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Backpacker Magazine – June 2009

Insider's Guide: Yosemite National Park

With these top day, weekend, and week-long hikes, you'll see more than your fair share of Yosemite's wonders.

by: Kelly Bastone

Yosemite's Half Dome (Kelly Bastone)
Yosemite's Half Dome (Kelly Bastone)

Read "Alone in a Crowd: Hiking Yosemite's North Rim"

trip icon The Yosemite Archive
More hikes, photos, and articles to get you ready for this iconic park.

photo iconPhoto Gallery: Yosemite
From Half Dome to the North Rim, see author Kelly Bastone's photos right here.

Key Skills

Take better pictures of the falls–which are tricky to capture compellingly–with these tips from photographer Mike Osborne, who shot the new book Granite, Water, and Light: The Waterfalls of Yosemite Valley ($13, Heyday Books,

Snap a segment Some falls are so lofty, they don't easily fit in the frame. But it's okay if you don't include the whole waterfall in your shot, says Osborne. "Chopping off the top or bottom of the fall tends to create interest and a sense of curiosity."

Try horizontal "Something about long, skinny objects tends to make people want to select vertical compositions for their photos," Osborne says. Rotate the camera occasionally and try a horizontal composition, which can be a fresh and engaging way to shoot a vertical waterfall.

Stop the action Use a fast shutter speed to "freeze" the water and show off its textures. The resulting folds and sparkling droplets look better than a featureless white stream.

Get the cliffs Note the rocks around the water. Says Osborne, "Interesting features such as lichens, cracks, and ledges often form strong lines or shapes that can contribute powerfully to your composition."

Cut the sky Yosemite's sky can appear overly bright and featureless, especially at midday, so eliminate those expanses for better shots. An exception: Dramatic clouds above the waterfall can add visual interest.

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Reader Rating: -


Apr 03, 2012

What about doing the week long version above backwards?

Tim Sexton
Jul 30, 2009

Concerning the Mist Trail hike. I hiked it in early July. Make sure you are hiking uphill on the steps (told there were 700 steps) and not downhill due to the trail being wet.

Tim Sexton


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