As the Memorial Day weekend came and went, the road trip season for the year has officially begun! I am sure that all the national parks must be popular destinations, but what other parks are more popular than Yosemite National Parks! And I jumped on the whole late spring holiday bandwagon and explored the park for a few days and nights, including Yosemite Valley Tunnel View, before heading out to the coast!
YOSEMITE VALLEY TUNNEL VIEW
Upon entering the park, the first view that delightfully greets anyone is the Yosemite Valley Tunnel View. It is such an iconic view, and no one can miss it. Even those who haven’t seen it online or elsewhere even before seeing it person, suffice it to say that the view blows anyone away. It is breathtaking, period, and no wonder why it is one of the most popular spots at Yosemite National Park to take photos.
NOTE: It was my second trip to Yosemite National Park, and this trip was specifically planned to do a lot of #landscapephotography and #astrophotography.
ARRIVAL AT YOSEMITE VALLEY TUNNEL VIEW
I arrived slightly after 3:30 pm.
Anyone who is aspired to take photos, let alone professionals, would say that the middle of the day would not be the most ideal time to take some decent photos of the Yosemite Valley, especially when the shadows were quite short or not seen at all. Some would even say that it may look flat or boring.
Nonetheless, it is such an iconic view, because of that, we all can get away with it, and I joined the whole heap of tourists snapping their smartphones or point and shoot cameras away!
And what better way to showcase the amazing view of the valley other than a panoramic view!
SUNSET AT OLD INSPIRATION POINT AND INSPIRATION POINT
Since I had a few hours to spare till sunset (the sun was supposed to set at 8:07 pm, but of course, it was earlier than that since we were in the mountain range) and one of my research findings for capturing sunset near Yosemite Valley Tunnel View suggested that Old Inspiration Point was a great spot to do just that, so I didn’t waste time and headed up the trail.
From the trailhead (the trail becomes Pohono Trail after Inspiration Point) to Inspiration Point it is only 1.3 miles (one way). To my disappointment, the point itself didn’t provide the most desirable clear view of the valley.
I continued on to reach Old Inspiration Point. When I got there, however, I realized that the point was actually quite off of the trail, meaning as far as I could tell, there was no clearly marked path to the point from the trail, and that it required a bit of traversing down and up the hills.
Part of me wanted to, but I knew I didn’t have enough time to do so, not knowing how it exactly looked, so I reluctantly turned around and headed back to one of the off trail openings with a clear view of the valley that I spotted earlier instead.
The track created with Gaia GPS is also available here if you’re interested.
I got there just in time when the sunset started being painted on Half Dome. Of course, the closeup of Half Dome dyed in saturated orange would be next in order, but for now I loved the wide view of the valley and the glowing Half Dome was the center of it.
I didn’t like the trees in the foreground while taking the photo, but actually it turned out to be a good thing because it added an extra layer of textures. Of course, I took the photo with a full intention of working with the trees in the post process, but I didn’t know how exactly they come out to be at that moment.
This sunset view of Half Dome is also shared on Instagram. You can follow me on Instagram so that you won’t miss any photos I take on my adventures!
And I loved how Bridalveil Fall in the foreground accentuated what would’ve been left too bland in the right corner of the frame otherwise. I like how it takes a little bit of attention away from the orange tinted, glimmering Half Dome. I really like the balance.
STAR TRAILS AT YOSEMITE VALLEY TUNNEL VIEW
The distance of the hike to Old Inspiration Point became about 6 miles (5.87 miles although the actual distance should be a bit less than that since I did a few exploration walks off of the trail), and once the sun disappeared, it got dark rather quickly. And it was time to capture the beauty of the valley at night!
Since Polaris rose not too far away from the valley, let alone El Capitan, where I saw rock climbers conquering the big rock in the dark with flashlights on, I thought it was a great way to capture both.
You can view this photo on Instagram as well. Follow me on Instagram if you’d like to see my photos on the go!
Loved how it turned out, in spite of the fact that it was quite tricky doing long exposure there because the more than expected frequency of the vehicles driving with beaming headlights by the Tunnel View either created lens flares or overexposed the foreground.
It was after midnight when the interval between the vehicles either entering or coming out of the tunnel got longer. Then, I was able to capture the moment that I liked.
I didn’t do any artificial light painting on this shot (same as the Milky Way photo below), and the light source for the trees in the foreground was the the lights from the tunnel.
NOTE: If you’re interested in my #nightphotography aka #astrophotography, please, check out the Milky Way shot that I took at Salt Creek in Death Valley National Park as well. You’ll love that one too.
MILKY WAY AT YOSEMITE VALLEY TUNNEL VIEW
Lastly, what inspired me to take this road trip in the first place was the idea of capturing the Milky Way over the Yosemite Valley.
This breathtaking Milky Way is also shared on Instagram. You can follow me on Instagram to see the beauty that I capture on my adventures.
As is often the case, the Milky Way is something that makes us not only feel humble about our existence but also appreciate the eternal beauty of nature and the universe. The Milky Way has been around for billions of years and will be around for another billions even after any of us is gone.
Every time when being able to look at the Milky Way is a remarkable and humbling moment. That is how we are connected to the past as well as the future.
I was extremely thrilled to be out there exploring even a portion of the park for a fraction of the day and night. Just being able to taking it all in was a blessing, and I couldn’t wait for what was to come next day.
Of course, I knew one thing for certain – capturing the beauty of nature.
Have you been to Yosemite National Park? Have you enjoyed your time at Yosemite Valley Tunnel View? Did you stick around to capture the sunset painted on Half Home, Sentinel Dome and/or Cloud’s Rest? What is your favorite time of the year to visit the park?
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