Going on a photo trip can be a very interesting experience.  You travel with like-minded individuals who similarly want to stop around every corner to snap a few shots.  Waking up at ungodly hours to catch sunrise is a no-brainer, and no one thinks twice about a trunk loaded with more gear than clothing.

It also means that when trying to catch the shot, you’re surrounded by fellow photographers – instead of tourists.  This has the benefit of patience and respect.  Your companions won’t rush you (even when you’ve been sitting in the same spot for half an hour or more), and everyone is hyper-sensitive to where lenses are pointed so as to not unwittingly step into someone else’s frame.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

We were on our way back from shooting sunrise at Yosemite Falls when we drove by the central village and it’s adjacent valley.  It’s mostly water, filled with tufts of mounded grass and overseen by a magnificent black oak.  We called this area the swamp.

We decided to pull over (as photographers are wont to do) and immediately decided there was something there worth shooting.  The light was right at the tail of golden hour, and the steam rising from the illuminated, snow-draped tree limbs made the area simply magical.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

However, we were just a hair too late.

The sun rose higher in mere moments and ducked behind the opposing bluff, casting the swamp in shadow.  The magic was gone.

So we resolved to return the next day, early enough to catch that perfect light.

Now, more than the excellent lighting was the fact that the sun would be partially obscured by the mountain on the other side of the valley.  This provided an opportunity for sunstars – which we all wanted.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

This one caught the perfect light

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

This was from the same spot, but a mere 23 seconds later; already, the light is gone here!

So, come the next day, we dutifully lined ourselves up along the west bank and set up our tripods.  Once the sun dipped into the valley, the line of photographers burst into a flurry of activity.

The sun would remain in that partially-obscured position for seconds, only.  We were lucky if we could get a couple of shots before we had to move.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

However, because we didn’t want to run in front of anyone still shooting, the line leap-frogged north, chasing that shadow’s edge.  Take a shot or two, run up the line and back into the sun, drop the tripod and quickly compose for another lightning snap, snatch the tripod and chase the sun once more.  It was quite entertaining to watch, even as I partook.

I got my sunstar and a few other shots, besides, and I even got some morning exercise.  The things a photographer will do for her art!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017


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