El Capitan, Mist. Yosemite Valley, California. February 23, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Winter mist shrouds the immense granite face of El Capitan, Yosemite Valley
One of the major attractions of Yosemite in the winter – for me, at least – is the variety of fog, mist, clouds, and all sorts of other weather conditions and their associated possibilities of light. (Frankly, I rarely go to the Vally in the summer any more.) The diversity of conditions seems infinite, especially when combined with variations in terrain and vegetation and, of course, light as it changes throughout the day and due to weather. At one extreme, a clear winter day can almost be more clear than you can imagine, with bright, crystalline sunlight everywhere. At the other extreme, low clouds dropping rain or snow can mute the visibility of anything more than a few feet away. In between lie atmospheric haze that mutes details and reveals shadows; clouds drifting along the Valley floor, rising up its walls, or floating among the tops of cliffs; rain or snow showers seen from a distance, and much more.
El Capitan seems like a cloud magnet in the winter. Because of its size the conditions at its base can be quite different from those above, and the lower face may be clear while the summit is wreathed in clouds. Evening fog often develops and drifts across the valley, sometimes seeming to slosh back and forth like a slow motion sea, rising against El Capitan’s base. This February day saw high clouds above the entire valley, but mists were developing and clinging to every level of El Capitan and sliding across and up its face, alternately obscuring and revealing bits and pieces of the mountain. I could sit and watch this for a long time – as I did, in fact! Using a long lens I isolated a section of the prow of the monolith and then watched as the cloud show unfolded.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.