Tag Archives: morning

From The Panamints to the Sierra

From The Panamints to the Sierra
The distant Sierra Nevada peaks are visible from the crest of the Panamint Mountains, Death Valley National Park.

From The Panamints to the Sierra. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The distant Sierra Nevada peaks are visible from the crest of the Panamint Mountains, Death Valley National Park.

There is a misconception out there that “you can see the highest point in the 48 states from the lowest point in the 48 states” if you visit Death Valley. This is sometimes shortened: “You can see Mount Whitney from Death Valley.” Sorry to say, but that isn’t quite true. However the truth is pretty impressive nonetheless — from elevated locations in Death Valley National Park you can see both the lowest and highest spots.

I made this photograph early in the morning from one such location. Death Valley itself lay behind my camera position, many thousands of feet below this high ridge. And there in the distance are the peaks of the southern Sierra Nevada, along the eastern edge of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks. Between these points is a remarkable stretch of very rugged and dry landscape with only a few easy access points to most of it.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

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Peninsula Trees, Morning

Peninsula Trees, Morning
Trees on a rocky peninsula catch the first morning sun at a Yosemite National Park backcountry lake.

Peninsula Trees, Morning. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Trees on a rocky peninsula catch the first morning sun at a Yosemite National Park backcountry lake.

There’s nothing like have the time for a slow morning wandering the perimeter of a forest-lined Yosemite backcountry lake. We camped at this one for something like four nights back in 2014, when a group of us spent a week in the high country making photographs. Each morning, well before sunrise, it was down to the shoreline wander and photograph.

I love photographs of trees in back-light, but there are some challenges. The obvious one, of course, is that you are pretty much guaranteed to be shooting almost directly into the sun. But second challenge is that the scene between camera position and subject is often in the bright sunlight, even if the background is pleasantly shaded. Photographing on a lake can help with this issue since the water helpfully reflects that shaded background and is hardly affected at all by the direct light, aside from a bit of extra illumination of anything that happens to be floating on the water.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

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Creosote, Dunes, Desert Mountains

Creosote, Dunes, Desert Mountains
Morning light on blooming creosote plants in the dunes, Death Valley National Park.

Creosote, Dunes, Desert Mountains. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Morning light on blooming creosote plants in the dunes, Death Valley National Park.

While much of my recent visit to Death Valley focused on relatively out of the way locations and subjects, I did spend one night at the Stovepipe Wells campground/parking lot. (If you have been there, you understand the reference.) The idea was that sleeping there for one night would put me in the best location to photograph in the nearby dunes in the evening and again very early the next morning. This photograph comes from the morning session, not too long. before I packed my gear, headed back to my vehicle, made a quick breakfast, and drove to another of those isolated locations.

The ritual of morning photography in these dunes is familiar to me by now. I get up before sunrise so that I can arrive at the point of departure for my walk into the dunes well before the sun comes up. Getting to the locations where I like to photograph can take between 15 minutes and a half hour of walking. Once I’m in position I usually have to work somewhat quickly since the light begins to change quickly. I’ll usually photograph a bit in the soft pre-sunrise light first. Then the first direct light on the peaks to the west alerts me that the direct sun will be here soon, and I turn my attention to finding subjects to photograph in the moments when the light/shadow boundary moves through the scene. I made this photograph considerably later, just as the increasingly bright light was a about to begin washing out the subtle early colors.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

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Links to Articles, Sales and Licensing, my Sierra Nevada Fall Color book, Contact Information.

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

Tuolumne Canyon, September

Tuolumne Canyon, September
Wildfire smoke colors the morning light on domes above the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

Tuolumne Canyon, September. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Wildfire smoke colors the morning light on domes above the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

Back in 2014 a group of us spent a week photographing in the Yosemite backcountry. We packed in to our first locations, spent a few days there, then moved along and ended up near the location of this photograph in the canyon of the Tuolumne River. While many have an impression of the Tuolumne formed by its leisurely passage through the Tuolumne Meadows area, other sections present a very different view.

Our stop here coincided with a very destructive wildfire in Little Yosemite Valley, and on the afternoon of our arrival the smoke had block the sun as ash floated down from the sky. Later much of the smoke blew in other directions, yet there was still a general smokiness in the atmosphere. That slightly brown haze colored the light in this early morning view of the canyon of the Tuolumne River.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

Blog | About | Flickr | FacebookEmail

Links to Articles, Sales and Licensing, my Sierra Nevada Fall Color book, Contact Information.

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