Tag Archives: Yellowstone

September Decisions

14 Sep

Autumn, the time when the weather cools, school starts, football returns, the leaves change and fall, and everyone’s lives get a little busier. This is notably true for landscape photographers as the fall is a consensus “favorite” season for many shutterbugs.

Late September is an unpredictable time as the last days of summer usher in a wide variety of atmospheric conditions. Humidity decreases, so does the bugs and crowds, creating innumerable possibilities for those fortunate enough to travel.

Union of One

I was hoping to revisit my favorite waterfall while in Yellowstone. This shot was captured in September 2009.

I find myself currently in this position with my girlfriend who works for a major airline, the opportunities are endless to explore new places. The plan was to return to Yellowstone, as September is known as the “golden month” in the world’s first national park. However, the upcoming weather forecast is calling for below normal temps and extended periods of precipitation (rain/snow mix), which makes backpacking less fun.

Long story short we decided to look elsewhere. Some of the places we considered were Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park (ME), Blackwater Falls SP (WV), Cathedral Gorge State Park (NV), Lassen Volcanic NP and Channel Islands NP (CA), and now the search continues. We still haven’t decided on a destination although it is now looking like California again. What places do you recommend during this time of year?

In other news, I am back in editing mode working on my new releases gallery. Most of the images will be from summer backpacking trips around the San Juans as I am diligently working toward a printed version of my book. However, you’ll also discover images from other states too. It is a work in progress but check back regularly for frequent updates and happy leaf peeping!


A high key black and white image from Yellowstone Lake in early October





Leaving for Frozen Yellowstone This Week

16 Jan

I am preparing for my first photography trip of 2012 to  Yellowstone National Park. Later this week, I’ll arrive in Bozeman, MT  where I’ll spend nearly a week exploring the frozen tundra of Yellowstone in search of interesting landscapes and wild animals. While I have spent some time in Yellowstone during a snowstorm, it was during the fall and not the frozen heart of winter.

My experience in dealing with sub-freezing temperatures is limited and I am not exactly sure what to expect. Considering that I have lived in Arizona for the past 16 years , I am not used to hardcore winter photography where temperatures can drop below zero.

Just minutes before a huge snowstorm hit Yellowstone Lake

Just minutes before a huge snowstorm hit Yellowstone Lake, captured in early October

Because I’ll be assisting another photographer in leading a large group – I don’t exactly have the autonomy I normally do on a photography excursion by myself.  However, I am still hoping to come away with some quality images. Currently, the weather forecast looks like snow, snow and more snow so I am not sure how that is going to translate into landscape images, which I favor over wildlife scenes.  My goal is to push the bounds of my creativity and hopefully come up with something unique, especially if the light is less than spectacular.

Any suggestions or tips for dealing with the cold weather are greatly appreciated. I have hand and feet warmers, but I am still not sure how equipped or prepared I am in dealing with the frigid temperatures.

Day Three – Tips, Techniques, and Insight into Making Stunning Photos

19 Sep

Today, we are going to examine the creation of one of my favorite images of last year called “The Master of Light”.  This is certainly not a personal reference, but a divine one.

Fading sunlight illuminates the huge meadows surrounding the Bechler River in Yellowstone National Park.

Location:  Yellowstone National Park, WY

Technical Info:  Canon 5D Mk2, 24 – 105 F/4,  F/22,  ISO 50, 4 second exposure

Filters:  Hoya Warming Polarizer, .9 Singh-Ray GND (Soft), .6 Lee GND (Hard)

Processing: Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS4

Creative Process: I arrived to view this scene shortly before sunset after a day of backpacking through Bechler River Canyon. It was a virtually cloudless day until I saw a storm developing in the distance around the Grand Tetons. We had crossed this meadow on the way into the canyon so I was familiar with the area. I knew I wanted to condense the size of the massive meadow and try to  make the mountains an integral part of the composition. I framed the back side of the Grand Teton between the trees and used the cattail as the foreground to frame the river. I maxed out the focal length on my lens and loaded on several filters.

I used the polarizer to reduce the glare of the water and bring extra contrast to the sky. I then used several graduated neutral density filters to reduce the brightness in the sky into a manageable dynamic range. Because the light was the best almost immediately when I arrived upon the scene; I didn’t have much time to work. I was able to capture two different frames before the meadow fell completely into shadow.

I used the low aperture and ISO to lengthen the shutter speed as much as possible, wanting to smooth out, yet show movement in the water. Because the storm was gathering quickly, you can also see movement in some of the clouds as well. Overall, it was one of the better scenes I captured in 6 weeks in the park and I am looking forward to spending more time in this area in the future. If you have any questions regarding this image or any others please feel free to contact me anytime.

North Face, Tents, and Vermin

7 Jul

I’ve been very busy this week editing and painting my kitchen so I will have the newest post on my top 10 parks for summer travel either tomorrow or Friday at latest. To give you a hint – check out my new releases gallery here. I just posted two new images today, one of which is from that park.

Anyway, I wanted to give a short plug to The North Face for their outstanding products as well as their customer service.  We have been proud owners of a North Face Rock 22 tent since 2004. Last year alone, the tent received over 60 uses including a frozen night on Shoshone Lake (Yellowstone NP), 60 mph winds in the Rincon Mountains (Saguaro NP), among other adventures.

Well, after years of use and abuse, our tent finally gave out. The zippers just couldn’t handle the wear and tear anymore. Long story short, we sent our tent into The North Face warranty department to see if they could fix it. We didn’t expect it to be covered under the warranty, and it wasn’t, and North Face said they couldn’t even fix it. What we also didn’t expect was the warranty department to offer 50% off on a new tent in its place (as well as on a footprint)! We were thrilled to accept their offer and very impressed with their customer service. Hence, this post. Kudos to The North Face for their outstanding customer service! 

Also, in RIP of our wonderful, old tent we leave you this picture, which just happens to be from the most miserable night I ever spent in it – at Havasupai Canyon. We were harassed by two, pesky, full-grown, adult raccoons who started stalking during an early evening dinner. The harassment continued all night culminating in the raccoons breaking into our backpacks and eating our favorite protein bars. At one point, I had one of the vermin trapped on a low-lying tree limb and my fiancée convinced me to let it live. Needless to say, I slept all of about an hour that night. This picture is from that day. We’ll talk to you soon. Have a great one!!

An Eerie Reminder of the Night of the raccoons. RIP Rock 22!

Seasons Part 2

17 Apr

3)  Make your reservations early. If you are staying in a hotel, campground, or even planning  a backpacking trip than this is sound advice. Your best bet is 3 to 4 months in advance for campgrounds and backpacking; for premium lodging within the park, I would recommend a year in advance.

4) Make the journey to some of the less visited parks instead. These parks offer just about the same quality in scenery as the heavy hitters, but are usually a little harder to get to. However, what you lose in driving times you more than can make up for it in solitude. These include: Great Basin National Park in Nevada, Lassen Volcanic National Park in California, and Capitol Reef National Park in Utah.

5) Take your vacation after Labor Day. While Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer for most people, it also means the kids are back in school and crowds at the parks start to die down. What’s even better is the weather during this time is often the best of the year. For instance, at Yellowstone National Park September is considered the “golden month” because the weather is so prime. Of course, it can turn on a dime, but many days high are still in the mid 70’s. Perfection! We’ll re-visit this topic during my next post either Monday or Tuesday – so come back now ya hear!

This is an example of Yellowstone in September. Gorgeous colors, perfect weather, and lots of solitude. You are looking at a small section of Shoshone Lake. This lake is the largest backcountry lake in the United States. Meaning there are no roads leading to it, so  no vehicles and no motorized boats either. Its over a 40 mile hike around the lake, which is over 200 feet deep in parts. Here Joyce is looking south across the lake towards the Bridger – Teton National Forest.

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