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Yosemite at Night

The awe-inspiring Sierra Nevada "range of light" is a photographic icon that has often been photographed by day. These mountains are a joy to hike.

The mountains of Yosemite and the Sierra are also easy to walk in the depth of night by starlight or moon, with broad granite surfaces broadcasting ambient light to the joy of hiker, photographer, rock, and tree.

Here are some of my photos of the country of Yosemite and the High Sierra by star and by night...





Upper Yosemite Falls

Waking up, I glanced at the clock. It was 3:49AM. The kids were sleeping peacefully in our room at Yosemite Lodge.

I dressed for winter, and headed out into the night. The paths were icy but the stars were crisp and bright. I made my way to a clearing in the woods below Yosemite Falls.... Read more

Upper Yosemite Falls

Stars Rush In

I spent most of Tuesday night on Glacier Point, hoping for Draconid meteor showers but settling for star trails. I brought six batteries and two cameras. I set one of the cameras to automatically capture a series of exposures, with statistical stacking in mind; with the other camera I played..... Read more
Stars Rush In

Tioga Pass Road

Tioga Pass is the highest car crossing of the High Sierra. I always find the view down towards Owens Valley, Mono Lake, and the high desert awe inspiring. For this photo, I stopped at one of the first overlooks. The moon was brightly lighting the far side of the canyon, but where I stood the defile was in deep shadow.... Read more
Tioga Pass Road

Yosemite at Night

With the boys tucked safely in bed I headed out into what proved an increasingly moist night. Wet fog enveloped most of Yosemite Valley, but there were odd pockets of open sky. From Swinging Bridge, I had a pretty straight shot at the stars over Yosemite Falls. The falls themselves were partially hidden by the darkness and fog, but the entire cliff face was illuminated by the light pollution from Yosemite Lodge.... Read more
Yosemite at Night

Starry Night

Many of my night photos are created in homage to Vincent van Gogh, who wrote in a letter to his brother Theo, “It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day.” The star swirl in this image seems particularly van Gogh, so I thought I’d name this one Starry Night, after one of his most famous works.... Read more
Starry Night

Half Dome by Star Light

Last week I went to Yosemite. As my kids might say, this was an “opposites day” venture: my plan was to photograph at night and sleep during the day.

More or less, my plan worked out with an unexpected fringe benefit: even at the height of the summer season I didn’t see too many people.

My most important goal: to photograph the night time vista from the top of Half Dome. Read more

Half Dome by Star Light

Yosemite Falls at Dusk

This is Upper Yosemite Falls photographed at dusk, basically by star light, from near Sentinel Bridge. I purposely stopped the lens down as far as possible to make the exposure as long as possible, so that the water would hopefully become a solid flow. Read more
Yosemite Falls at Dusk

Night in Yosemite

This is a view from the meadow outside Curry Village in Yosemite. It is looking up at Glacier Point.

It’s a longer exposure than Yosemite Falls at Dusk: Five Minutes (300 seconds) with the lens wide open. Long enough to see the motion of the stars.

I had helped Julian and Nicky brush their teeth, and read them Harry Potter. With a certain amount of nervousness, I had left the kids asleep in our tent at Curry, strapped on my camera pack, tripod, and headlamp, and headed out into the dark. Read more

Night in Yosemite

Turning Digital Night to Day

Now here’s where it gets weird. Basically, when you open the camera RAW files of these photos in Photoshop, the default settings in the RAW conversion dialog makes them look like washed-out daylight shots. I had to fiddle with the conversion settings quite a bit to get them to look like sunset, let alone the almost-darkest-night which was the way the scene really looked. Read more
Turning Digital Night to Day

More Half Dome by Star Light

In the gathering dark I hiked back to my car and headed for Glacier Point. Down below, the lights from Curry Village, the Ahwanee, and campgrounds looked like either a shanty town, or a not-so-small civilization. Camera on tripod I pointed at Half Dome, lit by stars and ambient light. I exposed this image for 15.5 minutes at ISO 100 and f/7.1. Read more
Half Dome by Star Light
Moon Shadow of Half Dome

Moon Shadow from Half Dome © Harold Davis. 569 second exposure @ f/4 and ISO 100.

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