Dawn at Taft Point

Picture: Moonset at dawn from Taft Point, with El Capitan in background, Yosemite National Park, California

Image: Moonset at dawn from Taft Point, with El Capitan in background, Yosemite National Park, California

There’s something incredibly joyful about having a place like this all to yourself. First of all, it’s quiet. (Kind of like this blog over the last few weeks.) My friend and I drove to the trailhead on Glacier Point Road, arriving in plenty of time to hike the short, two-mile trail in the dark.

Taken just 36 hours after having hiked down from Clouds Rest, I had done my research prior to leaving the Bay Area, so I knew exactly when and where the moon would be setting. The day prior to this, the moon would have been lower and more to the left. A moon slightly lower in the sky would have been nice, but more to the left would have been not so good.

What I didn’t want to do was, after down-hiking from Clouds Rest in the middle of the night, then to drive halfway across Yosemite, only to hike out again in the dark for a dawn shot the very next morning. (That would have to get filed under: Just a Little Too Much.) The Morning after this shot was taken, the moon would be setting closer to El Capitan (good), but would be another 15 degrees higher in the sky (bad). So this was the one morning for my shot; make or break.

We had the entire Taft Point area all to ourselves from before dawn, and for the next hour or so, until well after sunrise. Just as we were packing up our tripods and hitting the trail back, the next of the days many visitors arrived. The solitude had been ours, then faded away, just as the moon had faded below the horizon.

To help predict where the moon would be, I used a program called, The Photo Ephemeris (TPE)

BTW – In case you’re wondering; from where I shot this, it’s just a single, 3,000-foot step down to the valley floor.

Image ID#: 111013a_YOS-0010

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3 Comments on “Dawn at Taft Point”

  1. Carl D Says:

    Hey Gary

    Wonderful image.



  2. Richard Wong Says:

    Great shot Gary. I like how the light seems to be radiating from a vanishing point.

  3. Rosh Sillars Says:


    As always, a beautiful photograph.

    I will most certainly leave the one step away from a long 3000 ft. ride down photography to experts such as yourself.


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