This is also one of the places that I would like to visit before I die. I had this opportunity to visit the Park in May 2010. It is about a 4 hour drive from San Francisco.
You have got to book early for accommodation as the places are very limited within the park and even hotels just outside the park are fully book all year round. Late comers will have to stay in small towns that are further away. I stayed in Merced, a small town about 1 hours drive to the Park.
The entrance fee to the Park is US20.00 per car per week. Be prepared to stay a few days as there are a lot of photography opportunities in the Park.
Yosemite Park covers more than 3,000 sq km. The Yosemite Valley (18sq km) is designated as a World Heritage site in 1984. Two well known personalities had contributed to the promotion of the Park, Naturalist, John Muir and Photographer, Ansel Adams.
It was the later that motivated me to visit this place. I have always admire Ansel Adams work on black and white photography and his famous ‘zone system.” Well, the first thing I did was to head straight to Ansel Adams Gallery that was just next to the Visitors Centre. The Gallery used to be the home and studio of Ansel Adams for about 10 years.
His prints were exquisite and the experience is so different from looking at the images from books. Knowing that his prints were straight from the camera without any burning and dodging is humbling. There were people who said that Adams was more a technician than a photographer. Well, that is subjective.
What most people did not know was Adams was a passionate environmental activist. He lobbied with the Government to rethink on their concept of privatization of the Park. The Concessionaries were destroying the Park, clearing the valley for commercial project and leasing spaces for tourist hotels. He exhibited his prints throughout America to draw attention to the beauty and heritage value of the Park.
My first impression of the Park was..”Wow..this is landscape country.”. For photographers who love nature and landscape this is definitely one of the destinations that you should not miss. The nature walks were really refreshing. Do pack a picnic lunch as you do not want to walk all the way to the back to the village.
Other than the impressive natural granite structures, waterfalls and meadows that dominate the Yosemite Valley, there is also Mariposa grove with Giant Sequoia trees that is reputed to be about 2,000 year old. Giant Sequoia trees are the largest trees on earth. It was an impressive sight.
Be prepared when you visit this Park. Here is the list of suggested equipment that you should bring when you visit the park. Please note that hiking and nature walks are part of the activities.
- Camera – full frame or larger. The larger the format the better,
- A PnS to capture those snapshots that your wife or GF wants you to take.
- Lenses – bring prime lens. A 24mm f1.4, 50mm 1.2 lenses, 200mm f2.0 100mm macro (for those who love macro work) lenses are good for those using full frame digital cameras.
- Tripod – this is an essential item
- Filters – Polarizer, GND, ND
- Cable release.
- Enough CF cards…..there is never enough with sceneries such as these
- A waterproof camera bag that you feel comfortable to carry over long distances and must have room for food and drinks.
- A comfortable pair of hiking shoes
- A plastic bag to keep all those rubbish that you generate.