Tag Archives: Wyoming

A Final Night and Morning in the Grand Tetons

I got up early on Friday to drive the three hours from Canyon Village in Yellowstone, through West Yellowstone, and then down to Idaho Falls.  Why?  Because of some upcoming international travel, I needed a Yellow Fever immunization.  Due to timing, and a nationwide shortage of said vaccines, it was most convenient for me to make an appointment with Eastern Idaho Public Health.

I arrived early (as planned, just in case), so I went down to see the eponymous falls.  A Mormon Temple is in the background on the left.

Click any image to enlarge.

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After my immunization, I had lunch, and headed eastward to go over Teton Pass.  From the top, you can see a nice view of Jackson Hole.

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I drove on down to Jackson and got settled into the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park for my final night.  I did a little infrared photography in the bright afternoon sun, before heading back to Jackson to meet with a couple of friends for one final night.

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Because of the great location and view from near my hotel room, I set up my camera for star trails.  I did a couple of 35-minute captures from about 11 PM to a little after midnight..  Here’s one of the photos.  The moon was waxing gibbous, and provided plenty of illumination for the snow on the mountains.

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Despite the late night, I rose early in hopes of great color at sunrise.  I got a little bit of pink in the sky, much like earlier in the week.  Here are a couple of photos—one of Mount Moran, and one of Mount St. John.

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Before I knew it, it was time to leave for the airport and fly home.

The general consensus at the Nature Photography Celebration (organized by The North American Nature Photography Association) is that it was a successful event that we should repeat in new locations in the future.  We heard from great photographers presenting about their latest projects, and we had plenty of free time to go out and photograph great locations on our own.  (And we even had a small trade show with support from many camera manufacturers, camera stores–especially Gary Farber at Hunt’s Photo & Video–and other organizations.)

A big thank you to my friend Charlotte for sharing wine, cheese, and a hyperactive dog in her beautiful home, and for including me in her network of friends, who all made me feel welcome a long way from home.

I am grateful for the beautiful places like the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, and all the other National Parks and National Monuments we are blessed to protect for future generations.

Yellowstone Wildlife

Yellowstone is known as much for its wildlife as its geologic features.  Until this year, I’d never had a “long” camera lens with me in Yellowstone for wildlife.  This year, I had a Fujifilm XF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens, and also a Fujifilm 1.4x teleconverter.  With my Fujifilm X-T2, which has an APS-C sensor, I had the 35mm equivalent of up to an 840mm telephoto lens.  All of the images below were shot with this lens/TC combination.

On Thursday morning, I started the drive up to the Lamar Valley.  I stopped along the way to visit the Tower Falls area, where I saw a bunch of cars stopped by the side of the road (a “bear jam”).  I got out and saw that the fuss was about a black bear and her cub.  I stayed for about half an hour observing and photographing the bears.

Here’s the mom…

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And the cub, up in a tree, working its way down to see mom.

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Finally mom comes up part way to encourage the cub to get past a tricky section of branches…

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Once on the ground, mom played with the cub.  Here, it’s about to swat it lightly on its rump…

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Now, let’s see who can make the most ferocious face…

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And then it was time to move on, to see what there was to see around the next bend.  Back at Tower Junction, near the Roosevelt Lodge, a few pronghorn were grazing…

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And a little further north, some bighorn sheep, just hanging out on the hillside…

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As I continued deeper into the Lamar Valley, I hoped to see, but did not expect to see, one of the wolf packs.  I did see hundreds of people, over several miles, hoping to see wolves, but never saw any myself.

But there were plenty of bison, in several herds.

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I even saw a few bison calves…

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The bison were starting to shed their winter coats…

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And then it was time to move on again.  In my next post, a visit to an interesting geologic location just outside the park.

Yellowstone National Park

On Wednesday, I planned to get up early for sunrise photography, and to start driving up to Yellowstone.  But I woke to rain in Jackson, and slept in another hour.

I drove up through Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway and entered Yellowstone National Park at the south entrance.  I continued north, and rain turned into snow.  It was 34 degrees and the roads warm enough to not have trouble with ice.

Click on any image to enlarge.

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I tried to be a tourist and visit a roadside sight or two.  Here’s Lewis Falls, with me standing on snow, watching the snow fall.  Did I mention it was 34 degrees?

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Soon, I decided it was best to just keep driving on to Old Faithful.  By the time I got there, the snow had subsided, and there was just a little bit of rain.  I arrived a few minutes before the famous geyser erupted.  Not the photo I imagined with a brilliantly colorful sky in the background, but this is more of a snapshot anyway.  In the peak of summer (and in better weather), you would see thousands more people surrounding Old Faithful.

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Peak season begins Memorial Day weekend, and I was there just before that.  So it was beginning to get crowded, but nothing like the park sees later on.  Being a week or two before the busy season begins also means that not every road (or campground or lodge) is open—but it’s still a great time to visit.  The creeks, rivers, and waterfalls were really flowing.

Here’s the inside of the historic Old Faithful Inn, with people waiting to enter the dining room.  Some consider the inn the largest log building in the world.

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I walked around for awhile in the rain in the Upper Geyser Basin in the Old Faithful area.  It was nice to get out and walk around.  Here’s one of the pools in the area:  Morning Glory Pool.  Pro tip:  bring your polarizing filter to cut down on reflections in the water.  I left mine at home.

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My destination for the night was Canyon Lodge, so I kept on driving north (no more falling snow!), past the other other geyser basins.  Here’s an overlook showing the Norris Geyser Basin in the distance.

Continue reading Yellowstone National Park

More Time in the Grand Tetons

I’m back in Austin now.  I chose not to keep up with the blog as I went.  A combination of 16+ hours of light for photography each day, lots of travel time, time with friends, and a little bit of allergies all conspired to help me choose sleep instead of half-hearted writing into the night.  But I’m back, and have four more blog posts in the works after this one.

Sunrise each morning was about 5:50 AM, so I’d get up every morning about 5:00 and head out to see what the sunrise would bring.  We never had any truly spectacular colors in the morning, but it was still beautiful to be in this amazing place to see how the sun would first light the mountains.

Click on any image to enlarge.

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Balsam Root, the yellow flower in the foreground of the photo below, was blooming in many places in the valley.

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Some mornings would start with fog in low-lying areas.  Clouds in the mountains were constantly changing.  This infrared photo is from the same day as those in my earlier blog post about the Snake River Overlook.  It was taken about fifteen or twenty minutes before the images I posted last week.

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I dropped by another couple of famous places for photography.

Oxbow Bend, below Jackson Lake on the Snake River often has still water in the mornings, great for reflections of Mount Moran, and to its left, the mountain known, at least for now, as Mount Woodring.  (And further left are Mount St. John and Rockchuck Peak.)

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Mormon Row is a section of Grand Teton National Park that I suspect most people don’t visit, but is famous among photographers.  A group of Mormons from Idaho homesteaded here beginning in the late 1800’s, and lived here through the mid-1900’s before being sold to the National Park Service.

Perhaps most famous is the Thomas Alma Moulton barn, shown below.

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I didn’t do much hiking this trip, but I did take an easy five-mile hike on Tuesday up to Phelps Lake.  This is where I saw the moose in my earlier blog post about Grand Teton Wildlife.

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Here’s the GPS track for the hike.  It’s part of the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve in the southernmost section of Grand Teton National Park.  This section was donated by Laurance S. Rockefeller to the National Park Service in 2001.

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Snake River Overlook

Pro Tip:  If you’re going to use your iPad for your alarm clock, confirm that it’s set to the right timezone, so that you don’t accidentally wake up at 4 AM when you were planning for 5 AM.

This morning’s forecast was for mostly clear skies, so I woke up early and headed into the park.  I decided to start at the Snake River Overlook, made famous by Ansel Adams in his 1942 photo, The Tetons and the Snake River.  The view’s not quite the same, because the trees have grown so much taller in the last 76 years.

I spent about an hour there, before and after sunrise, shooting a variety of compositions.  Here are a couple of similar photos that I liked, one visible light, one infrared.  The first is closer to sunrise, with the fog still lifting off the river.  The infrared image is from a bit later, after the sun started to illuminate the foreground.  Which one do you like better?

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After I left the overlook, I headed down to Schwabacher’s Landing to take advantage of the reflections in the relatively still water.

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I saw elk and geese today, and hoping I see more wildlife tomorrow.

Grand Teton National Park

I flew to Jackson, Wyoming, today.  I’m here, in part, for a North American Nature Photography Association Nature Photography Celebration.

Today’s forecast called for an 80% chance of rain, but that can lead to some nice dramatic photos.  I headed north into the Grand Teton National Park, stopping at the Moose Junction Visitor Center to find out about trail conditions during this early part of the season.  I continued driving north, to get my bearings.  It’s been over twenty years since I was last here.

The weather held out just fine.  It was mostly cloudy, with intermittent rain showers that never lasted more than a few minutes.  I think the weather will improve somewhat during my stay.

Here are a few images to give you a taste of what it was like today.  Click on any of them to enlarge.

Grand Teton, Mount Owen, and Teewinot Mountain:

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Mount Moran, in the clouds:

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The first image was taken with a Fujifilm X-T2, with a Fujifilm 18-55 lens.

The second and third images were taken with a Nikon D300 and Nikkor 18-200 lens.  Camera converted to infrared by LifePixel.

More coming up later this week.