The

Photo Experience

             

Yellowstone

Fall 1999

       

   

 

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YELLOWSTONE N.P.

  

Fall 1999

   

 

 

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Castle

Geyser

   

1.

 

  

  

   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.

  

   

Geyser

Basin

  

2.

 

 

 

 

Day 1 of the Forum began photographing images of Geysers at sunrise

with the sun in the background.  Staying awake after getting up before dawn

 is easy when the temperature is only 6 degrees F.  

 

First up on the walk was Castle Geyser due to its unique structure

billowing steam clouds.  The challenge is that you know that the experience from being there is

 going to be a lot better than the image you will be able

 to capture on film.  In fact, it took several rolls of film just to capture the

 image on this page and the preceding page.  At one point, it looked like

the whole world was erupting.

   

The first morning also included visits to Morning Glory Pool, Punch Bowl

Spring for close ups of algae, Black Sand Pool, and Emerald Pool.

     

   

Grand

Prismatic

   

3.

 

  

    

Grand Prismatic is a large geothermal area.  The mid day light made it difficult to capture an image of

the entire area that would make it appear as dramatic as it felt.  So, instead, I decided to focus on a small area. 

    

Although difficult to see in the image at left, there is a thin layer of water  flowing down thousands of little

step like structures.  A close up would be nice but I really liked the idea of all the elevated pathways. 

Because there were much fewer visitors in late September, I was able to isolate and capture a silhouette

 of just two persons on one of the walks.  Earlier in the summer, this would have been impossible with all

 of the persons visiting the park.

   

Osprey

 

4.

 

  

 

  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.

   

 

5.

 

  

  

You can't visit Yellowstone Park without taking a photograph of a buffalo. 

Yet their dark coat  makes them a very difficult subject.  Forget back lighting, you'll end up with a silhouette. 

Front lighting is better but the light meter on the camera will more than likely over-expose the buffalo's coat. 

Reducing the exposure 2 stops will produce a properly exposed buffalo but will blow out the back ground.  

 

The best solution is to photograph the buffalo in early morning or late afternoon.  The frost on the back and the orange hue imparted by the sun are a dead giveaway that this photograph was taken in early morning. 

 

There are some outstanding photographs of buffalo with icicles hanging from their fur and every gorge mark from past fights in full detail.  After attempting to photograph buffalo, you can really appreciate some of the other outstanding images.

 

   

 

6.

 

  

 

Driving towards Madison from Norris, a group of elk were causing a standard traffic jam on the highway. 

At first, only a few females were spotted but hiding in the Lodge Pole pine trees was the male.
  

It's kind of exciting scanning the forest with a 500 mm lens and discovering a male spying back at you. 

The image at left is the result of  exposing a full role of film.  Due to the lighting conditions and out-of- focus greenery, this is  a situation in which you just keep shooting because you don't really know

what the final image will look like.

     

   

 

7.

 

  

 

Towards the evening, this big male elk was spotted protecting his harem of approximately 30 females and yearlings from another male across a river.  The alpha male very discreetly blocked the other advancing

 male by slowly positioning himself and walking in a parallel line between the advancing

male and his harem.  

   

This is one situation where I simply could not capture the experience on film

   

Lower

Falls

  

8.

 

 

 

     

Yellowstone Park contains some very beautiful water falls.   However,  unless you time your visit perfectly,

 you're probably going to have to deal with bright sunlight and dark shade in the same scene.

Photographic film simply can't handle the range from shade to bright sunlight.  

 

The image at right was enhanced in the field by a 3 stop soft graduated neutral density filter.  I had never

used one before but I am now convinced that this may be even more useful than a polarizing filter in some situations.

     

   

Hayden

Valley

   

9.

 

  

 

The absolutely breathtaking scenery at Yellowstone really moved me to take

a large number of photographs of everything in sight at all times of the day.  After a while, I was

beginning to think I was on a tour.  Although most of

 the images taken will be a good remembrances of where I was, few of the

final images will impart the same excitement experienced during the visit. 

 This is why viewing a bunch of proofs after a photo shoot can often be a

slight let down.

   

To illustrate the point above, the valleys of Yellowstone are absolutely breathtaking but my images

of the valleys simply don't impart the same excitement.  However, by including some grass covered with

icicles, I was able to enhance the photograph of Hayden Valley.

   

 

10.

 

 

    

 

Parked in a section of dense forest, the jays are very experienced at stealing food off of the table in

 front of you.  It doesn't take long to figure out that this is a photo opportunity.

  

While not in the same photographic league as Ospreys, these birds are very beautiful in their own way. 

Don't think that the birds friendliness makes them an easy photographic target.  The dense forest cover

creates a nice exposure challenge.  There often is insufficient foreground light and the background can be

dark and uninspiring.  Using a 500 mm lens, getting the focus right, especially the eyes, in particularly difficult. 

    

The image at left had sufficient front light and background light to achieve what I had in mind.  There was

also a little light reflected off of the eyes which is almost mandatory for all types of bird photography.

     

   

West

Thumb

  

12.

 

 

 

 

When most people want visual impact, they think of Yosemite or the Grand Tetons.  The visual impact of Yellowstone is much more discreet and, in fact, you sometimes have to look for it.

  

There are few other places where a photographer has so much opportunity to play with landscape, steam ,

and the sun.  The colder it is, the greater the amount of steam.  In late September, morning is prime

 shooting time.  The wind manipulates the steam very quickly so its kind of fun just to hang out in one

location for awhile and shoot a couple rolls of film to see what turns out.  Beware, the end results on film

may be considerable different  than what you thought you visualized.

 

   

West

Thumb

  

13.

 

 

 

 

 

  The morning temperature was in the teens causing large vapor clouds to  rise above the hot

 thermal water percolating up through the rock in multiple locations at West Thumb Geyser Basin. 

A slight wind off of Lake Yellowstone created a constantly changing scenery effect.  The trick was to just

sit there and wait for the right amount of steam and wind to display a scene that you really liked.

    

   

Lake

Lodge

  

14.

 

 

    

  

The absolutely breathtaking scenery at Yellowstone really moved me to take a large number of

photographs of everything in sight at all times of the day.  After a while, I was beginning to think I was

on a tour.  Although most of the images taken will be a good remembrances of where I was, few of

the final images will impart the same excitement experienced during the visit.   This is why viewing a

bunch of proofs after a photo shoot can often be a slight let down.

  

To illustrate the point above, the valleys of Yellowstone are absolutely breathtaking but my images of the valleys simply don't impart the same excitement.  However, by including some grass covered with icicles, I was

able to enhance the photograph of Hayden Valley.

   

   

 

15.

 

 

    

 

This little guy was resting during the middle of the day when a Magpie jumped on his back and started

feeding on insects in his fur.  The baby didn't seem to care except when the Magpie dug a little too deep. 

The baby would raise his head and look directly into the eyes of the Magpie.  The Magpie would look back,

make a noise and continue to dine.

    

This incident occurred over a period of about 10 minutes.  Unfortunately, the baby elk was resting against a

wall of a building in Mammoth Hot Springs which also made proper exposure more difficult.  There was a

 faucet directly behind the baby elk but was blocked from view when the baby raised his head.  Also, due

to lack of contrast between the baby elk's  fur and the color of the feathers on the Magpie's head, the

Magpie's head had to photographed against the wall to achieve proper separation.

    

   

Mammoth

Terrace 

  

16.

 

    

 

 

It's a little intimidating to try to take an original photo of a location where millions of pictures are

taken every year.   I'm sure there are also thousands of images of the patterns of the water flowing across

 the rock and algae.  Hey, so here's another one. 

   

The light was perfect, the polarizer very effective, and the flow pattern  seemed to make this photograph

easier to view than the several rolls of other shots that I attempted.  I actually scanned the entire terrace

and took shots in a grid like pattern; this image just flowed more artistically.

    

   
 

 

    

 

There is no shortage of photographs of Old Faithful, and even though we were staying at the Old Faithful

Snow Lodge, it wasn't till day 4 that I motivated myself to get up at 5:00 AM to view a geyser of which

only 3 million tourists per year take pictures.  Amazingly, there couldn't have been more than a dozen

persons at Old Faithful at that time of the morning.

 

The basic concept is to locate oneself directly behind the geyser and the rising sun.  Other photographers

also know this so you'll want to get to  the geyser early to position yourself.  Once the sun breaks the

horizon,  you'll only have a couple of minutes at most to capture your images.  Due to the brightness

of the sun flashing through the steam, I tend to open up the exposure by one stop since the scene's

brightness will generally cause the cameras exposure meter to make too quick of an exposure.

   

05/05/03