The Yosemite National Park in California was gazetted as a national park in 1890. It’s world famous for its rugged terrain, waterfall and century-old pine trees. It covers 1200 sq km and features the “fire“ waterfall of El Capitan as one of the most spectacular effects of all the scenery.
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The remarkable view of the waterfall is created by the reflection of sunlight hitting the falling water at a very specific angle. This rare sight can only be seen in a 2-week period towards the end of Feburary. To photograph this rare event, photographers would often have to wait and endure years of patience in order to capture the right photograph! Wow talk about patience..
The reason for the 2 week/year timeline is because its appearance depends on a few other natural phenomenons occuring at the same time. 1st, Is the formation of the waterfall – The water is formed by the melting of snow and ice at the top of the mountain. It melts around the months of December and January and by the end of February there might not be much snow left to melt.
2nd, Is the specific angle of the sunrays hitting the falling water – The sun’s position must be exactly at a particular spot in the sky. This occurs only in the month of February and at the shorter hours nearing dusk. If it is a day full of clouds or something blocking the sun, then the opportunity might be lost until next year!
It coincides with the fact that the weather in the National Park at that time of the year is often volatile and unpredictable. It compounds the difficulty of getting these quite startling pictures.