Somehow, with all the clouds and rain in Grand Teton, I managed to have clear skies three nights for some Milky Way photography, but what was a bit frustrating was that a few hours later when the sun was due to rise, most times it was blocked by either clouds or fog. One of those clear nights I was lighting the Moulton Barn and decided to have some fun and try to get myself into the frame, thanks to the wireless remote. But on one of those inevitable cloudy mornings that followed, I commiserated with Eric Bowles, who as it turned out, was a photographic instructor and workshop leader (www.bowlesimages.com). I felt pretty fortunate to be in his company and his willingness to share his photographic knowledge. We decided to do some exploring along Antelope Flats Road, and when we climbed out of the depression that is Schwabacher’s Landing (my hotel location), we found the dense fog burning off and the sun dramatically lighting up the flats in between bands of fog. Just a wonderfully dramatic and unexpected scene.
It was difficult to work with the bright sun and darker shadows, but a 2-stop ND filter helped. We also stopped to photograph a small group of pronghorn, which was my first ever attempt at wildlife and later, stopped at a spot under clouds where I saw some hills that had a beautifully flowing pattern. And although there were plenty of wires throughout the shot, I took it in spite of all the extra work that would entail.
There were other days that fog was around and I did my best to capture something that really showed the fog in all it’s glory being burned off by the sun.
When it was finally time to head north to Yellowstone, I encountered a newly burned area that went on for miles. At one point, I came to a spot where the complete devastating effects of the fire abruptly stopped and the edge of the forest remained unscathed. It was a great opportunity to illustrate the opposing forces of life and death in the forest, and luckily, the showers that were around seemed to have moved on and the area was lit by the sun. The recent shower made the black of the burn area that much more intense for added contrast with the green of the still living tree and the few remaining rust colored pines affected by the fire. I was there quite a while until the clouds and showers rolled through again, but during that time, several cars pulled over thinking I must have been photographing some wildlife, and when they saw none, they got back in the car and drove on. Eventually I drove on as well, hoping that the weather pattern would change with my arrival into Yellowstone and my long awaited return to try some abstracts of the colorful organisms living around the hot springs and geysers. The last time I was in the park was 1978 as a newly minted locomotive engineer who loved to travel and carry a camera. But this time would be different. This time I had bear spray!!