Posts Tagged ‘Yosemite National Park’

Project Yosemite Night ImageYosemite National Park is an elemental place, one formed from a beautiful union of stone, wood, water and light.  There is a wonderful time-lapse film project, Project Yosemite, filmed by Colin Delehanty and Sheldon Neill,  that  attempts to capture this elemental beauty.  It has stunning vistas showing the changing light of both day and night set against the backdrop of some of the park’s iconic landmarks.

The night scenes with the heavens moving above as shooting stars fire across the starry sky are pretty incredible as are the movements of the climbers on some of the massive rock faces.  They appear as bug-like figures and at night they become fireflies as their lights cast tiny but bright specks of light against the granite monoliths.

There are two great films.  Take a look and definitely check out the Project Yosemite site.  Just beautiful work.

Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

Yosemite HD II from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

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Grizzly Giant, Mariposa Grove, YosemiteOne thing I haven’t mentioned yet about our time in California was our visit to the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite, a forest that contains over 500 Giant Sequoia trees.  Because we were visiting late in the season and it was a gray, wet day, we pretty much had the trails to ourselves as we wandered among the immense trees.   To be able to stand in their presence in the stillness and silence of the forest, to be able to fully take in the wonder of their size and to ponder the timespan of their lives,  was magnificent.

The tree shown above is the Grizzly Giant, one of the stars of this particular grove of Sequoias.  He ( I’m using the male pronoun for this particular tree just because it seemed to fit in this instance) is one  of the larger trees in the world, among the top 25, though he is not one of the tallest.  He  measures in  at about 209′ in height while the biggest specimens sometime go over 300′.  He does have a great trunk, however, one that measures about 29′ in diameter at the base.  The largest limb on the left side of this photo has a diameter of over 7′, which itself would dwarf most trees in any forest.

His age is estimated to be  between 1900 and 2700 years.  Standing there, in the silence of the forest, the sheer age of the creature seemed to sink in.  By the time the Roman Empire fell, he was already ancient.  The Europeans arrival here in America with Columbus’ landing was just a short time ago to him.  He has a Sequoia  friend there, its massive trunk still sprawling across the forest floor,  that fell over three hundred years ago   when we were not yet dreaming of  the possibility of a sovereign United States of America.  Through all the turmoil of the human world and all the catastrophes of the natural world, he has stood steadfast.  It’s an elegant  stoicism that makes you wonder about the wisdom of our own interactions to the world around us, how we race to react to everything that occurs while the Grizzly Giant stands silently as an eternal witness.  He just is.

On a rainy day near the end of November, we were lucky enough to have have him to ourselves for a short time , his stillness in being hopefully transferring to us some sort of wisdom.


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Yosemite Valley with El CapitanOn our recent  trip west, we headed first into Yosemite National Park before heading over to San Luis Obispo for the show.  Both Cheri and I had always wanted to see the iconic sights with which  we were so well acquainted and thought that a few days there  beforehand would better acclimate us to California time.  We’re really glad we did.  Yosemite was everything we had hoped for, even with the iffy weather as the storms that buffeted California would occasionally pass through.

Yosemite Half DomeGoing as we did, in late November when the hustle and traffic of the  high tourist season has long passed by,  there were very few people there which added to the drama of the place.  It’s easier to reverently take in the full  power and magic of the place without the constant sound of human voices.  And there is an elemental power there.   It is all granite and water and wood and mists that shift  quickly,  one moment shrouding the cliffs and the next moving on to reveal a grand vista.  Awe inspiring.

One of my favorite moments was on the first morning.  I was up early and went out into the meadows near the lodge as the light came into the valley.  There were no other people out there, none to be seen or heard.  There were still leaves on the trees there due to the moderating effects of the protected valley and to stand there and look up at the cliffs with Half Dome hovering over the golden crowns of the trees was pure magic.  Absolute silence.  I could hear leaves touching the ground after they fell from trees a hundred  feet or more away.  It was as close as I’ve come to the Big Quiet in some time.  All I could think was:  If you didn’t have to leave this place, why would you?

I think that thought is what makes the folks that live and work there seem so purely happy.  We met so many local people there that were as friendly and engaging as any I’ve met.  If you ask, they will admit to knowing how fortunate they are to be living in such a place.  We met two local high school girls who were giving free hugs ( I told you they were friendly) at the Village Store.  They talked about being torn about leaving to go away to college because of their love for the Yosemite.  I doubt they ever leave, at least in spirit.

I know that I’m still there, in my mind at least.


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One of the things I am looking forward to next week when I head to California for the opening of my show at the Just Looking Gallery in San Luis Obispo is the couple of days beforehand that we will spend in Yosemite National Park.  I have never been there but know well the iconic images of its beauty from the photography of the great Ansel Adams.  While he is known for many photos of other locales, his images of the Yosemite Valley have come to be most closely associated with his name.

Adams (1902- 1984) first encountered Yosemite as a teen on a family excursion  on which he carried his first camera , a Kodak Brownie.  He was smittten by the spectacular landscape and the light as it filtered through the valley.  He would  return  over and over through the coming years, his prowess as a photographer growing.  He eventually married a local Yosemite girl, Virginia Best, whose father ran  Best’s Studio there.  She inherited the studio in 1935 and she and Adams ran it until 1971.  It is now called the Ansel Adams Gallery , where his work and the photos of  other great contemporary photographers are shown and sold.  The gallery  is still in the hands of the Adams family.

I’ve always loved his images of the grandeur of the Yosemite Valley and have formed my own idealized version of how the place might be in my mind through them.  I am hoping that reality lives up to expectations that have grown over many years.  I f any place can do this, I believe it might be Yosemite.

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