bessie Young Photography

Getting the Shot: The Super Blood Wolf Moon

Super+Blood+Wolf+Moon+Landscape+Photography+by+Bessie+Young

As I sat in my car, I looked up at the sky to only see clouds. You could see portions of the clouds lit up due to the brightness of the moon, but no moon! I sat there for a bit with the moon peaking out and then hiding behind the clouds. It played this game for almost an hour. As it started to peak out, I noticed that the eclipse had stated.

Well I guess I am not going to get the shot after all

The most frustrating part of this whole thing was that the clear sky was just at the edge of the moon. Yas, it was inches away from being visible. How frustrating is that?!

So, I figured, I would get all my stuff set up just in case. I opened my door, and the wind almost tore it off. To the East was the clouds and the eclipse occurring right before my very own eyes, being hidden by the clouds. To the West there was a lightening storm. Where I stood was open skies with the wind whirling around me.

Super Blood Wolf Moon Landscape Photography January 2019 by Bessie Young Photography

As I set up my tripod, in the dark, the wind wanted to blow the entire set up over. I tried to get a few shots of the moon with the cloud cover and was completely unsuccessful. Eventually, I moved the car to block the wind. I sat there… waiting….

I could see the moon beginning to turn red, but the cloud cover was just barely too much that all my images were turning out blurry. All of them were blurry!!! I got a couple mediocre shots and the moon went completely behind the clouds for what seemed like forever. It was over, I was packing up. No reason to sit and stare at the night sky hoping for something to happen.

I packed up all my things and sat in my car. Checked my phone, and just tried to get a bit warm. Then, out of no where, the MOON!!!! The full blown MOON!!!! I scrambled, cursed a little, and then jumped out of my car, set my equipment back up and BOOM! I FREAKING GOT THE SHOT!

It was awesome and I am so dang thankful that I didn’t drive away when I was thinking about driving away!

Super Blood Wolf Moon Landscape Photography January 2019 by Bessie Young Photography

What Were My Settings for the Moon Images?

I played around quite a bit with my settings and eventually settled on

Shutter Speed: 1 second

ISO: 2000

Aperture: 5.6

I hope you all enjoyed this blog. Were you able to see the Super Blood Wolf Moon? Did you photograph it? If so leave a comment below . I would love to hear about your trip!

Wishing you nothing but amazing adventures and pretty pictures!

Bessie

 

 

P.s. Did you like this blog? Check out these ones as well:

Rocky Mountain National Park Sunset Landscape Photography

Rocky Mountain National Park Sunset Landscape Photography

by Bessie Young

Rocky Mountain National Park Sunset Landscape Photography Tutorial by Bessie Young Photography .jpg

I have always wanted to see a moose. Always. It has been a dream of mine or goal of mine to actually finally see one.

A few years ago, I went to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I was super excited to be in these locations as I thought for sure I was going to see one. Well… not so much. It didn’t happen.

Then a couple years ago I was up in the northern most part of Idaho. I was certain this was my time to see a moose… well, it didn’t happen again.

This year I traveled over to Colorado to take a long road trip back to California. My goal was to just see some beautiful landscape. As I planned my trip, of course moose was on my mind. I researched where to see moose in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain National Park was one of those places so of course that was going to be my #1 destination.

As my plane got ready to land the pilot began to speak letting us know that there is ‘some weather’. Now what that meant no one knew, but one thing I did know was that could effect my Rocky Mountain National Park adventure. The plane landed, and it was slightly snowing in Denver. I wasn’t too worried about it, but did think there was a bit of potential that my travels were going to be thwarted.

Denver was my home for the night. It snowed all night. When I woke up in the morning there was a dusting of snow, so I got on my phone to check the conditions of the park. Of course the main road through the park was closed, but good news was the valley was still open! Yay!! I was pretty excited as the meadow was one of my main destinations and one of the main places that you would be able to see moose!

So, I packed up all my things and headed to the park. The pass to the park was beautiful and snowy, well actually the entire drive was beautiful and snowy. As I entered the park there were so many beautiful views and even better, there was absolutely no one there! It was like I had the entire valley of the park to myself! Let me tell you, this was a huge freaking treat.

I traveled through the limited open area of the park searching for moose along the way. To my disappointment there was none. I do not know much about moose habits; however, I was definitely wondering if the snow had ran them down into lower elevation.

Wildlife photography by Bessie Young Photography 2018-7.jpg

Since there were no moose, my next goal was a good sunset landscape photograph. As I was wandering through the park I found some amazing views. I made it all the way to the closed gate, I sat there for a moment watching the cutest birds ever, and then decided on my final location for my sunset photograph.

The location for my main sunset image was an easy decision. There was a beautiful meadow with a stream that meandered through, the snow capped gorgeous mountains in the back, and surprisingly the only cloud in the sky. The stream was the perfect leading line right up to the mountains.

After I knew that I ‘got the shot’ I started playing around getting a few different images. Here are a few additional images that I got of the sunset:

On my way back to my hotel I was driving uber slow with big hopes that I might see a moose. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see one, but I was able to capture some pretty awesome images on my way.

I hope you all enjoyed this blog. Have you been to June Lake before? If so leave a comment below . I would love to hear about your trip!

Wishing you nothing but amazing adventures and pretty pictures!

Bessie

 

 

P.s. Did you like this blog? Check out these ones as well:

Fall Landscape Photography | June Lake California | Why have I never shared these?

Fall Landscape Photography | June Lake California

Why have I never shared these?

Landscape Photography by Bessie Young

Alright, lets chat a minute….

Last year I went on a trip to find fall. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year and I was determined to get some pretty fall images. Well on my adventure I ended up in June lake at the absolute perfect timing. All the aspens were gorgeous variations of yellows and oranges. I was ecstatic.

So I thought it was the perfect opportunity to create a beautiful fall landscape photography video. After I got all my footage and took some of the best fall images I have ever taken I got home and headed right to the computer to edit my video. I just HAD to share these images with you.

Well…. lets just say I was disappointed to say the least. The footage that I captured pretty much sucked. Yes…. sucked. I tried and tried and tried to make a video, but I just couldn’t. Everything about the video just wasn’t awesome. So I sat on it.

Later on I tried again to create the video because I just really wanted to share the images with you; however, I still just couldn’t. Maybe that is my perfectionist inside of me, but I just really didn’t like any of it. It was a crazy windy day which made for terrible noise. The video didn’t have much sequence behind it and seemed to just jump around like crazy. So again I didn’t post it.

Now it’s Fall of 2018. One whole year later. I thought to my self ‘hey this is the perfect time to post that video. Let’s do this!’ So again I tried and again I failed. Then I decided that there have just been too many times that I haven’t posted. Too many videos that I have created and that just end up in the recycle bin on my computer. Too many times that I have been a perfectionist and not shared some of the goodness with you even though it isn’t really up to snuff.

I decided that it was finally time to share this no matter what. So I created a different sort of video. Something that I wasn’t happy with, something that was less than par, and something that I forced myself to post anyways….

My thought behind this video is that it is better to share something less than perfect than to not share anything at all.

We are our own worst critics. We judge ourselves, talk negatively about our creations, and eventually just talk ourselves out of creating and / or sharing with others due to this idea that everything has to be just so.

Shop fall landscape fine art here:


I truly believe that so many amazing things have been created and thrown away just because the creator thought it wasn’t good enough. It could have been the next world masterpiece; however, it ended up in a trashcan somewhere.

So, it is time to just stop it. To stop throwing our creations away. So what if they aren’t perfect, and so what if they don’t get the best reviews. The idea is that you are still creating, still sharing, and still inspiring others. Plus, sometimes the imperfect things are really the best.

So here is my imperfect video with some of my best photos I have ever taken. Here is the video that I didn’t post for over a year because I judged everything about it. Here is a different take on my normal style, something that I am incredibly nervous to share and something that might have people judging my abilities, but here it is anyways.

I hope you all enjoyed this blog. Have you been to June Lake before? If so leave a comment below . I would love to hear about your trip!

Wishing you nothing but amazing adventures and pretty pictures!

Bessie

 

 

P.s. Did you like this blog? Check out these ones as well: