Yosemite in Winter: A Season of Contrast

City Area Date Instructor Price (Member) Price (Non-Member)
Yosemite, CA 16-FEB-2012 Michael A. Mariant $895 $925 Sold out

Discuss this workshop

Come along for a photo adventure like none you've been on before! Long heralded by photographers as the “best time to photography Yosemite Valley”

Workshop Dates: Thursday, Feb. 18 - Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Winter time in Yosemite is peaceful serenity at its best: the least number of tourists in the Valley while a blanket of white snow covers the valley, dotting the trees and providing great contrast to the stark granite walls.

This workshop will focus on the numerous locations in the Yosemite Valley that are complemented by the snow season as well as timed for one of the few rare scenes in Yosemite that happens only once a year for about 10 days in only the perfect conditions: the backlit illumination of Horsetail Fall by the setting sun, called 'The Firefall' as immortalized by the original 1973 Galen Rowell photo. All three sunset opportunities of the workshop will devoted to capturing this elusive visual phenomenon.

This workshop focuses not only on the 'where' to take the pictures, but also on the 'how' to take pictures, incorporating photographic education throughout the workshop at each location. By building on the previous location's techniques and lessons, this allows for culmination in a comprehensive lesson in pre-visualization, composition, modified exposure and light controls.

This truly is a collaboration of extensive, comprehensive landscape photography education coupled with a dynamic location.

Course Level of Instruction: Beginner

Requires understanding of camera operations & functions, standard photography principles of exposure & composition


Day 1 - Following a lunch orientation session at the meeting location reviewing the workshop schedule, safety, photographic concerns and techniques, we will depart to our first location along the Merced River for a quick lesson in pre-visualization with a touch of visual thinking. From our first location, we depart for Night One in the attempt of capturing the elusive 'Firefall' phenomenon at Horsetail Fall. Following dinner, we go to the Curry Village Lounge for group editing and review of the day's images.

Day 2 - Following an early breakfast, we head to the first of many of Ansel Adams' iconic photo locations with the early-morning light as it streams down into the valley. We then move to the foot of Bridalveil Fall for some winter waterfall, river and ice-form scenes. After lunch, we spend some time at the Ansel Adams gallery and Yosemite Village, along with shooting at one of Ansel's famous meadow locations before departing for Night Two of capturing the sunlit glow of Horsetail Fall. We will then return to our meeting location for group editing and review of the day's images.

Day 3 - Following an early breakfast, we will head to Happy Isles to begin a full morning trek down the Merced River, capturing river scenes and foliage against the valley's granite walls. We will conclude the trek near LeConte Memorial, where we will board the shuttle bus to Yosemite Lodge for lunch, followed by time spent in the El Capitan Meadow, directly below the monolith and opposite the striking Cathedral Spires & Rocks. We then depart for the final opportunity to capture the elusive shot of the ephemeral Horsetail Fall. We will then return to our meeting location for group editing and review of the day's images.

Day 4 - Following an early breakfast, we will depart to the east end of the valley up to Mirror Meadow, spending the entire morning along a pre-determined schedule timed for optimum light along this stretch of Tenaya Creek and Mirror Meadow. After, we head to Yosemite Lodge for our workshop conclusion/farewell lunch, allowing return to Fresno International Airport for late afternoon/early evening departures.

The above itinerary is the standard itinerary, however is very fluid and can change daily — even hourly — as changing weather conditions can lead to inaccessible locations and dictate changing to a better location.


The workshop pricing includes training and resources, but it does not include food or lodging. Please read the Venue Information section below.

We will be carpooling from the airport to the park, and also carpooling or using the free park shuttle to get around the valley to our shooting locations each day. The recommended airport of arrival & departure should be Fresno-Yosemite International Airport (FAT).

  • You will learn

    • Photographic techniques
    • Directly related to Yosemite winter conditions
    • Exposure control
    • White balance shifting
    • Evaluative composition
    • Pre-visualization of final image
    • From exposure
    • Through post-production to presentation
    • Alternative digital processes/approaches
  • What to bring

  • Required

    • Water bottles, at least one of 24-32oz capacity. (Not bottled water but bottles that can be filled with water, such as Nalgene.)
    • Sturdy hiking boots and/or snow boots, full winter clothing including snow pants, winter jacket, insulated clothing and a hat. Trekking poles or ski poles are recommended. (Plan for cold nights and brisk days. Layered clothing is ideal.)
    • Camera equipment should include the full range of lens from ultra-wide to zoom; suggested filters: polarizer filter, graduated ND filters); sturdy tripod and cable release (capable of keeping the camera shutter open longer than 30 seconds). Usually our shooting locations are far from our venue, so spare memory cards and batteries are a must.
    • NOTE: For the iconic 'Firefall' photo of Horsetail Fall at sunset, a 300mm or 400mm lens is ideal; this can be accomplished using prime lenses or teleconverters to achieve the focal length needed.
    • Laptop computer to edit your images. Additional memory cards and/or download device or hard drive.
  • Optional

    • Cancellation policy: If you cancel more than 30 days before the workshop, we will refund your tuition except for a $150 fee. If you cancel less than 30 days before the workshop, we will refund 50% of the tuition. If you cancel less than 15 days before the workshop, we cannot offer a refund.
  • What is provided

    • Guidance by our professional photography instructor
    • Training materials from the workshop
    • Amazing photo opportunities
    • Winter weather in Yosemite can go from pleasant to horrible in just a few hours. While photo locations are planned for all shooting conditions, weather can always wreak havoc on the best-laid plans. We will do our best to follow a shooting schedule to work around the weather with contingencies in place for severe weather conditions.
    • Travel in Yosemite Valley is hampered in the snow or during a snow storm, resulting in more time to move from one photo location to the next. This additional time is factored into the shooting schedule.
    • Rental cars & snow: A 4WD is highly recommended, especially if it is snowing. Regardless of the weather, National Park Service regulations require that all vehicle entering Yosemite National Park carry tire chains at all times, including 4WD vehicles. Though this might sound overly cautious, the narrow roads in Yosemite Valley are frequently very icy in the winter and the use of tire chains can become necessary. If you are renting a car, inquire with your rental agency about including tire chains for the vehicle.
    • VENUE INFORMATION: For the Yosemite in Winter workshop, workshop participants need to make lodging reservations at either Curry Village or Yosemite Lodge inside Yosemite Valley, or at one of the two hotels located in El Portal, immediately outside of Yosemite Valley.
    • Curry Village or Yosemite Lodge: Located in Yosemite Valley
    • Yosemite View Lodge: Located on Hwy. 140 right at the park boundary.
    • Cedar Lodge: Located further down Hwy. 140 away from the park boundary.
  • Venue Information

      A venue for this workshop has yet not been locked down.


Winter in Yosemite provides some of the grandest photo opportunities of the year. Join us!

Workshop is limited to 12 participants.


Following Yosemite in Winter: A Season of Contrast workshops are organized in Yosemite, CA:

Date Instructor Price (Member) Price (Non-Member)
17-FEB-2011 Michael A. Mariant $1395 $1425 Sold out
14-FEB-2013 Michael A. Mariant $895 $925 Sold out
19-FEB-2015 Michael A. Mariant $895 $995 Sold out
18-FEB-2016 Michael A. Mariant $995 $1095 Sold out

Other workshops in Yosemite, CA:

Topic Date Instructor Price (Member) Price (Non-Member)
Yosemite - Spring Waterfalls and Spring Blooms 26-MAY-2011 Michael A. Mariant $1495 $1525 Sold out
Yosemite in Infrared 03-NOV-2011 Michael A. Mariant $1395 $1425 Sold out
Yosemite - Spring Waterfalls and Spring Blooms 24-MAY-2012 Michael A. Mariant $895 $925 Sold out
Yosemite - Spring Waterfalls and Spring Blooms 18-APR-2013 Michael A. Mariant $895 $925 Sold out

Member prices are only applicable to Nikonians Silver, Gold and Platinum Members. Non-members can register as Nikonians members here. Nikonians Basic members can upgrade the membership level here. Membership payments help sustain the growth of the Nikonians community and its services such as the Nikonians Academy.