I usually try to go on a trip to photograph when I know the weather will be in my favor. Now the timing for this particular trip to Yosemite National Park was chosen ahead of time because of the early spring water run off, which would cause the waterfalls to be flowing very nicely. I was going there a week or two later than I would like to catch Dogwood blossoms, but due to other committements this was week I would get to go, and I was hoping that to still find some Dogwoods worth photographing.
Thankfully the forecast heading into that week still had several days that were to be filled with rain clouds. Sometimes rain isn’t ideal, but with Landscape photographs, with the rain then comes the clearing storm clouds as the rain ceases, and those conditions can create some of the most beautiful landscape photo’s ever!
On this particular day, it was between storms, so there were very few clouds. So knowing there would not be any clouds, I chose not to shoot the sunset from the Tunnel View location which gives such a grand overview of the beautiful Yosemite Valley. Instead I chose to shoot from down in the valley itself, from an area in Cooks Meadow where I know from experience will have some nice pools of water formed in the meadow itself. These provide wonderful compositions where the setting sun will paint Half Dome with a gorgeous red color often.
On going there, I hadn’t expected ducks or deer to be in the shot. My main focus was the reflection. But upon setting up, I saw 3 or 4 ducks swimming in the marshy pool of water. So I composed my shot at an area where the ducks appeared to be swimming a lot. As the ducks are deciding to cooperate so nicely, I am getting some pretty cool shots. But then out of the corner of my eye, I see a couple of deer grazing in the meadow too, not too far from where I was at. I noticed that if I changed my position, I might possibly get them grazing in front of Half Dome which I hoped would look cool.
Backing off from the pond, and quickly taking a route that lead me away from the deer so as not to scare them off, I positioned myself with the deer in a very nice composition. I let the deer graze into the shot, making sure that my shutter speed was fast enough to freeze their movement. Even though they weren’t moving fast, it’s amazing how easily in dim light and a slow shutter speed where animals can get soft from just a little movement.
So the point here is that we just need to get out there and shoot. We can’t predict everything when it comes to a location. And also on days where the clouds may not be at their best, or may have even just disappeared completely, be sure to have other compositions in mind that will work with these other conditions.