Finding Magic With 24 Hours in Yosemite National Park
One film photographer's rainy day exploration of one of America's most iconic natural landscapes
Words and images by Nash Rood, shot with Canon F-1N, Canon AE-1 on 35mm Ilford HP5 and Kodak Kodacolor 200 film
I got to Yosemite National Park around noon, ate lunch, and then looked for a hike to fill the remaining daylight. I’d heard good things about the trail down to Illilouette Falls from Glacier Point and figured I’d give it a try.
The weather forecast wasn’t great—rainy and overcast all afternoon and evening—and it started pouring on me right as I got out of the car. It made the trail close to empty and my cameras had been through worse conditions, so I didn’t bother me much.
"Because Yosemite is really just that beautiful."
As expected, the falls was spectacular, but it wasn’t until the way back up when the real magic happened. A few stray rays of sunshine suddenly broke through the cloud cover and onto the valley below, creating a spotlight on icons Half Dome, Nevada, and Vernal Falls. The sight stopped me dead in my tracks.
Thanks to Ansel Adams, social media, the internet at large, and any dad with a DSLR, Yosemite’s beauty is no secret, and quite frankly, photographs from the park has reached a saturation point. We’ve all seen Half Dome. We’ve all seen Tunnel View, Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan, and the redwoods, so why did I find myself compelled to add to the ever-growing collection of images captured here? Because Yosemite is really just that beautiful.
Yosemite one of those places that makes you drop everything, including your jaw, and stand in awe of what’s in front of you—which I quite literally did. Letting go of my trusty walking stick and dearest water bottle, I grabbed a firm hold on my camera and set off at a run up the trail to get a “better” shot of Half Dome.
"Photography is a way to worship something, compliment it, and honor it."
Capturing scenes as striking as what Yosemite has to offer accentuates the meditative qualities of photography. Once the glimpse of sunlight had passed and I put my camera away, I realized I’d been solely focused on the here-and-now and exclusively what was directly in front of me. For those brief moments that I had been looking through the viewfinder, everything else in the world and in my mind seemed to dissipate; for those few brief moments I forgot about my worries of upcoming deadlines, relationship woes, career—though I did manage to consider for am moment that I am officially out of trail-running shape.
There’s something phenomenal about standing near such impressive, natural displays that I think especially resonates with photographers. Photography, in my opinion, is a way to worship something, compliment it, and honor it.
It’s hard to witness something as fantastic as Yosemite and not want to share it, so to millions of photographers who have shot Half Dome before, and the many more to do so down the line: I get it. So get yours.