I have been to Yosemite National Park twice. On both occasions, the trip started with an invitation from Dave Wyman which intrigued me. Dave is an outdoor guide, photographer, author, and the rare individual with whom is a pleasure to travel. The first trip to Yosemite with Dave was an Alternate Camera theme (anything but DSLRs - to avoid technology getting in the way of photography) in 2011. That trip made me look forward to a future opportunity to return to Yosemite in Dave's company. The opportunity arrived in the form of an invitation to join him in February, with the possibility of photographing the occurrence of Firefall in Yosemite. (At this point should notice that it is important to differentiate the natural illusion of water looking like fire from the spectacle once created by pushing a bonfire off Glacier Point. That practice ended decades ago.)
The Firefall at Horsetail Fall is a naturally occurring wonder that requires all of the stars to align in late February to yield the full effect: make the falling water look as if it were on fire. First, there must be a melting snowpack on the top of El Capitan to create the fall. No snow or cold temperatures = no fall. Second, the perfect angle of the western setting sun cannot be blocked by clouds so it can illuminate the water running off the eastern face of El Capitan. And, finally, you have to be there to photograph it. Even though Firefall has become a thing since Galen Rowell made the first photograph of it in 1973 (and I usually don't do well with things and the crowds that go with them), I was intrigued. What's more, the chance to accompany Dave is always an opportunity too good to pass on.
We arrived in Yosemite just in time to enjoy several days of rain (and being treated to sympathetic comments of "you shoulda been here last week!" - don't you love that?). Although that totally eliminated any chance of photographing Firefall, the ever-changing light made other photographs possible that I would not been able to make otherwise.
Making the best of changing conditions is the hallmark of every trip Dave leads; this one was no exception. Lingering on our last day let us take advantage of changing weather, reflections in water, and the camaraderie that comes from being in the company of a friend and his brother, Dan.
See ya next week,
Post Script - take aways
it all starts with relationships
instead of buying a new camera, take that trip you have always dreamed about and return with photographs that are worth far more
arrive early and always stay late. don't put your camera away
make the best of the light that you have. there is no good or bad light, there is only light