Tenaya Twilight, Yosemite National Park

(order ID # CT35-00512)

I had just witnessed a breathtaking sunset up in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. Literally weak from my aesthetic experience I was driving in the fading twilight back to my campground. As I passed Tenaya Lake something caught my attention and I hesitatingly pulled over to frame this shot. It was so dark that I had to use a flashlight to set the controls on my camera, but film, during a lengthy exposure, can drink in light and record things the eye cannot. What to my eye was a passingly interesting tableau, a mere add-on to my earlier experience, on film turned out to be stunning and far superior to the spectacular sunset that I thought would be my winner of the trip. It is so often the afterthoughts that turn out to be one's strongest images.

People often ask a couple of things about this image. First regards the exposure. This was somewhere between 15 seconds and 30 seconds, long enough to record stubby star trails of the stars that were coming out at dusk. I had no idea of what exposure to use, so I set my camera on automatic and counted the seconds. It ended the exposure after about 15 seconds. Knowing that this would be but a crude guess, I bracketed generously several shots around this base exposure. The second issue is about the moon. It looks full, and a full moon is always opposite the setting sun; in fact, I've been accused of faking this image. What happened was that there was just enough misty cloud cover to smear out the crescent moon into a smooth, round blob. Any less cloud cover and the crescent would have shown; any more and the moon would have been obliterated. As so often happens, I got lucky.

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