Best of the Tetons

Schwabacher Landing

Schwabacher Landing: Before Sunrise

Schwabacher Landing

Schwabacher Landing during Twilight: July 13, 2013

Information about visiting and photographing one of the park’s premiere locations.

I was at the side of the beaver pond at Schwabacher Landing  on a moonless night at 3:00 am—armed with several flashlights, a tripod, and a Nikon D800. I shot a few images in the pitch black night, many with the aid of a flashlight (light painting). This image was taken at 4:29 am with the shutter open for 20 seconds. The lens was at 31 mm on a Nikon 24-70, set to F2/8 and ISO set to 2500 on the camera. For these shots, I adjusted the d-4 setting in the camera’s menu to 3 second Shutter Delay. I seldom use a shutter release cable but occasionally use a RFN-4s remote trigger . The three seconds gives me a little time to move away from the camera to start shining the lights. The White Balance was set manually to 4950K to maintain the blue in the sky. For the close grass, I used a small mag light with a tape “snoot” and the distant trees were lit with a 2 million power QBeam and a 10° grid to focus the light. Check out the Workshop at the Ranch tutorials at Dave Black Photography for more information on light painting.

Schwabacher Landing is one of the most photographed places in the park. Currently, the road is under construction. It should be open soon!

Schwabacher Landing is obviously a wonderful spot to take photos or just visit. You’ll likely take lots of photos of the spot while down there, so take a lot of memory cards, extra batteries, and plan on being there a while to make the effort pay off. I was there long before sunrise, but stayed well into the morning getting a nice variety of shots, and shooting from quite a few locations. Many people like to take and use a graduated neutral density filter with them. It can come in handy when the mountains are getting hammered with the morning light,—while the foreground is still in shadows. For my own personal preference, I like to shoot before that happens and after light starts hitting the foreground. In other words, I typically like to shoot when other people aren’t there. During the summer months, the sun is quite far north as it rises and your own shadow is not much of a problem. As it swings around to the south in later months, it takes some additional creativity to figure out how to get shots without your shadows of shadow from other people and their tripods. With the road closure, it is now much easier to get into some of the most popular spots. That’s easy to say, especially if you are trying to find a silver lining in the sequester cuts,  but I’d prefer to drive down and have all of my gear close by.

Mike R. Jackson

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