• Yosemite Rainbows and Waterfalls

    April 26th to May 1st, 2018

    Book Now

Yosemite Rainbows & Waterfalls


Yosemite National Park is easily one of the most dramatic and spectacular alpine landscapes in the world. From the soaring heights of El Capitan and Half-Dome to the dramatic fields of mountain wildflowers and mesmerizing waterfalls – Yosemite is really a photographer’s paradise.

Sculpted by glaciers, Yosemite Valley is one of the most dramatically beautiful alpine landscapes in the world. It’s rounded granite domes tower thousands of feet over an idyllic valley floor with rushing streams pouring into the lovely Merced River. From atop Yosemite’s lofty heights, snow melts into raging waterfalls that cascade down its solid rock faces creating a photographic tapestry like none other in the world.

The Yosemite Rainbows & Waterfalls Tour/Workshop offers an impressive array of opportunities for both amateur and experienced photographers alike. We time this trip to coincide with peak waterfall season in the spring of the year. As the snow melts in the high country – Yosemite’s waterfalls rush to life. This is also a great time of year for Alpine Wildflowers and Rainbows shining off of the mists in the various falls.

Russ has been exploring the Sierra Nevada for the past decade and will offer his wealth of knowledge on this photographic endeavor into the old stomping grounds of Ansel Adams. Our small groups will allow you plenty of one on one time with your instructor so you can focus on improving your craft. Russ will be on hand teaching a wealth of insider tips & tricks on Yosemite specific landscape photography.

The Yosemite Rainbows and Waterfalls Photography Tour aims to place you right in the action at Yosemite’s iconic spots. Rainbows, Waterfalls, Moonbows, Wildflowers and big, wide-open landscapes abound! We’ll be photographing Upper Yosemite Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Nevada Falls, Vernal Falls and more as we comb Yosemite Valley for photo opportunites. We’ll also photograph the big granite domes such as El Capitan, Sentinel and Half-Dome as well as many locations on the valley floor. Every good photographer knows that it’s all about the light – and Russ will make sure you’re in the right place at the right time during the best lighting conditions.

You will be part of a small group led by professional photographer Russ Nordstrand and staying at our wonderful lodge nestled in the pines right outside of the park. This is an all-inclusive trip which includes all meals and lodging while on the trip. After a long day of hiking and photographing in Yosemite we’ll kick back at the lodge with a great meal, photo reviews, instructor presentations and probably some good laughs as well!

Join us in Yosemite this year for the spring Waterfalls & Rainbows Tour for an unforgettable experience. Yosemite is a photographic mecca unlike just about anywhere else!


Day 1

Arrive at the Yosemite Valley Lodge by 6pm for orientation and a group dinner!

Day 2

We’ll begin with a trek along the Mist Trail to photograph both Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls – two of Yosemite’s most impressive waterfalls. These gems are best photographed in mid-morning during even light. Liberty Cap, Grizzly Peak, the Panorama Cliffs, Sentinel Dome, Glacier Point and even Half Dome will be rising all around us during this wonderful full-day trek. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch in the high country next to an impressive waterfall overlook before descending back to the valley floor.

This evening with weather conditions permitting, we’ll drive up to what many consider the most impressive vantage point in Yosemite – Glacier Point. This dramatic, awe-inspiring viewpoint looks straight down into Yosemite Valley, 3,000 vertical feet below. We can gaze across the Valley to take in the entire plunge of Yosemite Falls, and get an up-close and personal view of Half-Dome as well as Nevada and Vernal Falls. This is an iconic sunset shot in which we’ll make sure to spend the necessary time to capture it just right.

After shooting well into the evening we’ll retire to our cozy lodge nestled in a peaceful forest away from the crowds and bustle of Yosemite Valley.

Day 3

On Day Two we’ll be up and at ‘em early for a pre-dawn drive to Valley View for epic sunrise reflection shots of El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and Cathedral Rocks with the Merced River in the foreground.

After our sunrise photography session we’ll spend the day hiking the nuances of Yosemite Valley. This will be an easier day on foot and we’ll spend some quality time on photographic instruction and rest up for the evening’s session at Tunnel View and a big day tomorrow.

This evening we’ll head to Tunnel View which has arguably one of the best sunset spots in all of Yosemite. This incredible vista popularized by Ansel Adams is an iconic image that we will spend some time getting just right. From the vantage at Tunnel View you can see El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, Cathedral Rocks and Half-Dome.

After Tunnel View we’ll head over and depending on the season (spring is best) we’ll see if we can’t find and photograph a moonbow over at Lower Yosemite Falls! The exact itinerary on this day may be swapped around depending on the lighting and cloud cover so we can ensure you get optimal lighting conditions for your imagery.

Day 4 

We’ll begin today with a pre-dawn drive to Olmsted Point, one of the best locations to photograph Yosemite in the morning light. The view west from Olmsted Point, down Tenaya Canyon toward Yosemite Valley, provides a unique and striking perspective of Half Dome. Foreground opportunities include glacial erratics (boulders deposited by retreating glaciers), round indentations that fill with water after a rain, linear grooves, very unique trees, and even a few wildflowers if we’re lucky. We’ll climb to the top of the dome at Olmsted Point and look east to see Tenaya Lake, Mt. Conness, and many other High Sierra peaks. To the west is Cloud’s Rest, just left of Half Dome; across Tenaya Canyon, facing Half Dome, is serene Mt. Watkins.

After a late breakfast we’ll drive to our trailhead along the Tioga Pass Road for a hike to Cathedral Lake. This is an excellent hike into the high country that will position us for some wonderful late afternoon photography. Our destination is upper Cathedral Lake – a stunning alpine lake in lovely granite meadows with Cathedral Peak towering above it. In the right light this can be one of the most dramatic images in all of Yosemite.

After a great day photographing in the field it’s back to the Evergreen Lodge for a much deserved gourmet dinner, rest and relaxation!

Day 5

This morning we’ll head up to photograph Upper Yosemite Falls from the Swinging Bridge. This is an excellent viewpoint that tends to get its best light mid-morning and features stunning reflections and dramatic views of the Upper Falls. After photographing this location we’ll hike the falls, which is one hike you’ll never forget!

The Upper Yosemite Falls Trail promises a challenging, steep work out with up-close views of North America’s highest waterfall and panoramic views of Yosemite Valley. Beginning at Camp 4, the legendary epicenter of Yosemite’s big wall climbing era, the trail ascends numerous switchbacks to Columbia Point, where Half Dome dominates an awe-inspiring view of Yosemite Valley. Beyond the point, the impressive Upper Yosemite Falls comes into view, offering a refreshing spray of mist along with the thundering sight of tons of water dropping straight down 1430 ft. After climbing switchbacks through a break in the Valley wall, the trail tops out on the rim in a forest of impressive Jeffrey pines. Here we will photograph Yosemite Falls from above in the beautiful evening light before heading back down the trail.

Day 6

Today’s hike takes us into Yosemite’s biggest trees – the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia trees. After some important photographic instruction regarding photographing these early giants we’ll hike the lower and upper loops snapping shots of Wawona Valley and the 2700 year old Grizzly Giant tree, as well as getting in-depth photographs of several other Giant Sequoia trees in the grove. This will be our final stop in Yosemite. We’ll leave this once-in-a-lifetime adventure with unforgettable memories, enhanced landscape photography skills, and digital cards full of stunning images!

Please Note: Please note that the exact sequence of the itineraries on all photography trips will be based on weather and lighting conditions. The goal on these trips is to make sure we are at the right place at the right time for the perfect light on our subjects. Also, itineraries can change for a variety of other circumstances including floods, forest fires, national park closures, road closures and more.


Physical Requirements
All participants must be in good physical condition and have the ability to hike with a daypack.

Group Size
We keep groups small to maximize your one on one time with the guide / instructor.

We will be staying at the Yosemite Falls Lodge – in the center of the park and walking distance to the tallest waterfall in North America.


All meals are included during the trip dates and we typically eat at park lodges in the evening as well as a hand picked local restaurants. We often do snacks on the trail and then return for a late breakfast during photography trips as we are often out early to capture the morning light.

Expect warm pleasant days with cold mornings and nights. The weather can prove unpredictable in the High Sierra and can change on a moments notice. Remember some of the best photographs are made before, during and immediately after a storm cycle. There is no such thing as bad weather just poor layering and gear choices – please plan accordingly! For more info on what to bring please email or call us.

Price Includes
Meals, ground transportation within Yosemite National Park, accommodation during the trip dates, professional photography instruction, medically certified wilderness guide.

Price Does Not Include
Airfare, alcoholic beverages, accommodations before or after the trip dates, guide & staff gratuities

Travel Details
Fly In/Out of Fresno, California. Either rent a car or take the YARTS bus from Fresno Airport to Yosemite National Park.

What to Bring

Photo & Field Gear for Yosemite Rainbows & Waterfalls

Required Camera Gear:

  • DSLR or Mirrorless Camera. (Nikon, Canon, Sony, Panasonic etc.)
  • Long fixed telephoto lens: 500mm (only required for wildlife focused trips)
  • Medium telephoto zoom lens (100–400mm zoom or equivalent)
  • Normal Lens (50mm or equivalent zoom)
  • Wide-angle lens (10-20mm, 16-35mm or equivalent zoom)
  • Sturdy but lightweight Tripod (must be able to carry this for hikes)
  • Memory Cards
  • Batteries, batteries, batteries (enough said?)
  • Battery Chargers
  • Filters such as a circular polarizer and neutral density are a must.
  • Lens cleaning pen & cloth
  • Camera Day Pack (this should appropriately carry all your camera & hiking gear)
  • Camera Rain Sleeve

Optional (but recommended) Camera Gear:

  • Back-Up Camera Body
  • Macro-capable lens
  • 1.4x tele converter
  • Extension tubes
  • Laptop Computer with Lightroom / Photoshop Pre-Installed
  • External Hard Drives
  • Bean bag
  • Remote Shutter Trigger
  • TTL Flash Unit
  • Camera’s Instruction Manual
  • Panorama Gear

Suggested Field Gear & Clothing:

  • Personal Field Clothing (think layers)
  • Warm top, such as a long-sleeved sweater or fleece jacket
  • Long pants, one pair of leggings or lightweight trousers to block sun and give warmth at night
  • Warm Hat & Gloves
  • Down Jacket
  • Long Underwear (synthetic top & bottom
  • Shorts & T-Shirts for on the trail during warmer months
  • Hiking Socks (Smartwool, Darn Tough etc.)
  • Brimmed Sun Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sturdy Hiking Boots
  • Casual wear, for your evenings off the trail
  • Water Bottle or Hydration System
  • Rain shell, waterproof/breathable jacket
  • Rain Pants
  • Gaiters (optional)
  • Bathing Suit
  • Shooting Gloves
  • Pocket knife
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Knee pads (for low-angle shooting)
This is a general list. Before we actually depart let’s have a quick chat or email about what you are planning to bring!


  • Waterfalls, Rainbows, Half-Dome, Upper Falls & more!
  • Photograph Yosemite’s iconic spots such as Bridal Veil Falls, Nevada & Vernal Falls
  • Yosemite Valley Photography including Tunnel View, Valley View and Glacier Point
  • Stunning & Challenging hikes
  • Small Groups
  • Cozy lodges
  • All-Inclusive Trip, including top-notch meals
  • Learn from & shoot alongside a seasoned pro

Yosemite Rainbows & Waterfalls

6 Days


Deposit: $1000

+$400 Single Occupancy

Fly-In: Fresno, CA

Meet: Yosemite NP


April 26th to May 1st, 2018

Questions? Contact Us About This Trip

“We had a great time with Russ out in Yosemite and will be back for another trip. We got really lucky on this trip and were able to photograph Yosemite’s renowned waterfalls in full spring run-off stage. It was really something else. The lodging and meals provided on this trip are an excellent way to kick back after a long day out on the trail!”

Eric PSeattle, Washington