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Yosemite Ghosts

Updated on February 5, 2012
Olmstead Point, Tioga Pass Road, Yosemite National Park.
Olmstead Point, Tioga Pass Road, Yosemite National Park.

Do you want to hear a ghost story? I have one for you. It's a story about a self-doubting landscape photographer facing a place that has been photographed by two world-famous landscape photographers. Who is the self-doubting photographer? None other than yours truly. The place is Yosemite National Park, and of course the two ghosts were the great landscape photographers Ansel Adams and Galen Rowell.

To say that these ghosts were intimidating was an understatement. Ansel Adams made landscape photography a legitimate art form while Galen Rowell colorized Adams' vision of Yosemite as well as creating his own unique vision of the park. How was a landscape photographer from Ohio who only had a week to photograph Yosemite supposed to create photographs worthy of these ghosts? This was the question I asked myself as my family and I reached the park.

Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California
Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California

As soon as we entered the park I was awestruck and emotional. Tears welled up in my eyes. This was the place that Ansel Adams immortalized. This is the park that inspired the two men who motivated me to become a landscape photographer. I was both excited and terrified. How was I going to bring a fresh new perspective to one of the most photographed national parks? How was I going to exorcise these ghosts of Yosemite?

I began by photographing the first landmark a visitor sees in Yosemite Valley, El Capitan. I was marveling at how huge the granite monolith was when an idea struck me like a lightning bold. Instead of photographing El Capitan at eye level, why not lower the tripod and shoot up at the landmark? It worked beautifully. Not only did this create a new view of Yosemite, it emphasized just how grand the landscape really is. I also used this technique in Yosemite Valley for the more famous landmarks and for the Tuolumne Meadows and vistas seen along the Tioga Road.

Suddenly, poof! Yosemite's ghosts disappeared. Actually, I don't really think anyone else saw these ghosts but me. I was feeling overwhelmed by the thought of competing with Ansel Adams and Galen Rowell, then I came to realize that emulating the ghosts was impossible. What I had to do was create my own unique vision of Yosemite and learn from Adams and Rowell, not compete with them.

So, the next time you are in any park, be it local, state or national, feeling overwhelmed and wondering if you can ever photograph the area like so many other professional photographers have, take a deep breath, grab your equipment and try to create your own unique vision of the park. It will help to exorcise you demons and ghosts.

Rainbow, Olmstead Point, Yosemite National Park, California
Rainbow, Olmstead Point, Yosemite National Park, California


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    • crookedcreekphoto profile image

      crookedcreekphoto 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Thank you so much. If it wasn't for Ansel Adams I wouldn't be interested in landscape photography.

    • Fennelseed profile image

      Annie Fenn 6 years ago from Australia

      I love Ansel Adams work and the way he captured the landscape in such a surreal way. Your rainbow photo is very much in that vein with the mountains of gold at the end of the rainbow and the foreground silhouetted and sepia looking. Amazing photos, I have enjoyed this hub, thank you. My votes to you.

    • crookedcreekphoto profile image

      crookedcreekphoto 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Thank you for the wonderful comments. If you ever get an opportunity to visit the park, take it. It's worth the trip!

    • aslaught profile image

      aslaught 6 years ago from Alabama

      I've never been to Yosemite, but I would certainly like too! Great hub! Good writing, good descriptions, and breathtaking photography!!! Voted up!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

      We live near Yosemite, and have been there many times. We always take cameras-- and I finally thought "Why are we taking more pictures of Yosemite? Don't we have enough?"

      It must be one of the most photographed places on earth, but somehow there is still the compulsion to try to capture the experience and feeling of this beautiful spot with just one more photo.


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