For the first time since 1933 Tioga Rd, the northern road through Yosemite National Park, has been open this late into January. Due to the complete lack of snow the road has remained clear and the park authorities have left it open for travel. The temperatures in northern Yosemite are right around freezing during the day and much colder at night and all of the Tuolumne Meadows lakes have frozen over to the point where people are ice-skating all over them!!!
Willie and I decided to take advantage of this once in a generation chance and drove up Sunday morning with the plan of shooting Tenaya Lake at sunset (ok ok, we *tried* to drive up Saturday morning but an hour into the drive I had an anxiety attack (I was so excited to go take photos) and I had to turn back and go see the doc. Turns out this was OK because we would have hiked 4 miles to Upper Cathedral Lake and then had to hike 4 miles back freezing our butts off; we avoided turning into ice-cubes ourselves by not making it on Saturday). It was actually kind of funny because as we drove up to Yosemite on Sunday we heard a commercial on the radio advertising Yosemite and telling us to come see the frozen lakes because you may never get this chance again. By the time this happens again I could be 100+ years old!
The weather clouds looked promising and we saw perfectly partially cloudy skies all along the drive to Tenaya. We arrived early enough and spent a while scouting around the lake. At first we walked on the outside edge of the lake but after witnessing multiple people skating all over the lake we decided the frozen lake was thick enough for us to walk on. It turns out it was over a foot thick with ice! Plenty to support us. Willie and I found 2 spots that we liked but the ice-skaters started playing hockey and took over one of our locations. While I staked out the 2nd spot Willie continued hunting for a better crack, which he found and staked out. I stayed at the original spot but quickly realized that Willie's location was far superior. Just before sunset I moved to his spot.
As we waited for sunset to come the unthinkable happened -- the clouds disappeared! Or should I say … they disappeared where we needed them. All around us were clouds but in the one scenic spot on Tenaya Lake, where our composition was setup, there were no clouds! A cloud rolled in just as the sun was setting but it wasn't enough to really light up. The sky got a bit pink and I was able to pull out some color in the sky but our hopes of awesome light were dashed. Oh well … it was at least neat to spend a day in Tenaya experiencing something we'll prob. never get to do again our lifetimes!
Nikon D700 w/Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S:
29mm, f/11, 2 sec, ISO 200, Tripod
HiTech 0.6 Soft Grad ND