Despite the best efforts of our elected officials, my tour to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons wound up being a huge success! We arrived in the Tetons and Yellowstone 5 days before the park closure so we spent a good deal of time concentrating on the classics. The image above was taken after the closure of the parks as it forced me to explore new vantage points on the outer road. This actually turned out to be a blessing as the clouds were much thicker to the east and south and I was able to get us to a pullout further up along the highway for a very dramatic shot of the morning sunrise. I used a Singh Ray reverse Grad filter to balance the foreground and sky. Contact me for a discount code on that filter if you have been on one of my tours. I also used what is quickly becoming my favorite wide-angle lens, which is the Sigma 12-24mm.
As fate would have it, we also had to concentrate on the wildlife along the Gros Ventre area due to the closure and this is where I got my best Bull Moose shot (pictured above). The fall colors were peaking along this area so it made for a very dramatic background. I used the Sigma 300-800 for this image. In the image below of the pronghorn, I wanted to continue working my newest lens, the Sigma 150-500mm, as I am able to comfortably hand hold the setup.
We had one very unique day just before they officially closed the park! I had never seen a coyote (image above) this close to the road and we were able to follow him for what seemed like miles as he moused the field alongside the road. He was so close I had to use the Sigma 120-300mm! We were fortunate to get to visit White Dome Geyser and Old Faithful (pictured below) just as the rangers were putting up the signs regarding the park closure! Both images were created with the Sigma 12-24mm lens.
One of the benefits of having a small group is that I am able to move everyone in the blink of an eye. I decided to leave West Yellowstone a day early as we had exhausted all my locations outside the park in Idaho and elsewhere. I quickly rebooked hotels in Jackson, as I knew the outer road would not be closed. The clouds had not cooperated for a night shoot except for one day and as fate would dictate, our last night there would also be clear! I have done 100’s of star trail images before but only once successfully at a high ISO! We used one of the pullouts along the main road around 4am to get the image you see below. What is unique about it is that there was absolutely no moon and the illumination of the Teton Range was provided solely from the ambient light of the Milky Way! I used the Sigma 12-24mm lens for this and I had to push the ISO to 400 to achieve this but I feel it was well worth the post processing challenges. I only had the exposure open for 25 minutes as I had to get someone to the airport! Talk about cutting it close!!!
After getting most of the group to the airport, I was able to go roamin’! I found an area outside the park with beautiful cottonwood trees in dramatic light and peak fall color. This also gave me an excuse to try out the Sigma 17-70mm (for crop bodies). The images below represent just a few I took that afternoon and I am sure it will be a stop on all future trips!
I’ve included a bunch of images below from the trip including; impressionistic in camera blurs, exposure blends, and traditional exposures. I’ve been to the greater Yellowstone ecosystem more than 13 times and I continue to be amazed at the variety of opportunities it affords photographers. Let me know what you think about the collection and I hope you can join me on my return in 2014.