zScapes Ramble On
Moonbow & Yosemite Nights

A word to the viewer. The Moonbow phenomena has gone viral! My first attempt with my very good photo friend, John Sensor, there was plenty of room @ the Lower Yosemite Falls for the assembled photographers and on-lookers. Over the years as the popularity has skyrocketed the crowds have grown and grown making it difficult to get a spot and capture the moonbow. There are other vantages points, but none as spectacular as the lower falls. For that reason, it has been a few years since I ventured in to capture the moonlight dancing on the lower falls and erupting into a miraculous silver arc. If you do decide to give it a try, please be aware of the crowds and do your best not to wave your flashlight in the vicinity of anyone attempting to seize the moment. Cheers
Moonbow 2016 & December Nights
A good year for all the moonbow critical factors except for one, clear weather. April was rain and full overcast to the point we offered to stay another day to conduct the field work. And May was no better, but it did clear that same night. Our focus was on the upper falls from Cook Meadows as the weather conditions with the water flow was creating wet and slippery trails. So off we went and while we did not get the big arching bow, we did capture moonbow sparking at the bottom of upper falls. Something different and to be featured on the 2017 Yosemite Conservancy postcard series!

And for good measure, a couple of December starry night scenes as the air is crisp, sharp and cold! Enjoy!
Moonbow 2015 & December Starry Nights
Low water flow from a snowless winter contributed to one barely passable moonbow in April and a non-existant one in May. However, all was not lost as December conditions saved the year for some special nightime shots. The cold night (17°) and cresent moon were in prime alignment.
Moonbow 2014 May
Another year short on rain and three years of drought was on our mind for Moonbow this year. John and I did our pre-check and the conditions were marginal. Hardly a puff of wind and a mid summer water flow. When we got to the platform for showtime, the conditions were no better, maybe even a little worse. So we set up the class and waited for the optimum moonrise time. As we started to see the silver arch, shutters opened up to catch the sight, because you can never be sure how long the 'bow' will show herself. Even with marginal conditions, the bow was stronger than expected and touched both sides of Yosemite Lower Falls and stayed with us for 45 minutes. One of the strongest and long lasting bows I have seen without any of the wet conditions that usually have to be overcome. Nature loves to keep you guessing !!!
Moonbow 2013 April
Always a challenge and at the mercy of the nature, Moonbow will present herself when she so desires. Warm weather was on our side, water flow was strong and the winds stayed under control to allow a very short peek at this wonder. Patience is a must with a great reserve of perseverance. And with the perfect late spring conditions, Pac Man was shining and the Dogwoods were blooming.
Moonbow 2012 May
As 2012 was the year of seasons, I timed my May trip to coincide with the Yosemite Conservancy workshop that I have been assisting with. Very favorable conditions this year and the night skies were absolutely spectacular. A bit crowded this year, but all were in a good mood as the Moonbow appeared to reveal herself.
Moonbow 2011 May
This yearly trip is a roll of the dice and with the wild winter weather we had, it was anybody's guess. Going in a day earlier last year proved to be timely and I decided to follow suite this year. Having been in the park just a few months earlier when it was under a blanket of snow, it was a bit of surprise to see the valley floor clean of the white stuff! The weather was cooperative and I spent the day/night before checking out scenes to shoot. In particular, the night before the full moon, a light cloud cover and an extremely bright moon coalesced for some fantastic night scenes. I found myself increasing shutter speed to pull in a sense of night time!

On the official night of the Moonbow, I was assisting John Sensor with his Moonbow class for the Yosemite Conservancy, which was a special treat for me. An opportunity to get into Yosemite and help aspiring photographers get the technique for making their own Moonbows. Having been a Training Coordinator at PSA, I was at home and the class was able to get the shot for a satisfying evening for student and teacher.
Moonbow 2010 April
The fantastic part of visiting Yosemite is that at any time of the year, you can expect the unexpected. Take this April for instance. I was all set to shoot the Moonbow during the limited window of time and conditions that create this phenomenon and skirted off to the park after a quick weekend at Kennedy Meadows for the trout season opening (someone forgot to remind the fish!). One of the keys to getting this shot is good weather on the night of the full moon, and as seems to have become a pattern, Yosemite lulls you into wonderful weather the days before and then hits you with one of her many twists. Like a full blown rain and snow storm. As I was in the park early to scope out the conditions, the waterfalls were pounding as hard as I have seen at that time of the year, so hard that just standing at the observation platform at lower Yosemite Falls was difficult given the hurricane force of wind and water! The first night I did not even bother to shoot since the lens would mist up within a few seconds.

However, the next night produced reasonable conditions and chased away enough people so that only a handful of intrepid photographers and visitors where there to experience the phenomena. My best capture so far!
Moonbow 2009 May & June- First Pass
Full moon on a balmy May night was the scene. A quick trip from the Bay Area to catch the effect of a blazing full moon on Yosemite falls as it creates a night time version of a rainbow, aptly called a moonbow. It is a bit of a trick to get set up, find the right spot and catch the colors, as they only appear for a short while. It also takes a clear night with misting from the falls for the color prism to activate. We shot at the base of lower falls as well as out on the meadows. The challenge at the falls is moisture, a place to set up and a lot of human activity to contend with. Here are some shots from my first attempt. I will be going back!

June was the next opportunity and as the night came so cloud cover that waxed and waned. We knew it was gong take a lot of luck to get a overcast break while the moon rose behind us at Lower Falls. Unlike the prior month, we had the platform pretty much to ourselves. And also unlike last month, we did not get a sustained period of bright moon to get that perfect picture. There was a brief shot of moonlight, but it was after the optimum apex and the moonbow showed only so slightly at a lower angle. Oh well, it was still a great trip and I did get to shoot some Dogwood on the way out of the park.
May our paths & errands meet

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