Having never felt any need to photograph wildlife since there are so many great wildlife photographers out there, I did take one bit of wisdom from Eric Bowles whom I met in Grand Teton: the world doesn’t need another perfect head shot of a wild animal, but rather the environment in which it lives could be more special and unique. Another reason is that the longest lens I own is 200mm and not the standard for getting close to the animals while remaining at a safe distance. However, there was one instance when I used a 17-35mm lens to record some bison up close when I wasn’t even attempting to do so. I was in Lower Geyser Basin in Yellowstone when a herd sauntered into the area and at one point, managed to corral a few of us within their herd while we were on the boardwalk.
This was the single time when the throng of tourists remained quiet, actually whispering instead of cackling, laughing and just being their usual tourist selves. But there were plenty of opportunities to photograph bison in many locations throughout both parks. Naturally they were usually grazing in the wide open meadows, but sometimes, I spotted them within the forest as well. Actually, the first up close encounter I had in Yellowstone was on the first night after the Milky Way shots of White Dome Geyser. I was driving on to my campsite and coming around a curve when out of the forest, along the roadway right in front of me, popped a bison!! Almost the size of my car, and coming out from the dark, it scared the life out of me to say the least.
— click on the images above to see full size —
But there were other times I pulled off the road and tried my hand at being a wildlife photographer. The photo on the left is of the trails in the dusting of snow left behind by the bison grazing before dawn, because they were nowhere to be found. Although I found it a bit rewarding, I think I’ll leave it to others to do the wildlife thing. The very first animal I photographed was a pronghorn in Grand Teton. Eric Bowles (who had to tell me what kind of animal it was) and I happened upon a few when we were exploring Antelope Flats and I clicked off a few shots before they crossed the road and fled from us. Luckily they were close enough that the 200mm was mildly sufficient as I used the suggestion to include their environment.
I did take heed from some friends about safety from the wildlife and bought some bear spray for this trip, and also made a mental note of the warnings contained in those posted in the campground bathrooms.