The Great Escape
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Saturday, January 09, 2016
By Gregory Cuvelier
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The Great Escape



Iso 100


1/30 Sec


   Have you ever felt tired, run down, or burned out? Have you ever felt like you lost your perspective on life? Does going to work feel like another day on the hamster wheel racing after that carrot you can never catch? Does your cubicle layout feel like an endless labyrinth from which you can't escape? Do you feel like your life is in a constant state of technological interruptions such as answering email, getting the latest news 24/7, checking Facebook every few minutes to see how much fun everyone else is having, trying to connect to Wi-Fi, checking the battery life on your cell phone, wishing you had the newest iPhone, etc...? This reminds me of a personal story.  I was in Florida with my family,and I was running up and down a dock trying to get ready for a boat excursion, when I had the following conversation with a Florida Keys local:


Local:  "Hey, Nor-Easter," a local shouts at me as I am running.

Me:     I stopped running, looked at him, and asked, "Are you talking to me?"

Local:  "Yes".

Me:     "Why did you call me Nor-Easter?".

Local:  "Cause you're from the northeast, ain't ya?"

Me:     "How could you possibly know that,?"  I asked, with a puzzled expression on my face

Local:  "I can spot you people a mile away. You're all alike, you're all hyper and always rushing through life. You need to slow down and enjoy life - you're in the Keys."

     I was utterly speechless. Was I really that hyper and that identifiable just by my actions? However,  those comments planted a seed deep in my psyche. It germinated in the recesses of my mind for almost 15 years before it finally came to fruition. The answer? I needed a "Great Escape. "I needed to travel to a destination I had always dreamed about but never thought I would get to, which leads me to the quote below. 



It makes you think, doesn't it? We all have to make a living and provide for our families, but sometimes we need something to give us a little perspective on life. Enter Yosemite, stage right. 

  My first trip to Yosemite was about ten years ago, and it was a game changer. It changed my perspective of the world, and literally my life. I have been fortunate  enough to travel to many beautiful places in my life, but I have never felt as much joy, happiness, and contentment as when I travel to Yosemite. The night skies are filled with so many stars it is hard to fathom. You must understand, I am a transplant from the North East, where there is so much light pollution most people will never truly see the Milky Way, and to me that is a tragedy. I guarantee you, viewing the Milky Way in the night sky at Yosemite will be better than anything you can find on the internet. The Merced river is rouge in the Springtime, and flows with speed and vigor, the redwood aroma will saturate your senses, the monolithic granite walls will inspire you with awe, the translucency of dogwood blooms in Spring backlit by the sun is stunning, the foothills covered with poppies will make you smile and feel content, and the wildlife is just an added bonus to the natural serenity and tranquility of the park. All of these things make Yosemite an amazing destination. This park has tugged at my soul since my initial visit, eventually causing me to leave my job in New York to pursue a career as a photo tour guide in California with an emphasis on Yosemite National Park. In essence, it is my Great Escape from corporate life to the most peaceful place I have ever seen.  On my first drive through Yosemite Valley, I just happened to drive up to Tunnel View, and the image above was my first impression of the park. After I downloaded my photo and saw it full screen on my iMac, I knew it was a wall hanger. I decided right away to have a metal print of it.  Although this photo is rather iconic and lacks in creativity, I decided to hang the print in my office because I wanted to enjoy this view everyday of my life. If I can't be there in person, a photograph of it was the next best thing. After it was up, it was interesting and rewarding to observe people as they came into my office. The first question was normally "Where, did you buy that?" This was typically followed by, "That isn't a real place is it?". "I have been to Yosemite before and have never seen this". "You must have Photo-shopped the rainbow in the waterfalls". The truth is, I honestly didn't. You too can get this type of photo. You just need the right weather conditions and a little bit of gear. Specifically, to get this type of photo, you need the following:


  • The falls have to be flowing with water (Springtime is the best)
  • The sun has to be out at approximately a 42 degree angle to the falls
  • You need to use a polarizer to minimize reflections
  • You need to use a tripod to really get a quality image


    To bring out the colors in the rainbow, it is absolutely essential that you use a polarizer. To prove this, once you set up your camera with your polarizer, rotate it around 360 degrees and watch the colors go from being almost completely washed out to a bright color spectrum.  Although Yosemite has millions of visitors each year, sadly, there are still millions of people who have not seen this park because they are too busy to take the time. As beautiful and breath taking as Tunnel View is with a rainbow on Bridal Falls, it is but a small fraction of what the park has to offer. The sites of Yosemite can vary drastically day-to-day as well as season by season. In this technological age we live in, life moves at supersonic speeds, and it is a full time job keeping up with 24-hour news, emails, texts, and social media. Do yourself a favor- take a little time to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of our country. If you really want to do something new and invigorating in your life, I would suggest turning off your cell, stop texting, stop monitoring Facebook and social media every second, and spend some time communing with nature. I think you will find it very therapeutic for your soul, and it might even be a 'Game Changer' in your life.


    Starting in the fall of 2016, I will be offering photo work shops in Yosemite, as well as some of the other surrounding National Parks. It would be a true honor to have you as a client. I am very customer centric, and my primary objective is for you to relax, have fun, and enjoy our beautiful National Parks while at the same time positioning you so you can take home some awesome photos you will be proud of. I will also be able to show you the best locations and times to photograph the park, teach you how to master the manual controls on your camera (ISO, f-stop and shutter speed), and I guarantee you will leave with an image you will want to frame, or the cost of the tour (excluding hotel and meals) will be completely refunded. Being in the park will be a very refreshing experience, and capturing a photo that you created (as opposed to purchasing a photo someone else took) and hanging it on your wall will make the expereince indelible in your mind. Material goods are in vogue one day and gone the next, while a Yosemite experience will last forever. I also will be offering a 25% discount for all Wounded Warriors, and a 10% discount for all veterans. I wish you and your family's peace, health, and happiness in the New Year.





PS: I welcome any comments or feedback you may have. Thank you for visiting my blog.

Leave a comment:
Susan Govender - Gregory,

I love it! Why you ask… I love the way it makes me feel. Calm yet invigorated, peaceful yet excited. You make the reader sit back and think….. really think. I will definitely be following your posts.

Jonathan Miller - I'm so glad to hear you are pursuing this. I know we talked about it several times, but congratulations for taking that step! The west has been calling you for a long time, I'm happy to see you answer that call. I'm sure Alicia and I will sign up for a tour next time we're out that way. I'll share the link with our west coast friends as well. Good Luck!
Gregory Cuvelier - Thank you so much Kevin. I really appreciate and value your comments. If you ever want to visit Southern California, your always welcome to stay with us.
Kevin Biss - You have some amazing pictures Greg! Sounds like a very rewarding venture to transfer some of your knowledge and skills to others. Best of luck!
Burton C. Biss - Thoreau got the same effect from studying leaves of grass in his back yard, but the impact of natural scenery on today's jaded psyche is almost a born again experience. Best of Luck in this endeavor and remember you folks are always welcome in Alaska and Oregon where there are some powerful vistas too. Burt
Julie - This is so exciting! I am so happy for you! You will shine as a photo tour guide.
Gregory Cuvelier - Thank you for your comments Shari. If you and Dave come visit, I will provide a tour pro bono!
Shari - What a great opportunity to enjoy an incredible national and natural treasure!