Behind the shot: Yosemite Falls

This is one of my most recent outings, taken in Yosemite the weekend before Thanksgiving. It’s a popular photo location in Yosemite Valley and you’ve likely seen photos similar to this one. I had hoped to capture it in the snow, but there was no fresh snowfall this weekend. (I’ll just have to go back!)

For framing, my goal was to use the trees to frame the falls, provide scale, and depth. To do so, I used a telephoto lens, though on the wider end (70mm). I backed up a bit to both frame the falls and to try and reduce the angle that I was shooting upward at. Using the histogram, I took several shots until I was just about to over expose the water; that way I had enough detail in the water still while also minimizing how dark the trees in the foreground were. I also balanced all of that – by adjusting the aperture and ISO – with a slow shutter speed to smooth the water.

Processing included, all in Lightroom: adjusting the white balance (it was a little on the cool/blue side to start), adjusting perspective and cropping, though when I was there I did note that the trees leaned in a little, so I made sure to not totally remove the trees leaning; exposure adjustments to bring up the trees a little; highlight adjustments to tone down the brightness of the water slightly and bring back some detail; white & black point adjustments; and a touch of clarity (+17) and vibrance (+7).

Lower Yosemite Falls

Lower Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park. Pentax K-5, 70-20mm lens, taken at 70mm, f/5.6, ISO 400, 0.8s

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