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Fire Fall Phenomenon Lights Up Yosemite’s El Capitan

Shutter bugs snap to attention for Horsetail Falls' striking reflection.

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(Chuck Cagara / Magical Light Photography)

Yosemite National Park is one of the world’s great destinations for photographers. Each year in late February, however, camera buffs converge with a particular urgency: There are just a few days when the setting sun and the position of the Earth’s orbit transform El Capitan’s wispy Horsetail Falls into a spectacular light show. This year’s “fire fall” effect was captured at about 5:45 p.m. Friday as the sun lit up the 1,500-foot waterfall against the darkening granite behind it.

Having been disappointed during several outings over the past two weeks, we ventured forth again after closely monitoring weather and satellite reports. It looked like a reasonable expectation of moderately clear skies for Friday’s sunset. As it turned out, Mother Nature was cooperative.

While we did not enjoy the trickle of deep red that sometimes reveals itself after official sunset, we were more than happy to find the winds creating a nice updraft that blew the water into a misty veil well out from the rock face.

Chuck Cagara is a Santa Barbara photojournalist with Magical Light Photography.

The rest of the picture, across the canyon from Horsetail Falls.
The rest of the picture, across the canyon from Horsetail Falls. (Chuck Cagara / Magical Light Photography)

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