Bridalveil Falls

Below Bridalveil Falls

Blurred water racing over the rocks on the way to the Bridalveil Falls Vista.

I took this picture on the short hike from the meadows of Yosemite Valley (below El Capitan) to Bridalveil Falls. There were a few small stone bridges that crossed over the water coming from the falls a little ways higher up.

I am still learning the topography and names of the Yosemite Valley, there are a lot of them, but this might be Bridalveil Creek. I know that maps tend to be static, while current weather conditions can change the moment-to-moment scenery in the Yosemite Valley. Anyways, it was a short and pleasant wake to and from the falls, and a pleasant way to start the day in Yosemite.

I hope you enjoy the photo!

There will be many more to come as I process the hundreds (742 to be exact) photos that I took this year.

Yosemite Climbers

The cliffs above the Visitor Center and Post Office in Yosemite Valley.

As I have said in previous posts, I have a tremendous amount of respect for REI and its #OptOutside practices for the last few years. For those people that don’t know, REI–an outdoor equipment store–closes all of its stores on Black Friday, gives all of its employees the day off, and encourages everyone to spend the day outdoors in nature, rather than celebrating the worst of humanity and capitalism.

I never find traveling somewhere on Black Friday to be practical or affordable. This year I returned to Yosemite, where I first ventured last year (posts here and here).

Yesterday afternoon, as I was walking from the Ansel Adams Gallery in the Yosemite Valley to one of the transit buses, I noticed some adults and children using binoculars to gaze up at the side of the mountain above us. At first, all I saw was what was in the first image.

It was later in the afternoon, I was exhausted from hiking to Mirror Lake earlier in the day, and if it wasn’t for the people gazing up at the sky, I would completely have missed seeing something unforgettable and I would have missed the chance to take some pictures of iconic Yosemite activity.

I switched the 24-85 mm lens that I had been using for most of the day for the 70-300 mm lens that I had stowed in my bag, so that I could get a better picture of what was happening.

The longer zoom lens is a lens that I rarely use. It is unwieldy, hard to use handheld (I rarely use my tripod, when I remember to bring it), and it is rather heavy due to its size.

I keep it along with a 50 mm fixed lens in my camera bag, which I admittedly use more often, because of the irrational fear that I would need it the one time that I ended up leaving the bag in my car or at home.

Yesterday, I was glad to that I had it with me because it allowed me to take both pictures in this post, with a clarity that allowed me to see the four people up on that rock spire.

Rock climbers on the mountains of Yosemite.

As you can see from the second picture, there is someone on the peak of the spire, someone suspended from ropes to the right, a person climbing on the left-top of the spire, and some down at the base of this cropped picture.

While I know that rock climbers have flocked to Yosemite for decades, challenging the granite peaks and the weather, I have never seen them in person while they have been climbing.

In some ways, it is like seeing a legend in real life. I don’t know what they were doing up there, how long they had been at it, or what their ultimate goal was; yet, I do feel lucky to have taken some pictures of them from the valley floor.

This was something I hadn’t seen in Yosemite yet, and it made the exhaustion and the cold worth it.

Apocalyptic Afternoon

An intense, local brush fire backed by high winds has caused an eerie looking afternoon, as the smoke clouds are back lit by the setting sun. 

It looks like something from a Mad Max movie or from the slopes of Mount Doom, if Mount Doom also had a gas station. 

Inktober Day 6: Sword (Thoughts)

Here is today’s submission:

I was completely stymied yesterday by the prompt, “long,” which is why I don’t have a submission for day 5. 

However, I refuse to let one day end the enjoyment and challenge that I are the benefits of the whole process of Inktober. 

My thoughts:

  1. This is the second submission that I have used watered down paint (gouache) like ink washes to help provide shading and depth. I don’t own ink washes yet, so I have to make do. 
  2. While I am still experimenting with color vs water ratios and brush strokes and styles, I feel like their use adds a much needed dimension to my submissions. 
  3. This is the first submission so far where I feel it is cohesive stylistically. I have no idea what my personal style may be, but this piece seems unified, which I was pleasantly surprised by. 

Hope you are still enjoying Inktober! 

Feel free to comment or ask questions below! 

Inktober Day 3 Revisited

I decided to take the leap and try painting with ink on a piece I did for yesterday’s prompt. Here is the original:

I watered down some grey paint a lot, so that it would approximate ink, and inked in the water and the pipe. I have to say, it adds some character to the piece and some depth, so that it is no longer just a flat drawing. 

Here it is: 

Each day I learn more and try more. Enjoy!

Inktober Day 4: Underwater (Thoughts)

Here is the submission:

I will admit: water intimidates the heck out of me. A lot. There is a lot of fluid lighting and shadow, in ways that aren’t clear or solid. 

All day, I’ve had no idea how to deal with this prompt. I tried drawing someone cave diving, but I am not too satisfied with how some of it came out. 


  1. I may need to move into other styles of ink (like dip pens) for some of the more gradient shadows and tints that I can see in my head, but that are hard to communicate with just multiliners and a brush pen. 
  2. Still excited, but also aware of how much I still don’t know.
  3. This is still a learning experience. I will not stop. 

Hope you enjoy all the submissions that people are posting for Inktober! 

Inktober Day 3: Poison (Thoughts & Reflection)

Here is today’s submission:

Today, I was exhausted. I got home from work tired, and steadily lost energy as the night went on. I originally did not think that I was going to draw anything today, which honestly bummed me out a bit at the same time that I knew that things sometimes happen. 

Eventually, though, I remembered that the point of Inktober is to practice daily drawing and to challenge yourself, so I decided to draw anyways. Additionally, I decided to throw caution to the wind and go straight to the brush pen after the initial pencil sketch. 

Here is what I gleaned from today’s work:

  1. The brush pen is incredibly diverse, depending on the angle at which you hold it, how you move it, and the amount of pressure you apply. 
  2. Because of the line a brush pen creates, it can also create the illusion of depth or height. For example, on the right side of the pond, there appears to be some distance (a few inches maybe) between the water surface and the ground–all because of the width of the brush pen’s line. 
  3. From start to finish, today’s submission took about 30 minutes. I didn’t over think today’s prompt; once I had an idea, I trusted my gut and ran with it. Additionally, there was no hesitation in the inking or sketching, and I wasn’t intimidated by the empty page. 

I definitely feel like today’s submission was a step forward in the right direction. I am having a great time with this, and will continue on! I look forward to what everyone else submits, as well. 

Feel free to comment below! 

Inktober Day 2: Divided (Reflection and Thoughts)

Here is today’s submission, for those that may have missed it: 

Things I have learned:

  1. Hair is a pain to draw! Haha. Illustrating both shape and individual strands is hard. 
  2. For some reason, even though there is a lot of white space, I really like the right side of the top–the wavy lines of the brush pen seem to go with the skinny lines of the multiliners, and the visual depth (i.e., the person is obviously in front of water that stretches into background) is good (to me, at least). 
  3. I may be overthinking the prompts. It may be the English major in me, but I keep going symbolic, and then find that my limited palette of techniques struggles with my idea. 

On the whole, I am still having a lot of fun, I am learning a lot every day, and I am enjoying the challenges. Additionally, because of the daily drawing, I feel like I am starting to get faster, spending less time nervously staring at an empty page before sketching or inking. 

Hope you enjoy the rest of day 2! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s prompt!

Inktober Day 1: Swift

As I predicted last night, there are certainly many things I don’t know about inking and drawing. However, I am having a blast! My hands are ink-stained, like from grading papers, only this was a lot more fun!

Things I am learning:

  1. I need to work on writing with a brush pen (i.e., my Pentel Pocket Brush Pen). It is crude and lacks style, which was to be expected.
  2. I like the Copic multiliners I have, but need to practice using them to best effect.
  3. Don’t be afraid of said brush pen. It is great for shading larger areas, and for providing the impression of things, like the line of mountains in the distance.
  4. I feel like I am at the very first steps of beginning to start developing a personal art style for non-photographic media.
  5. Notice how I said beginning three different ways? Haha. I have a long way to go, but I am having such a great time with Inktober so far. It is challenging, but in that best of ways, that makes me excited for the days ahead.
  6. Experiment, experiment, experiment! In fact, the first page of my sketchbook is almost entirely dedicated to trying brush strokes and pens out.

Anywho, enough about that. Today’s prompt was “swift,” and I drew someone leaping off a bridge into a lake, something which I am all too aware is thrilling and a swift fall, but well worth it. Well, I drew the moment after the person hits the water, technically.

Here it is: 

I hope you enjoy! Stay tuned for more about Inktober.