Yosemite at Night: A Photography Exhibit by Michael Frye and Kirk Keeler

Purchase these photographs

On Exhibit at The Ansel Adams Gallery – June 30 – August 17, 2019

In Yosemite, the hustle and bustle of activity pervades the day.  But at night, this all changes and the park becomes unfettered, with the wild echoes of nature and the humbling magnitude of an endless firmament overhead.  Here, bears forage for grubs. The coyotes howl in Tenaya Canyon. Mountain Lions traipse through talus. And while others turn in, artists like Michael Frye and Kirk Keeler work patiently photographing the moon and the stars.

Michael Frye has been famously photographing Yosemite for the last 35 years, frequently the beneficiary of a well honed instinct and a thorough knowledge of Yosemite’s unique geography.  Kirk Keeler has likewise found his home in the Sierra now ten years on following the encouragement of Mr. Frye to pursue photography. Like many a dedicated photographer, both of them have weaved their way through the iconic locations and grand vistas of the National Park.  But where their shared experience finds a potent intrigue is in their continued dedication to exploring Yosemite by the hidden light of the night.  

Opening at The Ansel Adams Gallery on June 30th and running through August 17th, Yosemite at Night: Photographs by Michael Frye and Kirk Keeler, will exhibit works of stellar and astrophotography made by these two local artists of their great back yard over the course of their combined 45 years in park. On Wednesday, July 24th from 3-5pm, the gallery will host a reception for the artists who will be in attendance.  We hope you can come by and see a NEW side of Yosemite.

Michael Frye – Artist’s Statement

Night Photography

During the day, it’s difficult to see beyond the surface beauty of nature. But when the sun sets, and the forests, mountains, and deserts are enveloped in darkness, nature reveals its hidden power. At night, the wilderness offers a chance to experience something that has become truly rare in the modern world: a sense of mystery.

In order to capture this sense of mystery in my photographs, I’ve ventured out at night into wild places throughout the American West at night. I started making nighttime images in the 1990s with a medium-format camera, film, and a battery-powered flash. In recent years the tremendous low-light capabilities of digital cameras have opened up new possibilities, making it possible, for example, to photograph a clearing storm in Yosemite with only starlight for illumination.

Although I often make photographs with just the light from the stars or moon, I’ll sometimes add light to the scene by using a flashlight to “paint” objects in the foreground. At night can you take control of the light by choosing its angle, color, and focus. Light-painting can be quite complex, but adds a creative dimension to the work that’s tremendously fun and rewarding.

Regardless of the light source or technique used, in all my after-dark images I try to convey the mood of the nighttime wilderness – the sense of mystery, wonder, peace, and awe that can overtake you when you venture into wild places at night. Nighttime offers a chance to forge a connection with nature that’s become increasingly rare in our crowded world.

Kirk Keeler – Artist Statment

Active listening.  I think that best describes my current approach to photography.  Active listeners, “Need only [to] restate – in their own language – their impression of the expression of the sender” (1).

Whether it’s a 12-mile backpack trip to a remote wilderness area or the constant action of moving around a cyclocross course during a race, I believe movement can play an important role in positioning to ‘listen’ for a photograph.  During the act of movement, I strive to be led by my intuition.

Intuition is the primary internal tool that helps me to see the subjects I capture in a photograph.  Once seen, the ‘listening’ begins in order to obtain my ‘impression’ of the ‘expression’ the subject is emanating in that moment.  What lines attract my attention?  How can the light interact to gain a better expression?  Can I distill the expression to a simpler form?  These are perhaps a few questions I might ask instantly while interacting with a subject.

If all the above coalesces to produce a memorable photograph, then I believe it is my duty as an artist to share it with the World.

(1) Gordon, Thomas (1977). Leader Effectiveness Training. New York: Wyden books. p. 57. ISBN0-399-12888-3.  Thomas Gordon is one of a few people to have coined the term “Active Listening”.