Photo Experience








Location Intro








FALL 1999



The Tetons are only a few scenic hours south of Yellowstone. 

They boast a beauty as bold and vibrant  as any other natural

wonder of the world. 











Attended by photographic amateurs of varying skill levels, the forum

succeeded greatly at getting the participants to the right place at the

right time to maximize photo opportunities at the Park.  All lodging  accommodations at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and travel within the

Park were handled by the Forum operators, resulting in an excellent

3 day photo shoot.








The drive from Yellowstone to the Grand Tetons was almost more exciting

 than visiting the Tetons themselves.  Of course, this is an exaggeration but

you don't generally have high photographic anticipation on your way to one

 of the most photogenic mountain peaks in the world.  The turning of the

aspen leaves and vivid cloud formations helped.


While a circular polarizing filter can really enhance the color of the aspen leaves, the polarizer can cause excess darkening of the blue sky at the

top of the frame.  The trick is to balance the amount of polarization of the

aspen leaves with the blue sky.








Finding patterns in nature is fun and challenging.  Some patterns are

readily evident, others are more discrete.  The image at left was taken

in a small grove of aspen where a lot of leaves were dangling in a small

breeze and were back lit by the sun.  The more obvious image was the

grove, the leaves were not quite as obvious.  A 500 MM lens was used

to isolate the leaves from the rest of the grove but maintain a number

 of peripheral leaves in the same plane of focus.


Correct exposure was the greatest challenge of this image.  A spot meter

was used to calculate the exposure from one of the leaves.  An exposure adjustment of opening up 1.5 stops was used since the bright yellow

 color tends to cause the meter to close down the exposure.








Nothing subtle about this image.  The bark is hard, the positioning of one

trunk against the other is hard, so why not harden the image a little bit

 with unsharp mask.  Note the orangish sap against the seemingly black

and white bark.








Just south of the Tetons is the National Elk Refuge.  This area is fenced off

 to protect the elk during the winter.  Unfortunately, there wasn't an elk in

sight.  The image at left was taken a few days earlier at Mammoth Hot

Springs in Yellowstone.  This guy was in rut, protecting his harem, and

 looked me straight in the eye.  Notice his mouth.


To maintain a safe distance, I was using a 500 MM lens and was surrounded

by numerous other photographers and tourists.  The biggest challenge

was capturing the image without other persons appearing in the image

area.  It would have been nice to capture an  elk with a little geothermic

activity in the background but this was difficult with so many other visitors

at the time.








When an osprey is sitting on a limb 100 yards distant, you capture

whatever image you can get.  Just finding the osprey sitting in a tree is

half of the excitement of capturing the image.  It's kind of neat scanning the trees searching for osprey.  Sometimes, you might spot an old timer with

eagle eyes who knows just where to look.  Look carefully and you'll notice

that the osprey is feeding on a fish.


The image is more an environmental image than an image of an osprey.

 This image was taken with a 500 mm lens with a 2x tele converter.

 Just holding down vibrations was challenge enough.








This image was taken just prior to an image of the same osprey spreading

 his wings (prior to take off) in the Yellowstone section.  This bird is in really good condition and sports massive claws.  I feel really fortunate to have photographed this wild osprey.  


One of the advantages of a 500 MM lens, other than its magnification of

the subject,  is the ability to isolate backgrounds.  Half the challenge of

this image was to position myself where I could capture the out of focus

river (below) and the out of focus bank with orangish shrubs and

grass (above).  Pre-visualization of the background prior to photographing a subject can become addictive.








Having finally reached the Grand Tetons, the experience of viewing the

 Tetons  is outstanding in and of itself.  However, the first day, the weather

was erratic and uncooperative.  On a subsequent visit a few days later, the ranger service decided to perform a controlled burn up wind which basically wiped out all visibility in the valley.  Sometimes you just need a little luck.  


I tried to salvage at least one OK image by concentrating on the color in the foreground.  I was not able to capture any acceptable images of the peaks themselves due to visibility problems.  If the lack of visibility had been caused by storm conditions, I could have had some fun but the lack of visibility was caused by a smog like  haze engulfing the entire valley in front of the Tetons. 




Location Intro








While most scenic photographs are taken in early morning or early evening, some images, especially those with some cloud formations, can survive

being taken in the middle of the day.


Many of the best scenic images are taken with large format cameras.

 In fact it's a little intimidating using a 35 MM camera next to someone

with a 8x10 view camera.  (Time to bring out the 500 again.)  Actually, the

rapid improvement of 35 MM film and lenses in the last few years has

really reduced the discrepancy in image quality.  


The real advantage of a view camera is that the operator has to use a

tripod which reduces camera movement and is an invaluable tool for

creating better composition.  The main disadvantage of a 35 MM lens is

that it is so easy to take a picture without a tripod.