The Art of Winter in Yosemite National Park

Featuring the artists of “32 Degrees of Winter: Images by Resident Photographers”

Nestled in Yosemite Valley at The Ansel Adams Gallery is a new exhibition of Yosemite photography: an exploration of the park’s striking beauty in winter as captured by our current group of full-time instructors and staff members. This exhibition is now open to the public, and will run through February 22, 2020. It is a special occasion to share this collection of work, as it offers us a lens into the park’s wonders from those who call Yosemite their home. We invite you to explore their perspectives on photography, teaching in the park, and their unique take on communicating the power and majesty of Yosemite through the arts.

Learn more about our staff photographers and the Yosemite classes and private guided tours they lead throughout the year.

El Capitan, photograph by staff photographer Michael Wise

Meet the Artists:

Brittany Colt, Staff Photographer

Brittany began teaching photography at The Ansel Adams Gallery in 2018. In her work, she focuses on small details in nature. Abstract photography has become her favorite because it challenges Brittany to capture elements in a unique way. She finds these abstractions just as beautiful as the icons that engulf Yosemite. Paying attention to lines, shapes, white space and patterns, helps her to focus on the design of the image. These details drive and push her to create worlds that may be complicated, but elementally beautiful. When teaching, Brittany loves to challenge her students and expand their minds not only technically, but creatively as well. She pushes her students to pay attention to the overall design of the composition all the while giving them the tools to “see” the light. Learn more about her story.

Photograph by Brittany Colt | Yosemite National Park, California

Dillon Engstrom, Staff Photographer

Dillon and his family moved to Yosemite in 2018 when he began working as a staff photographer at the gallery. Here, Dillon describes his artistic process: “I love the way that light interacts with the world around us; creating color, shape, texture, depth. I try to find opportunities that really enhance these qualities. The play of light and dark fascinates me the most. This is what makes me stop to look. Making a composition is then me responding to the moment in front of me and creating a frame that encapsulates what the scene is trying to tell me. Then when I bring the images back to the computer, I try to remember the scene and use the editing programs to bring out the beauty locked within the image file. The end result is my interpretation of the world that I see! Learn more about Dillon’s story.

Bridalveil Fall by Dillon Engstrom | Yosemite National Park, California

Blake Johnston, Staff Videographer

Blake is a cinematographer and photographer from San Diego, CA. He started filming skateboarding videos with his friends in High School, always looking up to professional skateboard films and enjoying the positive experiences the skateboarders had with each other portrayed through video. He began pursuing video more seriously with the Cinema Conservatory at Canyon Crest Academy. Moving to Yosemite was a change of pace and subject matter for Blake. Seeking new inspiration, he made Yosemite his home in October 2018 as a dishwasher. He didn’t know how long he’d be there—all he knew was that dishwashing was his excuse to film and photograph such a magnificent place for a good portion of the year. Eventually he landed a seasonal job with The Ansel Adams Gallery, where he is using his creative vision to make videos that offer an intimate view of our photography education experiences.

Yosemite Valley, Winter by Blake Johnston | Yosemite National Park, CA

Kirk Keeler, Previous Staff Photographer

Kirk moved to Yosemite in 2010 to immerse himself in the landscape of the famous Sierra Nevada destination with the goal to photograph it as much as possible. Kirk acquired the job as staff photographer at The Ansel Adams Gallery in 2011, where he worked until November 2019. Working at the gallery not only helped Kirk hone his photographic skills, but helped foster a new talent – that of a photography teacher! “I had no idea how much I loved to teach”, explains Kirk. “It made my day when I saw the participants of my classes or one-on-one sessions have that ‘A-ha moment’ when they grasped a new camera skill or learned something new or contrary about Ansel Adams.” For Kirk, the best part about working at the Gallery was access to Yosemite for his photographic pursuits. Kirk’s photography has been featured at The Ansel Adams Gallery, in addition to Yosemite Renaissance, Stellar Gallery in Oakhurst, CA and The Wild & Scenic Festival in Nevada City, CA.

Oak Tree, Blizzard by Kirk Keeler | Yosemite National Park, California

Christine Loberg, Staff Photographer

Tremendously passionate about photography and nature, Christine has made it her mission and life-long goal to inspire and teach the next generation of nature photographers. Christine, a native Californian, has worked in photography stores, photo studios and photo labs to increase her photography knowledge. Developing a love for nature, she became involved with The Sierra Club, making frequent visits to Yosemite. It was during one of these visits that she met Ansel Adams, and then in 1985 decided to accept a job working as a lab technician in Yosemite Valley. Christine is our most senior staff photographer having worked for The Ansel Adams Gallery for many years while also working as a seasonal Ranger for the interpretive division in Yosemite National Park. Learn more about her story.

Half Dome in Snow by Christine Loberg | Yosemite National Park, CA

Mike Reeves, Staff Photographer

Mike is an outdoor educator in Yosemite, reaching thousands of photographers in classes and workshops where his passion for the park is evident. Describing Yosemite, he says “Yosemite has always been an escape for me. The powerful waterfalls and swirling winds were always able to cleanse me of whatever troubles me. Now I try to go deeper and deeper into the wilderness when I am able. The backcountry has always had a wonderful, unspoiled quality to it. I hope my photographs can communicate how large and powerful this place is. I hope they are a call for others to come enjoy and help preserve it as well.” His first serious photo workshop was in 2009 and has enjoyed the company of many of the best Yosemite photographers who have helped him hone his craft ever since. Learn more about Mike’s story.

Winter Sunset, Tunnel View by Mike Reeves | Yosemite National Park, CA

Evan Russel, Gallery Curator

Evan began working at The Ansel Adams Gallery as a Staff Photographer, where he helped to develop the photography workshop and guiding programs within the park. He now works as the Gallery Curator, operating exhibitions in Yosemite Valley such as this. In his artist statement, Evan describes his approach to creating: “Since I was young, photography has acted as the purveyor of voice and revolution. As a child, it was the first tool I can remember at my disposal that existed outside of the rigid world of ‘Correct vs. Incorrect;’ there were no boundaries in that photogenic world and — the notions of aperture, shutter and film speeds aside — could be operated at creative will to any end. And as a result, it has evolved into a language and enunciation of curiosity. And this curiosity has not abated as I have grown older. As such, I have never limited myself in style or content. Rather, I photograph what I see, when I see and how I see it, waffling between modes of presentation along the way, continuing to resist an urge to codify or set up boundaries within or outside of my work.”

Rolling Fog, Bridalveil by Evan Russel | Yosemite National Park, CA

Michael Wise, Staff Photographer & Curatorial Assistant

Michael Wise is a staff photographer and the curatorial assistant at The Ansel Adams Gallery. He describes his creative journey: “I never thought that I would call myself an artist. Certainly my conservative Pennsylvania Dutch upbringing discouraged a creative nature as a means for living. The unpredictable path that led me to fill the position of Staff Photographer and curatorial assistant at The Ansel Adams Gallery eight years ago was full of unusual directions. In short, my prior history involved paying the bills with commercial photography and university teaching. This unfamiliar gallery and national park lifestyle represented a dedicated, non monetized purpose in photographing simply as self expression and emotion….Over the years I have been successfully progressing in the embracement of my uneasy creative process. I am becoming aware of how the light affects me in ways that can not be described with words. I no longer try to control what is presented to me. There is no analysis of the lines, shapes, and tones that command the image design. And occasionally I am rewarded with a day that allows me to communicate my feelings and imagination through visual art.” Learn more about Michael’s story.

Bridalveil Fall by Michael Wise | Yosemite National Park, CA