Images from the Jackson Hole area taken just after the sun goes down.
Most people probably spend most of their day in and around Grand Teton National Park, then have dinner and spend the late evening in the room or getting ready for the next day. Quite a few times a year, I venture out into the evening light and capture some of the unique offerings. Truth be told, I photograph these kinds of images a lot more than anyone might think—and that’s not counting the night time shots with the milky way, stars and light painting. Simply stated, there is something quite appealing about the cobalt and navy blue sky that happens before things start getting really black.
Fireworks displays tend to start at about the tail end of the blue light and continue on into the blackness period, but they offer some interesting possibilities. I’ve been close—down at the Snow King ball field—and I’ve been up on parking garage roof tops. I’ve tried getting to a few of the bluffs and elevated areas. Each location yields different results. On the 4th of July this year, I headed over to the observation platform along Flat Creek and managed to get a few shots with reflections in the creek.
Most of the fireworks are exposed for about 4 seconds in manual exposure mode and manual focus using a cable release or remote RFN-4s. This allows for three or four explosions, plus some drifting smoke. Shoot a lot and keep the good ones!
On Thanksgiving weekend, the Town of Jackson lights up the Town Square with the new blue LED lights. They always offer supply me with a few unique shots. Last year, we didn’t get snow until late in the season, so I took the opportunity to get out in the evening after a rain to catch reflections in the pools.
Downtown lights and signs always make good subjects. In almost all cases, it is just a matter of setting up with a tripod and allowing the camera to take as long as it needs to make the capture. I typically use aperture priority mode and set it to around F/7.1 with a fairly low ISO. Occasionally, people walk through the scene which can add to the shot. Vehicle lights can streak across the image. With a little experimentation, you can control how long the streaks will be in the shot. Someday, I want to challenge myself to get back out there and try to add more people into the captures.
It is difficult, if not impossible to get a clean shot of the streets at night during the summer. People are out until way past 2:00 am when the bars close and vehicles are in most parking spots. In the off season, chances improve some, but it is still uncommon to see a whole street empty of vehicles. I got lucky on this one.
On New Years Eve, close to 100 skiers ride the chair lifts to the middle of Snow King Mountain for a torch light parade and fireworks display. I go every year or two, depending on the weather. Lots of spectators are at the bottom of the hill with bonfires and hot coffee and coco. It can be quite a social event to welcome in the new year. For those shots, I normally do numerous exposures and then layer them in Photoshop.
You don’t have to try to photograph the night time in Jackson Hole to enjoy the experience. Just get out there!