Best of the Tetons

Recent Images: September 1-15, 2013

Images on this page are from my “Keepers” folder, but had not been posted until I was able to run them through the US Copyright Office. Images you see on the Daily Updates pages come out of a “Web” folder where I put images not quite up to the standards in the Keepers folder. I don’t spend much time processing them.

Here’s the first page of “Recent Images” for the first half of September—the keepers I took time to process in Lightroom and Photoshop. Some of these will end up on my photo site at Teton Images.

Black Bear In Grass

Black Bear in Grass: Sept 2, 2013 I photographed this young bear on the Moose-Wilson road on a rainy day. Overcast days are usually good for black bears as it keeps the blacks from blocking up. Sometimes, you just get lucky and find one out in the open and not covered with bushes and leaves.

Nikon D800 with a Nikon 200-400mm 210mm. On a Tripod, VR Off, ISO 1250, F/5.6, 1/250 th Second. This bear had yellow ear tags. I removed them in Photoshop.

Moose Sparring

Bulls Gently Sparring: Sept 2, 2013
Photographed early in the morning on a slightly overcast day. These two bulls did their trademark swaying of their head and antlers to greet each other, then began to gently spar. This is a bit unusual, since neither of them want to tear their delicate velvet covering until it’s time. One of them had deep scratches, which dried up later in the day.

Nikon D800 with a Nikon 200-400mm 300mm. On a Tripod, VR Off, ISO 1250, F/4, 1/100 th Second. Luckily, the action was slow and deliberate as 1/100th of a second will not stop much action. On this lens, F/4 is wide open so my only choice would have been to bump the ISO up to 1600. I typically have my D4 and a 28-300mm VR2 lens around my neck. I can shoot wider shots if necessary, or switch the body to the 200-400mm if I need more frames per second than the D800 can shoot.

Chapel of the Transfiguration at Alpenglow

Chapel of the Transfiguration at Alpenglow: September 5, 2013
I went back to this spot three or four times to get this shot. One of them was a reconnaissance visit during bright daylight to check the shooting distance and lens choices. In the dark, it would be difficult to compose images, zoom to the right spots and focus correctly. Alpenglow happens on special days about 30 minutes before the first light of day. For this shot, I had red clouds in the east that added red hints in the clouds and lit up the tops of the mountains. This set of lighting conditions doesn’t happen too often! On a previous visit, I was set up perfectly, but clouds in the East blocked all early morning light and the shot was dull and dead.

Nikon D800 with a Nikon 24-70mm 29mm. On a Tripod, VR n/a, ISO 100, F/8, 1/3 rd Second. The tripod was spread out flat on the ground and I was on my stomach to compose this image. I set it to a 3 second shutter delay to let the mirror flap settle down and let me continue to view through the viewfinder. The image is very sharp despite the very slow shutter speed.

Long Wait to Strip Velvet

Long Wait to Strip Velvet: September 1, 2013
Occasionally, a bull will stretch full out, but it is not that common to capture it. Sometimes, especially during the rut, one will completely fall asleep, but there are usually twigs and deep grass covering their face. This big bull was only flat like this for a few seconds. Taken along the Gros Ventre river in Grand Teton National Park.

Nikon D800 with a Nikon 200-400mm 310mm. On a Tripod, VR Off, ISO 1000, F/5.6, 1/100 th Second. With a resting bull, I usually don’t need a lot of shutter speed, so it just a matter of balancing the expected action with the depth of field and the ISO. This photo was taken early in the morning with soft overcast light.

Leaving the Sage Flats

Leaving the Sage Flats: September 5, 2013
These bulls had been grazing on bitter bush (like the darker green clump in the center of the image) out in the sage flats. As the light hit them, they moved back towards the river bottom.

Nikon D4 with a Nikon 28-300mm lens at 90mm. Handheld, VR On, ISO 1250, F/5.3, 1/6400 nd Second. This body and lens had been around my neck all morning and the settings had been adjusted for the period before sunrise. I had been shooting the same bulls with a D800 and a 200-400mm lens on the tripod, adjusting it as necessary as the light changed. When they started moving, I grabbed the camera around my neck to capture the group of three. Looking back, I would have set the ISO down to around 640, and increased the Aperture to around F/8.  Shutter speed would have still been plenty to freeze them.  I removed a few annoying distractions in this image in Photoshop.

Bull Moose on the Ridge

Bull Moose on the Ridge: Sept 5, 2013
This is a shot taken a few minutes after the image above. I was able to anticipate his movements and be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes, a bull will stop on a ridge to look around, but this bull kept on moving.

Nikon D800 with a Nikon 200-400mm 210mm. On a Tripod, VR Off, ISO 500, F/9, 1/500 th Second.

Soaked Gathering: Sept 2

Soaked Gathering: September 2, 2013
This group of four bulls gathered along the Gros Ventre temporarily on a rainy morning. I got wet, but it was worth it. All four bulls were still in velvet at the time.

Nikon D800 with a Nikon 200-400mm 200mm. On a Tripod, VR Off, ISO 640, F/6.3, 1/320 th Second. The shutter speed blurred the rain with only small streaks while freezing the slower action of the bulls.

Gros Ventre Sunrise Pano

Gros Ventre Sunrise Pano: September 2, 2013
Click this image to see it quite a bit larger. This was taken very early in the morning with great clouds and low fog along the Gros Ventre River in Grand Teton National Park. You simply don’t get colors like this if you stay in town and have breakfast before heading out!

Nikon D4 with a 70-200 VR lens at 70mm on a Tripod with a Wimberley Sidekick. VR Off.  ISO 100, F/9, 1/13th of a second with a three second shutter delay. This image is stitched together using three images taken in the horizontal orientation. This scene was developing as I drove up to the spot. I grabbed the camera and tripod and jumped out to get the shot. I didn’t realize at the time, I had grabbed the D4 and not the D800 I usually use for landscapes. When I use the D800 for panos, I use the landscape/horizontal orientation for the shots. Before I owned a D800, I’d turn the D4 (or D300 in earlier years) camera into portrait orientation and shoot this image with six to eight verticals. They are stitched into a single panoramic image in Photoshop.

Newly Stripped Antlers

Newly Stripped Antlers: September 8, 2013
This bull moose had stripped most of his antlers overnight and in the early morning. He still had blood residue and a couple of hanging velvet tassels when I caught him crossing the Gros Ventre River.

Nikon D4 with 28-300 VR at 300mm. Handheld with VR On.  ISO 800, F/6.3, 1/800th second. Instead of carrying heavy tripod, ball head, and lens, I carry a D4 and the flexible 28-300 mm lens when I don’t know where the moose are at the time. I can cover a lot of ground quickly and will occasionally stumble upon a scene like this. This bull was fairly close to the water at the time I found him, so I didn’t want to chance missing a crossing by going all the way back to the truck for the other lens and tripod. Good call! For this shot, I was lying on my stomach on the rocks along the side of the river.

Night at the Chapel of the Transfiguration

Night at the Chapel of the Transfiguration: September 11, 2013
To get this shot, you have to get up very, very early! While not really part of this image, the Milky Way is standing straight up over the entrance structure. I had photographed this image earlier in the month, but waited until there wasn’t going to be a moon to wash out the stars. As before, I knew where to set up and which lens to use. I used a couple of different flashlights to light up the elements during a long exposure.

Nikon D4 with Nikon 24-70 lens at 24mm. ISO 4000, F/2.8, 20 Second exposure. High ISO Noise Reduction turned ON. Shot from the ground with a Gitzo tripod spread out flat. This image was taken at 5:22 am. I had to be out early and get set up before the stars disappeared with the morning light. I didn’t have much time to get the shot. There is a “blue light” period early in the morning. The white balance was originally set to around 4200 K or so, but was changed to 3000 K in Lightroom. My lights put out a warm cast, so the two balance nicely. About 95% of this image was adjusted in Lightroom, then a couple of bright areas were burned down in Photoshop.  I usually use my D800 for landscapes, but I still think the D4 is better for high ISO for this kind of shot. Others might disagree.

Trio of Bulls

Trio of Bulls: September 2, 2013
The smaller of these three bull moose finally had enough and took a little nap as the close bull stretched out. These bulls were found along the Gros Ventre River.

Nikon D4 with a Nikon 200-400mm lens at 280mm. On a Tripod, VR Off, ISO 640, F/7.1, 1/400 th Second. This is a fairly straight forward image. I was focused on the face and eyes of the closest bull, and a medium focal length. That let the far bull go out of focus slightly. I removed a couple of minimal distractions in Photoshop. It had been cool, with some overcast skies at the time I took this image.

Bull Moose Standing in Willows

Waiting In Willows: September 1, 2013
This is one of my favorite bull moose. I caught him in the willows early one morning along the Gros Ventre river.

Nikon D800 with a Nikon 200-400mm 400mm. On a Tripod, VR Off, ISO 400, F/7.1, 1/320 th Second.

Evening Cloud Over the Gros Ventre

Evening Cloud Over The Gros Ventre: September 15, 2013
Most people were back in town when this cloud fired up. I probably would have been gone a little sooner, too, but there was a beaver in the pool just below the ridge. A cow moose and calf came out by the beaver and I attempted to photograph them crossing the river to the East. I photographed this image while waiting and hoping she would cross.

Nikon D800 with a Nikon 24-70mm 62mm. On a Tripod, VR n/a, ISO 100, F/5, 1/50 th Second. This was a pretty much straight forward shot since I was able to watch for blown pixels in the histogram.

Feeding Beaver Along the Gros Ventre

Beaver Feeding along the Gros Ventre River: Sept 15, 2013
This beaver has been working on a dam just below the ridge at the viewing area along the Gros Ventre. He can often be seen very early and very late in the day. I liked this one because it shows his claws, eye, and tail.

Nikon D800 with a Nikon 200-400mm 400mm. On a Tripod, VR Off, ISO 800, F/6.3, 1/125 th Second. I took quite a few shots of this beaver and kept only this one. It was the sharpest and showed most of the important parts well enough.


Hichhiker: September 3, 2013
A female Brown-headed Cowbird hitched a ride on this mature bison bull as his little buddy tagged alongside. This was taken one foggy morning along Mormon Row.

Nikon D800 with a Nikon 200-400mm 210mm. On a Tripod, VR Off, ISO 400, F/7.1, 1/500 th Second.

Singing Meadowlark

Singing Meadowlark: September 13
It’s easy to get tunnel vision and think the only good shots are the ones of bears, moose, elk, and bison and miss opportunities like this one. I pulled up, stopped the truck and let the bird settle down again. Afterwards she gave me a nice serenade. I was able to make adjustments in the camera and shoot in both horizontal and vertical orientation. When I drove off, she was still singing. I believe the males have more yellow in their breast.

Nikon D800 with a Nikon 200-400mm 400mm. Handheld out the window over a beanbag, VR On, ISO 800, F/4, 1/400 th Second. I included a horizontal version of this shot on the Daily Updates for September. I liked this orientation better. I chose to shoot this one wide open at F/4 to blur out the background. There is a little cropping and the normal tonal adjustments on this image.

Some of the images on this page will become the base images for my “Artistic Images” at my web site. Click here to see a few of the Landscapes, most of which have had some sort of artistic touches added. There’s also a nice page of Moose.

Please revisit this page often!  I posted just a few to get the page on line, but I have lots of additional images to add.

Please Note: All images on this site are officially copyrighted with the US Copyright Office. Any unauthorized copying or use is strictly prohibited and violators will aggressively pursued. Feel free to Link, Share, Tweet, or Pin the images using the tools below, but please maintain all links back to this site.

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Comments (7)

  1. Oscar Nunez

    Hello again, Mike. Your images are always outstanding. Do you essentially turn off VR whenever you use a tripod and turn it on when hand holding the camera?

    Also, how do you like the D800 for wildlife? You obviously have taken incredible shots with it, but I’ve read it is better for landscapes than wildlife especially where there is lots of movement (needing more FPS) or where the camera is hand held.


  2. Oscar, Thanks again!
    Normally, I pick the D800 for landscapes and the D4 when I am trying to capture wildlife. Some of them like moose, mountain goats, and bison move in slow deliberate motions, so the D800 does a pretty good job. There have been times I wished I had the D4 on the tripod and lens. I usually have it around my neck but action sometimes breaks out and surprises me. I fill the buffer regularly and the shutter speed can definitely be an issue.

    Somewhere in one of these posts, I mentioned I had about 250,000 actuations on my D4. I am letting the D800 take up some of the slack and take some pressure off it.

    I’ve read a lot of reports saying to turn off the VR when on a tripod and turn it back on when hand held or when shooting over a bean bag. I think that is good advice.

  3. Lowell Schechter

    I am really enjoying looking at your images. And look forward for more of them. We were in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons last September and we hope to go back maybe next year. I wished I had known about the Gros Ventre area last year and maybe I could have gotten pictures of a Moose but the whole experience and both places with Fantastic.

  4. Lowell Schechter

    I am really enjoying looking at your images . And look forward for more of them. We were in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons last September and we hope to go back maybe next year. I wished I had known about the Gros Ventre area last year and maybe I could have gotten photos of a Moose but the whole experience of being these Great National Parks were fantastic.

  5. Lowell,
    The Gros Ventre area is very close to home for me, so I tend to go there more than any other part of the park. I already spend enough on gas just going there! I can put 100 miles on my truck on a loop to the northern part of the park, which is not much if you are on vacation, but it adds up quickly if I do it very many times in one week. The Oxbow area is also a great spot if I want to find different subjects.

  6. Lowell Schechter

    Mike, last year we had the problem with the fires from Idaho and that brought smoke in the morning and obscured The Teton Mountains and it certainly took away a lot of photo opportunities for me. In the afternoon the smoke seemed to clear so I was able to get some photos. We did go to that small church ( Transfiguration )and the caretaker was really nice and let me take some interior photos before the people showed up for services.

  7. So far, we haven’t had a lot of problems with smoke and no big fires in our immediate area.

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