For a few days each year, usually in February when the conditions all align, one can witness one of nature’s magical shows, that of “fire water” coming off of Yosemite’s Horsetail Falls. This year, I had a chance to finally witness (and photograph) this amazing phenomenom.
The phenomenom of water coming off of Horsetails Falls looking like fire is a result of several conditions all aligning so nature can put on a show. The primary requirements are:
- Sufficient water flow resulting from melting snow or rain
- Alignment of Sun and Earth
- Being at the right viewpoint at the right time of day
To estimate the timing of this event, which usually occurs for a few days during late winter/early spring, one can use a landscape photographer’s Adobe Air application , The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) by Stephen Trainor. This wonderful application overlays the solar/lunar paths on top of Google Maps satellite images to help one estimate when the sun/moon will rise/set over any given location. This year, a photographer named Michael Frye, estimated this would occur on February 18th, hence the timing of the trip to capture this event.
This phenomenom was orginally photographed by Ansel Adams in black and white, then in color by Galen Rowell. It was Galen Rowell’s photograph that made this a popular photo op to capture. This is evidenced by the numerous tripods at both of the popular spots in Yosemite to photograph this event. You can find these and other images of Yosemite at cchinstudios.zenfolio.com/yosemite.