Yosemite in Winter


There’s something magical about Yosemite in the winter. It’s always awe inspiring, but a fresh dusting of snow adds another level of amazing to the valley. We spent a few days up there between Christmas and New Year’s just to relax and enjoy some time away. As usual, I left longing for more.

Yosemite is a photographers paradise. Everywhere you turn there is something to shoot, and usually a crowd of people taking the same picture. The challenge is avoiding crowds and finding an original shot (if that is even possible). I go into Yosemite knowing the best shots have already been taken and I won’t create a new masterpiece, but I might create my own masterpiece. I go there to take pictures that are mine. Even though a millions of people take the same picture of Half Dome, I still want to take my own. If I’m happy with the shots I take, then it was a good trip. I’ve put all the shots I thought were good enough to share in a set on Flickr.

My favorite places to shoot on this trip were:

  • The meadow along Northside Drive, between Yosemite Village and the Ahwahnee Hotel. It has one of the best views of Half Dome.
  • Tunnel View on Hwy 41, right before the Wawona Tunnel
  • El Capitan meadow
  • Along the Merced River between Swinging Bridge and Sentinel Bridge. (I don’t think you can walk in this area off trail except when there is snow on the ground. Stay on trails and help protect the grasses.)

My favorite places change with the seasons. My next trip later this year will include a hike to the top of Half Dome, so I expect that will be my favorite spot. If you’re planning a trip I highly recommend the Lonely Planet Yosemite National Park guide. It is a invaluable resource.

One bummer about the trip, I realized my Sigma 17-70mm lens is not auto focusing properly, especially for wide shots. It’s not off on every shoot, but enough that I don’t trust it. I’ll probably have it repaired at some point, but for now I’ll switch back to the Canon 17-55mm kit lens or go manual. It sucks to have a lens that’s only 18 months old break. I noticed the shots I took with my Canon 70-300mm were much sharper.