It had been raining for our first two days in Sequoia, and Julian was getting “squirelly.” Well, I was getting squirelly too, but when an eight-year-old gets squirelly, he certainly lets you know it.
We did everything we could do minimize the squireliness. We visited caves to escape the rain, and kept up outdoor activities. For example, we climbed the stairs up Moro Rock, actually a small granite dome like Half Dome in Yosemite or Tehipite Dome along the middle fork of the Kings River. Moro Rock may be smaller than these grander domes, but the panorama from the top of the Great Western Divide in one direction and the view out towards California’s central valley in other is immense.
But not when the rock is swathed in rain clouds and fog. So we headed down under the earth for a tour of Crystal Cave, the last tour of the day. The Park Service has a bizarre arrangement where you need to buy the tickets for Crystal Cave in advance at the Lodgepole Visitor center, then dirve the hour to the trail to the cave. The half mile walk down to the cave is great, and the cave itself is beautiful (and great fun) if you get the chance.
By the time we’d done the cave tour and walked back up to the car, the rain had stopped and the sun was casting radiant rays through the late afternoon clouds. I told Julian I was going back up Moro Rock. He complained. I told him he could stay in the car, wait for me, and read a book (it’s nice to have that option with him these days, reading is a very good thing!), or come with me. He said, “I’m coming with you Daddy!” As it turned out, he had a great time, and I could hardly get him off the rock.
One of the photographic challenges with a panorama as vast as the view from Moro Rock is to pick your portion of the view. There’s a natural human impulse to try to capture the whole thing by stitching together frames, or using an extreme wide angle lens, but of course no photographic technique actually recreates the tactitle senuousity of being on a narrow spur of rock high above the rest of the world with wind and clouds and sun rushing by on all sides.
I thought this view to the southwest, with the great California central valley in the distance, and the switchbacks of Route 198 ascending to Sequoia on the right, was the most interesting segment of the panorama, mostly because of the interplay of sun and clouds. But digital sometimes doesn’t do that well with bright sunlight—highlights get blown out, and high contrast is an issue in landscapes. So I double-processed the RAW in Photoshop, effectuvely using one exposure for the sunlit clouds, and another for the darker landscape, combining the two with a layer mask and gradient.