Photo Safari of Yosemite National Park Lets Amateurs Capture Stunning Images

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Pat Althizer's Yosemite Photo Safaris are helping amateur shutterbugs come away with stunning images of the nation park by putting them "In the right places at the right times."

This stunning photograph of fall colors in Yosemite was taken during a Photo Safari through the park

It’s about being in the right place at the right time

With the Christmas shopping season officially here, one man has the perfect gift idea for any photography enthusiast.

Living around Oakhurst, a community in Madera County, California’s Gateway to Yosemite for 20 years, Pat Althizer has had ample experience photographing the park. Althizer was trained in photography by the United States Navy and assigned as a photographer aboard to aircraft carriers during the Vietnam war.

In his time at Yosemite National Park, he seen a lot of others attempt to shoot the park, and for various reasons come away with pictures of which they weren’t proud. “I was watching a lot of tour busses come in and people with cameras getting on and off. This was weighing on me, I thought perhaps I could do something with this,” he said.

Althizer said while scheduled tours of the park are great for sightseeing, they don’t lend themselves to spectacular photography. “It’s about being in the right place at the right time,” he said. “That’s what we do. We put them in the best spots at the best times to come away with postcard quality photos.”

Popular spots such as Glacier Point are stops along the safari. Althizer said many people make it there around midday, which doesn’t offer the best lighting. “You don’t want to go there at noon. The best shot is early morning or sunset. Or, if there is a big storm going on.”

Each safari also provides hands on instruction on the proper uses for various settings, framing, composition and other photography principles. Other techniques that Althizer teaches include selective focus, how to take up-close photos of flowers and other subjects, how to put strong composition lines and balance in to photos and how to “fool” the camera’s meter to be able to shoot back lit and dark colored subjects.

Guests on the safari also get to go off the beaten path to find areas that offer stunning views for photography, but aren’t the same spots used by many others. “When you come through the tunnel at tunnel view, there is a parking lot where hundreds of people get out and take the same photo. I found a trail off the upper parking lot that takes you somewhere that gives great views, and isn’t the same spot used by so many others,” he said.

While still new, many have already taken Althizer’s safari and have come away with photos they enjoy showing off. “Time for us was very short, so it was invaluable to utilize Pat’s knowledge of the park to be taken to some of the best beauty spots to photograph the stunning scenery around us,” said Kerry Brookes who visited the park from the United Kingdom.

By exploring some of the lesser known areas of the park, and coming away with impressive photographs, Althizer said his guests enjoy a more meaningful time. “What I found is you get a more authentic experience,” he said.

Various packages are available. A one hour walk at the Tenaya Lodge located at the southern entrance costs $30. A half day safari including Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Wawona and Glacier Point is $145. A full day excursion includes all previous stops as well as Yosemite Valley costs $245. For more information, or to book a tour, call (559) 760-6124 or visit

For more information on Madera County, California’s Gateway to Yosemite, visit, or

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Jarrod Lyman
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