Day 2 – September 28, 2016 – Anniversary Day
Woke up early this morning and still had the headache along with some blood shot eyes. Another cloudless day with a crescent moon rising at first light. Headed to Starbucks for some “real” coffee to stay alert and go with the cranberry scones and happened to see a photo book there on Wyoming’s Red Desert by Paul Ng. It turns out there are some desert areas that rival the southwest, including Killpecker Dunes right around Rock Springs. It made me think that I might not go all the way to Glacier; it’s over 6 hours each way, a lot of driving for only to weeks. But we’ll see as the trip progresses. Anyway, I think the Starbucks knocked out the headache, because by 10am it was gone!! Very happy about that.
Headed up 191 toward Teton and had about an hour of driving with nothing but wide open spaces for as far as the eye can see until I started following the Hogback River down a steep canyon that included some huge burned out areas. After about 3 hours, got into Jackson expecting to see the Tetons, but they were nowhere to be found. Drove out of Jackson and still nothing. Finally after climbing out of the valley, there they were…Bang!!! It’s not like you see them off in the distance and continually get closer, they just pop out.
Scouted out Schwabacker’s Landing (photo at top) which lived up to the hype as the premier morning location, but even at noon it was pretty good with lots of foreground, framing trees and reflections. Using a really wide lens makes the mountains look a bit small, but a 35mm (full frame) makes them loom quite a bit. Checked out the Snake River Overlook, the famous S-curve in the river, but 1/2 the “S” is blocked now by trees. Oxbow Bend Overlook seems to be another great morning spot from what others have told me today. But, just like Schwabacher’s, you have to get there early for your spot, and even more so at Schwabacher’s since there are limited “great spots”. I’m afraid that the morning light may be pretty flat since the range runs north/south. For late afternoon, I shot around Oxbow Bend with lots of golden aspens and cottonwood trees at peak. Then as the sun drifted down behind the peaks, I went to the south end of Willow Flats Overlook. A huge flat swath of willows and a few trees backlit by the setting sun…simply beautiful. From there, you have a completely unobstructed view of the entire Teton range. It just begs for a panorama. I may try that in the later morning tomorrow. The light should be at a good angle on the mountains, including Mt. Moran, from there. Added to that scene, you could hear rutting elk way off in the distance, mere specks in this giant landscape of gold flats and blue mountains. I tried some panoramas and zoomed in on a few trees that were together in the vast ocean of gold. I kept shooting even after we were all in shade because the same backlit scenes looked differently evenly lit. Got a camp site, just thinking it would be a good idea, but may not even use it, depending on how much I shoot tonight. Will attempt some Milky Ways and light painting of the Chapel of the Transformation near the Moose entrance. Then a few hours of sleep before I stake my claim at Schwabacher’s.
First impressions is that Teton is mostly a grand landscape place. All these national parks are incredible and it would be great to spend several seasons of a few weeks for each park, but that would entail a lifetime of full time photography. You just hope for the right conditions when you’re there and try to make the most of what does occur.