Yosemite National Park’s Lava Waterfall

The Magma Colored waterfall only happens in a two week window of time outside of the Horsetail Fall at Yosemite National Park. If the sky is clear and the weather is just right, the images captured by the photographers leave people in awe. The waterfall’s color change was first discovered in 1973 by Galen Rowell, an outdoors photographer, ever since; photographers have been coming to the fall to capture similar images.

Capturing these images is more than just going out there and taking a picture with your cellphone camera. If you want to capture the Horsetail waterfall at it’s brightest, you’ll need to know about astronomy, physics, and geometry as hopefuls consider the azimuth degrees and minutes of the earth’s orbit relative to the sun to determine the optimal day to experience it. The photographers are looking for the lowest angle of light that will paint Horsetail the colors of an iridescent sunset as rays reflect off granite behind the water. It materializes in varying degrees of intensity for the same two weeks every year.

The waterfall can only be pictured for that short period of time during mid February, that’s IF enough water accumulates through rain or snow. If the fall is flowing, and the sky is clear, you have two minutes during dusk time to take a picture of the fall. After two weeks of flowing “red” the river will will dry out, and the angles of the sun rays will be out of place.

Michael Frye, who wrote the book “The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite.” said that “Horsetail is so uniquely situated that I don’t know of any other waterfall on earth that gets that kind of light,”

If you want to get a shot of this elusive lava waterfall, you’re in luck. Recent storms and snowfall mean the finicky fall is flowing again, and park officials are hopeful it will last through February 24, which is generally the last day of the year it can be seen.

The popularity is reminiscent of an actual fiery fall that entertained guests in the park from 1930 to 1968. Each summer evening as the sun set, employees of the park concessionaire would build a huge fire atop Glacier Point. At 9 p.m., as the fire burned down to embers and the Indian Love Song waned, someone would yell, “Let the fire fall!”

With long rakes men pushed glowing coals over the 3,200-foot cliff. Had visitors looked in the opposite direction at a different time of year they would have seen the watery fire-fall of nature. Via: Yahoo News