Yosemite, #100 – How Do You Keep it Fresh?
By our best accounting, this will be my 100th trip to photograph Yosemite Valley. I’ve been there more times than that, I’m speaking of just going to make images. You can look at the first photos of Yosemite from the 1800s and than ours and Half Dome looks like the same rock. El Cap is still the biggest big ass piece of granite. So if you’re heading to a locale to the 100th time or just the second time, how do you keep your images fresh? Even more important, how do you grow your photography and come back with better images?
There are times when, you don’t even have to think about this question. All it takes is a blessings from the photo God and you have the amazing weather, the amazing light and you’re in the right place at the right time. With no other effort or mental strain, you’ve got the shot. And of course, we plan our trips, at least I do, putting the odds in our favor for this to occur. But as we all know, no matter how well we plan, there are times when you end up with bald skies and naked trees, no water and too many public. That’s when we dig down to stay fresh.
Your first option, chase the light. Often this means leaving the obvious in search of the unobvious. I head for the shadows, at Yosemite in the fall / winter, that means going to the south side of the valley or in the forests. Why? Here, stray beams of light or light bounced off those massive granite cliffs on the other side bring to life a photo otherwise not doable. Ya, you miss the grand sweep photos that scream Yosemite like this shot of El Cap as a storm breaks above, but at least you are still making great images.
At the same time, I switch up lenses. If your’e shooting wide, go long. If shooting long, go normal, force the view in the viewfinder to change to change your view. This tends to bring on more experimentation which leads to failure and failure, leads to success. For example, the clouds are thin and scattered, rather unattractive but are screaming by. Perhaps put on that Big Stopper and point the lens up to blur the clouds going by the granite walls.
This next week, we’ll be shooting in Yosemite for what we think is my 100th time in The Valley and I can’t wait! And that is probably the best answer to keeping it fresh. Having a passion for photography, for the location, knowing that it only takes that one click you can share that says you LOVE where you were and what you did is all it takes. Never settle, always push and give yourself a break with the knowledge that some times the bear gets you and some times you get the bear is what photography is all about. See with your heart, tell your story with your photograph and it will always be fresh!