My Best Yosemite Shot Ever

Photo: Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California

Image: Storm cloud over Lake Tahoe at sunset, from South Lake Tahoe, California

I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. I feel like I haven’t created any true masterworks of photography in at least a few weeks. Inspired by countless images of Yosemite shared in photo-havens like Flickr, Facebook, and Instagram, and wow’d by the millions of double-tap likes they generated, I finally convinced myself I had to get my own true masterpiece. But I didn’t want to have just any old shot that no one else had, I wanted THE SHOT. So I did as much research as I could. I looked on 500px and fav’d every uber-dramatic Yosemite picture I could find. But I was determined to out-do them all. I then turned to Google Maps for more detailed research, then to Google Earth. But that wasn’t good enough, so I bribed a security guard at NASA Ames Research Center with 13 Canadian dollars to let me see some LANDSAT Satellite photos which I downloaded into my iPhone-17 4k uranium-plated wristwatch. Once I had my coordinates, I set off to get what I was sure would be the most unique shot I could muster.

After 5 hours of driving the speed limit, I finally burst out of a long tunnel to one of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen. I knew right away, this was it: THE SHOT! I would GET THE SHOT. But my enthusiasm for thinking I would be photographing this grandeur in solitude was quickly shattered when I saw a long line of inter-locked tripod legs stretched across the length of the viewpoint. I walked up to the phalanx muttering to myself, “Gotta get the shot.” Fortunately I saw a buddy of mine, Youssef, who was just stepping out of the line and offered me his spot. As soon as I got in line, the guy on my left comments to me, “Hey, that’s a pretty expensive camera. I bet it takes good pictures, huh?” “That’s nothing,” says the guy on the other side of me, who then proceeds to explain to the first guy how his 835Mp Point-n-shoot is simply the greatest camera ever invented, and how it was reverse-engineered from a crashed alien spaceship. The only thing I could hear through all this techno-gibberish was my own brain repeating “Gotta get the shot; gotta get the shot; gotta get the shot,” drilling itself deeper into my head like a gopher on speed.

Finally, at that moment when the sun was about 54% degrees above the horizon in the western sky, the light was perfect, and yes, by Gosh, I got the shot. Just as I was turning to leave, I saw my good friend, Jim Goldstein looking to get his own shot. So with a swift elbow to ribs of the guy on my right, and an ‘accidental’ tripod shot to the guy on my left, I was able to let Jim take over my spot. I heard he also pulled off a pretty amazing shot, and I think you owe it to yourself to check his shot out here. His is almost as good as mine.

Btw, a note about processing: Even though I always shoot in the middle of the day, I still think HDR makes some of the most dramatic looking images. I try not to overdo the saturation, because I always want the viewers of my work to feel like they’re looking at a believable scene that they would see with their own eyes. At least, that’s how I like to present my huge 90″ prints that I sell for $568,535.95 in my three exclusive Las Vegas Galleries.

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Gary Crabbe is an award-winning commercial and editorial outdoor travel photographer and author based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, California. He has seven published books on California to his credit, including “Photographing California; v1-North”, which won the prestigious 2013 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal award as Best Regional title. His client and publication credits include the National Geographic Society, the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, TIME, The North Face, Subaru, L.L. Bean, Victoria’s Secret, Sunset Magazine, The Nature Conservancy, and many more. Gary is also a photography instructor and consultant, offering both public and private photo workshops. He also works occasionally a professional freelance Photo Editor.

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8 Comments on “My Best Yosemite Shot Ever”

  1. My Best Yosemite Shot Ever | shootplex Says:

    […] Read the original: My Best Yosemite Shot Ever […]

  2. Chuck Kimmerle Says:

    Gary, that picture is so interesting and unique that my eyes are bleeding. Photography is now ruined for me.

  3. Russ Bishop Says:

    It’s stunning Gary, really. And at that price it’s a steal! But I somehow feel as if there’s a bit too much granite.


  4. Jackson Frishman Says:

    Wow Gary, I’m really amazed at your processing skills that do justice to this subtle and gorgeous light! Do you sell Lightroom presets or anything? Actually, I’ve never really seen light this spectacular myself, but that’s probably because I’m always lazy and snoozing in my sleeping bag for the golden hour.

  5. David Leland Hyde (@PhilipHydePhoto) Says:

    Amazing, Gary. Very cool that you kept so much detail with that much natural color in the sunset. Yosemite has never been more dramatic. You got it on the right day. I see your research paid off. 😉

  6. Christina Says:

    Gary, There must have been an exodus of photographers in Yosemite. I’ve read three blogs today where everyone was in Yosemite and this was the shot. The story was pretty much the same…long line. Saw a friend, took the friend spot, saw another friend, they took their spot.

    Great photo and great story getting the photo.

  7. Michael Says:

    I love the subtle pastels and seemingly seamless seams. This image truly brings tears to my eyes.

  8. Frederic Hore Says:

    Yup – it’s a winner! If I didn’t know better, I’d say you flew to Chile and took it in the high Andes Mountains, somewhere in Patagonia. They say the ozone hole in the atmosphere there is pretty bad, and you get all these weird colours. That colourful sky is really the giveaway.

    Hope you didn’t get too radiated – bet your skin is glowing red.

    Either way, I bey you had a great day on April 1st. Here in Montreal they call it Poisson d’Avril.

    Cheers and be well!
    Frederic in Montréal

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