Day 4 – September 30, 2016 – Friday
Last night after hanging around the Jackson Lake Lodge to kill time, when I left, I discovered that the sky had cleared and it was filled with stars. Instead of packing it in for the night, I decided to go to the Mormon Row barns to shoot the Milky Way. It was great fun mainly because there was someone else there and we talked the whole time and it was a lot less spooky than when you are alone. But the really good part was that there were a few streaked clouds that seemed to lead right into each side of the barn with the Milky Way coming down near the peak of the barn. They came out really great, although some were better than others and may have to blend two to get the lighting totally even. When I figured I had gotten what I needed, I decided to do a selfie; I stood in front of the barn, tripped the shutter with a remote and lit the barn from where I stood in front of the camera leaving a black void where I stood. (note: the Milky Way was taken with my camera as opposed to all the others so far which were taken with my iPhone).
I was encouraged by the clear skies and hoped they continued for a few more hours for first light on the peaks. I got into the sleeping bag a bit earlier this time: midnight.
Woke up and it was totally socked in, no mountains at all, but I met Eric Bowles and we ended up driving around half the day exploring Antelope Flats Road. It started with the fog beginning to lift a bit and the sun shining through lighting up some golden cottonwoods on the vast Antelope Flats. I also photographed my first wild animal when we stopped for a small group of pronghorns.
The road was beautiful going in with loads of golden aspen trees at peak, but coming back out, it offered a magnificent view of the entire Teton range flanked by two sides of the valley with some great clouds above and some lingering fog drifting along their base. I stopped for lunch with a similar view back down on the flats. It’s very difficult to not take pictures every other minute, but sometimes you do have to stop to eat, even if it is only an apple and peanut butter.
As the sun got lower, I stopped by the Cunningham Cabin and while there with a view of the whole range, there were several rain curtains heading across the range, so I tried several panoramas and some backlit willows which I hope came out because it was difficult lighting. Then I stopped at a creek with a rocky bottom and cascades with some gold cottonwoods, Mount Moran and great clouds and quickly left as the sun was getting really low. Saw a lot of cars stopped along the highway where my first herd of bison were under some nice side lit hills and more great clouds. They were a bit far away, and the light didn’t last long on the flats, but the clouds turned every color imaginable. I figured out the right exposures for the sky and the flats and did a pano using both exposures. It looks like I’ll have a lot of work when I get back, blending and HDRing.
So in the space of one day, I did two wildlife shots, a first for me, although the bisons were pretty far away so I was less portraits and more a sense of place.
As the light faded, I headed to the Jackson Lake Lodge and actually had a real dinner at an old time counter, like Nedick’s used to be. I needed to charge my camera battery again, and again couldn’t find the charger and ended up making three trips to the car and back to the lodge searching for it! But it finally showed up in the blue carry-on I brought in with me so I can download the first memory card onto the laptop. So, after dinner, I’ll hang out in the huge lounge, do some computer work and pass some time before returning to the Cunningham Cabin for some star shots if it’s clear enough. Otherwise, I’ll just turn in early, although it is 11pm already as I write this.
One interesting thing I noticed here, is that the lodge has a veranda overlooking Jackson Lake and the Teton Range, and people were outside having dinner with a fire at each table to keep warm. I would love to do that on a beautiful sunset night someday. It seems like it would be pretty cool. Hoping for clouds like today for tomorrow, except for sunrise.