Photographer and Filmmaker Shawn Reeder has been a fixture in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range for years. Reeder has not only documented the impressive landscapes in the region, but being a highly skilled rock climber has allowed him to capture some dramatic photos of the sport’s best athletes.
Being an avid nature lover and photographer, Reeder was ecstatic when California received decent snow in the early winter months after a damaging multi-year drought has ravaged the state. Not only would the snow help improve the farming communities, but it also meant that for the first time in five years the famous Yosemite Firefall might be visible. When the weather begins to warm,
the Sierra snowpack begins to melt, creating a seasonal waterfall in Yosemite Valley called Horsetail Fall. While an impressive site on it’s own, for about 2 weeks every February the setting sun lines up perfectly with the waterfall, turning the water into an orange, yellow and red mixture that looks like flowing lava. This year, with a healthy snowpack and clear skies, the conditions lined up perfectly and Reeder set out to capture the spectacle from a unique vantage point, as most photographers head to the valley floor.
I asked Reeder about this risky decision of scouting out a location that may not deliver if the conditions aren’t right.
Yosemite’s Firefall is quite an amazing natural occurence to witness, but with the popularity of modern social media, we’ve all seen nearly the same few compositions from hundreds of photographers. I really wanted something different, and not only that, but I love clean compositions without shooting through the trees, so I knew by getting up above the trees from the right angle it could be amazing. I was pleasantly surprised when not only was the angle awesome, but there was a killer rock outcrop that I could stand on and watch the falls all by myself while hundreds of photographers were elbow to elbow down in the Valley below.
And what’s next for Reeder?
I’m working on a new film which shows a unique relationship between humans and the earth & heavens through time-lapse, of which there was shots like that in this film. I am really proud of the way it’s coming together and I hope to get it out later this spring!