Landscape Photography
of James L. Snyder

Cloudburst, Sentinel Meadow
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Cloudburst, Sentinel Meadow
Linhof Master Technika 2000 camera, 210mm Rodenstock Sironar-N f/5.6 lens, polarizer, Fujicolor Pro 160S film, 98 megapixels
All Images ©Copyright 2010 James L. Snyder. All Rights Reserved

Cloudburst, Sentinel Meadow

Sentinel Meadow, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, CA, 6/7/2011

One early June morning I drove by Sentinel Meadow in Yosemite Valley and noticed how pretty Yosemite Falls looked right at that moment. Of course it is always pretty, and mid-morning light isn't great for photography, but for some reason I decided to stop and make a simple photograph of the waterfall above the lush green grass and trees. The waterfall was extra strong this year after a winter of record snowfall in the Sierra. I walked into the meadow admiring the falls against a cloudless deep blue sky. I chose a good location and started to set up my camera. A minute or two later while I got ready, a white puffy cumulus cloud poked its head over the top of the mountain. I became displeased because the cloud was the same shade of white as the falls and would draw attention away from the subject of my photograph. I continued preparing anyway, as the cloud showed more and more of itself. Soon I grew further displeased watching the cloud begin to occupy the very part of the sky that was above the waterfall, causing visual confusion - where does the cloud end and the waterfall begin? By the time my camera was ready to use, the cloud had achieved even larger proportions but my displeasure turned to excitement as I realized an ordinary morning had become a very special moment to make a photograph of Yosemite Falls! The cloud appeared to be bursting and spilling over the cliff, becoming the waterfall. The scene is a metaphor for how the water in the falls once came from a cloud as rain or snow before melting and running into Yosemite Creek and falling off the cliff. What we see here skips several of those steps as the cloud becomes the waterfall directly! I almost named this photograph "Yosemite Cloudfall" because that suggests a cloud falling to the ground while also being an allusion to the famous Firefall, which was once practiced every summer evening on the other side of the valley. I made this photo having never moved my camera from the location I chose before the cloud appeared.

Cloudburst, Sentinel Meadow

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