4 Pixel photography tips I used to capture Yosemite’s Firefall

When I originally planned a February trip to Yosemite National Park, I hadn’t thought much about the timing. I figured the park would be less crowded, and I could put my crampons to use while trekking up icy trails. What I didn’t realize is that I’d scheduled myself to go during what is one of the park’s most photographed events: Firefall.

During the end of February when the sun sets in Yosemite, it perfectly hits Horsetail Falls to create a reddish-orange glow. Depending on various weather conditions, the waterfall can look like a lava flow. It’s incredible — which is why it’s a hugely photographed and visited moment. Crowds flood the park during these weekends and swarm the viewing areas in the hours leading up to Firefall, which lasts for a precious few minutes each evening. To say I was intimidated to photograph Firefall would be an understatement. For some tips, I reached out to the Pixel camera team’s Andy Radin, a pro photographer and image quality expert.

Armed with my Pixel 7 Pro, an optimistic spirit and some sage words of advice and encouragement from Andy, I headed for Firefall! Here are my favorite photos I took along with the tips that helped me take (and in some cases, edit) them.

1. Get around crowds with Super Res Zoom

Since this trip was primarily to hike and going during Firefall was just a happy accident, I didn’t want to spend all day sitting in the viewing areas waiting for dusk — but a lot of other people did. And by a lot, I mean thousands. Because I opted to show up later the two times I ventured to the waterfall, I didn’t get the closest spots, and there were crowds in front of me.