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Archive 2013 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013
  
 
Col. Mustard
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p.1 #1 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


Does anyone know what days the firefall will take place this year? I've made three trips in past years, only to have the clouds not allow the light at sunset. Of course, even w/o capturing this event, any winter in Yosemite trip is worth it.



I'd like to book my accommodations soon. Thanks!



Jan 15, 2013 at 08:59 PM
JimFox
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p.1 #2 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


The issue here is there is never any assurance that the clouds won't again this year block your view. Horsetail Falls lights up basically from Feb 15th to about March 7th. Myself, I always shoot for around the 20th.

Now you can have the dates to be there, but as you had already noticed the weather still has to cooperate, and there is no way to say for certain it will. On average, in that 2 or 3 week period of light, the falls themselves will only be lit up for 3 or 4 days. So the best way to assure you getting the shot you want is just to try and be there for a 4 or 5 day stretch.

Jim



Jan 15, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Col. Mustard
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p.1 #3 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


Thanks Jim. I usually spend 3 days (3 evening), each time I've gone. Looks like there are some guided workshop claiming the peak will be about 02/16-02-18, but others saying 02/22-02/24.

Any tools out there to calculate the exact dates?



Jan 15, 2013 at 09:38 PM
Col. Mustard
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p.1 #4 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


Alright. After some additional searches, I've concluded the OPTIMAL position of the sun will occur on Wednesday, Feb 20th of this year. However, as Jim pointed out, we have the potential for excellent firefall +-6 days from the 20th.

Big thanks to Andrew Kee for his detailed caculations:
http://blog.andrewkee.com/2010/02/23/photographing-yosemites-horsetail-falls/

"Any time the solar azimuth is between 252.5° and 258.5° at a solar elevation angle of 2°, the solar conditions will be right to produce the firefall."

And to The Photographer’s Ephemeris
http://photoephemeris.com/




Jan 15, 2013 at 11:28 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #5 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


For added fun, there is other stuff of interest to photographers and photography fans in the Valley during the Horsetail Falls window of opportunity:

- The Ansel Adams Gallery is currently hosting a show of Michael Frye's photography that continues into early March. There is a reception on Saturday February 16 at 12:00-2:00 p.m. Could be a fun thing to do during the midday "blah light" hours. :-)

- The Yosemite Renaissance 2013 show opens on February 22 and and runs through May 5. It features work related to Yosemite created by a range of photographers and other artists. It is located in the Yosemite Museum Gallery, which is mere footsteps away from the Ansel Adams Gallery. Awards will be announced at the opening reception, 5:30-7:30PM. (I have a print in this show, and I'll be there for the opening and perhaps the following day.)

Photographing Horsetail has become quite the phenomenon. Some of us who photograph in Yosemite a lot were talking about this recently. In some ways, there is only so much you can do with this subject, though I have seen at least one fairly original take on it during the past year. I last shot it a few years ago, and haven't been so inclined to do so more recently. However, the last time I did join the throngs it did strike me as something special that people from all over the planet would show up on freezing cold, snowy evenings in the Sierra to watch for a short-lived and uncertain display of sunset light.

(I had sort of promised myself that I would not shoot the subject again, and I might be off shooting something else that evening when I'm in the park for the show... or I may show up one more time for the event and the community. :-)

Dan







Edited on Jan 19, 2013 at 12:09 AM · View previous versions



Jan 16, 2013 at 12:01 AM
Greg Campbell
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p.1 #6 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


Has anyone shot the falls under a full moon?

On April 24, the moon is 98% full and is correctly positioned to set at the magic angle. Sunrise won't happen for another hour.

http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html?n=224&month=4&year=2013&obj=moon&afl=-12&day=1

With the vastly increased runoff April will bring, this might (?) be rather spectacular.


EDIT - Yes, the full moon substitutes rather well!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/inter211/5628789897/

Edited on Jan 16, 2013 at 01:43 AM · View previous versions



Jan 16, 2013 at 12:45 AM
Eadward
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p.1 #7 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


Does anyone know how the local snowfall has been and if there is going to be enough snowpack for a good Horsetail falls this season?

I'm thinking about the trip.



Jan 16, 2013 at 12:55 AM
Col. Mustard
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p.1 #8 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


We're getting above average rain this winter here in the Sacramento area. The state snow surveys put the San Joaqiun watershed at 140% of normal as of Jan 1. So yeah, there is plenty of snow up there this year.

edit: links...

http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snowsurvey_sno/COURSES

http://www.nps.gov/yose/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm



Jan 16, 2013 at 01:23 AM
Greg Campbell
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p.1 #9 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


Eadward wrote:
Does anyone know how the local snowfall has been and if there is going to be enough snowpack for a good Horsetail falls this season?

I'm thinking about the trip.


The last 3 months has seen normal+ precip.
http://water.weather.gov/precip/index.php?yday=1358251200&yday_analysis=0&layer[]=0&layer[]=1&layer[]=4&layer[]=5&timetype=RECENT&loctype=STATE&units=engl&timeframe=last90days&product=per_normal&loc=stateCA

Snow depth seems about average too.
http://cdec.water.ca.gov/snow/current/snow/



Jan 16, 2013 at 01:29 AM
Eadward
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p.1 #10 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


Good enough for me. I'm planning to be there. Thanks


Jan 18, 2013 at 08:30 PM
 

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AMaji
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p.1 #11 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


It is the last two weeks of February with the Feb 20th being the optimal. I was there last year (feb 2012), weather was perfect but there was one problem!!! It hadn't snowed well during the winter of 2011-2012, and hence there was not enough water flowing down the Horsetail Falls... and hence there was no fire falls!!!!!!


Jan 18, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Greg Campbell
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p.1 #12 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


Be sure to take a few pictures of the mob and their gears....


Jan 18, 2013 at 11:51 PM
Dustin Gent
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p.1 #13 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


Ok, glad I searched before making a new thread about this. I am embarrassed to admit this, but it wasn't until after I booked the plane tickets and time off of work that I even knew that Horsetail lit up in February .

Is it a nightmare trying to set up? I had the worst experience at Mesa Arch last winter due to workshop after workshop.. I guess I will find out next Friday lol. I would love to try my hand at the shot, but I am not going to post up for 3-4 hours when I am only here for the weekend (and my first trip here)..



Feb 11, 2013 at 02:38 AM
Dustin Gent
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p.1 #14 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


Oh and those are nice shots, G-Dan and Col. Mustard


Feb 11, 2013 at 02:39 AM
JimFox
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p.1 #15 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


Dustin Gent wrote:
Ok, glad I searched before making a new thread about this. I am embarrassed to admit this, but it wasn't until after I booked the plane tickets and time off of work that I even knew that Horsetail lit up in February .

Is it a nightmare trying to set up? I had the worst experience at Mesa Arch last winter due to workshop after workshop.. I guess I will find out next Friday lol. I would love to try my hand at the shot, but I am not going to post up for 3-4 hours when I am
...Show more

Hey Dustin,

Well that is some good luck on your part.

First off, yes it will be crowded to shoot Horsetail Falls. But no, it's not like at Mesa Arch where there is literally just one spot to stand in for the signature shot and the other photographers crowd in as much as possible. With Horsetail Falls, there will easily be 100-200 people photographing it, but the good news is there is more wiggle room to set up for the shot. The limiting factor here really is parking. There just aren't many places for people to park. So unless you want to park a mile away and hike into one of the shooting locations, you need to get a good 2 hours before sunset, and I would suggest 3 hours.

There are two primary spots that people set up in to shoot it, there are a couple more places it can be seen, but there are two that most people flock to. First is in the El Capitan Picnic area, with that one you are pretty close to being underneath it, so you won't see the top of the falls area, but it's still a good shot, and there are a couple of places in the picnic area that give a good view, so you don't have to feel too crowded. The other is the Location A on the map I will attach. If I am wrong and it's Location B, someone correct me. That area will have more people in it, but the parking is really limited, so people have to hike in, or someone will drop them off, as you have to hike in just a bit from the road to get down by the Merced River to get a clear view.

This map is one Henry Wakefield made up a few years ago, the pins on the map don't all identify shooting locations, simply locations of interest.







As to whether it's worth it with you having so little time there. I would suggest you do try it, it's no where near as combative an atmosphere like at Mesa Arch. Here, it's just a lot of photographers hanging out and waiting for the light, it's quite fun really.

I am not sure how many days you will have, but say you have 3 evenings, I would do it like this depending on the weather.

1. Sunset Friday night - Horsetail Falls
2. Sunset Saturday night - Tunnel Overview
3. Sunset Sunday night - Half Dome from Sentinal Bridge or Cooks Meadow, etc...

Check the forecast... the clearest night, I would shoot Horsetail Falls, as it's easily a no show if the slightest bit of clouds are on the western horizon. If there looks like good clouds, then do the Tunnel Overview... so be flexible of course, but those would be my deciding factors as to which evening to shoot what.

Hope that helps, and I am sure you will have fun. If only there was some snow in the forecast I would be up there with you!

Jim



Feb 12, 2013 at 10:21 PM
AMaji
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p.1 #16 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


The crowd last year (2012). Image courtesy of my Mrs.





Crowds at Horsetail Falls in Yosemite

  COOLPIX P500     5mm    f/3.6    1/40s    160 ISO    0.0 EV  




Feb 13, 2013 at 01:09 AM
Dustin Gent
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p.1 #17 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


WOW Jim, as always - a wealth of knowledge! Thanks a ton!
AMaji, thanks for that shot! That is really not bad at all! Mesa Arch was such a nightmare..

and for the forecast, I can only see out to Saturday and I am leaving for Yosemite next weekend



Feb 13, 2013 at 05:41 AM
Mike K
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p.1 #18 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


AMaji wrote:
The crowd last year (2012). Image courtesy of my Mrs.


And 2012 was a drought winter with virtually no falls at all. It didn't seem to deter this crowd.

Note that the posts at the beginning of this thread about normal snowfall were written mid Jan. Here in CA we had quite a lot of rain late Nov and Dec. But January 2013 was the third driest Jan on record and the few fronts that came though in the first half of Feb have been light in moisture. Check again before setting your hopes too high.
Mike K



Feb 13, 2013 at 06:07 AM
Dustin Gent
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p.1 #19 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


Good point. Waterfalls here are good flow most of the year, so sometimes I forget that isn't always the case other places


Feb 13, 2013 at 02:08 PM
WAYCOOL
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p.1 #20 · Yosemite Horsetail Falls 2013


http://www.michaelfrye.com/articles/horsetail.html
The first time a shot this there were only maybe 25 people in the picnic area and it showed 2 nites in a row, first time I saw it there were clouds in the way near the peak the clouds parted an in about 15 seconds revealed the fall in full glory a bright cherry red a truly awe inspiring moment. The next night no cloud and the show was a gradual fade in to its peak not as dramatic but very cool to see.

I've tried 2 times sense then most recently a couple of years ago 10 time as many people maybe 200 and no success.

As other have said get there early wear warm boots extra socks the ground gets cold. I'll be there the next 2 weekends if you see me please say hi I'll be the one with a dog see avatar.



Feb 13, 2013 at 05:31 PM
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