This image was created while on a four-day backpacking trip along the rim of Yosemite Valley. I went out during a storm hoping to photograph the clearing, and the area was chosen for its big, grand landscape potential. Although I shot numerous compositions of those scenes, this more intimate interpretation of the clearing storm was my favorite from the trip. One of the things I’ve always appreciated about nature photography is the shattering of expectations and preconceived ideas. These can certainly be helpful but opening the mind to the unique situations present in the moment often yields my most meaningful images.
How I got the shot
The conditions were changing super-fast with the fog moving through the trees and the light coming in and out. I was constantly composing, shooting, and recomposing during the ten minutes these conditions lasted. I knew these were interesting photographic circumstances but didn’t realize how much I’d like the images until I returned home. As I find often happens in these types of situations, there was one frame among many good ones that stood out from the rest.
What I used
This was shot with a Canon 5d MarkII, canon 70-200 f4, FLM tripod and Really Right Stuff ballhead. The only challenge was hauling all the photo and backpacking gear up 3500 feet in elevation. Settings were 1/100 second, f/11, ISO 400.
Biologist by training, naturalist by heart, and photographer by passion I developed an intimate relationship with the natural world. This connection was established early during annual childhood visits to Yosemite, forging a bond with this magical place. Following an undergraduate degree from UC Irvine, I began a career as a field biologist, working on a variety of projects for California State Parks, USGS and several private firms. Concurrently, my love for traveling and exploration led me through Africa, Central America and the Western United States. Photography was originally a means to document my work and travels but soon became the focus. I enjoy pointing the camera at a wide range of subjects from grand landscapes to intimate abstracts to wildlife. My photography has been featured in international competitions, calendars, magazines and gallery showings and I lead customized, small group photography workshops in Yosemite and surrounding Sierra Nevada. My debut book, The Nature of Yosemite — A Visual Journey, published in 2019 by the Yosemite Conservancy combines imagery of the park with text teaching about the natural history. In 2002 my wife and I moved to Groveland, California, just outside Yosemite, where we still live with our son and two dogs, and opened Mountain Sage a combination photo gallery, coffeehouse, music venue, plant nursery and gardens.
I was a very competitive athlete growing up and nearly failed my high school photography class. Friends from back then can’t believe I’m a nature photographer for a living, and acquaintances now are surprised when I can hold my own on a court or field. Competing in sports always drove me to improve, work hard and be the best possible in the moment, all of which have been elements of my photographic journey as well.
NANPA and me
I’m a new member of NANPA having just joined a year or so ago. I’ve generally made my way in the photography world as a lone wolf but can appreciate all that NANPA has to offer its members and the good work the organization does for conservation!
My website is www.robbhirschphoto.com
My Instagram is @robbhirschphoto