Category Archives: Photographs: Sierra Nevada

Tuolumne River, Evening

Tuolumne River, Evening
The Tuolumne River flows through the Yosemite Sierra Nevada high country

Tuolumne River, Evening. Yosemite National Park, California. June 21, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The Tuolumne River flows through the Yosemite Sierra Nevada high country

We had one day in the Yosemite area on the summer solstice, and we made as much of the long daylight hours as we could. We started out very early in the morning in Oakhurst, just outside the southwest boundary of the park, and then headed towards Tioga Pass Road. We took that route through the high country to Tuolumne Meadows, and after lunch we crossed Tioga Pass and headed down to Lee Vining for a brief east side visit.

While we were in the Lee Vining area we began to see interesting clouds east of the range, and it looked like lenticular clouds might form before sunset. That is my cue to find a high place with light from the west, so we headed back up to Tuolumne, stopping a few times on the way there, and finally arriving nearly perhaps an hour and a half or more before sunset. As we followed a trail out into the meadow to find foreground for photographs of the Sierra crest and the clouds I looked back to the west across the twisting river, meadows, and forests to see this scene in evening light.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Lenticular Clouds and Ridge

Lenticular Clouds and Ridge
A series of lenticular clouds build above the Sierra Nevada crest at sunset

Lenticular Clouds and Ridge. Yosemite National Park, California. June 21, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved. A series of lenticular clouds build above the Sierra Nevada crest at sunset

This scene was a sort of visual benediction at the end of a very long June day in and around Yosemite National Park. We began all the way over in Oakhurst, on the southwest boundary of the park, where we had been the previous evening to attend the artist reception for an exhibit at Stellar Gallery that includes eight of my photographs, followed by a fun late-night Mexican food dinner with friends and fellow photographers. The next morning we got up relatively early (but not all that early by photography standards!), grabbed a quick breakfast, and headed out of town with a general plan to photograph along Tioga Pass Road.

We drove through most of the morning good light as we headed into the park, climbed up past the turnoff to Glacier Point Road, descended briefly to the Valley, climbed Big Oak Flat Road, and finally turned east onto Tioga Pass Road. We briefly stopped once or twice along the way, including a bit of photography at Tenaya Lake, and finally stopping at Tuolumne Meadows for lunch. We explored a bit up in the general area of the pass before descending to Lee Vining and then making a quick trip up Lundy Canyon before returning to Lee Vining and then heading back up toward Tioga Pass, timing this leg to arrive back in the high country at about the time that the shadows would lengthen and the color of the light begin to warm. We photographed a bit not too far below the past, but when we noticed a spectacular lenticular cloud building beyond the crest we decided to head to Tuolumne Meadows, where we though the cloud might be a bit more visible and have more interesting foreground. We photographed there until the light left the meadow, and then decided to think about starting the long drive back to the Bay Area. Not more than a couple of minutes down the road we looked back and saw what we sort of expected, namely the intense sunset color on the tops of the ridges of the Sierra crest and the spectacular cloud. What could we do? We quickly stopped, set up cameras and tripods, and spent a few moments photographing this beautiful final light of the day.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Dusk, Clouds, Full Moon

Dusk, Clouds, Full Moon
The full moon behind dusk clouds above and eastern Sierra Nevada meadow

Dusk, Clouds, Full Moon. Sierra Nevada, California. July 4, 2006. © Copyright 2006 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The full moon behind dusk clouds above and eastern Sierra Nevada meadow

This will be another short post — things are quite busy right now! The photograph is from almost a decade ago, when I accompanied my brother, his wife, and three sons on a backpack trip into a favorite area of the eastern Sierra Nevada. Our trip began with a hike to a picturesque lake between two high ridges, where we spent several days exploring… and surviving “interesting” weather. We found a beautiful campsite on a bench above a meadow and lake. In the evening I set up on this high spot and photographed the near-night darkness with the moon shining from behind the broken layer of clouds overhead.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Sierra Crest, Reflections, Morning

Sierra Crest, Reflections, Morning
Morning light on peaks reflecting in an eastern Sierra lake.

Sierra Crest, Reflections, Morning. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. July 4, 2006. © Copyright 2006 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Morning light on peaks reflecting in an eastern Sierra lake.

Almost a decade ago I met my brother Richard and his family for a backpacking trip into the eastern Sierra in the area between about the Minarets and Thousand Island Lake. It is almost hard to recall a time when the Sierra was this wet and this green at this point in the season — let’s hope for a turn-around in the weather and a season or two like this one.

The weather during this trip was in the wet phase of a common Sierra summer pattern, where days of “perfect” (perfectly boring!) blue sky weather eventually lead to a build-up of clouds and a few days of thunderstorms. We had some precipitation on most days, including at least one when we were caught by surprise on a day hike to a nearby lake — we began in sun, we arrived at the lake in sun… and then all of a sudden we could see that rain was about to arrive. We high-tailed it back to camp, but got caught by rain before we arrived. This photograph was made the next morning, as the first light was just touching the peaks of Mounts Ritter and Banner above Ediza Lake, and already to moisture was visible in the clouds that were forming even at dawn.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell or others where indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

A Photograph Exposed: “Shoreline Reflections, Trees and Rocks”

(“A Photograph Exposed”  is a series exploring some of my photographs in greater detail.)

Shoreline Reflections, Trees and Rocks
Shoreline Reflections, Trees and Rocks

Shoreline Reflections, Trees and Rocks. Yosemite National Park, California. June 30, 2010. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Black and white photograph of silhouetted trees and boulders and their reflections lining a flooded section of the shoreline of Tenaya Lake.

This photograph is a personal favorite for a bunch of reasons related to how the photograph came about, the experience of making the photograph, associations with the place, and a print that pleases me a great deal.

I maintain the no photographer’s work is wholly original. What comes closest to being truly original is the personal vision of the artist — that particular way of seeing that the photographer develops. That vision is actually unique, but it is built from experiences and exposure to a visual world that includes the ways of seeing of other photographers and painters and more. I acknowledge and am grateful to a wide range of photographers whose work informs my way of seeing the world.

Continue reading A Photograph Exposed: “Shoreline Reflections, Trees and Rocks”

Dawn, Eastern Sierra, Mono Lake

Dawn, Eastern Sierra, Mono Lake
Dawn light comes to the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada and Mono Lake.

Dawn, Eastern Sierra, Mono Lake. Sierra Nevada, California. July 3, 2007.© Copyright 2007 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Dawn light comes to the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada and Mono Lake.

Some years back I visited Mono Lake very early one morning with my brother, Richard, who is also a dedicated landscape photographer. My recollection is that we had arrived separately in the eastern Sierra and somehow ended up meeting here near the town of Lee Vining and heading out to this familiar spot before dawn to make photographs.

I never know exactly what will turn up here. Yes, I can always photograph those tufa towers, but I’m usually often interested in special atmospheric effects: haze, clouds, broken dawn light, the glow on the peaks of the eastern Sierra, reflections in the morning-smooth water. We began by photographing fairly conventional photographs of the tufa towers before the light arrived. It was a cloudy morning, though the deck of clouds was broken, allowing some light to make it through the gaps and a momentary band of light to strike the mountains as the sun came up beneath the far edge of the clouds in the east. I must have made this photograph fairly close to that moment. Most of the scene is in shadow, but bands of light appear on the peaks, and a bit of softer light illuminates the foreground tufa.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell or others where indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Lake, Rocks, and Clouds

Lake, Rocks, and Clouds
Evening clouds reflected in the surface of an alpine lake with a cluster of rocks

Lake, Rocks, and Clouds. Yosemite National Park, California. July 2, 2007. © Copyright 2007 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Evening clouds reflected in the surface of an alpine lake with a cluster of rocks

I recently revisited this older photograph, one that I had shared in a color rendition in the past, and this time I felt like I wanted to see it in monochrome. This is a sort of scene probably familiar to anyone who has spent much time in the high country of the Sierra Nevada, that region where lakes, large sub-alpine meadows, sparse trees, and surrounding peaks come together to produce a landscape like no other.

This is a lake I visit frequently, typically several times each season. I visit it for several reasons, ranging from practical to aesthetic. The lake is not too far from roadways, and it is common that I find that I have enough time available on a late afternoon to park my car, load up my pack, and do the short but steep hike up and over a nearby ridge to get to this alpine world. In fact, it is one of the places where I can arrive at that world rather quickly. Once there I tend to explore the familiar landscape, often revisiting lakes, rocks, streams, and trees that I have visited many times before. As the evening wears on, I know that I should head back to my car before dark, but I am never able to leave quite quickly enough, and I end up lingering through sunset and into early dusk, often ending up on the that ridge between me and the road as darkness comes on, and arriving at my car after dark.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell or others where indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.