Yosemite National Park is gorgeous every season of the year. In winter, it is even more gorgeous with its stunning vistas covered in snow. On our second morning, after a day of snowfall, we visited Yosemite’s Tunnel View area (the tunnel was behind us but this view can be appreciated through the tunnel, hence, the vista’s name). On the left, El Capitan is kissed by the first rays of sunlight to hit its face. In the back is Half Dome and to the right, just out of view is Bridalveil Falls.
I’m calling this blog post The Kiss because not only is the face of El Capitan “kissed” with the first gorgeous rays of morning sunlight, but when I took the photograph and later on when I finished the photograph, I was reminded of Moose Peterson’s general philosophy of photography, the K.I.S.S. theory: Keep it simple, stupid. When I took this photograph, I was standing next to Moose and we discussed the major problem with the scene which was the bald skies which would draw the eye away from the real subject of the photograph, the kiss of light on El Capitan and the reflected kiss on the granite opposite it.
K.I.S.S. is something I struggle with every day with my photography. And, after five years of experience with Moose, even knowing his philosophy, I still struggle and I always seem to make things more complicated than they need to be. When we had our first Digital Darkroom session during the Yosemite workshop, I once again struggled with how to make this photograph exhibit the beauty it deserved. It took quite a while for Moose to extract the correct approach to finishing the photograph from me that would convey the emotion I felt when I witnessed this scene. And, it was a deceptively simple fix, right in line with his K.I.S.S. theory. When I first looked at the RAW file, I did not like the photograph and told Moose I didn’t have much of an emotional response to it. After Moose stopped beating his head against the grand and gigantic historic granite fireplace in the storied Awahnee Hotel (now called the Majestic Yosemite Hotel) where he conducted the DD session, he patiently extracted from me the simple steps needed to create the beauty it deserved. I won’t go into detail about this except to say that it took just a few “simple clicks” as Moose is wont to say. And, the most important click was to change the white balance using the white balance selector tool in Photoshop’s Adobe Camera Raw. Once I selected a patch of white snow, the warm colors suddenly appeared, reflecting the stunning morning light that created this photograph and it came to life. Yes, this photograph does represent the KISS in more ways than one.