Photography and Yosemite National Park’s beautiful landscapes have gone hand in hand since the mid-1800s when photographers like Charles Weed and Carleton Watkins packed large-format cameras with glass plates into Yosemite Valley on mules. Their images were pivotal in sharing and ultimately protecting this landscape for future generations.
Today, modern photographers continue to flock to Yosemite to share its beauty with the world, to preserve memories of friends and families, and to make inspiring art. Amazing photographs lurk around every corner and turn in the trail. There is beauty underfoot in the form of delicate wildflowers and overhead in tall forests and white granite cliffs. Here are some tips on where to get the best photos in Yosemite.
Surrounded by all of this possibility, it can be hard to know where to begin looking for a place to shoot.
To get started, check out our list of Top 10 Places to Get the Shot. These are the famous locations, with iconic views that have mesmerized people for decades. If you’re looking for pictures that are unmistakably Yosemite, this is your list.
Remember to keep your camera handy on your way to Yosemite too. For example, if you travel up the Merced River along Highway 140, keep your eyes open for some of the beautiful scenes along the river and near El Portal.
Many Yosemite snapshots show the landscape’s beauty under a cloudless blue sky. This is the scene that will greet most summer-time visitors. It makes for beautiful hiking weather and bright, sparkling images.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a truly unique Yosemite shot be sure to plan a trip for late fall, winter, or early spring. Serious photographers delight in the cloudy forecasts that accompany these seasons. They are looking for those ephemeral bursts of light, wisps of fog swirling through the trees in the valley, and the moody images that come with orange and pink clouds at sunset or sunrise.
During particular moments in Nature’s regular rhythm of changing light and flowing water, everything comes together to create the most mystical and unique opportunities for photographers. And when they happen regularly, photographers from around the world travel to Yosemite for the chance to capture these unique moments.
Yosemite is a big place, and with so many beautiful locations and the ever-changing nature of the light, it can be helpful to have someone show you around. While there are many photographers from far away eager to lead trips to Yosemite, consider the advantage of spending that time with a truly local photographer – one that has been exploring this landscape during every spare moment for years, watching the light change with the seasons and developing an intimate knowledge of the park.
What are your favorite locations and tips for Yosemite photography? There’s a vibrant community at YosemiteNation on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Make sure you swing by for more photographic inspiration and be sure to share your favorite photos as well. We hope to see you there!