National Geographic News

Angie McPherson

National Geographic

Published March 9, 2014

Explore the night sky in Yosemite National Park from the top of Echo Ridge—all in the first eight seconds of the video.

California-based photographers Colin Delehanty and Sheldon Neill spent more than ten months backpacking across Yosemite National Park to create this stunning five-minute time-lapse video of the park in all four seasons.

Yosemite HD II is their second time-lapse video of the national park. The first, Yosemite HD, was published in 2012 after three months of shooting. But they knew they could do better.

After 200 miles (320 kilometers) and a total of 45 days in the park, they finally captured what Yosemite means to them. In order to do this, they had to get off the beaten path.

National Geographic asked them to guide viewers through the video and point out the difficult-to-reach places of Yosemite National Park.

Map of Yosemite.

1. Echo Ridge in Cathedral Range (0:00 in the video)

The photographers walked for a total of five hours round trip to capture the introductory shot of Yosemite, near one of the highest points in the Cathedral Range, known as Echo Peaks.

Echo Peaks and Echo Ridge are about 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) from the closest road and reach an elevation of 11,062 feet (3,372 meters) from the base. Echo Ridge connects Echo Peaks with nearby Unicorn Peak. (Learn about 3-D mapping of Yosemite's iconic mountain ranges.)

"It was freezing cold, and there wasn't much of a surface area," said Neill. "It was one of our more memorable trips because it was windy and the sunset was amazing. We were also fortunate to capture the Sierra Wave, which you don't see often."

In the first shot of the video, light pollution can be seen in the distance behind the Cathedral Range. Other shots of the Cathedral Range appear at 2:20, 2:52, and 2:48.

2. Clouds Rest (1:12 in the video)

Clouds Rest is the highest feature overlooking Yosemite Valley. It has an elevation of more than 9,921 feet (3,024 meters) and is a 14-mile (22-kilometer) journey from the valley below.

"I was hiking through deep snow without waterproof boots or snowshoes," said Delehanty, laughing. "The area that I used to approach Clouds Rest didn't get a lot of sun in the daytime."

Clouds Rest has an extensive view of most of the Yosemite landmarks, due to its elevation.

"From up there I developed a better understanding of how big the park is. I tried finding locations off in the distance that could be found on the map. I stayed up for 24 hours capturing footage," Delehanty added. "Since I hadn't planned on staying up there an additional day, I melted some snow for water and got comfortable while I waited for sunset the following day."

There are many different shots from Clouds Rest in the video. You can find Clouds Rest at 1:36, 3:00, 3:08, and 4:56.

3. Diving Board (4:00 in the video)

The Diving Board is a rock that juts out in front of the iconic Half Dome in Yosemite. It's where famed photographer Ansel Adams took the photo "The Monolith" in April 1927.

Delehanty and Neill traversed the back side of Half Dome in February 2013 to reach the Diving Board.

"We were pooped when we got to the top. The fog had rolled in, and behind it you couldn't see anything," said Neill. "The Diving Board was the only area where there was visibility. My back was completely frozen by the time we finished shooting."

Other shots from the Diving Board can be found at 0:24 and 3:52.

The photographers visited more than 24 different locations, some of them multiple times, in order to get the right shots of the park.

Yosemite National Park is 150 miles (240 kilometers) east of San Francisco and encompasses 761,266 acres of wilderness reserve, including waterfalls, forests, canyons, and the Sierra Nevada range. It has 150 miles of land without any roads, one of the largest roadless areas in the continental U.S.

How much do you know about Yosemite? Take the quiz.

Follow Angie McPherson on Twitter.

525 comments
Nancy Becker
Nancy Becker

I really enjoyed!  Absolutely amazing at the changes that took place in the video.  Beautiful sunset!  Shooting stars!  Fantastic water falls!  What a beautiful world we have! Thanks for all you did to make this video possible for us to see!

Gary Slocum
Gary Slocum

As a worshipper of Jehovah who created these wonders, this was simply stunning and awe-inspiring! Well done. Great choice of music!

Malachi Doctor
Malachi Doctor

I never get tired of watching this time lapse film, just breathtaking...

Bonita J.
Bonita J.

There be stars!!!!


National Geographic nature photography at it best!

Gaspar Canul
Gaspar Canul

Stunning to say  the least...


I did my first time lapse of Grand Canyon sun rise.... 

I managed to capture 2 1/2 hours...before i succumbed to the freezing winds.....what wimp!



i could just imagine how difficult it its to have made this video in the cold and treachearous terrain.


Super cool video!  I've watched many times and showed to several family members.  


Thanks for all the hard work!


much appreciated...!!

Antrisha B.
Antrisha B.

Absolutely beautiful! The best places are discovered off the beaten path. It must have been so amazing to have been on the other side of the camera seeing the real thing for yourself! Great work!

Megan Delehanty
Megan Delehanty

I watch both videos all the time. Can't get enough. Proud aunt.

Mark Rice
Mark Rice

Enjoy this incredible expose of one of the most beautifu areas in the world.  Best viewed on desktop or tablet...absolutely incredible.

Christian Mickelsen
Christian Mickelsen

What a great effort to share your photographic talents to produce this work so everyone can experience Yosemite.  Thank you...

Annabelle Chavez
Annabelle Chavez

Truly a work of art! a Masterpiece, congratualtions for a great job:)

Valerie James
Valerie James

Thank you so much for making this video.  I echo another comment, Our God is an awesome God.

Valerie James
Valerie James

I cried.  How could anyone watch this and not be overcome with emotion.  Amazing.

William Stewart
William Stewart

Wonderful photography of locations I was never able to visit. The beauty of the night sky was unimaginable. 

Sayak Kayal
Sayak Kayal

aaah....terrific...... xcellent work.... absolutely in love

Jeffrey Chin
Jeffrey Chin

Thanks for sharing such remarkable journey and unusual experienced of shooting God's creation. Hope that I do this as well. 

Deborah Hall
Deborah Hall

Amazing!  Just try to count the shooting stars!

Barbara Miller
Barbara Miller

Wow!  Thanks so much for sharing.  Our God is an awesome God to create such a wonderful planet for us to explore. It means so much to see places on our planet that most do not see in the course of a lifetime. 

Carol Bash
Carol Bash

Tears. So powerfully moving. Thank you for this. Our planet is just so amazing.

Benoit La Fontaine
Benoit La Fontaine

Yosemite is a splendid place, thanks first to its Creator, then to the photographers who rendered it. Many years ago, I came from Québec City to Yosemite. I slept in a tent and during the night I was visited by a bear, without harm to me or to him. Another time at night, I kept driving, walking, then driving again in the vicinity of El Capitan. The face of the mountain was covered with giant icicles running down from the snow melting during the day on the flat top. Under the moonlight, it was a sight that I will never forget.  

Susanne Vivienne Oxild
Susanne Vivienne Oxild

WOW ... SO SPECTACULAR to watch !!

AMAZING work COLIN DELEHANTY & SHELDON NEILL !!!

Extraordinary accomplishment... Thank You !!

John Towell
John Towell

And Abbottoir asks.."How can we log this??"

Gaby Kuivenhoven
Gaby Kuivenhoven

Awesome. Nature is perfectly portrayed with the perfect music to make it live.

Div Bridson
Div Bridson

Truly wonderful,& I loved the music!

Guillermo Bahamon
Guillermo Bahamon

The images are spectacular. I like the shooting stars, the moving sky, the long views of the Half Dome.

Though, do you have to have the horrible noise as "musical" background. Is silence so horrible that we have to blend noise into everything we enjoy because canned music, canned laughter, canned explosions are better than silence?

Thanks.

Barbara Brown
Barbara Brown

I want to go there......again! Such stunning beauty! Thank you, Lord!

Jeanette Squires
Jeanette Squires

Awesome. The magnicence of nature gives me hope. Man is so puny in the face of its power.

Donald Hilliard
Donald Hilliard

We have been there and have seen its beauty, but not like this. That was awesome. Thank You

Khalid AlRawahy
Khalid AlRawahy

An overwhelming feeling to view an absolutely fantastic and a unique beauty of nature through a professionally prepared video, thousands of kilometers from where I am. Really, enjoyed every minute of the piece. Thank you for sharing it with the world.

susan Li
susan Li

looking forward to visiting it. 

Lorraine Marker
Lorraine Marker

Who but Almighty God could give us such beauty.  No sermon could make me feel closer to Him.

Julia Fei
Julia Fei

Amazing , thank you very much show us such beautiful Yosemite.

Guillermo Bahamon
Guillermo Bahamon

@David Laing  David, I agree with you. I just wrote a comment on silence, how we not need to clutter our respect for nature with noise. Thanks.

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