By taking a morning walk either in El Capitan Meadow or along the Merced River, you can find many views in which to capture Cathedral Rocks. The right equipment and settings can help you get the best images.
Wide-angle lenses, a polarizing filter, and your tripod work best for this subject.
In El Capitan Meadow, you are fairly close to Middle Cathedral Rock, which rises nearly 3,000 feet above the valley floor. Therefore, if you want to photograph the whole formation, you will need a wide-angle lens. Lenses in the 14-24mm range allow you to frame the whole rock formation and the trees in the foreground. If you use longer lenses, you will not be able to photograph the entire rock formation. With a long telephoto lens, you may be able to photograph rock climbers on the face of Cathedral Rocks.
From along the Merced River you are a bit farther away, but you still need a wide-angle lens to photograph the top of the formation and its entire reflection in the river. Again, lenses in the 14-24mm range allow you to get this shot. Lenses in the 28-50mm range allow you to get the rock formation and a partial reflection.
In almost all cases, you are going to be pointing your lens upward causing distortion problems, which will result in bending trees and out-of-proportion rock formations. If you are fortunate enough to own a tilt-shift lens, these are ideal locations to use it. Otherwise you may plan on straightening your ...