9 Tips for Nature Photography in Yosemite

View of Yosemite Granite Walls, trees and lake, blue sky with cloudsBefore you head into Yosemite, you’ll want to know how to best capture photographically the awe-inspiring vistas you’re sure to encounter, so you can share them with your family and friends back home.  Here are some tips to help you make the most of the stunning views you will find in the Park – and beyond.

#1 – Always Have Your Camera with You

Let nature surprise and delight you!  If you don’t have your camera with you, you will miss many opportunities to capture what shows up, whether it’s a double rainbow, a mama bear and babies, or the perfect sunset.  Like a good scout, you always want to Be Prepared.

#2 – Know How to Use Your Equipment

Know the capabilities of your equipment and how to use it.  Invest in the best camera you can within your budget, don’t forget lenses and a tripod.  Whether you are using a point and shoot, or a DSLR, know how to use it!  

#3 – Be Observant & Patient

Develop your “photographic eye” by noticing details, paying attention to your surroundings, looking for opportunities.

#4 – Watch the Light

Natural light is best and the best light for photos is before sunrise and late afternoon before sunset, but you can also get great lighting effects after a storm, or on a cloudy day.  Don’t miss out on those night-light shots, either.  Using long exposures in low light can get you very interesting images.

#5 – Create Composition

Get creative.  Don’t center your subject in the frame – use the “rule of thirds” by dividing your shot into vertical thirds and offset your main feature.  Build your scene around the horizon, which should be placed in the middle of your shot.  Check to see if your subject is entering your image or leaving it.  For the most powerful images capture your subjects in their natural habitat and avoid including man-made aspects in the background. 

#6 – Look for Textures

Look for interesting patterns, unique objects, and unusual details. Zoom in and crop close on those aspects of your image. Sometimes a shadow pattern is more evocative than a full shot of the object, plant, or animal.

#7 – Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

Cliffs, holes, rocks, water, heat, cold – all of these elements can turn a great day into a dangerous one. Check the weather, and don’t ignore potential hazards. Wear appropriate apparel and footwear, know what you’re getting into BEFORE you go. And again, be prepared.

#8 – Respect the Landscape

Have deep respect for the landscape you are moving through. Respect the animals you are photographically engaging with. Do not disrupt nature’s rhythm. As the saying goes, “Leave only footprints, take only photos.”

#9 – Practice, Explore, Shoot, Learn, and Enjoy! 

Book a room at the Groveland Hotel, near the northern entrance into Yosemite National Park, so you’ll have easy access to early morning or late afternoon light in one of the most photogenic landscapes in the world!

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