My initial sunrise destination was Tunnel View but too much chatter about early-80’s George Brett at 6 a.m. left me driving off to Swinging Bridge in search of less talk and more photography. I lucked out as I got to enjoy this sunrise to myself before a few photographers came later on after the brief light show ended. The severe drought we’ve been going through seems to have taken a toll on the Merced River though as it is very shallow right now which makes for a sub-par reflection of Yosemite Falls.
Shooting sunrise and sunset photos in Yosemite Valley can be quite tricky so rather than fumbling around with graduated-neutral density filters in rapidly changing light I decided to shoot eight different exposures for luminosity mask hand-blending. To be honest, I’ve only done this method of post-processing once before (on an interior architecture photo) so I wasn’t entirely sure that this would even work. Sean Bagshaw’s Extended Dynamic Range video tutorial really helped me to figure out how to process this photo though. In the end, I ended up using just three out of the eight exposures; one for the sky and a blend of two others for the rest of the scene. This photo turned out to be much closer to what I saw at sunrise than what I could have done with graduated neutral-density filters due to the unnatural dark line gradient that would have been present in the granite walls.
See more of my Yosemite National Park photos.