Yellowstone First Snow

Yellowstone First Snow

Yellowstone First Snow: Yellowstone always provides perspective and introspection.

Over the last several years, I have had the good fortune to visit Yellowstone on numerous occasions spanning all seasons.  Every time I go to Yellowstone, the experience changes with different vistas and wildlife, a different look and feel, different challenges and accomplishments, and different visions.  On every visit, it always seems to be my favorite visit.  And, on every visit, I learn more about my photography and more about myself.

This particular visit was very short; only one day.  The park was officially closed except for the north entrance and the road to Cooke City through Lamar Valley.   This image comes from a place close to the north entrance.  A snowstorm had fallen the night before, covering everything  in sparkling fresh snow.  The Yellowstone River, flowing north out of the park, was not frozen due to the thermal features of the park.

For some reason, it seems I must get wet to capture a good B&W image.  This experience was no exception.  Not expecting deep snow in the week before Thanksgiving, I was not dressed properly and got very wet.  In fact, light snow was still falling shortly before capturing the image.  The skies just opened for a few minutes, the sun peeked through the clouds, then it quickly closed up again and snowed on us the rest of the day.  For the record, I did not fall into the river.

Lone Tree at Wind Cave

Road Tree @ Wind Cave

Lone Tree at Wind Cave: a good image of this tree has eluded me for several years.  I have probably taken hundreds, maybe thousands of images of this tree.  However, this image is the first that I really like.

It all started on my first trip to Wind Cave NP in 2008.  Wind Cave is just a great park; secluded and quiet with a feeling of remoteness.  You can drive through the park on the one gravel road, stop the car, turn off the engine, and hear: nothing, for a moment, then the sounds of nature.  It is totally quiet of the sounds of man and screaming with the sounds of pure nature.

Then, I returned twice in 2009, once in 2010, and now once in 2011.  Each time capturing images of this lone road tree.  Sometimes the sky was not creative, sometimes I did not get the angle, etc.  I tried color, HDR , and now B&W.  When the composition is off; well, it’s off.  Perhaps, my eye for composition is getting better.  Perhaps, I just got lucky.  Anyway, this image seems better to me.

 

Hyalite Canyon

Hyalite Canyon

Hyalite Canyon:  Alarm!  Hello, it’s  o’dark thirty on the first shoot of DLWS, Digital Landscape Work Shop, taught by renowned wildlife photographer, Moose Peterson and friends.  Some friends, they include: Joe McNally, Laurie, and Kevin.  Yes, I was pumped.  Not only was I running in pretty fast company, but it was also my first workshop.  Some people take “self-taught” way too far.

So, I quickly showered, shaved, and soon found myself carpooling south of town to Hyalite Canyon.  As we left Bozeman, it was raining, but as we rose in elevation up Hyalite Canyon, the rain changed to heavy, wet snow mixed with rain and sleet; a fine start to my first workshop shoot.

Finally, our caravan stopped along the dark winding mountain road.  Next, came the “group hug”; a Moose briefing about the shooting site and a few tips.  And, we were off, all thirty of us,  trying to envision a decent image.  I stuck around the group for a while trying to gain knowledge and insight.  Whatever they were seeing; I wasn’t.  Yeah, I was sweating it.

So, down the bank along the road to the mountain stream, I went.  Although there were waterproof boots in the truck, they were not on my feet.  Big mistake.  After setting up the tripod and moving around a bit to get the angle, my foot stepped onto a non-existent rock into the stream.  With wet feet, it was time to make an image.

After experimenting with a variable ND filter to get a good shutter speed, I made a few test shots and waited for a bit more light and a bit less precipitation.  To be honest, it seemed like a rather dreary day to me.  Then, it occurred to me; make it a black & white image.  The light coming off the blurred water will make good contrast.  It took awhile to get a good shot while slipping around on the wet rocks.

Little did I know, it would turn out to be my best image of the workshop.  Thanks Moose.

Blackberry Creek

Blackberry Creek

Blackberry Creek winds though the towns and countryside near my home.  My walkabouts sometimes encounter the creek at different places.  On this day, snow had fallen overnight and the weather was below IFR minimums, that is, 200 foot ceiling and 1/2 mile visibility, in blowing snow.  What most would call a grey day.  It’s not often, I capture a B&W nature image that I like in Illinois.  And, I did not even get my feet wet!

Yellowstone Tree

Yellowstone Tree

Yellowstone Tree: Some trees caught in the run-off areas around the thermal features of Yellowstone have always seemed very striking to me.   But in the past, I have been unsuccessful in capturing an image that really does the scene justice.  This image was captured while on vacation with friends.  So, my time was a bit limited since the others wanted to move along.  With mostly sunny skies and sharp contrasts, B&W seemed the best choice to highlight the essence of Yellowstone.

Grey Wolf

Grey Wolf

Grey Wolf  Although I seldom capture images of captive wildlife, this B&W image from Wolf Park was clearly captured as a work of art.  Wolf Park researches wolves for local universities and wildlife conservation groups.  Also, they provide wolf education to the general public.  The main wolf pack inhabits a very large habitat area which includes woods, grasslands, and a lake.  The wolves are treated very well and cared for during their elderly years.  A couple of times a year, they teach wolf photography and allow small groups of photographers to capture images of the wolves.  It’s a rare experience to capture dramatic images of wolves which is next to impossible in the wild.