The light of a setting crescent moon illuminates the famous valley. El Capitan looms on the left, a point of light is seen on its face, the flashlight of a climber, strapped to the wall for an overnight pause in progress. Half Dome is in the distance, and Bridalveil Falls pours reflected moonlight into the valley, the headlights of cars seeming to carry it downstream alongside the Merced River.
During the day, Yosemite must have the highest number of tripods per capita in the world. Mine is setup at night during this difficult hour. Traffic, in the form of late arriving tourists, security rangers on patrol, and mangy coyotes, all serve to distract me while exposing this shot from Sentinel Bridge.
Half Dome, the signature shape of Yosemite, is illuminated by starlight, revealing the patterns of rock varnish on its face. The faint light from the sky also reflects gently on the Merced River as it flows beneath my vantage point.
Yosemite Falls is at a thunderous volume in this season, seeming to pour starlight over the edge of the cliff into the valley. The water continues its downward path via Lower Yosemite Falls, the dim watery glint reflecting a moonless night.
A meteor bright enough to light up the forest flashed through the sky just before the end of this 90-minute exposure. A fireball that left a glowing plasma trail, it is a member of the Lyrid meteor shower, an annual April event. It cuts a chord across the arcs of stars making their daily tour around Polaris.
El Capitan’s immense figure blocks my view of the north star Polaris. I can only guess where it should be based on the time and positions of other stars. A position in an open field in Yosemite Valley allows me to make this composition.
The moonless night meant that the only illumination was by starlight. The park is sufficiently remote to escape the light pollution from large cities, but not enough to avoid airplane traffic. The distinct dotted lines mark the strobe lights of distant flights, unknowingly adding their trails to those of the stars.