Love burns eternal in Yosemite
It was raging just miles from Yosemite National Park. The Detwiler Fire in Mariposa County blanketed the sky in gradients of ash and white smoke. Many postponed their trips to the park in response to the blaze, but we pushed straight forward into the haze to capture the wedding of a lifetime.
Three thousand feet above the Yosemite Valley floor, the smoke was impenetrable—the daylight reduced to a muted glow as if someone had just thrown a bed sheet over the sun. At some moments the breeze would stop just long enough for us to dust the ash from our camera equipment and clothes.
On any other day this would have been a fairly straightforward shoot. The sentient and beautiful icons of Yosemite make for legendary backdrops. The fire, however, left us with limited visibility and light dynamics that grew more complex as the sun neared the horizon.
We approached the shoot with two Sony A7Riis, both equipped with legendary lenses. One 85mm Zeiss Batis f1.8 and a Canon 85mm f1.2 brought the glass power, and the convenience of a Metabones adapter made shooting with the Canon glass effortless on the Sony A7Rii.
The shoot went like this: two photographers taking turns to shoot nearly the same angle, but at two different points of time, and in varying positions. Our goal was to use the sun’s position to our most optimal advantage. This landed one of us in a rock climbing harness rappelling from the 3,000ft adjacent cliff with the Batis 85mm, while the other shot with the Canon 85mm 1.2 from another adjusted vantage point. We got creative.
Even though we had both shot Canon for many years prior to Sony, we could not stop talking about the real advantage we had that evening with the Sony’s. The stats on the A7Rii stand alone and its dynamic range to shoot in those conditions was beyond impressive. The noticeable size and weight difference to their DSLR counterparts saved us when bulk would have deterred us from pulling a few more shots (i.e. while hanging off of a 3,000 foot cliff).
Furthermore, Sony cameras’ live view cuts down time and eliminates the guessing game. This is a huge plus when shooting with rapidly changing weather conditions and light dynamics. The shots were dialed, calculated, and what we saw is what we shot. Lastly, the ISO power of Sony yielded shots so clean that at points we joked that the A7Rii ISO 3200 had quality standards of ISO 600 in other cameras we have used. Because of this, we were able to push light even further with zero concern for quality. Days like that remind us why we love photography—and why we shoot Sony.