Michael Frye Photography – Trees and fog

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Yosemite National park, California: Trees and waves fo fog

Nine days ago, on a Sunday morning, I drove up to Yosemite Valley just as a small thunderstorm was clearing. The system was warm, so it rained in the valley (around 4,000 feet). There was still snow on the ground, and rain on snow is a fog generator, so I expected fog and mist.

There was a lot more mist in the valley when I arrived. I climbed to one of my favorite viewpoints off the beaten path, thinking that I would capture a classic Yosemite storm clearing. But when I reached that spot it became apparent that the mist wasn’t wrapping around the cliffs as I’d expected. Instead, I saw an eerie layer of fog that covered the Valley floor. The tops tall ponderosa trees poked through the fog. Which looked beautiful.

I then switched gears and focused on patterns of trees and fog. I mostly used my zoom lens (100-400mm) to select small portions of the scene. However, sometimes I used a wide angle to include more.

The patterns changed continuously as the fog ebbed through the valley. I’d pick out an interesting area, compose, focus, and make an exposure. Sometimes I’d wait and capture the same composition again as the fog shifted. But no particular area stayed interesting for long, so I’d stop, look around, see where the mist and trees looked most eye-catching at the next moment, compose, focus, press the shutter again – and repeat.

I happily photographed trees and fog for over two-and-a-half hours. I made around 200 photographs of those trees, and narrowed that down to a few favorites, which I’ve included here. Let me know which of these photos is your favorite.

While I’ve photographed trees and fog on the valley floor before, it was never quite like this, where I was able to photograph those scenes for hours, with constantly-changing mist, from a new vantage point. The light was stunning. In winter, the valley floor is mostly in shade. As the sun rose higher, it lit up the cliffs across from the valley and reflected a golden light onto the fog. The whole experience felt like scratching a long-standing itch I’d never been able to reach before, which was very satisfying.

— Michael Frye

Trees, fog, and cliffs, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Yosemite National Park, California, with its trees, fog and cliffs

Fog and tree patterns, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Yosemite National Park, California: Fog and tree patterns

Fog tendrils, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Fog tendrils, Yosemite NP, California

Trees, mist, and cliff, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Yosemite National Park, California: Trees, mist and cliff

Trees and layers of fog, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

Yosemite National Park, California, trees and layers of fog

Related Posts Yosemite Winter Snow; Poconip Fog; Take a break from the storms

Michael Frye is an experienced professional photographer who specializes in landscapes and natural subjects. He lives in California near Yosemite National Park but travels widely to photograph landscapes throughout the American West.

Michael uses light, weather and design to create photographs that convey the beauty, mystery, and power of nature. His work has been published in many publications and won numerous awards. He’s the author and/or principal photographer of several books, including Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite.

Michael shares his passion for photography through his blog, his articles, his books, his workshops, his online courses, and even his blog. He’s taught over 200 workshops focused on landscape photography, night photography, digital image processing, and printing.

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