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Too beautiful for pictures: Horsetail Fall, Yosemite

Yesterday, I received some inspirational photos taken by a good friend and former colleague at Apple, whom I met when I was a Netscape guy based onsite at Apple from 20002001. Robert and his daughter hiked 1 mile through snow (both “in” and “out”) to a vantage point for photographing Horsetail Fall in Yosemite, which  is a seasonal waterfall that occurs on the eastern side of El Capitan. According to the Wikipedia article just cited (which has a photograph), the waterfall descends in two streams, which fall side by side, 1500 and 1600 feet. The longer is just 12 feet short of the height (1612 feet or 491 meters) of Ribbon Fall, which Wikipedia describes as the “largest single-drop waterfall in the United States.”

I would love to share these photos with you, but I do not have rights for electronic use of the images. Robert has the copyright to the photos, from the moment that he captured the images. There are 4 photos, and since a photo is worth 1000 words, I have a little leeway in describing the images. :-) (The Wikipedia photo may help….)

Robert took the photos on February 19, 2008. His first attempt to capture the images was February 20, 2006! The spectacular images of Horsetail Fall, in which the water and mist of the fall is brightly lit and looks like lava pouring over the granite, requires several conditions, according to Robert. The proper conditions occur only at this time of year, at about 30 minutes before sunset. There must be clear skies (sometimes a trick in winter), and the “right” wind. In addition, the shots required photography from a particular angle to the waterfall, close to the base. Another essential ingredient, according to Robert, was luck (which never hurts)! (The Wikipedia article on luck is a little unsatisfying to me. It does not discuss luck in terms of probability.)

The waterfall, which appears to be a yellow and orange stream of fire in the photos, sears its way down a crevice in the granite face. The mists rising from the waterfall give the illusion of flames leaping higher and hot gasses escaping up the face of the snow-capped granite cliff of El Capitan, behind conifers silhouetted in the foreground. The sky is a pale pink, adding to the overall warmth of the photos.

Robert’s photos are inspirational, and I may attempt the trek myself, but probably not this year. There are fierce storms predicted for the Bay Area this weekend, starting at about the time of the Chinese New Year‘s Parade (Year of the Rat) in San Francisco tomorrow evening. The forecast is for heavy rain and sustained winds of 30-40 mph, not the kind of storm to fool with when it hits as snow at higher elevations, like Yosemite’s.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo 

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