Every year, during the last three weeks in February, visitors to Yosemite National Park can be treated to a truly spectacular sight; the Horsetail Falls 'Firefall'
Many years ago there was the tradition of holding a large bonfire at the top of a cliff, and when festivities were done, the coals were pushed over the edge and it appeared like a waterfall of fire from afar. Eventually this was banned because of the fire hazzard it made.
Enter Horsetail Falls. Many years later, someone noticed that for a few days in February, right before sunset, the sun caught the water of Horsetail Falls on the side of El Cap. and lit it up. It reminded them of the old firefall. Soon word spread and now every year, hundreds of photographers from around the world flock shoot this phenomenon. (This is info I learned from the magazine Outdoor Photographer btw).
My friend Will and I decided to try our luck on February 10th of this year. We arrived at the traditional location for shooting it about two and a half hours before sunset and very carefully selected the spot where I wanted to shoot from. I chose to shoot a wide angle lense and frame it so that there were some leafless trees silouhetting the sky and the firefall itself.
I took a huge number of photos, but eventually a cloud wandered into the scene and I shot this. It was taken at 39mm, F 4.0, and a 1/320th shutter speed. I have another shot that is very similar but with a longer exposure time, but I think this highlights the waterfall better than the otherone. It was definitely worth the wait, and it's not likely that I'll get to do again anytime soon. We almost lucked out, as the waterfall itself was flowing very, very, slowly, but things picked up towards dusk and it all worked out.
This photo was taken earlier in the day on the banks of the Merced River. I don't know the name (if it has one) of the granite bluff in the background.