It’s not always Purple and Peaceful

November 8, 2013 4 Comments

Last month, Angel and I spent a few days in Grand Teton National Park to do some fall photography. Heading out, we had visions of the photos we wanted to come home with. I wanted to photograph the famous Moran barn. The iconic shot against the Teton range as they’re painted purple, moments before the sun touches the horizon in the East.

It's not always Purple and Peaceful

But it didn’t go that way. In fact, when we arrived, we experienced a 40 degree temperature drop as an Indian summer gave way to what would be the first snowstorm of the year. A front that lasted three days and kept the majestic peaks out of sight for nearly the entire time. But that certainly didn’t mean lost photography opportunities. We planted our tripod, pointed the camera at the barn and we waited. Other photographers arrived and left during that time. From point-and-shoot tourist to those carrying large tripods, legs extended and cameras attached, perched casually on their shoulder.

The wind was strong enough that we knew things could potentially change very quickly. And they did. For a few moments – surprisingly during a period when no other photographers had ‘stopped by’ – there was a dramatic break in the clouds. The sun pushed through, illuminating the barn and adding contrast to the looming weather. Within minutes, things changed again. By this time, it was already 10 degrees colder than it was when we claimed our spot and set up our tripod.

As we headed back to Jackson for an IPA at the Snake River Brewery, we reflected on our experience. It wasn’t the iconic peaceful and purplish shot we envisioned. In some ways, it was better. A reminder that it doesn’t always go as planned, and you have to make the best of what’s given to you.

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Somewhere Between the Canyon and the Caldera

February 27, 2013 No Comments

Somewhere Between the Canyon and the Caldera

One of my favorite scenic drives, arguably one of the most scenic in the country, is the stretch of highway between Bozeman, MT and Jackson, WY. Picking up Route 191 in Bozeman, it winds it’s way through the Gallatin Canyon for nearly 100 miles. Paralleling the Gallatin River, it passes multiple trailheads and fly fishing hotspots. It passes Big Sky and then into the town of West Yellowstone. Over the next 100 miles, it makes it’s way through the west end of Yellowstone National Park, gives you a peak at Grand Teton National Park, and enters Jackson, WY.

Honestly, what more could you ask for?

What’s really interesting is how much the landscape changes in this 200 mile stretch. It starts out as a narrow canyon and, after passing Big Sky, quickly opens up. Even the weather changes dramatically. I’ve seen winters where snow cover increases by several feet in the short distance between Big Sky and West Yellowstone.

There’s a very memorable point in the drive just a few miles before West Yellowstone. The canyon opens up and rather than pine trees, a winding river, steep banks and the occasional mountain goat, all you see is a valley in front of you, a mountain vista on the horizon and a peculiar grove of aspens. Tucked away in the aspens is a small cemetery with a narrow dirt road winding through it. If you look out past the valley, you see what is likely the rim of the Yellowstone Caldera. Keep driving and your surroundings quickly change to hot springs and tour busses.

It may not be the main attraction, but I’ve always remembered this small gem amongst miles of captivating countryside. And every time I pass through it, it’s exactly as I remember. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful and it’s somewhere between the canyon and the caldera.

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A Perfect Evening at Yellowstone’s Midway Geyser Basin

January 31, 2013 No Comments

A Perfect Evening at Yellowstone's Midway Geyser Basin

It was about 5pm on one of those perfect October evenings, a couple hours before sunset, when Angel and I first headed into “the park”. We decided to go as far as Old Faithful and, hopefully, time things right to catch it’s eruption against an autumn sunset.

We were 5 minutes too late. With the sunset drawing near, we headed north towards Madison, agreeing that we’d stop at the next basin to get our fix of evening shooting. Pulling into Midway Geyser Basin, we were pleasantly surprised to find most of the people heading back to their cars and tour busses.

Within minutes, the light began changing rapidly; we picked a spot, set up tripods and started shooting. The shots we got in this short time frame ranged from vibrant oranges to cool blues, topped off by the steam rising from the geyser. As the light show drew to an end, we realized how cold our hands had gotten, as the temperature had dropped to around 40 degrees. We headed back to West Yellowstone for a burger and a beer, and reflected on one of the most memorable moments of our trip.

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