Blake Harley

nothing in particular


Yosemite (and a New Camera)

I’ve had my eye on the Sony α7 R series for a while now. As a hobbyist photographer that primarily focuses on landscapes, the increased megapixel count is fairly attractive. My Sony α7 III is no slouch, and the 24MP sensor is plenty capable for most of my printing needs.

18"x12" print of Mineral King taken on the α7 III

18"x12" print of Mineral King taken on the α7 III

There were shots where more room for cropping would have been appreciated, but the RIV is expensive. I didn’t want to “downgrade” to the previous generation’s RIII, so the idea of switching to an R-series body wasn’t seriously considered. At least until I stumbled across a good Black Friday deal. Short story even shorter, I’m now the proud owner of a new Sony α7 RIV and Sony FE24-70mm GM.

Where do you go to break in a new camera? A national park, of course!

Having never been to Yosemite before, I wanted the full photography experience: sunrise and sunset. I left home at 3:45am so I could arrive at the Tunnel View by sunrise. I had been warned that the Tunnel View is better at sunset than sunrise, and that’s true. But it’s still breathtaking.

Tunnel View at sunrise

Tunnel View at sunrise

After soaking in the view for an hour or so, I drove back down into the valley. The juxtaposition of the bright rock faces and the dark valley was striking but challenging to photograph. The time of year added to the challenge too. The valley was deprived of color; peak fall was weeks ago, and snow wasn’t due yet. I didn’t get any shots I was particularly proud of, but I was content enough to wander around and take it all in.

El Capitan and the Merced River

El Capitan and the Merced River

Swinging Bridge

Swinging Bridge

The afternoon was spent biding my time until my return to the Tunnel View for sunset. I did some sight-seeing and hiking on the eastern end of the valley before. I was warned that the viewing area would be busy for sunset, so I arrived rather early and did some reading. I’m glad I got there well before sunset; the viewpoint was busy with photographers and sight-seers—complete with someone trying to take a selfie with a drone.

Tunnel View, take 2

Tunnel View, take 2

El Capitan shortly after sunset

El Capitan shortly after sunset

Taking a shot from the most iconic location in Yosemite certainly didn’t result in a unique shot, but I really like the way it turned out. Although that may be due to an emotional attachment to the moment.

I overheard a few other photographers planning their full moon shot while getting this shot. It turned out that there was a full moon tonight, and it would be rising behind El Capitan. I decided to postpone my drive home for another hour and watch the moon rise.

Thanks to my lack of experience shooting the moon with a foreground subject, you won’t be seeing a picture of said moonrise here. I did a phenomenally bad job. Seeing the moon light up the valley was still a sight to behold, and I don’t regret sticking around for it. You were also able to make out lights on the face of El Capitan after the sun set. I can’t even imaging camping on the side of that thing.

I left Yosemite shortly after 6pm and made my way home. All in all, I’m pretty happy with the new camera, and I can’t wait to see what else I capture with it.


Have something to add? Drop me a line at hello@blakeharley.com.


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