It took me a while to get there, but I finally made it to Yosemite National Park this summer as part of my June/July trip. In spite of being my first visit in person, this part of my trip meant a lot to me on a couple of levels. Not only is it such a beautiful place, but the whole reason this blog exists probably traces back to some photos of Yosemite and the photographer who took them.
In the summer of 2002 I’m walking in downtown Charleston, SC. If you’ve not visited the city I can describe it at that time of year, along with most of the southeast, using two words: hot and humid. When I travel I’ve try to walk around a city when possible. You gain a feel of a city on foot you can never find from a car or taxi. Public transit can give some of the feel, but places just feel more alive to me when viewed at a walking pace.
After a lengthy day of seeing some city sites, I’d left the area known as the Battery and begun walking back toward my hotel near the center of downtown. Most of the day I’d barely noticed the heat as I’d been moving and near enough the coast for the breezes to hide some of its power. After moving away from the breezes and into the streets the heat quickly became uncomfortable. While taking a short break in a park to enjoy some shade, I spotted a museum and figured a little time inside would get me out of heat and sun for a little while.
The museum’s main exhibit was a collection of Ansel Adams artwork.
It’s not that I didn’t have an interest in photography before. In fact I’d bought a very early digital camera when high quality meant 640 x 480 resolution. For that trip I’d just upgraded to a newer model. Don’t remember the specifics, but I remember taking plenty of photos on a memory card with a size measured in megabytes. I’m pretty sure my Canon 6D creates single raw images larger than the memory card I used in that camera for that day’s photos.
Something changed in the way I looked at photos there. Well past the time I’d cooled off from the heat, I continued circling the room looking at every image multiple times. I’m not the first person to get captivated by his work, but the way I looked at photography shifted. It would take several years before I’d start mixing people into my work, but there’s a clear line I can trace from that moment through every shoot I’ve done.
So going to Yosemite was more than just a change to experience one of the most beautiful places on earth and hike some amazing trails. It was a chance to visit the places where some of the first photos that really grabbed my attention were taken. Those were photos that part of me at first wondered, “How were they taken?” Later that became, “How could I take photos like that?” That led to, well today. I had the chance to stay in the valley four days and three nights before moving on to elsewhere in the Sierra Nevada mountains, time to enjoy some of the wonders of the park. Here are a few landscapes from those days. There will be more to come from Yosemite in future posts.