The Cathedral Range: Project Yosemite’s Favorite Spots

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In an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite Yosemite places of filmmakers Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty, the creators of the stunning Yosemite HD time-lapse video that became a runaway favorite online with over 3 million views on Vimeo.

The Story

Colin: “After capturing sunset from the summit of Cockscomb Peak Sheldon and I prepared for a night under the stars at 11,000 ft. We had hiked all day into the heart of the Cathedral Range to this spot and planned to stay for sunrise. As the last bit of light faded from the sky so did our view of neighboring peaks such as Echo Peaks, Cathedral Peak and Matthes Crest.

Following dinner we emerged from our warm sleeping bags to setup a few timelapses that would last a couple hours. As I setup my shot it was easy to forget where I was. My eyes had adjusted to the extreme brightness of my headlamp narrowing my vision down to a few feet. I couldn’t wait to see what was out there. I pointed my camera in the direction of the Milky Way, set focus and fired. 20 seconds later an image popped up on my camera LCD. In it I could see Matthes Crest standing there under the Milky Way. It was magic! In that moment I felt so much excitement. I still can’t believe that its possible to capture images like that.”

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Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

The Cathedral Range is south of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. Though formed by glaciation, the very top of the peaks in this range rose above the highest level of the glaciers, where they didn’t suffer the same erosion processes as the valley below. Lack of glacial erosion contributes to their spire-like appearance and consequent name.

Read more about Colin, Sheldon and Project Yosemite.

We’re collecting more pictures and stories about favorite Yosemite spots. Keep checking back for more.

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El Cap Meadow: Project Yosemite’s Favorite Spots

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In an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite Yosemite places of filmmakers Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty, the creators of the stunning Yosemite HD time-lapse video that became a runaway favorite online with over 3 million views on Vimeo.

The Story

Colin: “Through the spring and summer months the grass grows tall and green in Yosemite. These grassy meadows are great places to observe the valley since they are normally right at its center. El Capitan Meadow is my favorite. It sits at the foot of El Capitan, one of the world’s most popular wall faces for rock climbing. As you walk further from the road El Capitan comes into view and if you look close enough you can find climbers thousands of feet above the ground. After relaxing in El Cap Meadow for awhile it’s nice to have the Merced River close enough for a quick dip.”

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Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

One of the most prominent granite monoliths in Yosemite Valley, El Capitan soars roughly 3000 above the valley floor. Rock climbers often take three days or more to climb to the top, although speed climbers can cover the distance in only a few hours. On the other side of the meadow, views of Cathedral Rocks provide a perfect counterpoint to the Captain. Bordered by Northside Drive and the Merced River in Yosemite Valley, this popular viewing area has plenty of parking in pull-outs on the left side of the road. During the summer months, the Yosemite Conservancy runs an “Ask a Climber” program to answer climbing questions and give you an opportunity you to look through powerful spotting scopes at the climbers above.

Read more about Colin, Sheldon and Project Yosemite.

We’re collecting more pictures and stories about favorite Yosemite spots. Keep checking back for more.

The Diving Board: Project Yosemite’s Favorite Spots

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In an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite Yosemite places of filmmakers Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty, the creators of the stunning Yosemite HD time-lapse video that became a runaway favorite online with over 3 million views on Vimeo.

The Story

Colin: “As I approached the west side of Half Dome a heavy fog rolled in. I followed Sheldon’s faint outline up one last hill to the Diving Board where we’d spend the night capturing time lapse. When I reached the top I dropped everything and tried to gather my breath but when I saw the view I jumped right back up. We were in mid air, or at least it seemed that way. Clouds were all around us. Soon after our arrival Half Dome started to emerge as the clouds retreated down its face. We rushed to set up our camera gear as the clouds churned between the walls of the Valley. When I first saw Ansel Adam’s photo of Half Dome from the Diving Board I knew it was something I had to see. Honestly no photo could have prepared me for what we saw in the weather that day.”

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Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

The Diving Board is a rock outcropping just west of the smooth vertical face of Half Dome, and the location of one of Ansel Adam’s most famous Yosemite photographs, “The Monolith”, taken in 1927. Cantilevered at a 30 degree angle, from this vantage point you can view Yosemite Valley 3500 feet below. Glacial erratics are found near this distinctive formation, attesting to the glaciation process that sculpted the Diving Board into this particular configuration that inspires such a whimsical name.

 

Read more about Colin, Sheldon and Project Yosemite.

We’re collecting more pictures and stories about favorite Yosemite spots. Keep checking back for more.

Cloud’s Rest: Project Yosemite’s Favorite Spots

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In an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite Yosemite places of filmmakers Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty, the creators of the stunning Yosemite HD time-lapse video that became a runaway favorite online with over 3 million views on Vimeo.

The Story

Colin: “Of all the places I visited Cloud’s Rest offered the most spectacular panoramic view of Yosemite National Park. I didn’t know which direction to point my camera when I reached its summit. While up there I was constantly shooting time lapse. I arrived at sunset and continued shooting all through the night as the Milky Way rose followed by the sun. I decided that morning I had enough food and water to stay up there for another sunset. I spent the day taking naps and trying to match peaks I saw off in the distance to those marked on my map. As sunset approached I readied my camera equipment and slid the last memory card into the camera. As the sun dipped lower over the horizon the sky transformed. First the sky changed from blue to yellow then a deep orange and finally the darkest red I’d ever seen. I couldn’t believe it. “

Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

At an elevation of 9926 feet, Cloud’s Rest not only provides some of the most spectacular views of Yosemite, you can even look down on Half Dome from the summit! This massive granite formation is known to most park visitors as the backdrop at Olmsted Point on the Tioga Road. Making the hike to the summit will also provide views of the Clark Range, the Cathedral Range and Matterhorn Peak. One of the finest specimens of Yosemite’s glacial geology, the Cloud’s Rest Northwest Face is a stunning 5000 foot drop into Tenaya Canyon in Yosemite Valley. You can access the trail to Cloud’s Rest from both the Tioga Road (Hwy 120) and from Yosemite Valley at Happy Isles.

Read more about Colin, Sheldon and Project Yosemite.

We’re collecting more pictures and stories about favorite Yosemite spots. Keep checking back for more.

Project Yosemite with Colin and Sheldon

Little did anyone expect that only months after Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty first met on Vimeo.com that our perception of Yosemite National Park would never be the same again. That’s because the pair of budding California photographers recently completed Yosemite HD – an almost four-minute-long video of stunning time-lapse photography shot throughout Yosemite’s 1,200 square miles of breathtaking scenery.

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The project started as a personal foray into the world of time-lapse photography, beginning on the famed angles of Half Dome. “We thought it would take a weekend or maybe 5 days,” remarks Neill. “But we realized the footage was amazing. So what was supposed to be a weekend, turned into multiple trips totaling 19 days of shooting in Yosemite and three-and-a-half months of work.”

It turns out the pair was right about their footage. It is truly amazing. And as of February 2013 the video garnered more than 3.3 million views.

But no matter how well their time-lapse photography project turned out, Neill claims, “There’s no video that could show you everything in Yosemite. It’s hard to describe the place, or even put it into words.”

Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty of Project Yosemite

Ultimately, their goal was modest. “We wanted to create something that would showcase the entire place, not just one location,” says Delehanty. “To show someone how beautiful Yosemite is, and to inspire people to go again, and relive the experience.”

The pair agrees that the sheer size and steepness of Yosemite’s granite faces are something that must be seen in person to be believed. But it’s not just the rocks and trees of Yosemite that you have to visit to experience. “Yes you’re surrounded by a beautiful natural setting, but you’re also surrounded by good people, all in great moods, with lots of awesome stories to tell,” offers Neill.

Logistically, the project involved tremendous effort. First there’s the gear. Neill gives us the list, “Cameras, batteries, tripod, 6 foot rail, essentials and necessities to survive in the woods.”

Then there’s the hiking – lots of it. For example to capture the breathtaking shots atop Half Dome, the pair had to hike 16 miles round trip with all their gear. Such a trek, loaded down with expensive equipment, can be exhausting.

But that’s only half the battle.

Because once situated in a spot, the pair often shot time-lapses from sunset – throughout the night – to sunrise. This grueling technique produced the priceless shots of the moon illuminating rock faces and mesmerizing star filled skies rotating high above. Neill admits that capturing these overnight shots is “a continuous battle of your body being deprived of sleep, and you just have to fight it.”

Only a place like Yosemite has the power to inspire people like Sheldon and Colin to overpower the urge to sleep and overcome miles of obstacles. For Colin it’s about “showing people places they may like to go and getting them motivated to do it.”

For Sheldon it’s about giving people an alternative to the usual, iconic photos that tend to mimic the work of Ansel Adams. He says, “This is our demonstration of the park. To show it in our own way.”

It turns out “their own way” is a true masterpiece, and luckily the power of Yosemite inspired this duo into action to create it.

That leaves us with the question, what can Yosemite inspire you to do? You don’t have to go there and conquer a giant climb on a flat rock wall or an epic hike in the snow, or even create a time-lapse video that enthralls millions of adoring viewers. Maybe you can just take Sheldon’s advice, “It’s an awesome place to relax. Just being there in general, I could be doing nothing and enjoy myself because I’m in pure serenity.”

Oddly enough, for a place that’s beautiful enough to make simply doing nothing fun, it inspires so many of us to do so many amazing things.

Keep your eyes open. Neill and Delehanty to continue to expand their Project Yosemite footage, and plan to have a second video out soon.