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Yosemite Sanctuary
Essay and Photographs by William Neill

 

© 2010 William Neill excerpted from the ebook:
William Neill's Yosemite: Volume One

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. 
Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
- John Muir

 

Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6

Cedars and rock circle, Merced River, Yosemite Valley, California  1986
Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6



In 1977, I moved to Yosemite National Park at the age of twenty-three.  One year after graduating from the University of Colorado with a degree in Environmental Conservation, I had decided to pursue my passion for landscape photography in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, specifically amongst the granite walls of Yosemite.  As of this year, 2010, I have completed thirty-three years living in the Yosemite area and photographing this National Park.  All the while, I have attempted to pierce through the abundant clichéd views that appear at nearly every turn, to convey my own vision of the park.

 


 

Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6

Sunset from the summit of Mt Hoffman, Yosemite National Park, California  1986
Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6

 

Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6

Mammoth Peak and Kuna Crest from Tioga Tarns, Yosemite National Park, California  1991
Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6



My experience has been an inspirational education, an apprenticeship conducted by the landscape itself.  When I managed to slow down to see clearly and listen carefully, I was able to learn many lessons about this landscape – its light, its seasons.  I learned from missed opportunities, like arriving too late for the best morning light.  I learned that, in spite of well-planned timing, I often found no great light or inspiration. Other times, I experienced magical light and weather when least prepared for it.  I found awe and delight in Yosemite’s grand and famous landscapes, but most often deeply connected to its more intimate details.

 


 

Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6

Cloud reflections and grasses, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California  1983
Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6

 



At the core of what I have learned is that Yosemite is a sanctuary for the soul, beyond its role as a nature preserve and provider of recreation to the public. Millions of visitors love this place, for a wide variety of reasons.  Some come to climb Yosemite’s cliffs.  Others come to hike, fish, or swim in its wild nooks and crannies.  Many simply drive through, stop at the turnouts, see the famous Yosemite Valley, and then leave.  I came to explore these mountains, inspired like so many by the images of Ansel Adams and the words of John Muir.  The bottom line is that, for whatever reason, people feel good here.  When I first read these words by John Muir, the resonance was deep and profound inside of me.  Few other words had ever rung so true to my own experiences in these mountains.

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees
The winds will blow their own freshness into you
and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

 

The rich art history of the park, which continues on today, is evidence of the inspiration so many artists have experienced here over the decades. I believe that all National Parks and nature reserves offer visitors the opportunity to experience the peace and solace that Nature can provide to those who seek it.

 


 


Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6

Clearing winter storm, Sentinel Rock, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park,  California  1990
Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6

 




Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6

Corn Lilies, Summit Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California  1988
Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6

 


 

Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6

Black oaks and Cathedral Rocks, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California  1984
Camera: Wista 45  Lens: Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6

 



The theme of Sanctuary provides the foundation of my selection of photographs. Preserves of nature, especially a cathedral of nature such as Yosemite, provide the sense of protection from outside forces, much as do the walls of a church or temple.  From within the protected walls, the peacefulness and beauty of Nature, its quality of sanctuary, gives comfort and calm.  Given this sense of Sanctuary, the creative energies of an individual are given the freedom to express what one feels, to express the connection between the soul and the beauty of Creation.  I can’t speak for others but this is what I have experienced.

I hope that my Yosemite photographs convey a sense of this park’s profound beauty, and of the emotions I have experienced during my three decades of exploration here.

September, 2010



To see and learn more about Neill's Yosemite eBook, click below:


 William Neill's YOSEMITE: VOLUME ONE


William Neill's YOSEMITE: VOLUME ONE

William Neill's YOSEMITE: VOLUME ONE Pg Spread

In the eBook, Neill has written commentary on the aesthetics and technical aspects of creating each photograph.  This includes location information which will be helpful to photographers who visit the park.  The PDF book shows each photograph in high resolution and offers interaction between each image and the Photo Notes section at the back of the book.  He conducts One-on-One Workshops at his studio in Oakhurst, CA, which is only a few miles from Yosemite. On his website store, you will find his other eBooks available for download:  William Neill eBooks

Previous articles by William Neill on Luminous Landscpe

Landscapes of the Spirit

Thoughts on Ansel

Impressions of Light

Meditations in Monochrome

Thinking in Themes

 



William Neill, a resident of the Yosemite National Park area since 1977, is a landscape photographer concerned with conveying the deep, spiritual beauty he sees and feels in Nature. Neill's award-winning photography has been widely published in books, magazines, calendars, posters, and his limited edition prints have been collected and exhibited in museums and galleries nationally, including the Museum of Fine Art Boston, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Vernon Collection, The Polaroid Collection and The Ansel Adams Gallery. Neill received a BA degree in Environmental Conservation at the University of Colorado. In 1995, Neill received the Sierra Club's Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography.

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Concepts: Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada, John Muir, Sierra Club, Ansel Adams, Sierra Nevada, Half Dome, Yosemite Valley

Entities: Oakhurst, Rodenstock, Yosemite National Park, Ansel Adams Gallery, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Yosemite Valley, Sierra Nevada Mountains, University of Colorado, Sierra Club, Ansel Adams, John Muir, William Neill, Rodenstock Sironar-N 210mm f/5.6, CA

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