Tag Archives: photo

Merced River, Branches, El Capitan

Merced River Reflections
Merced River Reflections

Merced River Reflections. Yosemite Valley, California. November 30, 2005. © Copyright 2005 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Branches in the still water of the Merced River with floating autumn leaves and the reflection of El Capitan, Yosemite Valley.

This photograph is almost a bit of an optical trick. I’ll let you look for a second and figure it out…

… Does it make sense now? The foreground is composed of some intertwining dead branches just above the surface of a very still section of the quiet, late autumn Merced River in Yosemite Valley. The leaves floating on and just beneath the surface of the water give it away. Because there are so many branches, their dark reflections seem, to me at least, to almost merge with the shapes of the actual branches, creating a complex pattern. And, reflected in the surface of the water and appearing as a backdrop to these elements, is the sunlit face of El Capitan.

I would love to tell a great story about making this photograph… but I don’t remember making it! I discovered it only recently while reviewing all of my old raw files, and all I can say for sure is that I made it on one of my annual late October trips to The Valley to photograph the fall colors. For those who follow the technical stuff, I made this photograph with some pretty low-level gear back at a time when I was experimenting with my first DSLR. The camera was the very humble (but better than some think, at least for this sort of thing!) Canon Digital Rebel XT, an early 8 MP body. Even more humble was the lens, the not so swell EFS 17-85mm Canon lens.

(Note: This was originally posted on September 21, 2011. I’m moving this photograph back up on the home page today as this is a new revision of the original photograph — the date of the revision is December 26, 2014)


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.

Online Gallery Update

My web presence has long included this blog and a separate online gallery housing a large archive of photographs — perhaps about 3000 of them at last count. Earlier this week the gallery had a technical issue that snowballed and eventually took that gallery completely offline.

During the past few days I have spent way to many hours trying to get the gallery working again, and I have (mostly) succeeded at this point. A new version of the gallery now holds essentially all of the photographs that were at the old gallery. The format is a bit different, though the underlying organization of the images is similar. At this point, the titles of photographs do not display correctly, and you’ll see file names where there used to be titles. This is fixable, but not right away.

If you tried to find the old gallery and couldn’t, thanks for your patience. If you haven’t seen the gallery, feel free to wander over there and take look!


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.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

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.

Photo Rumors — A Cautionary Tale (Morning Musings 102/14)

Rumors are so much fun! Whether you are interested in cars, computer, smartphones, movies, books, or photography gear, there is a good chance that certain hints and rumors may grab your attention and perhaps get you thinking about “what if.” However — and this shouldn’t be news to anyone! — rumors are not news, at least not in most cases, a fact that can get lost as they get picked up, repeated, commented upon, and so forth until they acquire a veneer of believability that may be inappropriate.

If you are interested in the fascinating sub-species of photography equipment rumors, you might enjoy a recent article (“News! 46MP Megapixel Canon 1DsX DSLR About to Be Announced!!! Or the Anatomy of a Rumor”) that unravels the process by which a very (very!) dubious “report” got amplified and repeated until it was regarded as a likely fact.

(For those who don’t follow links, a short version of the conclusion: The “rumor” appears to have been entirely in the mind of one “imaginative” person until it was spread by people who perhaps should have known better.)

Morning Musings are somewhat irregular posts in which I write about whatever is on my mind at the moment — connections to photography may be tenuous at times!


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.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

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.

What’s With the Daily Photographs? (Morning Musings 9/28/14)

Mo's Cloud
Mo’s Cloud. Sierra wave cloud over the Long Valley California. May 28, 2005. © 2008 Copyright G Dan Mitchell — all rights reserved. (posted on my blog in July 2005)

Owens Valley near Mammoth, California. May 28, 2005. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved..

It occurs to me that many people are probably aware that I post a new photograph every day — but that few know how long I’ve been doing this nor my reasons for this seemingly obsessive task. Today I’m sharing a bit of the back story.

I’ve been building and operating websites since about 1995.  I’ll skip over a bunch of other interesting (to me) steps in the previous millennium and my first adventures with weblogs (now known as “blogs”) in the 1990s — though this could be a story for another day. Early on I created a blog about backpacking and other outdoor subjects called “Dan’s Outside,” and it gradually came to hold more and more photographs. At some point — likely around the time I acquired my first DSLR in the early 2000s — the photographs began to be the primary focus, and in 2005 I created a photography blog. The photograph at the top of this post was one of the earliest I shared, back in July of 2005.

Although I have not kept careful records, it looks like the daily photograph posts probably began to appear about a month later in August 2005, and they have continued mostly without a break since that time. That’s a lot of photographs! I haven’t actually counted, but it must be getting close to 3000 or more.

It would be reasonable to ask why I have done this. Continue reading What’s With the Daily Photographs? (Morning Musings 9/28/14)

Print Review (Morning Musings for 8/19/14)

We are very fortunate to be part of a small group of photographers and friends who gather every six weeks or so in one of our homes for an informal print review. Each of the photographers is talented and expressive, and while our stylistic and subject preferences overlap, each has a unique style and photographic “voice.”

Print reviews, especially when the participants comprise a group of very talented and perceptive photographers who are also friends, are very, very useful. They tend to force me to switch out of the regular ongoing “flow” of making a lot of photographs, and towards a more directed task of choosing work worthy of showing and then making decent prints of the work. This switch is another element of the “discipline” component of photography. Even more important, I hear diverse responses to the work, which range from the purely emotional (very important) to technical observations (also important).

It is interesting to see the range of responses — sometimes they are pretty much what I expected based on my own relationship to the images, but at other times I’m surprised. I had two of those surprises last night, and each of them came in the case of sets of related prints that I shared. One was a small group of three street photographs from my recent visit to New York City, photographs of dense and busy spaces that feature intense and wild color palettes. I had originally preferred one of the images to the others, but was beginning to gravitate to a second one in the set that included many more people. To my surprise, the group responded most strongly to the third, and their reactions to it made me reconsider my own feelings about the images in several ways.

The second group of photographs included five high-key black and white photographs, all of which belong to minimalist thread in my work that is about luminous atmosphere, usually from fog, that is so brightly lit by sun that it almost hurts to look into the scene. In order to get prints to somehow suggest that quality, I push the luminosity levels up about as far as possible, and the resulting images are somewhat minimal and often contain large areas of gentle tonal gradation. Among the five I shared were four that I made in California’s Central Valley. One of these is truly minimal, with a nearly invisible and diffuse horizon dividing an extremely luminous foggy sky from its reflection in still water below, and the only clear details are a few scattered birds in the water. I had almost chosen to not include this print, thinking that it might just be too minimal for other viewers. Much to my surprise, and without any prodding from me, the group preferred this image over the others. Live and learn!

Finally, it is a wonderful and useful discipline to hear my work critiqued and mostly adopt a learner’s attitude about what I hear. It is in my nature to try to persuade others of my point of view, but that is usually (but not quite always) the least useful way to deal with critique. The best and most useful thing is to hear and understand what others are seeing in the work, and to a consider it even if it doesn’t mesh with my own perspective. In the end, I can choose to accept or not what I hear, but hearing it is incredibly useful and important.

If you are fortunate enough to have perceptive, knowledgable, sympathetic photographer friends, I urge you to try to get together and try this, and to stick with it long enough to allow the process and the relationships to grow. (And thanks to any of you in the group who are reading this!)

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.

Spring Flooding, Tuolumne Meadows

Spring Flooding, Tuolumne Meadows
Spring Flooding, Tuolumne Meadows

Spring Flooding, Tuolumne Meadows. Yosemite National Park, California. May 4, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The Tuolumne River overflows its banks on a spring evening, Tuolumne Meadows

This is another, slightly different view of a scene that I shared recently, photographed at Tuolumne Meadows on the weekend when Tioga Pass Road over the Sierra crest opened for the 2014 season. As is my habit, I broke free and made it up there to celebrate the beginning of a new high country season. It was a quick trip—a 21 hour 550 mile drive that took me across the range to the Mono Lake area and some nearby sights on the “east side.” Later in the day I reversed course and headed back up to Tioga Pass and began my homeward trip, stopping to spend a good part of the evening in Tuolumne Meadows, where strong wind blew as the golden hour light began to develop.

This scene is full of things that I know well. I have visited the general area of Tuolumne Meadows since I was a child and my father took me and one of my brothers up there on the first camping trip that I can remember. Every spring (or early summer in wet years) when I return I look for this area of the meadow where the Tuolumne River overflows its banks and produces a temporary lake, even in a very dry year like this one. On a number of occasions I have hiked on a trail that crosses from right to left just below the bright granite peak in the upper left, heading for a pass below Ragged Peak and then on to Young Lakes, which lie just beyond that highest ridge. (Just below and to the left of the granite peak lies a beautiful area of subalpine meadow with scattered rocks and extensive fields of lupine.) On this evening there were few people in the meadow, as the campground was not yet open and not many people were still up here so late in the day, so I was able to wait quietly for the clouds and the light to line up just right.

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.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

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.

Evening Clouds, Tuolumne Meadows

Evening Clouds, Tuolumne Meadows

Evening Clouds, Tuolumne Meadows. Yosemite National Park, California. May 4, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Early season evening clouds above Tuolumne Meadows and snow-capped peaks, Yosemite National Park

Another orbit around the sun; another cycle of summer, autumn, winter, and spring; another Sierra Nevada high country summer season begins to come into view. This year’s seems to come early and leaves me with an uneasy feeling—it never really did feel like we had a winter, aside from a few stray storms here and there. But every season is different and who knows what this one will bring. Regardless, Tioga Pass Road through the Yosemite high country opened this past weekend and the high country once again became accessible, as did the eastern slopes of the Sierra. Every year when that happens, the mountains call and I must go. Sometimes, especially when the pass opens later in the season, I may have a few days and I can stay up there and explore a bit more. Other years, like the one, I have to squeeze in a quick visit between other responsibilities. But I virtually always go during the first weekend when the pass opens, and this event marks the beginning of another season that will likely stretch at least into October, when the snows fall again and the aspens change color.

The pass opened on Friday, but I had other plans and responsibilities. I had other things to do on Saturday, too, so that left Sunday. One of those Saturday activities had me returning home at about midnight, and I managed to get to bed at about 12:30… leaving just enough time for three hours of sleep before my 3:30 alarm went off. I was up, stumbling around the house in the dark to dress and make coffee, and in a half hour or so I was on the road to the Sierra. The sun rose as I entered the foothills, where I stopped to photograph some spring oak trees and green grasses, and while it was probably 7:30 or earlier when I reached the park entrance it already seemed like the day was quite far along. I turned east onto the very familiar highway 120, and eagerly watched for special places I know, looking to see how they were developing this year. Was there water in that pond? Early signs of corn lilies? Water flowing in that creek? The Sierra certainly does look dry, but this was masked a bit by the remains of a snow storm from past week, which covered the ridges with white. Eventually I made it across the range and dropped down to Mono Lake and then drove up a quiet east side canyon to sit and listen to the wind for a while before starting back. I made this photograph during the last hour of daylight in Tuolumne Meadows, as the color of the light changed and the clouds of a passing weather front assembled above the crest.

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.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

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.