How the Art Happens - Half Dome Sunset

April 29, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Half Dome Sunset

Half Dome SunsetHalf Dome SunsetWarm sunset light illuminates an icy Half Dome in Yosemite National Park on an early November evening.

Many years ago, I found myself in Yosemite National Park in early November. I had spent a few days down south celebrating my uncle's birthday and decided to take the long way home. Since it was off-season at the park, I got some great rates on a few nights at the historic hotel at Wawona and a night in a Curry Village cabin that is absolutely the worst place I've ever stayed in my life.

But, enough about the travels. After spending my first day exploring the beautiful Yosemite valley, I found myself at the intersection of the Oak Flat Road and the Tioga Pass Road. I had hoped to spend some time exploring the Tioga Pass Road with its overlooking views of the valley below. There was a barricade. Obviously, from the photo, you can see that they had experienced a little early snow that year. As I stood before the barricade contemplating an act of trespass, one of the park rangers drove up. She shared with me that there were a few icy spots and that Californians had no idea how to handle ice below their tires so, they closed the road. Seeing my Colorado plates, she offered to let me past the barricade the next morning if I was there by 8 am. What a deal!

At 8 the next morning there were two of us waiting at the barricade. The other photographer was from Wyoming. The ranger showed up and let us in, telling us to be back before sunset. We spent the day separately making photos all the way up to Tuolumne Meadows. We only saw each other a few times and we saw nobody else. I didn't get many good photos. The landscape was pretty bleak and barren. The day passed and the sun was getting low as we started back to the intersection until we arrived at an overlook near Cloud's Rest. The setting sun was reflecting off the icy Half Dome on the other side of the valley creating an angle of Half Dome and an atmosphere I had never seen photographed. We both started making photos just as the ranger showed up doing his sweep of the road. He really wanted us to leave but both photographers continued to run interference for each other until the sun set and the light failed. We tried to get the ranger to enjoy the scene but he probably had seen it a dozen times and just wanted to go home to his dinner.

I'm sure we both got some great images. This one is my favorite selection from my work. I love the silhouetted trees and the warm sunset glow reflecting off Half Dome. I also like that the photo is from eye-level instead of looking up at Half Dome which is the most prevalent view in the park. "Half Dome Sunset" is an image that required some patience and a little negotiation rather than photographic skill. Oh, and the light was perfect!

Upon returning to my hotel at Wawona I discovered that the dining hall was full and not taking any more people for dinner. Since Wawona is miles from the nearest place to eat, I even had to negotiate my dinner. I did get to eat!



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Crested Butte, Colorado photographer, Dusty Demerson creates fine art photography displayed as prints and canvases and provides private photo tours in and around western Colorado.

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