Stock Photography

Yosemite in Winter


My most recent wall print from my winter trip to Yosemite has been completed.  It's a 50 x 28 Museum Grade Canvas Print on stretcher bars with surface print protection.  The print sets off the wall 1 3/4 inches.


I was very lucky to capture a moment along the Merced River just west of El Capitan this winter.  While I started out the shoot, planning on capturing El Capitan's granite face against the valley floor,  I think I did much better.

Fellow photographer, Dave Courtney and I, set out on one of coldest days of January to photograph Yosemite in the winter. The park was a frigid 25 degrees when we arrived so everything was cast in a frosty covering of ice. We stopped several places to shoot and finally ended up in a spot I have photographed many times along the Merced river and got ready for the sunset.

The plan was to shoot images as the sun dropped in the sky, capturing the stately El Capitan granite monolith standing guard over the valley floor.

You never really know what the sunset is going to be like in Yosemite Valley.  Clouds and  smog particles in the west play a huge roll as to whether your photographs are special or not. Many times, cold clear skies  yeild a vibrant deep cobalt color but without clouds, there can be too much blue in the photograph.  A day with white puffy clouds is preferred, taking second only to the gray and black storm clouds that can be quite dramatic. This particular day had little in the way of clouds.

We did get lucky though. Unbeknown to us, a temperature inversion was happening along the coast of California as warm air started to drift over the state, trapping smog particles against the cold air from the earth's surface.  In the San Francisco Bay Area, it can turn into a "spare the air day", where we try to restrict more particles from being sent into the air by eliminating the use of fireplaces and such.  The bottom line for the photographer, is that all those trapped particles can result in some spectacular colored skies.

Along with this temperature inversion, we had a small amount of wispy clouds to the West, that "softened" the sunlight as it fell upon El Capitan.

The extreme cold conditions in the valley during that week served a few purposes for out photography.  One, it helped fog develop in the valley but not so much that it obliterated the view.  Second, it helped preserve the snow from a couple of days earlier by staying so cold, the temperature didn't allow the snow to melt and fall off rocks and trees.  The outcome, was it looked like fresh snow had just fallen everywhere.  Lastly, the extreme cold froze the edges of the Merced river allowing me to safely move a tripod farther out on the ice, to capture the composition I was looking for.

As the sun dropped in the sky, El Capitan became more and more yellow and orange. Those colors started to reflect off the river creating a fabulous display of color across the water. I also noticed a cooler, teal color coming in from the right as this was a reflection of sky and cold granite South wall of the valley, that hadn't seen the sun because of the low winter sun pattern.

I had a decision to make.  Capture El Capitan as it changed color before our eyes as the sun set, or, tilt the camera down and capture just the water and the effect of the reflecting sun. Since there were almost no clouds behind El Capitan to break up the sky texture, I went for the river shot.

I love the way this turned out.

This print is available for purchase in a limited release (without watermark).  It is being sold as a 50 x 28  Museum Grade Canvas Stretched Print ready to hang.  For $1,150 plus tax and shipping.  Please contact me directly at for orders. The image is also available in other sizes both larger and smaller and float frame options are available at cost.

Building Stock Photography

Stock photography is fantastic way to be reminded about past images. I was asked to photograph a victorian home for Alameda Magazine back in 2004.  I scouted the location and then returned at the best time of day to get the image I wanted.  I was disappointed that the owners were not home at the time, since there were some things that wanted to take some liberties with, for the image.  For example, they had some political signs in the front yard that needed removing, along with a few other things I wanted to change.  I returned a few days later after making an appointment with the owners about taking the photograph of their home.  We took down the signs, and I had them turn on all the lights in the house. Unfortunately, not every room in the old home had lights to turn on!  Undaunted, I shot a series of images as sun dropped in the sky and figured I could fix a few things in Photoshop later.

The first thing I realized was the sky wasn't very nice. Pure white is not all that compelling. Thankfully, I shot some sky photographs near this home a day or two earlier so I grabbed those out of archive. Next I had to do some tonal changes to the front of the house. After some change of levels, burning and dodging, and color correction I started to see the image I was looking for.

I selected out the top edge of the home and dropped it out so I could place in any sky I wanted at that point.  I tried to find an evening sky that looked compatible.

 Lastly, I had to go into the image and fix the details.  Some of the changes are marked above.  Taking out the man-hole cover, fixing the shaggy lawn, turning on lights in rooms that did not even have lights. Color correcting the front porch light. Darkening the street, softening  the side buildings to bring focus to the Victorian.  Fun stuff.

 Extra sky was added to give room for the magazine to print the magazine title and other information.  The great thing about this image is that has been sold several times.  Just last week, some eight years after it ran the first time, The Alameda Civic Ballet will be using it in one of their campaigns. Stock photography, the gift that keeps on giving.

Copyright 2015, Terry VanderHeiden