El Capitan Mist II

El Capitan Mist - 1996

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


Speaking of fog and icons… I was in Yosemite for autumn just a couple weeks ago. With rain and passing storms coming and going… made for outstanding conditions for fog in the valley. I actually was up at Tunnel View for sunrise - along with 60 or more other photographers… Including our own William Neil and Alex Noriega who were conducting a workshop, so I didn’t want to take away from time with their paying customers, but was able to say hello.

Fog in the Valley from Tunnel view just simply creates many opportunities for special photographs. But no great color or dramatic light from the sun. I hung out for about an hour and decided to head down in to the valley where I knew the fog and conditions would continue and I wanted to get ahead of the crowds who would be following soon. I found myself at the next iconic “Kodak photo location” at the base of Bridal Veil falls.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m a creature of habit. I’ve been photographing Yosemite for a long time… and I have images imprinted in my brain that I’ve captured over the years, dating back to the earl 1990’s. When I arrived at this spot, I recalled one of my all time favorite images and so I set out to replicate what I captured from 1996. I even went so far as to pull up my website on my phone, found the image and was quite literally trying to find the same viewpoint.

Well, come to discover, the tree from the 1996 image is NOT in the same shape as it was. In fact, the tall pines in both these images are NOT the same tree. So there was another tree maybe 50-75 years away, which changed the viewpoint and size, presence of El Cap was a little different.

Specific Feedback

I’m really just looking for feedback on the current image. The image taken 27 years ago I just wanted to include for reference. While I’m quite happy with the recently captured image, there really isn’t anything that will replace something that you captured and experienced for the first time. But it was certainly a fun exercise!

I spent an inordinate amount of time with colors and processing. I reprocessed the 4x5 scan since I hadn’t done so in many years. I found out how almost futile it was trying to make blue the same from two different sources - scanned film and digital.

Feedback on colors and processing will be appreciated.

As always, all comments and feedback welcome. I am curiuos if anyone has images implanted in their brain archives that sometimes you try and replicate?

Technical Details

Current image: Nikon D800E, 28-300mm @56mm, f/8 1/125s iso 100. 2-image focus stack.

Orig 1996 image, 4x5 Fuji Velvia 210mm lens (60mm 35mm equiv)


Wow. Just wow. What a powerful image. A statement so powerfully made. It’s so simple. There is just enough and nothing more. The original was great but the new one is better. It’s also very much a classic Lon image. Maybe I’m mistaken but landscape photographers don’t make such images any more. In looking at the NLPA winners this year it’s all about rakish perspective and heightened contrast and saturated colors. Neil still shoots like this though. Excellent work.

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That’s so very nice Lon. I like both, but your newer version is the better charmer for me. I like the clouds better, and I prefer the cliff being more visible and the conifers that lead you in.

Many of my images were shot with smaller sensors, and I’m always interested in replacing those with higher quality if the opportunity presents. Artistically, it’s always interesting to see what the conditions provide. Weather, vegetation, etc. can really change over time; it can be interesting to compare.

Hi Lon! That is a gorgeous photograph! I totally agree with Igor’s comments - “Wow. Just wow. What a powerful image. A statement so powerfully made. It’s so simple. There is just enough and nothing more.” I also prefer the new photo. The older one is great too, but your new image is a step above. There is enough fog to give it a nice atmosphere while leaving plenty of detail. And the light is excellent! Well done!

I really like how the fog or clouds are rolling up and over the falls in the newer image. The absence of the tree in the lower center in the new image I feel improves the overall feel of the shoot.

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As much as I love the new version, for me, the magic of the older one is the way the massif fades into the mist at the left edge. A simple bit of tonal manipulation, one layer with a masked curves, did this. It could easily go farther.

Lon, this is sensational. It is very minimalist and almost painterly looking. It could also be a reflection in water it’s so dreamy. Even the colors are almost monotone but also vibrant. This could even be a night photo using the light from the moon.
I can’t recommend anything that would make this image better. I would print this one and know that you worked some magic on this image Lon. Just love everything about it. Oh, and your image from 1996 is VERY good but not quite to the level of the newer image.

Lon, Wow from me too. @Igor_Doncov says it well, just enough and nothing more. You were fortunate to witness this cloud and fog shrouded El Cap, but to see and capture it as you have is true art. Both images are superb, but the more minimalist second speaks wonders. Poe said it, “Quoth the raven nevermore.” Magnificent.

Lon, the extra fog in the new version give it a notably different feeling. The original is a great, minimalist view, with El Capitan a mysterious (dreamlike) presence. Both the fog and the details that show in then new view make El Capitan a much stronger, but still mysterious, presence. I do see a broad brightening around the big tree in the new version, that may be fog but has me wondering if you did a bit of dodging on that tree. Both views are outstanding and nicely different from the usual El Capitan shots.

Lon , I do not know what to say or comment on this overwhelming beauty. It must be an image without nits . Great work.
Still giving a comment that makes sense is not my strongest point . While I should love to do so. :blush:

Wow, what a great shot. You can totally feel how massive and powerful the mountain is and the mist and cloud really accentuate that. It almost feels like a superstar actor arriving on a stage for the first time. Your older image is good but this new one is much stronger – mainly because the mountain has so much more presence.

This is a magnificent capture Lon. I like your original best,

I want to thank everyone for their comments and kind words. I’m very thankfull… after all is just after Thanksgiving! So thank you!

I agree I think I actually like the recent version a bit better. El Cap has a much more powerful presence. Although I must admit I also have a sentimental favorite… :slight_smile:

Thank you Igor! Yes, quite a simple image really. And William Neil was indeed (and still is) a photographer I’ve admired, followed and learned from for many years now. He has been a huge influence in my view of Yosemite.

Thank you Diane - I really like where you’re going with your edit. I think the original with the fog obscuring the mountain creates a bit of mystery and I think adding some “fog” in post in the current version is something I’ll likely do - if this ever sees print.

Well Larry, thanks to you and Igor I had to go discover “The Raven”. Thanks to both for the enlightenment!

Thank you Mark. Yup, it is fog as I did no burning or processing around the pine. All I did so was setting the black pt from the base of the tree. I had noticed that fog and thought similar, but indeed it’s just how the fog was in the bg. Excellent observation!

Ben - I know you think you struggle with the English and comments - but I for one will tell you that your comments always mean something and are much appreciated. I can almost relate to Igor’s comment, “There is just enough and nothing more.” You don’t need long, verbose comments - you make them simple and to the point. again, appreciated.

Thank you all so much @Igor_Doncov , @John_Williams , @Steve_Kennedy , @John_Freeman , @Diane_Miller , @David_Haynes , @Larry_Greenbaum , @Mark_Seaver , @Ben_van_der_Sande , @Tom_Nevesely and @Eva_McDermott !

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