Enjoying the Crowd - Horsetail Fall Shoot

Horsetail Fall - Yosemite National Park

Horsetail Fall is a famous phenomenon that can occur on the massive face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.  IF there has been sufficient snow over the winter, and IF it is warm enough in mid-February for water to flow over the eastern edge of El Capitan, and IF the cloud cover cooperates (either no cloud cover or cloud cover that lets the setting sun shine on the face of El Capitan) then you may be able to see the orange to red glow of the actual water cascading down the face as the sun reflects light off the water and off the El Capitan face. (cont'd below)

MAYBE, because you then have to align yourself, and your camera equipment, in one of the limited proper spots to view this galactical and geological phenomenon.  Being my first time to visit during the two week period when the phenomenon can occur, I was surprised at the large crowd of photographers and gazers that had already gathered at the Southside Road location by 1.45pm.  Since the glow begins after 5pm I thought I would have no problem finding a perfect spot and staking my claim with my sturdy tripod.  What I found was probably 200 photographers already set up (some had been there since 6am to assure themselves of the perfect spot).  After surveying the various positioning options, I did manage to interleave my tripod with others in an acceptable location.

I wasn't looking forward to waiting for 3.5 hours but what surprised me was the camaraderie among this growing group and the diversity of it's members.  A woman from Italy on an around the world tour who happened to be in the right place at the right time.  A couple from Silicon Valley who took the day off to photograph the phenomenon, a photo group leader from Venice Beach who shared his experience and knowledge with everyone and, as always in Yosemite, tourists from around the world.  Good discussions about almost everything, good-natured ribbing of each other, equipment discussions and more made the 3.5 hours pass quickly.  What could have been another long afternoon of fighting crowds turned out to be a fun afternoon waiting to capture something amazing.