YOSEMITE IN WINTER
- When: February 20 – 23, 2014
- Where: Yosemite National Park
- Price: $895
Workshop Capacity: Minimum of 5 students, maximum of 12 students
Michael provided some tools for freeing us from spending our time and attention on taming the camera so that we could focus on creating the image … to take the time to see our surroundings and think about the shot before setting up the camera and not just settle for the “postcard” shot.
Bottom line: If you are remotely considering the possibility of attending this workshop, don’t debate. Just do it. You will” be glad you did.
~ John Walser
- Debit card and all major credit cards are accepted for workshop registration.
- Workshop Registration & Payment processing is proudly hosted by Eventbrite, a secure online registration & payment service.
Our “Giving Back” Partner:
The Yosemite Conservancy ensures Yosemite remains an irreplaceable resource and wondrous icon by funding projects and programs that provide a margin of excellence and inspire enduring connections for current and future generations.
Read our Giving Back Promise
In recognizing the impact of our footprint, we are committed to giving back to the lands we visit during the workshop. For every location workshop, 5% of the workshop proceeds are donated to a non-profit organization that is working to preserve, enhance or restore the land in order to secure its ability to accommodate tomorrow’s visitors.
This four-day workshop focuses on the numerous locations in the Yosemite Valley that are complemented by winter, long heralded by photographers as the “best time to photography Yosemite Valley”.
From the iconic view of Half Dome at Sentinel Bridge … to the timeless and simple chapel in the pines… to recapturing Ansel Adams’ iconic shot of the oak tree in Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite in the Winter is a photographer’s playground.
Additional locations and sights that the workshop includes:
Photographed from Cathedral Beach (another iconic Ansel Adams photo).
One of the few falls in the entire park that flows year-round, we capture it in its snow-covered state, with sheets of ice on the face of the falls, framing the thin veil of water.
A popular location in the spring, Mirror Lake holds many secret locations during the winter, as we make our trek around the lake—and some of its frozen sections—to capture this serene location in the shadow of Half Dome.
EL CAPITAN MEADOW:
A workshop favorite, this expansive meadow sits directly in front of its namesake icon. A blanket of now with few tracks allows for unspoiled winter wonderland scenes set against the granite spectacle of El Capitan.
From several key vantage points, the Merced River is the thread of continuity through Yosemite Valley. We take advantage of the river foreground and settings at the stone bridges, beaches and bends in the river to capture some of the iconic scenes of Yosemite.
No winter trip to Yosemite would be complete without a trek up to the forever impressionable view of Yosemite Valley from the Wawona tunnel (another iconic Ansel Adams photo).
The workshop is notably timed for one of the few rare scenes in Yosemite that happens only once a year for about 10 days in only the perfect conditions: the backlit illumination of Horsetail Fall by the setting sun, called ‘The Firefall’ as immortalized by the original 1973 Galen Rowell photo. All three sunset opportunities of the workshop will devoted to capturing this elusive visual phenomenon.
The itinerary is designed to be fluid, and can change daily — and hourly — based on lighting and weather changes. While this sample itinerary lists some of the highlights of the workshop, additional locations and destination options are integrated into the regular workshop itinerary.
Following a lunch orientation session at the meeting location reviewing the workshop schedule, safety, photographic concerns and techniques, we will depart to our first location along the Merced River for a quick lesson in pre-visualization with a touch of visual thinking. From our first location, we depart for Night One in the attempt of capturing the elusive ‘Firefall’ phenomenon at Horsetail Fall. Following dinner, we return to our meeting location for group editing and review of the day’s images.
Following an early breakfast, we head to the first of many of Ansel Adams’ iconic photo locations with the early-morning light as it streams down into the valley. We then move to the foot of Bridalveil Fall for some winter waterfall, river and ice-form scenes. After lunch, we spend some time at the Ansel Adams gallery, Pioneer Cemetery and Yosemite Falls along with shooting at one of Ansel’s famous meadow locations before departing for Night Two of capturing the sunlit glow of Horsetail Fall. We will then return to our meeting location for group editing and review of the day’s images.
Following an early breakfast, we will head to the Merced River to begin a photographed-fueled trek down the river, capturing snowy scenes and foliage against the valley’s granite walls. We will conclude the trek near LeConte Memorial, where we will depart for lunch, followed by time spent in the El Capitan Meadow, directly below the monolith and opposite the striking Cathedral Spires & Rocks. We then depart for the final opportunity to capture the elusive shot of the ephemeral Horsetail Fall. We will then return to our meeting location for group editing and review of the day’s images.
Following an early breakfast, we will depart to the east end of the valley up to Mirror Lake, spending the entire morning along a pre-determined schedule timed for optimum light along this stretch of Tenaya Creek and Mirror Lake. Following this grand finale location, we head for our workshop conclusion/farewell lunch, allowing return to Fresno International Airport for late afternoon/early evening departures.
As with all High Sierra Workshops, this workshop focuses not only on the ‘where’ to take the pictures, but also on the ‘how’ to take pictures, incorporating photographic education throughout the workshop at each location. By building on the previous location’s techniques and lessons, this allows for culmination in a comprehensive lessons in:
Techniques, methods and approaches used with Pre-Visualization.
Philosophy applied to landscape photography, specific to the winter conditions in Yosemite Valley.
CALCULATING EQUIVALENT EXPOSURE:
Using “Basic Daylight Exposure” in exposure shifting for atmospheric conditions or artistic interpretation.
“THE PAINTER’S PRINCIPLE”:
Based on the concepts by the master’s of photography.
WHITE BALANCE SHIFTING:
Used for emotional intent.
THE FOUR DESIGN ELEMENTS:
Sought by professional photographers to craft the powerful, final image.
HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE (HDR):
An introduction to HDR, using multiple exposures to capture the dynamic range of the scene that exceeds that of the camera.
COLOR VS. B&W:
An examination of the landscape photography assessment of color or B&W photography, based on the artistic representation of the scene sought by the photographer.
All workshop participants receive the “Workshop Guide”, which includes the workshop itinerary, reference material and maps for Yosemite Valley, as well as the always-popular “Workshop Tip Card” for the camera bag!
The recommended airport for arrival and departure is the Fresno-Yosemite International Airport (FAT), located just south of the park boundary.
Travel time from Fresno-Yosemite International Airport to Yosemite Valley is just approximately 1.5 hours. There are several car rental operations located on-site at the airport; a 4WD rental is required for this workshop.
Carpool from the airport to Yosemite Valley is strongly recommended and will be organized the month prior to the workshop start.
Alternate airports for arrival/departure:
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Driving time from nearest major city:
San Francisco to Yosemite Valley, via Highways 80, 580, 205, and 120, is approximately 4 hours.
Sacramento to Yosemite Valley, via Highways 99 and 120, is approximately 3.5 hours.
Los Angeles to Yosemite Valley, via Highways 5, 99 and 41, is approximately 5.5 hours.
For the Yosemite in Winter workshop, workshop participants need to make lodging reservations at either Curry Village or Yosemite Lodge inside Yosemite Valley, or at one of the two hotels located in El Portal, immediately outside of Yosemite Valley.
• Curry Village or Yosemite Lodge: Located in Yosemite Valley
• Yosemite View Lodge: Located on Hwy. 140 right at the park boundary.
• Cedar Lodge: Located further down Hwy. 140 away from the park boundary.
In order to balance the various individual meal and budget preferences, time is allocated for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day at one of the various dining establishments in Arcata and near the workshop locations.
While we will eat as a group, meals are the individual responsibility of each workshop participant. Each dining establishment is chosen to provide a wide variety of meal options to satisfy multiple dietary preferences.
For over a decade now, Michael has been a contract photojournalist for The Associated Press, responsible for coverage of the Central Coast of California along with sports and entertainment assignments in Los Angeles, notably anchoring the agency’s coverage of the Michael Jackson trial from 2003 to 2005. Coupled with his domestic photojournalism, Michael spends nearly a third of the year abroad shooting travel/documentary stock imagery along with lecturing on the topics of Cultural Sensitivity and Immersion in Travel Photography.
Michael is also the consultant and multimedia coordinator for the Semester at Sea study abroad program, providing lectures and instructions to the college students while shaping the direction of the programs multimedia efforts in video, still photography and podcasts through social media.
While still taking on editorial and Associated Press assignments, Michael has shifted his focus to DSLR cinematography projects, as well as educational travel photography workshops for Nikonians Academy and High Sierra Workshops, as well as university and industry lecture engagements so as to instruct others on the analytical, cultural and visual approaches to travel photography and cinematography.
As a former photographer and videographer for the State of California Chamber of Commerce, Aaron wore two hats simultaneously: photographing presidents, dignitaries and governors while editing video from the California State Senate and Assembly.
Previously, Aaron spent 12 years as a photojournalist for several newspapers and magazines in California and Texas. His images have been published in newspapers and magazines around the world, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Times of London, The Washington Post, USA Today, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Dallas Morning News and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Q: Is there a deadline to sign-up for this workshop? Does it sell out? Will you add more room if it does?
Of course, some perspective is needed. If you live out here on the mild West Coast, it will be chilly. If you are from back East, you might find it downright balmy!
The best recommendation I can give is to check the weather numbers specifically for Yosemite Valley (as recorded at the National Park Service weather station). On the weather page, select the link in the bottom right corner that says: “Daily YYV Data”. The daily temperatures are updated … daily. So keep monitoring it as we get closer to the workshop start date. And also monitor the weather forecast for Yosemite Valley, specifically for right in Yosemite Valley.
I recommend a good winter jacket, but no need for a down jacket as the temperatures in Yosemite Valley rarely get below 25 degrees during the day. Most winter days in Yosemite Valley the temperature is around 30 degrees, and that is a “warm” 30 degrees. We don’t have the bitter cold winters in Yosemite, especially at the 4000-foot elevation of Yosemite Valley.
A simple winter jacket to keep the snow off, and similar pants, snow boots, gloves and a hat are a must. Gaitors would be at your discretion. The snow in February in Yosemite can range from just a few inches to several feet. And if a cold storm blows through, the snow can get deep in the valley.
No need for snowshoes (as in the traditional sense), as we won’t be trekking anywhere like that. As the weather can be unpredictable, I would recommend wearing snow boots (such as Sorel or similar style) in case there is a snowstorm or fresh snow. The use of gaitors would be at your discretion. Plus, the snow boots will keep you warm.
As for anti-skid footwear, such as crampons, if the route is that slippery, where someone could slip and fall and possibly injure themselves or their camera gear, we won’t go there. Safety always comes first. If you have a fondness for trekking poles/hiking sticks that have snow baskets, you will find them VERY handy, but certainly not necessary.
One thing to keep in mind is that the valley floor is at 4,200′ feet in elevation, so the weather can change from snow to rain quite easily. Also, snow in the Sierras is a heavy, wet snow… often referred to as Sierra Cement (or Cascade Concrete for you Pacific Northwest folks!). It is very rare to see light, fluffy, powdery snow.
And one last thing on clothing, remember that you will be carrying camera gear that will be heavy. You will get hot quickly as we go from location to location. Dressing in layers is highly recommended! One thing you might consider is an umbrella. Very handy to hold over you and the camera if it is snowing!
There is absolutely no requirement on which camera you bring. All cameras will work within the workshop curriculum.
As for lenses, I am not one to recommend a specific lens or set of lens for the workshop, as that is always dictated by one’s own personal preferences and budget.
I will say that you will need a wide angle to medium to long lens for the workshop. How you choose to fulfill that is at your discretion. Would an 18-200 work? Absolutely. Would all prime lenses work? Absolutely. Do I need a 400/2.8 with a 2x tele-convertor? Not really, unless you like carrying that hunk of glass around AND have an idea for a shot you want to accomplish.
We will be shooting the legendary “Firefall” at Horsetail Falls if Mother Nature cooperates, and you will need at the very least a 200mm lens to capture the scene. IF you have a 1/4TC, it won’t hurt to bring it. But that doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy one.
The equipment you bring with you is the tools in your bag that you will use. And we will make great pictures from your tools. No worries.
Those who would like to travel in a group to Yosemite Valley from Fresno, there is a coordinated meeting at the Fresno airport at 9am Thursday morning, at the Starbucks coffee stand in the airport arrivals lobby. (See next question for related details.)
The workshop will conclude after our final group farewell lunch on Sunday, to allow time for everyone to travel to their evening lodging or airport in the daylight hours.
Any unused vehicles driven to Fresno can be parked in the airport’s long-term parking and all participants can split the gas and cost of the rental cars, if any are rented.
We do venture out into meadows, and if there is fresh snow, it can be deep. In situations like this, the hiking/trekking poles with snow baskets can be very helpful. And we will only drive to a location if the park’s free Shuttle Bus system can’t take us to the location.
The best cost estimation I can provide for food is to plan on between $30-45 a day for all three meals combined. This can vary, of course, by individual selection of menu items.
There is a very well-stocked, full grocery store in Yosemite Village where you can supplement your food needs, if necessary, as well as a sport shop and clothing. We will make time to stop on the first day at Yosemite Village for anyone that needs to supplement their provisions, be it food or clothing.
We are proud to offer several of our workshops through Nikonians Academy, including this Giant Redwoods of Northern California workshop. Members of Nikonians register for this workshop through Nikonians Academy.
In order to ensure availability for those on our waiting list, all workshop cancellations will have the following fees applied:
Cancellation up to and within 60 calendar days prior to workshop start date:
Full refund of workshop tuition; no cancellation fee (Refund applied within 3 business days of cancellation notice)
Cancellation up to and within 30 calendar days of workshop start date:
Refund of workshop tuition minus $100 cancellation fee (Refund/fees applied at conclusion of scheduled workshop; waived if workshop seat booked prior to workshop start date)
Cancellation up to and within 7 calendar days of workshop start date:
No refund of workshop tuition (Waived if workshop seat booked prior to workshop start date with applicable refund applied at conclusion of scheduled workshop) [/styledbox]