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Field Trip to Yosemite

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A view from Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park

National Treasure

We hold national parks in especially high regard here at Framebridge. Beyond their awe-inspiring natural beauty and frequently pictured landscapes, they’re part of our origin story. Our founder Susan started Framebridge after a negative experience framing four national parks posters ($1,600 and many decisions later). So when our in-house photographer, Dominique, booked a last-minute trip to Yosemite National Park, we knew 1) the pictures were going to be amazing and 2) we needed to get the lowdown on how to bring back not only frame-worthy photos, but awesome memories, too.

Happy Birthday to Us

Dominique and his friend Will share a late June birthday and realized a couple of years ago they had never actually spent it together. This year, Dominique decided on a last minute trip to LA and trek through Yosemite. They could use the 6-hour drive from LA to brainstorm names for Will’s new company. Westward he went from Washington, DC with cameras (yes, plural) in tow.

The two arrived at the park around 11pm on Friday evening and met up with Will’s cousin who is a park ranger. He provided some key guidance to the park which spans almost 1,200 square miles—where to hike, where to park, and when to start. Word to the wise: get there early. It’s peak tourist season which means parking lots and trails fill up fast with people eager to experience all the natural wonders.

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Dominique and Will at the top of Nevada Fall

Into The Mist

The two decided to hike the Mist Trail, one of the more popular trails at Yosemite, aptly named for the spray coming from two large waterfalls, Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall. 

“It essentially feels like rainfall,” says Dominique, “thankfully I brought a poncho.”

The poncho. Unless he’s going to someplace virtually guaranteed to be rain-free (hey, LA and Miami), Dominique has one stowed away. Never know when an adventure will present itself, right? 

Approaching Nevada Fall, the air getting mistier by the step, Dominique got his best shots of the trip.

“We came around a bend and the way the sun was rising, filtering through the mist and the waterfall appeared with the rocky staircase... it all looked magical, like a fantasy. I tend to seek out those surreal moments within reality. I sometimes like to confuse the viewer between what is real and what is dreamlike,” he says.

He advises it can be easy to be distracted by what is in front of you (especially when it’s an epically beautiful waterfall), but don’t forget what may be behind. As he was ascending the falls, he glanced at the path he had just come up and caught rainbows being made in the mist. 

“I tend to seek out those surreal moments within reality. I sometimes like to confuse the viewer between what is real and what is dreamlike.”

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Turning a corner on Mist Trail

Lookout

After hiking all day on Saturday on the Half Dome side of the park (named for the large granite formation visible from the trails), Dominique and Will opted for a scenic drive to lookout points on Sunday. They focused on the northern side of the park containing El Capitan, the 3,000-foot vertical rock monolith. Though worth the effort, their bodies were exhausted from the long hike the day before. They sought out a cluster of Redwood trees (spoiler: “They’re huge.”) and took in the scale of it all.

“I was in awe of how massive everything was while I was there. I’m such a tiny specimen compared to these natural elements. Watching everyone else sitting on the rocks or walking by me was something that I also wanted to capture,” he says, “that’s another thing I like to see: adults acting like kids. Catching strangers interact with nature. Those are the things I sought out when I was there.”

“That’s another thing I like to see: adults acting like kids. Catching strangers interact with nature.”

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“I had to clean off my glasses multiple times on the hike.”

On Camera(s)

Dominique brought two cameras with him, a new Canon Eos R digital camera (clipped to his bookbag for a quick draw) and a Hasselblad 500CM square format film camera (the kind that inspired Instagram). 

“With my digital camera I shoot sort of everything I see—the rocks, details, or the wide landscapes, observing people interacting with nature. My film camera allows me to slow down and be intentional. I like to take portraits with that. The lens and the way the light hits on the emulsion of the film allows for a better separation of subject and background. I also like to do landscapes but more in a portrait-esque way where I see the mountain as a ‘person’. I know that I have 12 shots on that roll of film. Every shot counts and is expensive. What I’m taking has to be purposeful,” he says, "either way I'll end up with great photos to frame, each capturing a different kind of energy."

Selfie Schtick

On selfies in places like Yosemite: “I think they’re great. I don’t take as many as I see a lot of people doing. Or as often. But there will be those moments of accomplishment when it feels special to me that I want to capture. Working with Framebridge, I’ve been able to appreciate these tiny moments differently. I think of these pictures as a quick journal, more personal to me that evoke some type of emotion. They allow you to reflect on what you were feeling in that exact moment.”

“With my digital camera I shoot sort of everything I see—the rocks, details, or the wide landscapes, observing people interacting with nature. My film camera allows me to slow down and be intentional.” 

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Dominique (and his poncho) on the trail

“I think of these pictures as a quick journal, more personal to me that evoke some type of emotion. They allow you to reflect on what you were feeling in that exact moment.”

The Other Senses

As a photographer, Dominique is constantly attuned to visuals and shot opportunities. But when he ventures into a place like Yosemite he makes sure to take in the sounds, the smells, and the serenity it offers, too. He and Will ended their time at the park lying on their hammocks, beside a creek with their cameras down.

“Being able to sit back and take in other elements rather than having my eye focus on a whole bunch of things is necessary for me. It helps balance me and keeps me from taking bad, generic pictures—taking a picture just to take a picture. Meditation allows me to be a lot more thoughtful with my process.” 

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Hammock views



The Essentials: Dominique’s Packing List 
  • Bookbag with rain fly

  • Boots

  • Digital camera

  • Film camera

  • Film

  • Extra battery

  • Poncho

  • Hammock

  • Snacks (Nature Valley honey granola bars, clementines, beef jerky and Craisins)



 

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