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Vernel Fall, Merced River, Yosemite National Park

The Moon is Waxing Gibbous (95% of Full)


Seeing it before you get there

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Seeing it before you get there
May 10, 2007 12:34AM
In another thread I noticed that some people like to seek out photos from the hikes they plan to take. This was interesting to me because I try to avoid seeing pictures of places that I have not been to in person. I like my initial experience of being there to be entirely brand new. When I see a photo, then that becomes my first impression, and I feel, in a way, that it takes away from the awe of a "virgin" first look.

Now I'm wondering what other think about this. Do you seek out photos beforehand, or do you avoid them? What is it that influences you to do one or the other?
avatar Re: Seeing it before you get there
May 10, 2007 12:50AM
I didn't find the videos and photos of the hike to the top of Half Dome anywhere near the actual experience. First-hand written accounts are more useful and let your eyes do the walking.
Re: Seeing it before you get there
May 14, 2007 05:57PM
Vince wrote:
> I didn't find the videos and photos of the hike to the top of
> Half Dome anywhere near the actual experience. First-hand
> written accounts are more useful and let your eyes do the
> walking.

Would you expect photos of Europe to substitute for a trip there? How could anyone possibly duplicate a real-life experience with two-dimensional images on a screen or paper? Ansel Adams is probably the most acclaimed of Yosemite photographers, yet would you consider looking through his galleries a substitute for a real-life trip to Yosemite?

Not all videos or photos online are put there to instruct people in "how to hike Half Dome". Some might be, in conjunction with descriptive written accounts, but there are many reasons for posting photos besides instructing someone. Personally, before I hiked Half Dome, I appreciated written or photo accounts, so I could know what to expect and go prepared.

Regarding the original message about not looking before you go...I suppose it depends on where. I'm planning on going up Whitney this summer, either the main trail or the mountaineer's route, and I want every bit of info I can get...photos included. No way will the photo kill the excitement of really seeing it. On the contrary, it will help me to prepare better, to know what to look for, find my way, and enjoy it a lot more than if I was just dumped off in a strange place and told to go "up there". Photos tell a lot of the story that text can't.

Non-documentary photos, aside from their value as art, are more suited to bringing back pleasant experiences than simulating them beforehand. I get more comments on Yosemite photo albums from folks who have been there and enjoy 'reliving' it or seeing something from someone else's eyes, perhaps at a time of year when they can't get there, than I do people who have never been there (though some do say they are heading there and enjoy the photos as a 'preview' of what they'll get to experience. Never had anyone say "you spoiled my trip, now I have seen it all" 8^)

Post Edited (05-14-07 20:00)

Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
avatar Re: Seeing it before you get there
May 10, 2007 12:28PM
I find that the actual physical experience at any location in Yosemite is not conveyed in any picture I've seen. Ansel Adams' pictures stand by themselves as art but do not even begin to approach the real thing. They are sort of a minor teaser to the place itself. Most pictures I've taken and those my friends have taken appear as two dimensional images again that either hint at the real thing or just look like a flat picture of green and gray maybe with some water about. (Dale has taken some pretty good ones though) The scale of Yosemite features cannot be caught on film.

I find that video sort of instructs as to what to look for. It sometimes allows you to look for things that your intuition doesn't steer you to. Probably the best example of this is waterfalls and cascades. Seeing a few minutes of video makes you aware of the interesting things going on with the water. A still photo of moving water doesn't have the movement nor the sound. But again even video with sound is nothing like the real thing.

I would say look at all the pictures you want and when you get there, to Yosemite at least, you won't remember a single picture you saw beforehand.

Old Dude
Re: Seeing it before you get there
May 10, 2007 02:55PM
What Mrc said is so true- personally I like to look at pics beforehand- to me it's kinda like studying the trail maps & topos- it just gets me even more fired up for the hike and insures I don't overlook anything good! For what it's worth I think Galen Rowell comes the closest for those that haven't been. J.
avatar Re: Seeing it before you get there
May 11, 2007 12:30AM
I agree with the others. Even the best photographs will only give you a small "taste" of what is like being there.

Seeing a photograph of a place I was about to visit has NEVER diminished the initial impact of seeing the place first-hand for the first time.

It's a vastly different experience to see something in person versus viewing it through a photograph. I have never made an effort to avoid looking at photographs of places I'm about to visit for the concern that it might "spoil" my initial experience of the place.

- Peter

Leave No Trace
Re: Seeing it before you get there
May 24, 2007 11:04AM
I'm obviously the weirdo of the bunch.

To clarify somewhat, it's not that I think seeing a photo would ruin the hike, or would be a substitute for the hike. It's just that I have a certain appreciation for the unknown. I also don't read the descriptions of movies before watching them, so that tells you how wacky I am.
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