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The Yellowstone and Grand Teton region is one of the most dynamic seismic areas in the world -- wracked by earthquakes, cracked by water boiling to the surface, and littered with the detritus of previous volcanic eruptions. Today, the bowels of the Yellowstone caldera are again filling with magma. Geologic studies show that, for the past 2 million years, the plateau has blown its top every 600,000 years or so -- and the last explosion was about 600,000 years ago. That means that a titanic blow -- bigger than anything seen in recorded history -- could happen, well, any century now, give or take thousands of years. The geological time frame is a long one, by human standards, but this didn't stop people from getting excited when an unprecedented "swarm" of minor earthquakes rattled the park in early 2009. The good news is that the big one is not imminent; geologists say things need to heat up considerably first.
By the end of the 1872 Hayden expedition, explorers had identified several distinct areas in the park, each with its own physical characteristics. Less spectacular than the craggy mountain scenery of Grand Teton, and less imposing than the vast expanses of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Yellowstone's beauty is subtle, reflecting the changes it has undergone during its explosive past.
Situated on 2.2 million acres, Yellowstone is significantly larger than its sister to the south. Encompassing 3,472 square miles, Yellowstone boasts 310 miles of paved roads and 1,000 miles of backcountry trails, and it is home to more geysers and hot springs than the combined total in the rest of the world. Then comes the (6,000-7,600 ft.), thickening forests dominated by lodgepole pine, broken by meadows where deer, elk, and moose often graze. The transition area between the highest forest and the bare surface above timberline is known as the (7,600-11,300 ft.). Finally, we come to the bare rock at the very top of the continental shelf, where small, hardy plants, such as glacier lilies and sky pilot, bloom briefly after the annual thaw.
When you arrive at the Southern Geyser Basin you might feel that you've been transported through a geologic time warp. Here you will find the largest collections of thermal areas in the world -- there are perhaps 600 geysers and 10,000 geothermal features in the park -- and the largest geysers in Yellowstone. The result: boiling water that is catapulted skyward and barren patches of sterile dirt; hot, bubbling pools that are unimaginably colorful; and, of course, the star of this show, the geyser Old Faithful. Plan on spending at least 80 minutes here, as that's the typical period between the eruptions that send thousands of gallons of boiling water through the sky at a speed exceeding 100 mph. The between Mammoth Hot Springs and the Tower-Roosevelt region, is a high-plains area that is primarily defined by mountains, forests, and broad expanses of river valleys that were created by ice movements. In part two of our Yellowstone National Park landscape we will concentrate on the thermal areas of Yellowstone. This includes the Midway Geyser Basin which is where the Prismatic Springs ( seen above) is located.
Midway Geyser Basin
What and where is Logan Pass you ask? Located at 6,646 feet above sea level, Logan Pass runs along the Continental Divide, which is at the summit of the Going -To -The -Sun Road. This is the highest point you can drive your vehicle but trails such as Hidden Lake can take you much higher. A visitors center is open only during the summer season. The pass is closed during the winter due to the impracticality of keeping the road clear of snow and avalanches.
The first time we drove to Logan Pass the temperature was 40 degrees with a twenty mile per hour wind. It was pretty cold for a 4 mile round trip, many of it in open area. It was just the start of our week and we decided to wait till a few days later.
First Try at hiking Up to Logan Pass40 degrees and twenty mile per hours wind really a raw cold day up at the beginning of the trail. We decided we would wait for another day
Two days later Phyllis and I started out at 6:30 AM, stopped for coffee and a breakfast burrito at Montana Coffee Traders. This is a chain in Montana and the coffee and breakfasts are great. The burrito is so large we would split one. If you're in Montana, try them out. You will not be disappointed. If would take us about thirty minutes to reach the parking lot at the visitor's center which is where you start the hike up Hidden Lake Trail. It was a beautiful morning and we both agreed we were happy we waited a few days to walk it.
The middle of the hike up Hidden Lake trail.You can see much of the trail in this image until it winds around that small mountain. The atmospheric conditions were amazing and this cloud hung around for a few hours.Like a beacon showing us where the Visitor Center was As we walked the trail, I kept looking up at Reynolds Mountain trying to guess how far we had to go. It loomed ahead of us as both a destination and a challenge. As people were coming back down, they would smile and say, "Still a ways to go but worth it". I heard that so many times, mostly unsolicited. I would smile and think, please no more "A way to Go".
The colors in the rocks and the plant life were amazing, so many colors, so many textures.
I won't lie, it was a challenge. The air is lighter and we are both in our sixties but I was really proud of Phyllis. She just kept walking and whenever I looked back at her, she would smile and wave, at least that is what I think she was doing! Although she usually uses all of her fingers.
As we started getting closer to where the road would flatten out, we became excited knowing we were near the top. We found a pond near the top.
Then we reached the overlook and had our first view at Hidden Lake. What a beautiful vista, just a gorgeous setting up high in these magnificent mountains!
Hidden Lake such beautiful colors Hidden Lake such beautiful colors I met another photographer and he told me we had just missed seeing three Mountain Goats which was very disappointing, for up till then they were the only animals on our wish list we had not seen. He pointed to the mountain behind us and said one had climbed up there and the other two went down into the valley. As I gazed up at the mountain, I saw a white spot moving up the rocky face of the mountain. It was the Mountain Goat not very close even with my 400mm lens but I took a few images hoping they would be good. If this was going to be our only chance to make an image of one, I was going for it.
Mountain Goat Climbing up the face of the mountain Mountain Goat Climbing up the face of the mountain Soon it was out of our sight as it went into the mountain with one look seemingly back at us. We then turned our attention to the beautiful scenery that was all around us.
As we were walking around a slight bend in the trail I saw an amazing sight, two mountain goats were right in front of us no more the twenty feet from the path. The other two had come back up from the valley and stood in front of us. The excitement and adrenaline rush was fantastic and I just started shooting a few with my 80- 400 and a few with my 17- 55 Nikons. This sighting made our day, such beautiful and seemingly peaceful animals they were not bothered by any of us being so close and no one violated their space. It was a really great encounter with these beautiful furred animals.
After this experience, we decided to head back down the two mile path to our car.
Mountain Goat on Logan Pass Mountain Goat on Logan Pass Mountain Goat on Logan Pass We started down and saw the view of where we were headed. As we passed people making the trip up, they would ask us how much further and we would smile and say, " A way to go but worth it" and I would laugh to myself. Hey, you need to amuse yourself on a four mile hike up and back lol.
The path back down ..OH BOY !!! When we made it to the bottom of the trail we stopped for a moment to look back at where we had gone and we both smiled and congratulated each other. This image is of a very happy Phyllis when we reached the end of the trail!
Let me say, I don't care what your age, if you are physically able to walk the Hidden Lake Trail, do it. You will be happy you did and when people pass you on your way down smile and tell them, "A way to go but so worth it!"
On our trip to Yellowstone we planned a day trip to the Grand Tetons. We took off in the early morning mainly because any trip through Yellowstone needs to have frequent stops built in for all the amazing animals and beautiful scenery. This was worth the time and effort even though the weather was not great mostly cloudy skies with the threat of rain. We planned to come back and stay a night but the weather report for over night and the next day included words like mud slides, avalanches, washed out roads and falling rocks. Not words to make us want to travel back the next day, but on our next trip to Yellowstone we are planing on building in a few days for the Grand Tetons. We really loved the area including Jackson Hole where we had a nice lunch and there was a STARBUCKS ....YES !!!!!
Near the end of our day I met a wonderful family visiting the USA from India.They had asked me to take their pictures with their phone and I offered to also take one with mine and mail it to them if they contacted me . Im hoping they do and that they did not loose my contact info.
Here is some technical information about the Tetons and in 2018 I'll have even more images. I should let you know that we were there this past September and the foliage colors were amazing, It's a great time to visit the area and much of the crowds have left.
Established: February 26, 1929
Size: 309,994 acres
The peaks of the Teton Range, regal and imposing as they stand nearly 7,000 feet above the valley floor, make one of the boldest geologic statements in the Rockies. Unencumbered by foothills, they rise through steep coniferous forest into alpine meadows strewn with wildflowers, past blue and white glaciers to naked granite pinnacles. The Grand, Middle, and South Tetons form the heart of the range. But their neighbors, especially Mount Owen, Teewinot Mountain, and Mount Moran, are no less spectacular.
A string of jewel-like lakes, fed by mountain streams, are set tightly against the steep foot of the mountains. Beyond them extends the broad valley called Jackson Hole, covered with sagebrush and punctuated by occasional forested buttes and groves of aspen trees—excellent habitats for pronghorn, deer, elk, and other animals. The Snake River, having begun its journey in southern Yellowstone National Park near the Teton Wilderness, winds leisurely past the Tetons on its way to Idaho. The braided sections of the river create wetlands that support moose, elk, deer, beavers, trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, Canada geese, and all sorts of ducks.
The Tetons are normal faultblock mountains. About 13 million years ago, two blocks of Earth's crust began to shift along a fault line, one tilting down while the other lifted up. So far, movement has measured some 30,000 vertical feet, most of it from the subsidence of Jackson Hole.
Before Europeans arrived, the Teton area was an important plant-gathering and hunting ground for Indians of various tribes. In the early 1800s, mountain men spent time here; it was they who called this flat valley ringed by mountains Jackson's Hole after the trapper Davey Jackson. (In recent times the name has lost its apostrophe and s.) The first settlers were ranchers and farmers. Some of their buildings are historic sites today, although ranching is still practiced in the vicinity. When the park was established, it included only the mountains and the glacial lakes at their feet. Portions of the valley were added in 1950.
Today the park's 485 square miles encompass both the Teton Range and much of Jackson Hole. Park roads, all in the valley, offer an ever changing panorama of the Tetons. Most visitors never go far from the road. But the Tetons are popular with hikers; backcountry trails climb high into the mountains—and behind them. Easy trails in the valley lead around lakes and beside wetlands where visitors see moose, elk, deer, and all kinds of birds.
Did You Know?
Grand Teton National Park was actually established twice, first in 1929 to protect mountain peaks and the lakes surrounding the mountain bases, then in 1950, when the adjacent valley floors as well as the Jackson Hole National Monument, created in 1943, were incorporated into the park visitors love today. Since 1972, the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway has connected Grand Teton to Yellowstone National Park, enabling visitors to experience both the slopes of the Tetons and the volcanic landscape of Yellowstone.
Coyote in Yellowstone on the hunt
It was 5:30 AM and Phyllis and I were both up as we were each morning in Yellowstone. After a light breakfast downstairs at the Old Faithful Inn, we set out to photograph the wonders of Yellowstone. This morning we were accompanied by our cousins Carl Rossi and his beautiful wife, Cheri. As we drove through the grounds of the inn, I noticed something running across the road behind our SUV. We all turned and saw that it was a coyote. He was running onto a find of yellow grass. As we pulled the car off the road, we could see that he was taking his time looking around slowly. At first I thought he was looking at us but soon realized he was on a hunt, as I was. He was looking for breakfast and I was trying to capture one of the images on my photographic bucket list. Ever since I lived in Arizona back in the 70s, I have loved coyotes. I find them beautiful and elusive.
I had my 80-400 Nikon lens up to my eye ready to try and capture the image I wanted. In these moments, I feel excited and a little apprehensive about not screwing up. I know that Phyllis and our cousins were within feet of me but in these moments I am at one with my subject. I really don't hear or see anything that is not in my lens.
I kept watching the coyote waiting for 'the' moment, not sure what it would be but knowing there would be one. As I watched and took some pictures, I was thinking about how much it reminded me of our little girl (our cat). Its head cocked to one side looking first backwards and then down, just like when she is about to pounce on one of her toys. Our hunt was on, he had seen something and I had seen him looking.
When he looked down he froze for a moment and just at that moment, I knew what was coming, It was the same moment I had seen many times with the 'Little Girl'. The pounce was going to happen and I was not going to miss it or at least I hoped I wouldn't. Then he started to pounce.
The head cocked, the back feet tensed and the front paws rose up, never taking his eyes off whatever he saw. Then all of a sudden he was up in the air, his eyes not moving from its prey, much like mine did not move from mine.
Coyote mid pounce
Up in the air and just as quickly down, his nose was in the grass with paws on either side. His back paws were now up in the air and much like an athlete, was never losing concentration. As the back feet landed, it looked like there would be no breakfast. It had missed its prey but I caught mine.
It did not stop but turned quickly and ran to the back of the field never looking back. I kept looking at it, took one last picture and put my Nikon down by my side. I realized I had a smile on my face. It was early morning but this was a great day already.
If you have heard how great Yellowstone is for nature photographers you have heard right. We had an amazing week there and I'll be sharing our week with you all. I hope you come back to see more of our trip to Yellowstone N.P. Wyoming.
As I was thinking about the different styles, I wondered if we realize our own style. Are we aware what our style is? Do you try and develop "your own style"or do you just wander through different styles? Is style the opposite of pornography: you know what it is but you don't know it when you see it? I think that style is something we develop as we grow into our particular field of art. It is much like a muscle. As we work on it, our style becomes more defined, more easily recognized. In today's era of branding and marketing ourselves, we need to stick out from the rest of our fellow artists. If I ask you, "WHAT IS YOUR STYLE" could you answer? If you cannot, then you're not taking full advantage of your skills. You're not developing your art to it fullest. Now I'm not asking what type photographer you are. You could be a street photographer, or someone who photographs nature, people, night images, travel or landscapes. You still will develop a style. Well, at least in my opinion you should if you want to stand out.
When I first started out as a photographer, I read all the great photographers' books I could find. I was mostly into nature back then, so the photographers who were some of the gods (at least my gods) were : Adams, Rowell, Porter, Muench and Shaw. All great photographers that I did and still do look up to today. Some of my early film work tried to capture their style. Not a bad thing but I just mentioned five distinctive photographers and I was knowingly and unknowingly copying their work. I do not mean I went to the same places and tried to find the exact spot where they stood and set the same readings on my camera. What I mean is that I would try to use their influences to shape my work. This is not a bad learning tool. I am not saying it is the wrong thing to do. What I am saying is that you eventually need to take ingredients from the greats and from all other areas of life to make your particular style, sing.
For years I really could not answer the same question I asked you. I really didn't know my style. How do you define your style? How do you create your own style? Heck, at times I was just trying to learn the science of photography; how to get a proper exposure, how to insure a sharp image, is the lens cap off? Believe me, I was just trying to get an image that was in focus, properly exposed and interesting.
Photography, (painting with light), is a mixture of two distinctive fields: science and art. These two fields do not usually seem to go side by side. But in photography, you must master both sides. If you master just the science part, you will get sharp, well exposure images. But they will not have any soul. They will not hold the interest of the viewer.
Have you ever eaten in a restaurant and after say to the person that ate with you, "The food was okay. It was cooked just the way I asked and seasoned all right but I'm not really in a hurry to go back." The person who prepared your meal was a cook but not a chef. He fed your stomach but not your soul. You would eat their food if you were starving and none other was available but you would not even think about going back to the same restaurant again and spending your money. It is the same with your photography and other art. If you do not learn the art, if you do not have "it" in you, then your images will never quite have what people will want to see over and over again.
On the other side, if you "see" the world through the eyes of an artist but do not learn the science of photography, you will have the same problem, maybe worse. You might compose an image that no one else saw that particular day, even though they were standing next to you, but if your exposure is way off or your image is blurred then people will not ever "see" what you saw.
You might ask me, what's your style? Do you know what it is and what influenced it in you?
I think I do. My style is based in three parts:
Composition, Color and Contrast. Let's take them one at a time.
COMPOSITION; I realized over the last few years that I tend to compose my images, both in camera and in post production, in what I guess would be now called 'letter box'. Did I just develop this when the new letterbox TVs were introduced? No, it started way before that. When I was a young boy I loved the movies. Like many young boys, I particularly liked westerns, especially John Wayne westerns: movies like the "The Searchers" and " In Her Hair She Wore A Yellow Ribbon". These movies were shot in the western United States and the imagery included the beautiful full expanse of many of the western canyons and prairies. In the "Searchers", directed by Jon Ford, parts were filmed in Monument Valley Arizona and Utah. I did not realize till years later what an influence these films had on me. The "Searchers" in particular, I believe influenced my early years in many ways. It is a wonderful complex film. Ford depicts racism in the way the Indian are portrayed. The lead character, Ethan Edwards (Wayne) searches for his niece who has been abducted by Indians. So many emotions are going on in this film below and above the surface. I honestly think it helped shape my feelings on racism. In later years, I would move to Arizona and visit some of those same valleys. It is an area that is still very dear to me.
A few years ago, I noticed that I was composing many of my images in a cinematography style heavily influenced by this and other films of the era: the wide letterbox view. Why do I like this so much? I like the full story it tells.
I want to convey what I saw, a person or animal in the forefront of an expanse of scenery but showing the viewer what the person or animal is seeing. Not just nature images but even in street photography it is possible. I think this young women is the most interesting part of this image. Cropping it this way allows her to be the focal but you get to see where she is, what she is seeing. It tells a story.
This is a very subtle difference but I think it brings more focus on the egret, eliminating some of the water.
This was cropped in camera. I could have used a different lens, come closer and made the bride and groom the main focus. But they really were not the story I was trying to tell. What the story was is having all their family and friends there to celebrate with them. The wider angle accomplished that.
You might have noticed that in all but this last image I used the "Rule of Thirds" which is one of the most often used rules of composition. I almost always use the rule of thirds but not always. These rules are made to be broken in the appropriate image. Which is the appropriate image? I believe that's up to the photographer's eye, part of their style. I also believe we should make images that we like (unless we are being paid for a particular project to be photographed a particular way).
The rule of thirds is part of my style. To understand the rule of thirds imagine the lines of a tic tac toe board on top of my images here, other then the last one. Although I could make the point that in the last one the main point of interest is not the bride and groom but the young very demonstrative young man to camera right point at them. The most important part of the image should fall in one of the four intersections of the Tic Tac Toe board.
As you can see composition is a large part of my style and I photograph with that in mind for every shot. Then when I import into Lightroom the first thing I decide on is if I want to refine my compositional choice.
In my next post, I will deal with the second part of my style; Color