I am an island

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If you’ve ever photographed at Tunnel View in Yosemite you might recognize this tree. Precariously perched on the talus slope of El Captain, it often stands out as a striking feature. In late afternoon it drops to silhouette in contrast to the golden last light of the day on the granite face. Yesterday afternoon, while shooting with the latest workshop group, I watched intently as it drifted in and out of obscurity as clouds formed in the valley.

In an attempt at full disclosure, I need to tell you about a genetic condition that I have. My family refers to as “wrong line gene.” In layman’s terms, it simply refers to the tendency for any line or place, that I’m standing, to instantly be transferred into the wrong line or place. It’s an affliction that I’ve lived with some time and my family has adjusted. When we travel my wife and son always choose a different TSA line at the airport. I often use it to my advantage when photographing with a group. I can make objects and scene components appear and disappear almost at will; just by walking to or from my camera. I’m a giver. It’s what I do.

For 20 or 30 minutes I thought for sure that my genetic condition would prevent me from getting this shot. All of a sudden, the tree emerged from what appeared to be a sea of mist. Already waiting with my 100-400mm lens at 400mm, I adjusted my exposure by metering on brightest portion of the cloud and adjusting my shutter speed to +1 stop above neutral. I gave my polarizer a quick twist and only managed to fire off a handful of shots before having a relapse; the tree disappeared.


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