Surprise Sunrise

May 7, 2014 No Comments

Last month, Angel and I took full advantage of the free opening weekend in Yellowstone. The park is open year-round to snowmobilers and tours, but it isn’t until late April that they clear the roads from the entrance at West Yellowstone all the way to Old Faithful.

The best part about visiting early or late in the season is that you have far fewer tourists to dodge along the boardwalks. This trip was no exception – we had the park to ourselves one evening for a sunset shoot at the Fountain Paint Pots.

On the last morning of our trip, we awoke early for a sunrise shoot, as we had every morning. But this time, we decided we would “see what we could find” given that we hadn’t scouted out a location the night before (typically a very important part of a successful sunrise shoot). We found a spot as the sun approached the horizon, but it wasn’t quite what we envisioned, and we instead chose to park the car and enjoy the serenity.

Surprise Sunrise

It wasn’t until we began heading back that we caught the sunrise we hoped for. We were just south of Gibbon Falls, where nearby thermal activity and a crisp spring morning created a volumetric lighting effect as the already-risen sun pushed it’s way through the trees. It was a nice surprise and a great memory as we said goodbye to both Yellowstone and our extended stay in Montana.

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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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The Groggy, Frozen Fingered Photographer Gets the Shot

January 26, 2013 No Comments


Travel alarm clocks always seem to have the most obnoxious sounds. At 5:00 am on August 4, 2008, my alarm started blaring. Surrounded by campsite after campsite of family vacations, I’m certain my pre-dawn siren awoke everyone within a 3 campsite radius.

Camping in Yellowstone at 8,000 feet means even summer mornings are chilly. At 33 degrees, this particular August morning was no exception. But I was there to photograph, not to sleep in on a rocky ground, using clothes from the night before as a pillow.

The Groggy, Frozen Fingered Photographer Gets the Shot

I headed over to Yellowstone Lake, knowing I’d be in a position to catch a good sunrise. Although unprepared for the near freezing temperatures, my early rise greeted me not only with time to “warm up” my photography, but also a solitary Yellowstone Lake photo shoot. I was free to wander the boardwalks, amidst unpleasant sulfur mud pots, and set up my tripod wherever I chose. I wasn’t surrounded by tourists and family vacations. I had the lake to myself that morning.

Just before sunrise, I found my spot. A few trees breaking up the pre-sunrise sky, and a mix of haze and smoke from the surrounding thermal activity. After just a few shots, I knew dealing with obnoxious alarms and frozen fingers had all paid off.

Avoiding the early bird gets the worm cliche, I’d say the groggy, frozen fingered photographer gets the shot.

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