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El Capitan Sunrise

My husband and I drove to Yosemite in the dark from Groveland, CA. It was about 5:00 a.m. and the goal was to be at the park by 6:30 a.m. to see the sun rise on El Capitan, one of the tallest granite monoliths in the world. Climbers were already assembling gear in the parking lot at the base when we arrived. It was the first light of the day –¬†an El Capitan sunrise.

While I was photographing this huge piece of rock, I checked the LCD and it looked like the images were turning out very blue. Morning light can look blue-gray, but this was not what I was seeing with my eye. Below are two images, neither have been retouched or enhanced. They were taken about 3 minutes apart.

An El Capitan sunrise taken with Auto White Balance (AWB) about 6:30 a.m. Canon EOS 40D. ISO 160, f/7.1, 1/60.

I remembered from reading The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite by Michael Frye that the blue image could be a function of the White Balance setting on the camera. When I found the setting which was set to “Auto” and changed it to warmer (higher), it did the trick. When I held the LCD up to El Capitan, the color was much closer to what my eye was seeing.

An El Capitan sunrise taken with Shade Balance (about 7,000K) shot about 3 minutes after the first image. Canon EOS 40D. ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/160.

An hour later and full of the beauty of the changing light, we headed for coffee and breakfast. I was glad I had spent the $12.95 in one of the gift shops for this book published by the Yosemite Conservancy. Get it if you plan to do some photography in Yosemite. It has lots of good tips.


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