Chris Coffey Photographs

March Snow, Yosemite

This is my second trip to Yosemite - a place so iconic because of Ansel's pictures that it almost didn't seem real before I got here, and had an other worldly air about when I did see it in person.

For 10 years I made it a point to avoid this place for I had seen numerous photographers attempt to photograph it and in most of those images I couldn't help but compare to Ansel Adams' works. I didn't want to add to that pile and kept wondering what I could possibly see that Adams hadn't either made and masterfully printed already, or had seen and rejected himself. Eventually you develop your own voice, a personal vision you hone at home where you learn a subject well that you have access to, and you can then take that vision to a new subject or place. This was the case with Yosemite for me.

My first trip here was in 2000 and I only made a couple of negatives that went straight in the trash when I saw them on the light table. I didn't know the place well enough, had not done my normal routine of walking around without a camera until I did begin to see it in an original way. The weather was cloudless, the waterfalls dry, and the place was overrun with children on spring break. The experience was like running into someone famous that you have only seen on the big screen, but in bad light and without their make-up as they try to appear invisible in order to avoid being loved to death by throngs of strangers. Snow isn't the only reason I came back the second time in the winter...

Today I worked the areas along the Merced River, waiting for a sun that arrives late because of the Sierras, and tried to dodge the snow falling off the high limbs when the sun finally does shine, first on the high parts of the trees and then on me. More than one image made today will have falling snow visible in the image - which might be interesting in the print. I got pounded by clumps of dropping snow repeatedly and had to keep the darkcloth on the camera the whole time to protect it. Could there be a more bewitching place than Yosemite in the winter?...


Travel Journal
March 2005