A monthly journal of daily weather reports, road reports, wildlife reports and tidbits. Subscribe by entering your email address in the boxes on the upper right and you’ll get a notice when I add more posts.
Daily Updates Archives:
2017: Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan: |
2016: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2015: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2014: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2013: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug:
Daily Updates Archives:
2017: Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan: |
2016: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2015: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2014: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2013: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug:
Please share the link to this site with your circle of friends—both photographers and Teton visitors!
October 31, 2013
Happy Halloween! We’re just about to kiss October goodbye for 2013. It went fast!
Today’s Outing: With thick clouds and wind, I opted to look around Kelly for moose instead of any last day opportunities on the Inner Park road. I saw 16 moose this morning! There were about 40 pronghorns in the amber grass along the Gros Ventre Road and a hundred or so bison north of Kelly. Moose were scattered around the sagebrush, but I found three near the cottonwoods. These two were sparring. I got quite a few sparring shots today. I liked this one because of the eye showing through the antlers.
Washakie is still limping, but seems to be getting around better each day. He bedded down, then did something I always want moose to do—but never do. He chewed off the few branches and twigs right in front of his face!
This is a shot of Washakie from late in the afternoon on the 29th. I hiked close to a mile to get to him, only to find three bulls in difficult shooting spots. There were sage branches in front of all of them when I was at comfortable distances. I had visions of them with snow covering their bodies and Washakie with snow collecting on his brow tines. I shot a few “record” shots and came home.
October Recap: This month seemed to fly by. With the government closure, I hustled to try to get information and photos on alternative shooting and viewing locations to add to this site. The first part of October is always hectic from trying to get to all of the peak foliage locations before the wind blows the leaves to the ground. The park closures gave me a chance to go to places I haven’t been to in years, and it gave me a chance to photograph a lot of the barns with fall foliage behind them. Outside the park, a few Great Gray Owls gave the throngs of displaced photographers some incredible opportunities. When the park finally reopened, we found we missed out on some of the foliage opportunities, but the park was much more quiet and open than in most years. We had a solid week of clear skies and that allowed me to capture quite a few night shots. In the last few days of the month, we received a big dump of show, changing the landscape considerably. Along with the snow, we’ve had lots of thick clouds, so scenic photos have been limited. When that happens, I just switch gears and concentrate on wildlife for a while.
GTNP Park Road Closures: At midnight tonight, the park locks gates on the inner loop road at the Taggart Lake Trailhead to Signal Mountain Lodge. The closure cuts off vehicle access to places like String Lake, Jenny Lake, The Old Patriarch Tree, The RKO Road, Spaulding Bay, and so forth. The other crucial road closure is on the Moose/Wilson road between Death Canyon and Granite Canyon Trailhead. This closure cuts off access to the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve and also the road up to White Grass Ranch. Grassy Lake road, off the Rockefeller Parkway also closes tonight.
Yellowstone Park Road Closures: Sunday November 3rd is the last full day of travel through most of Yellowstone—all park roads close to the public at 8 a.m., Monday November 4 EXCEPT from the North Entrance to Upper Mammoth Terrace Drive, and Mammoth via Tower Junction to the Northeast Entrance. Except for the roads between the North and Northeast entrances visitors must be off park roads and all through travel must be completed by 8 a.m. Monday November 4. Source
October 30, 2013
Wednesday Morning: I spent a lot of last night writing a new Feature Blog Post called Winter in the Tetons: Tips for travel and photography. I posted it about midnight last night, then spent the morning adding links and switching out a few photo and generally tweaking it. I had planned on going out again this morning but finishing the post looked more important. This is a major post for the site and should get a lot of traffic throughout the winter. It includes at least 23 photos of both wildlife and landscapes, including important information about road closures and access to our favorite spots. I might get out some in the afternoon. It is cloudy and foggy here this morning with heavy, wet snow on the ground in town. Tomorrow is the last day for vehicle access on the Inner Park Road, so I plan on being out early. The photo above was taken on November 13 in 2001. Early in November, moose leave the river bottoms and start gathering in the pastures and sagebrush fields north of Kelly, feeding mainly on bitterbrush which grows alongside the sagebrush.
If I Had Only One Winter Day in the Tetons: I added this sister post today, too. Most of the photos are different, and there is a slightly different slant to the post. I had a similar pair of Feature Posts for Fall. Please Share the pages on Facebook so all of your friends can see them!
October 29, 2013
Today’s Outing: Snow Day in Jackson Hole! We had 6-8″ of fresh snow in town this morning. Beautiful! I headed out as soon as I could. The clouds were too low to consider trying to find landscapes with Teton vista views.
Early Morning Barn along Spring Gulch Road.
Buck Mule Deer along Spring Gulch Road
Bull Moose Sparring along the Gros Ventre River
Bull Moose Resting after a snowfall.
Washakie: Up and feeding but favoring his left front leg.
Frozen Leaves in an Icy Pool along the Gros Ventre River.
October 28, 2013
Yesterday and Today: The weather report predicted a front moving through the area for late in the day yesterday. I drove north on Spring Gulch Road and shot this image of the clouds rolling in over the Teton range. Not long after the photo, clouds thickened considerably. Overnight, it became very cloudy, drab and rainy. That’s what I woke up to this morning. If it had snowed, I would have been out, but rain and dull skies aren’t my favorite. With a little wind, I wasn’t thinking about getting rain soaked remnant leaves and berries either. Photo above: Nikon D4, Nikon 28-300 lens, handheld with elbows over a fence, ISO 100, F/7.1, 1/250 second, 68mm, VR On.
A Great Horned Owl was hunting along the fence line as the light disappeared. The Great Horned Owls around here are much more spooky than the Great Gray Owls. This is a fairly tight crop from a Nikon D800 and Nikon 200-400mm lens. ISO 1250, F/4.5, 1/80th Second.
Night Photography: I had clear skies for most of the past week. That gave me a nice window to get out for some night photography. With thick clouds in the forecast for most of the next week, I probably won’t get another opportunity on the inner park loop road for this year. There will be other places to get night shots, of course. I feel fortunate to get those windows of time this year and don’t regret the loss of sleep time!
Evening: Here’s a light painted image of some fall leaves and a few round pebbles. The original shot is underexposed by a stop or two—easily accomplished on a dark day or late evening by stopping down. The keeper image was lit with a couple of small flashlights from just above the ground and at an angle to the scene. Specs: Nikon D800 with a Nikon 24-70 at 70mm on a tripod aiming straight down. ISO 100, 10 seconds, F/18.
October 27, 2013
Today’s Outing: I got up early, with “plans” to be at Lupine Meadows in hopes of finding some elk. Skies were clear again—plus it was very cold. On the way up, I spotted this Great Gray Owl and my plans to find elk went out the door. It was still very early, so I had to shoot at ISO1600 and ISO 1250 all morning.
The owl was hunting from the buck rail fences. He flew to the ground a couple of times, but never came up with a mouse.
I was set up waiting for him to feed in the field. Instead, he flew to the buck rail directly in front of me and began hunting again.
Not far away, a Great Horned Owl flew to some rocks and posed for a few shots.
This is a fairly tight crop of a distant shot of the Great Horned Owl. I added it here to show how difficult it can be to find them.
Last Night’s Outing: With clear skies, no moon, a ticking clock for access to some areas of the park, I went back to String Lake and Jenny Lake. I got to shoot at a few of the spots around the edge of the water. This one was taken at String Lake.
October 26, 2013
Today’s Outing: Again this morning, weather was clear, cold, and skies were absolutely cloudless. For about anyone but a photographer, it would be considered a “splendid” morning! I opted to look for moose and pass on any options for sunrise landscapes. I drove down the Gros Ventre road, then walked into the cottonwoods hoping to find a nice bull moose. I found “Gaston”, my favorite bull this morning. So, it was a “splendid” morning for me, too!
Gaston found a single cow. She wasn’t particularly interested in the attention from the courting bull.
Lip Curl, or Flehmen Response, usually follows after a bull smells a cow’s urine.
For the Moose photos, I usually pair up a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 200-400mm lens on a Gitzo Tripod, Arca-Swiss Z1 Ball Head, and a Wimberly Sidekick. I usually have a Nikon D4 around my neck with a Nikon 28-300mm for wider shots, or I can change the body to the longer lens if I think there will be action and I might need faster shooting speeds and a larger buffer. With the zoom options on a Nkon 200-400 lens, I can stay back at 40-45 yards and still get close to full frame images, yet pull back to 200mm if two moose get close to each other. For 1.5 crop cameras, a 70-200mm lens works fine for capturing most GTNP moose.
Washakie: The last time I saw Washakie, he was gimpy on his right front leg. That was a week ago. I was hoping it was just a sprain or pull, but two other people told me they saw him, and he appears to be in severe pain now. They said he spends most of his time lying down, but when he has to move, he is groaning and in obvious pain. I was saddened to see him limping last week. After losing Elvis already this year, I am having trouble contemplating the possibility of losing another of the big bulls in the same year. You can see a lot of photos of Wahsakie by clicking on the link.
Sleeping Indian, taken very late in the day on the 24th. It has been clear at night for the past few days, so I took advantage of the opportunity to photograph stars and the Milky Way around the valley. I was heading out of town and saw this beautiful sky color over Sleeping Indian. It was taken at the observation deck along Flat Creek—just north of the Visitor’s Center—also using a D800 and 200-400mm lens.
Last Night’s Outing: With only a few days left in the Fall to get shots along the inner park road (Teton Park Road), I have been going out regularly. The clear skies and late rising moon gives ample time to get starry night images. I essentially retraced my previous two night’s trail. Why? The first night, I mistakenly put my camera in JPG instead of Raw + JPG. I should have known better, but it happens! The second night, I apparently spun my focus some when I was adjusting the zoom on my 14-24 wide angle lens. The stars and Old Patriarch Tree were not in focus. Some of the other images at the other locations were okay. I haven’t processed any of the ones I took last night, but they look good. I won’t need to go back there, but I might go back to String Lake for the “blue light” shots I was getting while at the Old Patriarch Tree.
October 25, 2013
Last Night’s Outing: Late yesterday, I headed out for some more night shots. I made it to the Old Patriarch Tree at 7:30 pm and took a few shots with my camera properly set to RAW + JPG. Those shots looks about the same as the night before. The one above was taken at String Lake, but last night I used a mid-sized flashlight to add some light into the bottom of the scene.
Chapel of the Transfiguration with the Big Dipper. The Milky way was overhead on this shot. I moved around until the handle of the Big Dipper was over the cross.
After taking a few shots at the Chapel, I headed over to the barns on Mormon Row. I photographed a few while the heavens were still very dark—lighting the barns and corrals with my flashlights. At about 11:15 pm, the moon started glowing in the east. The added light highlighted the snow on the mountains and made the sky much more blue. This one was taken with a little fill from the flashlight.
By about 11:30 pm, the half moon had risen above Shadow Mountain behind me. This image was taken with only natural moon light. I shot a few others with a little fill light from the flashlight. The night shots were taken with a Nikon D4 and a Nikon 24-70mm lens or a Nikon 14-24mm lens.
Editing Note: I struggle with establishing the lightness values of a scene like this. Even with a half moon, it’s dark at midnight! Right? The upper one looks more natural for a nocturnal shot to me. Within the night time photography community, there seems to be quite a bit of acceptable latitude.
Today in JH: Skies were clear and bright this morning. After being up late, I slept in. Most of the trees in the Park are now bare, but there are still lots of trees with leaves in town. It has been clear here for the past few days, but the weather report says a storm is now lurking for later in the weekend.
October 24, 2013
Last Night’s Outing: I won’t write everything over again, but will recap my late evening and late night outing. Yesterday, I checked the Weather, the Twilight Calculator, and Stellarium. It would be clear, calm, cold, and I’d have darkness for several hours after sunset before the moon began to rise. Also, I could tell the Milky Way would be somewhere near the mountains if looking south. I chose the Inner Park Loop area, knowing it will be closing a week from today. Gotta get it while you can! Everything went well. But, I made a dumb mistake and I had an issue with a flashlight.
Normally, I shoot in the RAW format and do my post processing on the computer. For night photography, I like to change the settings in the camera to RAW + JPG. After my first couple of shots at the Old Patriarch Tree, I remembered I was still only in RAW. I thought I set it to add Fine JPG, but for some reason, I toggled around one cycle too many and only had it in Fine JPG. So, instead of having 14 bit files to work with later, I only had the 8 bit files. They look okay, but I don’t have the ability to pull out as many shadow details and work the image quite as much. With that said, I did everything right. I had made changes to the White Balance manually in the camera, so I had the nice blue skies. Actually, the JPGs looked good right out of the camera with minimal tweaking.
I charged all of my flashlights a couple of days ago. I have two Brinkmann Max Million II, 2 million power flashlights. One is white and the other is black. I’ve had both for quite a few years and use the white one more often—mainly because I can see it easier at night when I put it down and walk off. The flashlight started out fine, but lost it’s power much sooner than it should have. Of course, I was half a mile away in the truck in the sagebrush, so I couldn’t just substitute the black one. At the time, I thought how nice it would have been if I had just pulled the battery back from the black one and put it in the backpack in case I needed more power. I had two additional Maglite flashlights and used them with no problems for the rest of the shots. I’ll probably order another couple of new battery packs, too.
Tonight? I might go back and retrace last night’s little outing. The weather report calls for clear and calm again. The moon will rise about 40 minutes later and will be less bright. I had a great time being out last night, too!
October 23, 2013
Morning Comments: Today is almost a carbon copy of yesterday. We have clear skies, cold temps, and no wind. Maybe I will get out a little more this afternoon—or maybe catch a few birds in the back yard. I’ve been hearing people are still getting shots of the elk in the rut along the inner park road between Windy Point Overlook and the String Lake entrance road.
Tonight: Last night, it was very clear here. Stars looked great from our hot tub! Twilight Calculator This site calculates the blue hours. For tonight, it is between 6:30 and 8:30. The moon doesn’t rise until around midnight, so I might try going out late for some star shots it if it still clear tonight. I’d have between about 6:30 and 11:00 pm to get shots around the valley.
Actual Outing Update: I went out! I mistakenly put my camera in FINE JPG instead of RAW+ Fine JPG. One of my big flashlights lost power faster than it should have, but I had other flashlights, so I still did fine. Otherwise, all went well and I had a good time. I might go back tomorrow night if conditions are equally good. I chose to go to the area near String Lake on the inner road. It will close in a week, so I want to get all of my shots from that area now. I chose to take the D4 last night for the star shots over the D800. I seem to think it does a better job with the high ISO settings. Others might disagree. It’s a good 20 minute walk through thick sagebrush to get to the Old Patriarch Tree, so I didn’t want to carry too much weight. And, of course it was twilight going out and black walking back to the truck. I carry a lot of flashlights with me, including a small LED headlamp. Redundancy pays off! Eventually, the moon started rising and affecting the scene and washing out the stars somewhat. The Milky Way was right where I wanted it, but moves during the night and I needed to move around the valley to keep it near the Grand and the rest of the peaks.
Old Patriarch Tree
Chapel of the Transfiguration
Chapel of the Transfiguration
Comments: I get positive feedback from people saying they like hearing how I approach going out on some days. I live here, so I can go out anytime, but visitors still face many of the same issues when they visit Jackson Hole. Clear days call for a different strategy than cloudy days. Still days have different options than windy days. Not long after I started this blog, I wrote Where to go and when to be there? It is now hidden away near the bottom of the list, but I still think it is an important read for photographers and visitors. You don’t have to do anything I suggest, but it might give you a little insight on how to juggle all of the variables. In this daily update, I am writing about a trip for tonight and doing a little homework in advance. It could easily get cloudy this afternoon and tonight, causing me to abandon the idea of going out for stars. Knowing some of the park roads will be closing soon, I’d probably go somewhere in the inner park road, like the String Lake area, because I know I can get to places outside it later in the month of November. If a big thunderstorm started rolling through the valley, I’d try to grab the gear and hope to get stormy shots or even lighting or rainbows. A “plan” can be good, but staying flexible in the schedule is usually required.
On the Way Out: Not sure where to put this one. I took it late in the afternoon on the 23rd, but didn’t get to download it until the 24th. I stopped on the way to the Old Patriarch, just east of Lupine Meadows, and took this low light shot of a nice bull and his cows. It was shot with a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 200-400mm lens from a tripod at ISO 1600. Click the images to view it much larger!
October 22, 2013
Today’s Outing: (I left this morning’s comments below the afternoon comments) Around 4:00 pm, I headed out and made a loop to the barns and around to Kelly, then back home. I would have been happy to stop and photograph a wolf, bear, moose, owl or about any kind of animal, but I was really just making the loop and stopping when I saw something of interest. You never know when something will jump off the page! If you’ve read many of my posts, you know by now I love to photograph landscapes when there are moody or colorful clouds. Today, we had clear blue skies all day. Below are a few of the images I captured on my little casual loop.
Leaves are still a bit on the green side on the aspens at the Peach House. They are some of the last to turn in the park. I parked along the road on Antelope Flats and headed out with the Nikon D800 and a Nikon 70-200mm lens. It gives me quite a bit of flexibility for this kind of image. I shot a few dozen at different distances and angles. I’ll go back in a few days when the leaves are more yellow and hopefully with some dramatic skies to go with it. I’d love to see screaming yellow leaves against a steal gray stormy sky. Could happen!
I was drawn to the fences and corrals today. I liked with light hitting them against the shadows of the barn.
Interesting angles and shadows in this one.
I dialed the aperture up to F/22 for this one in an effort to make as much of the scene sharp as possible. Some people worry about diffraction at the upper f/stops, especially on a D800, but it’s still worth it once in a while.
This shot is fairly easy to get about any time of the year. I think it is always worth taking a few of them, especially when the light is just glancing across the highest areas at sunset in late winter.
On the way home, I pulled the truck over across from the National Elk Refuge to capture a few of the last minutes of light on the hilltops. The snow covered peak is Mt. Jackson and the lower one is Miller Butte.
I changed to a Nkkon 200-400mm lens to capture just the lit top of Miller Butte.
After the hilltop shots, I swung the camera around to get the gold light on Sleeping Indian.
Afternoon Comments: I don’t know if any of these images, or any I took today will ever make it into my portfolio, but I had a great time being out in the Tetons taking them. I found a few angles I want to revisit when I get the dramatic lighting and clouds to go with them. In other words, I think I can improve on all of these images, although I do like the two evening shots of the hilltops.
Morning Comments:Clear skies, cold, no wind…I made a quick, short trip this morning and didn’t take a picture. I was tempted a couple of times, but there were no clouds over the mountains. Nothing struck me as unique or more interesting than photos I already have. Maybe I will get out a little more this afternoon, or maybe catch a few birds in the back yard.
These two night shots were taken at String Lake last summer. I hope to go back once or twice this week before the roads are closed for the winter.
The two night shots were taken with a Nikon D4 and either a Nikon 24-70mm lens or a Nikon 14-24 lens.
Another oldie! In 2008, my wife and I took a morning hike from the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve to Phelps Lake. I just carried a camera that day and no tripod. It’s a beautiful spot with plenty of lake shore to work with in photos—simply view. Someday, I’d like to go up in the late evening for the sunset, then stay for the “blue light” and early stars. It’d also be nice to stay for the milky way and stars. Again, vehicle access to the Preserve along Moose/Wilson Road will close on the 31st of the month. You have to get these shots now, or add another couple of miles hike in each direction!
October 21, 2013
Today’s Outing:I had some bookkeeping to finish this morning. Late in the afternoon, I did a quick trip to look for owls or anything else of interest. I saw a Great Horned Owl relatively close to the road, but it flew before I was able to set up. As the sun started to drop behind the mountains, I watched for opportunities to capture the last few minutes of light.
It would have been great if this had been a light colored horse, but it still worked out okay with light just glancing off his features. The Canada Geese were a bonus.
Even though the cottonwoods were not bright yellow, I liked the way a few branches were picking up light, along with the red of the end of the barn.
If it had taken me any extra time to change lenses or set up, I’d have missed this one. There were almost no clouds in the sky all day today.
Full Moon Extras:
The photo above was taken a couple of years ago from Artist’s Point in Yellowstone. Most of the photos on this blog are from the Tetons, but I’ll sneak in a few Yellowstone shots from time to time. I just added a new Feature Post called: Shooting the October Moon: Tips for Being at the Right Place at the Right Time. This photo was added into the post to show how anyone can use TPE to line up any two points with the rising or setting sun or moon. With the software, I can look ahead months or years to establish when to be at a specific spot. I photographed this one second exposure with a Nikon D300 and a Nikon 70-200mm lens at 58mm—of course on a good tripod.
One more oldie! This was taken at the shoreline on Jenny Lake with a Nikon D300 and Nikon 24-70mm lens at 24mm. This is another example of how distance and scale can affect the relative size of objects. The earth wobbles on it’s axis, so there are apogee moons and perigee moons. This tiny dot of a moon could have been during an apogee moon cycle, which would multiply the effect.
October 20, 2013
Today’s Outing: I had considered going to Schwabacher until I saw the clouds over the mountain peaks as seen in the lighted park sign above. “Plans” changed. I did the Kelly loop and saw a few moose, pronghorns, and bison. I stopped to photograph a few bison crossing Antelope Flats road, but I didn’t see too many bulls in the mid-sized herd. The moon was still very high in the morning sky, so I headed closer to the mountains to change the angle.
This is a full frame shot, taken of the moon setting over Buck Mountain. I pulled over on the inner park road, just north of the entrance to the Chapel of the Transfiguration. This image was taken with the lens zoomed out to 400mm. Last night, I posted a new Feature Post called: Shooting the October Moon: Tips for Being at the Right Place at the Right Time . I posted this shot today to illustrate the maximum amount of the frame I can fill without using a teleconverter or buying a longer lens. When the earth wobbles lightly towards the moon, we get a “Super Moon”, but even then the moon fills only a small portion of a full frame capture at 400mm. Nikon D800 and a Nikon 200-400mm lens.
Great Gray Owl Landing on a branch. Nikon D4 with a Nikon 200-400mm lens. This owl was on a side road just south of Grand Teton National Park.
October 19, 2013
Today’s Outing: It takes a leap of faith to get up long before the first light and hope for some good shots later in the morning! Last night, I checked The Photographer’s Ephemeris, so I knew the full moon would be setting over the Tetons at Schwabacher Landing. I took the gamble and it paid off this morning. Instead of hiking down the road to the pools at Schwabacher, I stayed on the highway and ended up at Snake River Overlook. There was only one other person there! I took a few single shots, but I concentrated mainly on panoramic images from the Overlook. I could capture from south of the Grand to north of Moran with three to five images. They will get “stitched together” in Photoshop. Even without the moon, it was a very beautiful sunrise event. The moon made it so much sweeter!
This is my first shot at Snake River Overlook. I took it with a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 70-200 lens at 70mm.
The moon hid behind the cloud for a few minutes, so I ran back to the truck to get the 24-70mm lens for a few shots.
A wider shot taken a few minutes later as the magenta and rose color hit the clouds. These clouds were not shown in the morning weather forecast, so it was a bonus. It seems more than half the time, full moon set mornings are too cloudy and the moon becomes a non-element.
After the moon went behind the mountains at Snake River Overlook, I buzzed south for the gold light and another chance to capture the moon setting over Cascade Canyon. This one was taken at 7:54 am.
This quick shot was taken out the window just north of Kelly. The clouds from earlier in the morning burned off. There were several hundred bison on either side of the road going north out of Kelly. Tour busses were back in operation today after the shutdown.
This is a “record shot” I took for today’s blog update to at least show a typical early morning scene. The moose had been grazing on bitter bush and were starting to head back into the cottonwoods. This was taken near the campground on the Gros Ventre Road.
Park Observations: There was only one vehicle at Schwabacher Landing when I drove by on the way back. None were there when I was heading north. At SRO, only two of us captured the moon set and sunrise. About the time we were finished, another small group came up. The photographer from Park City said it was 15°F this morning. Without wind, I never felt too cold. Several people were at the barns. By that time, the sky was solid cobalt blue and I didn’t take any shots. The “Elk Hunt” started today, though I didn’t hear any shots. I heard several reports of grizzlies roaming all over the place. I saw one owl, but he was on private property and too far away to photograph.
Check out this new Feature Post:Shooting the October Moon: Tips for Being at the Right Place at the Right Time
October 18, 2013
Today’s Outing: It was bluebird clear today—especially early. The Tetons lit up early and evenly, but the valley floor stayed in shadows way too long! I found a few moose, but had to wait until the sun cleared the mountains in the East. Not long after I took this shot of the Teton Range, a thin ribbon of clouds started developing in front of the mountains.
The moose did a good job of making photography difficult today. They stayed just at the edge of the shadows—or in the shadows. They bedded down early and the morning moose show was over! I folded the tripod and headed generally towards the barn. Bison were gathered near the Kelly Hot Springs.
By the time I made it to the barns, the thin ribbon had grown considerably, and by the time I left the area, it covered the entire top half of the range. Unless you get to this barn VERY EARLY, you’ll have to fight this big shadow. I’d suggest going to the North Barn for morning shots, then try this one after about 10: am when the shadow drops below the barn. In the summer, the sun rises much farther north and the shadows are not much of a problem. As the trees lose their leaves, it is possible to shoot there even with the shadows, and most of the shadows will cast parallel with the front of the barn as seen in the 2005 image below. It was taken just before Thanksgiving at about 9:15 am.
Park Info: Most of the barricades are now gone. The big lighted sign that said, “The Parks Are Closed” now says “The Park is Open”. Rangers are putting up boundary signs indicating areas where hunters can shoot. I believe the hunt starts tomorrow. Elk Reduction Program: (Elk Hunt in GTNP) Maps, Information, Safety Suggestions
October 17, 2013
NEWS FLASH!!!!! The Parks are open!
Most of the Daily Updates between October 1 and October 16 were focused on options for finding places and subject matter during the government shutdown. Hopefully, we can get back on track now. I don’t think anyone was happy about being locked out of the parks, but the closure allowed (or forced) some people to discover new places. Timing of the closure was unfortunate, however. We missed some of the best of the foliage season around Oxbow Bend and we won’t get those days back this year! Still, it’s over for now.
Most of the leaves have fallen along the Gros Ventre, but there are still patches of color.
A few moose were grazing in the sagebrush early, then moved into the cottonwoods.
Clouds were still holding to the mountains, so I wasn’t concentrating on landscapes today. I drove to the barns on Mormon Row just to check on things. The front/right cottonwood is mostly bare, but most of the rest of the cottonwoods there are in good color.
I snapped this hand held shot for the web updates, mainly to show the color of the aspens near the Peach House. The small group of aspens to the south are mostly bare, but the larger clump just to the North are just now starting to turn.
Morning Park Observations: With the thick clouds, I didn’t try to get out for the normal sunrise opportunities. Most of the closure barricades were either turned sideways or were disassembled and flat on the ground. I made the loop from the highway to Kelly, then north to Antelope Flats Road and back to the barns. Mormon Row is closed just south of the Bed and Breakfast. They normally close it for the Elk Hunt which should start in a couple of days. I drove to Moose where the barricades were also down or removed. The Entrance Station was not open today, but you could drive on through. I drove south on the Moose/Wilson road to the end of the asphalt, back north to Moose, and then back home in Jackson. Generally speaking, the Park looked sleepy or groggy…Just waking back up from a long nap! There were a few people out, but nothing like the crowds of summer. I saw the moose along the GV, bison north of Kelly, a few scattered pronghorns, and half a dozen mule deer near Moose. I didn’t see any elk or bears. The beavers have been busy on the Moose/Wilson Road, repairing the dam and letting their pond to fill to near the road’s edge. The bears might still be in the area, but the crop of berries in the bushes looked to be mostly gone. It appeared the Visitor’s Center was open, based on the cars parked there, even though the paper reported it will be closed all Winter.
Road Closures: The Teton Park Road (often called the Inner Park Loop Road) will be closing at midnight on October 31, along with quite a few other connecting roads. I believe the Moose/Wilson road from Death Canyon to Granite Canyon will close at the same time. You better hurry if you want to photograph in the center of the park! I’d like to get another snow storm or two before those roads close.
Be Ready to Wear Hunter Orange: Elk Reduction Program: (Elk Hunt in GTNP) Maps, Information, Safety Suggestions Assuming they will continue with the Elk Reduction Program (the Elk Hunt) in Grand Teton National Park, we can anticipate Antelope Flats road to be open until sometime in December. They usually close Mormon Row road from the Barns south almost to Gros Ventre Road during the hunt.
October 16, 2013
Today: Cold and foggy here this morning! The home thermometer says 22°F. I’ll wait to go out.
Yesterday, I posted Great Gray Owls of Fall as a feature page. It contains around 40 photos of Great Gray Owls I took over the past couple of weeks. At the bottom of the page, I added the little blurb about all of the images being fully copyrighted with the US Copyright Office. I had an email this morning from a reader interested in the steps necessary to copyright their images. She was asking about a future post on the topic. Sounds interesting. For now, I can suggest two links that might help.
THE SEVEN DEADLY MYTHS OF INTERNET COPYRIGHT by Attorney David L. Amkraut. It is easier for me to let a lawyer explain why you might want to go through the steps.
KELBY TRAINING: For around $30, you can sign up and get a full month of training on all kinds of software, photo techniques, and legal advice. Look for the titles by Ed Greenberg about copyrights, model releases, property releases, and so forth. In one title, he and another photographer go through the steps to make copyright submissions—along with lots of dialog about why you should do it.
I am not trying to tell you that YOU should do it, but these are links letting you know WHY I copyright my keeper images and HOW I learned to make the submissions. If you read David L. Amkraut’s page, you’ll probably want to start!
If you read between the lines, you’d realize the images I add on the Daily Updates are images I chose to pull out of my “to publish” group prior to copyright submission. In most cases, I have a better image that will get submitted and protected. I could still get the “Daily Updates images” copyrighted as “published images”, but it adds to the costs and usually isn’t worth it. There are lots of strategies about when and what to copyright—much like the way people develop workflows for storing and processing images. The two links above should get you well on your way if you are interested in the topic. Other than the few I give up for the daily blog posts, I like to copyright everything I “keep” but I keep only about 10% of what I shoot. That means I have to stay on top of the shooting and culling during the month to have a lean submission package for the Copyright Office.
Afternoon Outing: Flat Creek runs through South Park, and in front of numerous ranches and barns. This barn has fences that allow horses and cattle get to the water along one of the spring creeks below it.
Flat Creek as it heads toward the Snake River in South Park. The distant mountains are at the top of Game Creek.
October 15, 2013
Today’s Outing: Wow! It’s the middle of October already! Our thermometer read 23°F this morning. I had planned on trying to photograph one more barn in early morning light, so I started the truck to let if warm up and defrost the windows. It looked mostly clear up north, with light, lacy clouds. The barn I wanted to photograph is south. There were thick clouds in that direction that didn’t look like they’d thin any time soon so I turned around and headed back towards town. Back at home, I saw a few Chickadees and at least one squirrel in the back yard—chowing down on the food I put out yesterday. As the light hits them, and as it warms up some, I will probably try to capture a few of them in the camera. I’d like to drive up the Gros Ventre someday soon. That’s a drive with a lot of variety in terrain and with chances to see animals.
Area Tidbits: I drove over the Snake River bridge south of Jackson. Water levels are very low there now. I am not sure if they are at the final winter stream flows yet, but you can see the charts: Snake River Flow Charts at Moose, WY Fishing should be good with all of the fish pushed into small pools of deeper water. The Maverik store lowered gas prices from $3.72 to $3.69 this morning for self-serv unleaded. The snow we’ve had over the past few weeks has all melted in the valley floor. Snow line is about half way up the mountains right now.
Upcoming Feature Posts: I plan on adding a feature post showing a lot of photos taken at Granite Falls and Granite Creek. It will include some comparative photos showing different shutter speeds and how they affect the look of the flow of the water. Another one will talk about Cold Weather Photography. You may have seen Fall in the Tetons: Tips for viewing and photographing the premiere season! Soon, I will add one called Winter in the Tetons. If you haven’t signed up to “Follow” this blog, enter your email address in the upper right corner of the page. You’ll get an email notice letting you know I just added a new feature post. Other future posts include: Teton County Fair, Birds of Early Summer, Fall Foliage of 2013, and even a few on using Photoshop and Lightroom. I can always use your help by encouraging you to let your friends know about the site!
Noon Update: The sun broke through the clouds, so I did a quick trip south of town to photograph this little barn. The owner said his grandfather built it in the 1920s.
Jackson Hole News and Guilde story from today: Closure Imperils Hunt
Midday Clarks Nutcracker: Nikon D4, Nikon 200-400 lens.
Red Squirrel: Nikon D4, Nikon 200-400 lens.
Black Capped Chickadee
Red Squirrel Stretching
October 14, 2013
Today’s Outing: Actually, I opted to stay home and get some office work done. At one time, it was snowing hard and I almost pulled the plug and went out, but held fast to my project at hand.
I have a few logs set up in my back yard—great for the early season songbird migration in late May and early June. I have a year around family of red squirrels that frequent my back yard. I put out a few seeds and peanuts and before long, I had my first visitor. They are happy campers and I have willing subjects.
This one had just stuck his head into a cavity of one of the logs, coming out with sawdust from some nesting bird.
Besides the squirrels, I saw a nice looking male Downey Woodpecker working the stumps for food along with a few of the smaller birds like Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, and a female Chipping Sparrow feeding closer to the ground. I stuffed some peanut suet in the holes of the old logs. I’d expect the woodpeckers and flickers to find the suet in short order.
October 13, 2013
Today: I probably need to read the linked post above. I am not sure what to do today! It is 7:55 am here right now with temperatures hovering around 32°F. I am seeing thick, low clouds and fog with some occasional drizzle or light rain. Sunrise, if I could have seen it, happened about 20 minutes ago. The weather report calls for cloudy skies all morning and showers after noon. One option might be to drive up Teton Pass and get out of the rain and into the snow zones. Right now, I am going to take it easy at home and see how things develop as we get a little more light. I will likely cull through a few folders of recent photos, watch CNN and hope for an end to the Government Shutdown.
Check back later in the day. I am sure I will find something! Barns usually work well with moody skies and less-than-favorable weather conditions.
If you haven’t signed up to Follow this Blog, I’d suggest doing so! Just fill in your email address to the upper right and you’ll get an email letting you know about new Feature Posts as I post them. I have quite a few on the “drawing board” right now for both tourists and photographers!
Wildlife Report: I haven’t been going through the park, but I hear people say they are seeing moose regularly. Owls have been seen on some of the back roads. Moose are reported and seen regularly in Wilson. I heard of a “black” fox in Wilson yesterday. (technically still a red fox). I still see lots of ravens, crows, eagles, hawks, Kingfishers, chickadees, ducks, geese, Clark’s Nutcrackers, and so forth on a regular basis.
Today’s Outing: “Barns usually work well with moody skies and less-than-favorable weather conditions.” Not long after my morning comments, huge, soggy snowflakes starting dropping straight down out of the sky. I thought it might be nice to get big flakes in front of some of the local barns, so I packed up and headed out.
The heavy snow had stopped by the time I made it to this barn, but there are still streaks in the darker areas.
This one is a bit more graphic.
Fall Leaves in Transition.
Buck Rail Fence with snow. I liked the saturated fall colors of this one.
Moody fog helps light up the weathervane.
Gas tanks next to one of the barns.
Anyone entering Jackson from the south should see this beautiful old barn on the west side of the road.
Park Report:I drove north to photograph one of these barns today and went through the park for the first time since the shutdown. All of the small “parallel” pullouts are still open—like Albright View, Teton Point, Glacier View and so forth. The parking area near the Climbing Rocks is barricaded. You can drive into the Moose Visitor’s Center area, but have to turn around just past the bridge. The road to Dornan’s is open. The restaurant and a couple of the small stores are still open. The girl at the little convenience store said it had been very slow. They will close on November 3rd and will reopen the day after Thanksgiving—which is their normal schedule. The road to Blacktail Ponds is barricaded, along with the road to Deadman’s Bar. There are now six No Parking barricades at the road down to Schwabacher Landing and signs telling people not to enter the area. There is a similar sign at the kiosk sign at Teton Point overlook. Snake River Overlook is open, but the road back to Cunningham cabin is blocked off. The gravel is still piled up at the lower parking lot at Schwabacher Landing. There are still some nice looking yellow cottonwoods down there, but it is well past peak. Still, I’d go down there if I could!
Foliage Report: I bumped into Darrel Hunter today. He told me the foliage is still “popping” in the Victor, Idaho area. He has a nice blog at The Hole Picture.
October 12, 2013
Today’s Outing: It was much colder this morning than recent mornings. When I checked before heading out, the temperature was 26°F. Needless to say, if there are pumpkins out there, they have frost on them! I found a Great Gray Owl working out of a spruce tree. He tried to catch a mouse, but I missed focus on the flights. Maybe next time!
Light was hitting this old barn nicely on Spring Gulch Road, so I pulled over and took a few photos.
This photo of Sleeping Indian was taken last evening along Spring Gulch Road. We had patchy clouds which allowed bands and spots of light to hit random areas of the valley floor. All I had to do was wait until some light hit my chosen subjects. This photo, along with a BUNCH more of Sleeping Indian were added to a single new Feature Post: Sleeping Indian: A Lesser Photographed JH Icon. If you have this daily updated bookmarked as your portal into the site, check it out!
Changes: I am making this post update at Noon on Saturday. The light we had for a while is now gone and it is much more cloudy. The weather report indicates a new winter storm heading our direction. Most foliage color north of Jackson is over for the year, but still looks pretty good south of town. Things are definitely in a transitional period down there. Snow will add to it. The town and region are much more quiet here this year than any other year I can remember. Without the parks to draw people into the area, our economy is definitely taking a hit!
This is a tight crop of a Great Gray Owl stretching his wing while biding his time in a cottonwood tree. This was photographed late in the day.
October 11, 2013
Today’s Outing: The morning started out with thick clouds in both the east and the west side of the valley. The weather report suggested some clearing might occur around 8:00 am. To be honest, these conditions make for challenging photos, regardless of whether the Park is open or not. With the clouds looking thick up north, I did what I often do in similar situations—I steer the truck to the brightest area of the valley. Today, I headed south!
South can be good! I don’t think that many people coming to the Tetons venture out of the Park boundaries that often. I certainly understand!
Before too long, without planning it, I was at Hoback Junction. I got a few shots of a barn in the area, then headed on “Up the Hoback”. Clouds were breaking some, but it still felt like a good opportunity to go to the falls up Granite Creek. The turn off to Granite Falls is roughly 25 miles from downtown Jackson. There are plenty of photo opportunities going up and back along the 10 mile dirt road to the falls, too.
There was only one car at Granite Falls when I drove up. Another photographer, Jim (from Swan Valley, ID) showed up after I had taken my wide shots. I let him know about this blog site. He told me he’d already found the site and it was the reason he was there! While I was at Granite Falls, I had mostly overcast skies and then a few breaks letting some direct light along with some filtered light hit the scene. Even on a day with bright light, I believe you can photograph much of the waterfall until mid-morning. The falls are in shadows all morning.
The approach. You can see a couple of logs across the river. People use them to get to the Free Hot Springs pool on the other side.
You can walk all over the terraces of the falls as seen in this photo of a young couple.
There could be thousands of opportunities to crop in on smaller areas like this one at Granite Falls.
Foliage south of town is better than most other places I’ve seen lately. From Hoback Junction to Camp Creek Inn, it is darned good! Clouds broke occasionally, letting light hit the aspens only in spots. I shot a lot of them with a 200-400 mm lens across the river to isolate the tapestry of shapes. Remember, much of the photography and viewing now is less about a grand “vista” view and more about isolating little nuggets of color and shapes.
Taken from the road near Hoback Junction.
Park Closures and Related Government Shutdown Info: The JH News and Guide printed this story about current and possible future affects on the region: Bridger-Teton Forest down to skeleton crew. This is the first hint I have heard or read indicating the possibility of shutting down the winter ski season along with possibilities of not having the Elk Reduction hunt in the park this year.
October 10, 2013
I started a Feature Post a while back and decided to finish it today instead of going out into the dark, cloudy morning light. If you are coming directly to this page, click Teton Sunsets: to see the new page. It has about 30 sunsets from the region, taken over the past few years. The sky has continued to be dark and gray all day even though most of the mountain range has been visible.
Cloudy days like today work well for photographing waterfalls. I might have considered driving to Granite Falls today, but it’s my wife’s birthday. Better stay close to home today!
Photographer’s Info: Just in case you might wonder why people mention photographing waterfalls on cloudy days, I might be able to help clarify the topic. On a bright, sunny day, much of the water will be “blown out”—meaning there will be no color or texture data in the whites. Most people can handle minimal amounts of specular highlights on chrome or reflected highlights—or even the rim light around the fur or feathers of an animal—but too much of it usually hurts the photo. Trying to compensate for the bright highlights can make the rest of the scene very dark. Shutter speeds will also be high, causing the water to “freeze”. Colors will often be washed out in bright light. On an overcast day, highlights are less of a problem. It is usually desired to shoot off a tripod to be able to slow the shutter speed. This lets the water “flow” or blur if desired. Colors are more saturated and shadows will remain more open and visible. Shutter speeds down to a full second or longer are possible with a tripod, but 1/6 second or even 1/30th second are usually good. Normally, I set up with Aperture Priority and shoot an image at about all of the aperture settings. Back at home, I can pick the one I like best.
Park Closure News: The JH News and Guide printed a story talking about the impacts of the Park closures on local and state businesses: Shutdown pinches business
October 9, 2013
I had planned on going to this old barn, so I didn’t get up too early today. It felt good to sleep in a little later. The plan was to be at this spot before the sun came up in the east. Sometimes, plans actually do work out! I shot 50 gigs of images this morning from all angles, and a few with panoramic stitches parts. Light was great. Clouds were great. I had snow on distant peaks and cottonwoods changing to gold. More than likely, I would have been at this spot whether the park had been open or not. While I like the idea of the park being open, I haven’t felt too deprived by it being closed. Note: This barn is on private property and not accessible to the public.
These barns were photographed this morning along Spring Gulch Road with the Tetons in the background. Soft clouds were rolling in at the time. Spring Gulch Road runs between East Gros Ventre Butte and West Gros Ventre Butte. Much of the area between the two is in shadows cast by East Gros Ventre Butte, so I like to wait until the sun is higher in the sky for these barns.
Park Info: Check out this article in the JH News and Guide: GOP: Parks Closure Pawns . It discusses comments made by local and state elected officials and has a few comments by the park officials.
Wildlife: A Great Gray Owl or two had been spotted along the back roads West of Jackson. Displaced photographers from the Park swarmed the areas, reminiscent of a good bear jam. As far as I know, the owls have moved on to new territory. Yesterday, I photographed this cow moose and her calf in the Fish Creek, which runs through the town of Wilson. In today’s newspaper, there is a photo of a bull moose crossing in front of the school in Wilson. The article says moose have been seen regularly right there in town. I just did a quick scan of the article, but it seems they said as many as four bulls were in the area. Just remember, most of Wilson is private property—not a park. If you see animals there, you have to stay on or near the road!
This Morning: I could see
stars last night, so I went out very early (3:15 am) and headed towards Shadow Mountain—hoping to get stars above the Tetons. On the way up, I stopped to photograph this sign along the highway when heading into the park. If you are thinking about entering the park as a photographer or as a tourist, you might want to read this article in the Jackson Hole News & Guide: Park scofflaws ticketed.
Even though I could see stars, there was a thin film of haze that dimmed them. I took a few anyway, but I could probably do better another night.
This one was taken on the top of the ridge, shooting up with a 14-24mm lens at 24mm. Each star is glowing as a result of the haze.
A 3 second exposure taken on top of Shadow Mountain a few minutes before 7:00 am. There’s a touch of red just beginning. I left there and went to another spot for the photo below.
This band of rose and red hit just the peaks for a short period of time, then turned dull again.
Color is still pretty good on the upper half of Shadow Mountain.
A nice stand of aspens near the road on Shadow Mountain.
A shot from the same area on Shadow Mountain, but aimed more towards the north to Mt. Moran.
Mother Nature is still putting on a show even in the theater is mostly empty. Shadow Mountain runs parallel with the Teton Range and is just outside the Park boundaries. The road to the top is a bit rough and somewhat muddy right now. I made it up with my truck in two wheel drive and never needed four wheel drive. I wouldn’t advise going up in a low riding sports car due to the deeper ruts in places. I had a private viewing today!
There’s a map showing how to get to Shadow Mountain on this page: Park Closure: Alternative Places to Visit, Hike, Fish, and Photograph
October 7, 2013
This Morning: I have been up before sunrise almost every day for the past couple of months. I decided to stay home this morning and maybe go out for a while later today. But, as I look out my window towards the Teton Range, I can see a heart stopping Alpenglow sunrise happening. Lots of pinks, magentas, blues and purples, now changing to pastel rose colors. Oh well, maybe next time!
Foliage Report: Usually, by October 7th, most of the leaves have fallen, are falling, or have turned duller in color. In the wild areas of the valley, I’d say that is fairly accurate for this year. But, there are pockets of prime colors around and a lot of it in and around the Town of Jackson. It can still be rewarding for people willing to look for them. Mountain Ash trees line Snow King Drive in front of the Rodeo Grounds and can be colors ranging from green, to orange and red, and there are lots of clusters of bright red berries. They are easy to access right after a snowfall. I was up on the pass yesterday. I didn’t see a lot of color up there. In South Park, near the Feed Grounds, I think there are a lot of possibilities with the cottonwoods still in pre-prime status right now. I need to go check the status, but this is a good time to photograph the Swans at the swan pond. On most days, the gold from the trees and shrubs reflect back into the water.
Barns: I’ve been working on permission to enter private property to photograph barns lately. I have two or three to work on now. Most have cottonwoods behind them, so now’s my target time slot for them. I usually go back three or four times to try to hit the light right. With the park closure, it has given me more time to follow up on the leads. If you are interested, you can see some of My Barns at Teton Images. Most have had some additional artistic touches added to the original photos.
Afternoon Report: I stayed out later than normal today hoping the clouds would turn red and orange, but they eventually just turned gray. These cottonwoods are only about half way turned, but nearby aspens are mostly fallen.
I found a Great Gray owl and spent most of my time out today trying to get photos of it. I shot a lot, then deleted all but a few I liked! Check out The Secret to Becoming a Good Photographer:
As the light diminished, I started seeing slower shutter speeds while shooting in Aperture Priority. On a Nikon D4, I was shooting at ISO 1250 to ISO 1600 at F/5.6 and even wider. I got motion blur on lots of them at 1/400th of a second, but occasionally I panned at just the right speed and was able to freeze the face and eyes. This owl had been on the ground after a failed attempt for a mouse and was returning to a perch.
The weather report is calling for cloudy skies tonight, so if I were planning on going out for starry night shots, I’d probably come home empty handed. This is a good time of the year for star photography because of the long nights. Right now, the Big Dipper runs parallel to the horizon in the North not long after dark. I always like to get it into the scene during the “blue” time of night. That usually lasts for about two hours after sunset or the two hours before sunrise. The period in between is when most of the star photographers like to capture the Milky Way. Click Here to see a few starry night shots on my Teton Images site. Also, if you are interested in Night Photography, check out: Into the Night by Royce Bair. He teaches workshops on the subject, including several each year here in the Tetons.
Fly Fishing: The newspaper reported the water flows in the Snake River would begin drastic cuts. Jackson Lake is terribly low right now and Palisades Reservoir is just a river in most of the lake bed. Here’s a link you might find helpful: Stream Flows at Moose, WY . You can put in any other location on the river and get different flow data. Essentially, 100% of the fish will soon be in 10% of the water! You’ll be able to wade across the Snake River in many places soon and the fish should be stacked in the deeper holes and runs. Check out the Buffalo River, Hoback River, & Gros Ventre River for small stream opportunities.
October 6, 2013
Today’s Outing: I was torn between heading up the Gros Ventre or towards Teton Pass. I needed a shot from the top of the pass, so I went that direction.
On the way up, I stopped to try to capture a few stars. I was set up at a pullout, aiming the wide angle len to the heavens for a few images before it got too light. At the time, I wasn’t too happy to see a car come around a bend, but his headlights actually lit these trees evenly. Sometimes, things work out! I’d probably leave an hour earlier for this kind of shot.
This is the kind of shot I was hoping to get on the top of the pass. You can see lights from the towns of Wilson and Jackson and the glow of the tail lights of a car heading down the pass.
Foliage: I pulled over and snapped this shot to give people an idea how the foliage is winding down. There’s a shot of the same aspens in yesterday’s outing photos with a little more color and more leaves.
Cottonwoods along the Gros Ventre River are still in pretty good shape.
Great Gray Owl in the frosty morning grass.
Just before heading home, I drove a few miles south of town and snapped a few mid-day photos of the South Park Wildlife Habitat & Feed Grounds to include on Park Closure: Alternative Places to Visit, Hike, Fish, and Photograph. You can see the road snaking its way down to the feed barns, Flat Creek winding through the area, and the stands of cottonwoods. There are quite a few wetlands style ponds in the distance. I saw a couple of Red-tailed Hawks, a few ducks in the ponds, and several flocks of Canada Geese fly over. This place is very close to town, making it a good place for me to learn to fly fish. I caught a lot of fish in that little stream but haven’t been back to fish in years.
October 5, 2013
Today’s Outing: The weather forecast last night was for clear skies. When I headed out, it actually was clear, but thin clouds developed and eventually it became very cloudy. I am posting this update just after noon and most of the early morning clouds and fog has burned off.
I started the morning at the first overlook going up Curtis Canyon, east of town. Check Park Closure: Alternative Places to Visit, Hike, Fish, and Photograph for a map and directions. The lights in the distance are from the JH Airport and the streaks are from three vehicles driving across the flats—probably hunters—during a 20 second exposure. There are lots of vista and panoramic opportunities on this drive. On a foggy morning, when the fog his hugging the valley floor, it might be possible to photograph over the fog. I’ve never hit it just right.
Aspens on the mountain up the Curtis Canyon drive are mixed. Some are bright and in peak colors. Others are dull, and some are fallen. This shot was taken very early in the morning—before there was any light hitting the aspens or the peak of the Teton Range. This was from one of the last group of images in which I could get any of the Grand in the scene. Clouds filled in quickly!
There was still some snow up high on Curtis Canyon. The weight bent the aspen saplings completely over. I turned around at a point about three quarters up the drive. It was starting to get a little to “wintery” for my preferences.
Aspens of West Gros Ventre Butte were in a variety of stages of prime to fallen. Patches of light would occasionally break through the fog and clouds for some natural light painting.
I found the same Great Gray Owl from the day before in essentially the same place. This owl is missing a tail feather as seen in the photo from yesterday.
Diving Great Gray
October 4, 2013
Today’s Outing: It snowed overnight. I headed towards Wilson, then opted to drive north on Spring Gulch Road where I photographed a few barns. After getting a few shots there, I drove across the Snake River Bridge to the Wilson area.
Taken on Spring Gulch Road over the top of West Gros Ventre Butte.
The Old Hansen Barn on Spring Gulch Road.
Box L Ranch on Spring Gulch Road. The ski runs from Teton Village are now visible in the background.
Canada Geese ready to land on the Walton Ranch near the Snake River.
Barn at the base of Teton Pass.
Snow covered barn on Fall Creek Road near Wilson.
Great Gray Owl ready to land. The shot was taken on one of the back roads later today. This is the full frame image—uncropped. Shooting Details: Nikon D4 and a Nikon 200-400mm on a Gitzo Tripod and Wimberley Sidekick. ISO 800, 1/1600 th second, F/7.1, 320 mm, AF-C, Dynamic 9 points, EV -.7, Aperture Priority
Tidbits: The newspaper reported the Park is a Ghost Town now. Snow melted off much of the valley floor by later in the day. Moose were sighted on the GV today. Apparently, people were able to photograph them. Bighorn sheep were seen on the red rocks at Slide Lake…see “Up The Gros Ventre” — Unexpected Treasures for a map and details. Gas is holding at $3.72 per gallon for unleaded at numerous stations. Road construction is still in progress downtown, but not causing much of a problem with less people in town.
Foliage: Across the board, foliage is still near peak in most places I have seen. I’ve mentioned several times there are trees and stands of trees that turned brown this year instead of turning yellow. All of those trees are now bare. There are plenty of trees still in peak form as seen in some of the photos above.
Weather and Sky: What’s left of the crescent moon should not be a factor for night photography for a day or two. There were a few clouds late in the day, but the weather report indicates it will be clear tonight and tomorrow. Should be a good day to be out at some of the places on this list of alternative locations. Park Closure: Alternative Places to Visit, Hike, Fish, and Photograph
News: Elvis has left he building: One of my favorite bull moose has dyed from an apparent fighting wound on the National Elk Refuge. This recent photo, supplied by Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Biologist, Doug Brimeyer, shows a Wyoming Game Warden, conducting a necropsy. Doug Brimeyer reports, “We did confirm that this moose had two large puncture wounds in the chest and abdomen that likely caused it to bleed internally. We skinned the animal and looked at the injuries. We ran a metal detector over the area and the injuries were consistent with trauma caused by blunt force and punctures from antlers.”
Elvis, an un-numbered bull, has been a fixture along the Gros Ventre river bottom for four or five years, or longer, and been a popular subject of many photographers and tourists at the pullouts. The big bull was often seen crossing the river and courting the cows of the Gros Ventre river bottom. While I know I will miss him, I will have a favorable lasting memory of him going down in a battle over a “hot” cow. Thanks to biologist Mark Gocke for helping me obtain this photo and permission to use it! Of course, thanks to Doug Brimeyer for supplying it.
This is the last photo I took of Elvis at 7:30 am on September 22nd. The necropsy was conducted in the afternoon on September 23rd.
October 3, 2013
Guest Photo: The photo above was taken a couple of days ago by my wife, Darla. She took it with her point and shoot camera on a hike up Cache Creek. You can see the Elk Refuge in the lower flats, East Gros Ventre Butte on the left and the Teton Range in the distance. A short hike to the ridge on the right would have given her a stellar vista view of the valley. I think she did a wonderful job with the composition. With broken clouds, she was able to wait for a dark area behind the lit aspens, along with the darkened butte on the left. Way to go babe! As I look at the spot, I wonder about a night shot from up there. You could turn towards the town a little to get lights at the bottom, the National Museum of Wildlife Art lights, a glow from the airport, and then stars and Milky Way above. Food for thought!
Today: It’s raining in town and the snow line is very low now. I stayed home this morning to work on a few of the Alternative Locations pages, but might get out a little during the day. Light is low right now, so I didn’t feel I needed to hurry to be out. Late in the day on Wednesday, I drove to the east side of Jackson and onto the National Elk Refuge to see if they closed any of the access points to the Bridger-Teton National Forests. As of Wednesday, the road was open to Curtis Canyon. That’s a nice area in the fall, even though the road can be rough in places. The road has a good gravel base, so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting stuck.
Click the thumbnail from Curtis Canyon to see it much larger! This was taken in the fall with haze smoke from regional fires. It is clear here this year! Aspens are common along the roads at Curtis Canyon. The road splits at one point. One way takes you to a trailhead going to Goodwin Lake (good brook trout fishing) and the other gets you much closer to the base of Sleeping Indian. Check out the map on the page for a better idea of the roads.
With the park closures, I have been getting a few additional requests for good alternative fishing locations. I was an avid fly fisherman for quite a few years, and still like to do it, so I will throw in a few fishing comments now and then. There is an old saying that goes something like this, “Trout Like Beautiful Places”. They need clean water and lots of fresh air. Fly fishing and photography share a lot of common ground.
Today’s Afternoon Outing: Skies cleared in the afternoon. I finished the first draft of the article, sent it off and headed out for the evening. I started out going up Teton Pass. I made it about half way when I stopped to get shots of a small terraced waterfall I had been watching for a while. In the same little pull-out, I snapped off a few shots of some Mountain Ash with berries. The leaves were bright orange. On the way down, I caught a few shots of a nice old barn near Wilson, then another barn south of Wilson. I need to wait a few days to shoot that one to let the cottonwoods peak a little more. As I was heading south towards Red Top Meadows, pulling over to get a few images of Munger Mountain at the south end of the valley, I took a side road at Mosquito Creek. I took quite a few fall landscape shots, plus a few with water rolling over the rocks and stumps in the mid-sized stream. By the time I made it to Red Top Meadows, the sun had gone behind the clouds and I stopped shooting. I’ll add some photos to the Alternative Locations page from these spots soon. At the very end of Fall Creek road, I stopped in to see if I could get permission to photograph another old barn, built in 1932. I got the go-ahead from the owners there, so that will be another tip to that region soon. I love the old barns! On the way home, I ran into a snow storm coming into town from the south. The ground in my yard is covered with snow right now. Photos from the trip are on this page: Park Closure: Alternative Places to Visit, Hike, Fish, and Photograph
October 2, 2013
Not sure what to do today? Check out the new feature post: Park Closure: Alternative Places to Visit, Hike, Fish, and Photograph .
Park Closure Info:
JH News and Guide Story: Showdown Shutters Park This is a must read for today!
In short, if you have business in the Park, you probably can get in. But, “you cannot recreate”. That was the term the attendant used yesterday when I was trying to get in the entrance at Moran Junction. The press release from the Park Service says, “the multi-use pathway that runs along the refuge will be closed as will scenic overlooks in Teton park.” People with reservations in hotels in the Park(s) are being given some time to find alternate arrangements.
Check out his YouTube video from some creative people trying to get into Yellowstone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=p … MASEOGvEbg . Notice the closed sign.
A friend of my wife had reservations at a couple of the hotels in Yellowstone and is in the park right now. She sent my wife a Facebook post showing them sitting next to the parking lot at Old Faithful with a No Entry sign across the boardwalk. In the far distance, you could see Old Faithful going off, but all boardwalks and access to any of the features are closed.
Early this morning, I checked the weather forecast for today. With mostly clear skies and almost no wind, I decided to go south to the Alpine Junction area to check out the Mountain Maple again. I was there a couple of weeks ago, but it was too early in the season this year. If you want the short version of my report, here it is: Gather the kids. Grab the camera and a polarizing filter. Jump in the car and get down the canyon! It was beautiful all the way! I came home with just under 400 photos from this morning. To be honest, this drive and experience might very well be THE hot ticket right now, even if the park had been open! A prime morning with calm winds at Oxbow might be the only strong contender!
I plan on doing a Feature post, similar to “Up The Gros Ventre” — Unexpected Treasures. That post will be called “Down the Canyon”. It will have a map, more photos and more information. If you need immediate information on how to get there, travel south out of Jackson to Hoback Junction.
The hillsides south of town are covered with aspens and most of them are nearing prime. There are plenty of possible shots, but you’ll have to be at least a little creative with your compositions. When you come upon the traffic circle at Hoback Junction, stay right and cross the bridge. It’s under construction, but it seldom causes any delays.
The river bottom along the Snake River Canyon is covered with Cottonwoods and Willows. The sides of the mountains have aspens and a few mountain maple up high. By the time you get to Wolf Creek Campground, you’ll start seeing mountain maple close to the road. At Alpine Junction, turn right and head towards the Palisades Dam. Within about 5 miles, you’ll be pulling over to take photos at every bend and valley.
There are numerous little valleys and small canyons on the right side of the road and the low lake on the other. When you’ve traveled about 14 miles from Alpine Junction, you’ll be at some of my favorite spots for a mixture of aspens, spruce, lodge pole pine, and mountain maple. About a mile past the dam, you can go up a dirt road to some nice cliffs and more maple trees. For my trip, I turned around there and backtracked, but you can drive to Swan Valley, turn right and go over Pine Creek Pass to Victor, ID and then on over Teton Pass to complete the full loop back to Jackson. Check back later for photos and more info.
Alternate Excursions: (repeated from yesterday)
If the Park remains closed, consider a trip down the Snake River canyon towards Alpine Junction and onwards to Swan Valley. I saw a few shots from down there and the Mountain Maple are turning red now. I just added a new feature post for this site called: “Up The Gros Ventre” — Unexpected Treasures. Take the road out of the park at the Kelly Warm Springs and continue on out past Slide Lake and Upper Slide Lake. There are lots of photo possibilities on that drive. I included a map with the post. Another option would be to go to Moran Junction and drive up to Togwotee Pass and look for grizzly bears. I suppose there is a possibility the Forest Service might close some of the smaller roads into the back country, but at least the highway would have to remain open. Look for the waterfall I mentioned earlier near the highway near the Brooks Lake Lodge turn off. I’ve never written about it here, but the Hoback Canyon south of Jackson can be good for landscapes, fishing, and foliage. Granite Falls (shown here) is also accessible through the Hoback Canyon.
Here’s one more quote from the JH New story that might guide you around the alternate areas of the valley: “Access remains open in much of the Bridger-Teton, Shoshone and Caribou-Targhee national forests, though offices, campgrounds and picnic areas are all closed.”
Foliage Report: For today, let me do an abbreviated version and simply say we are nearing peak in many areas of the park and around the region. In almost all cases, you can find a few trees that are just beginning to turn and trees that are either prime or even past prime. Time to be here! You just have to be more creative.
October 1, 2013
Jackson Hole Daily Newspaper Report: Oct 1, 2013
Grand Teton National Park is CLOSED. You should probably already know all National Parks are being instructed to shut down today as a result of lack of funding by congress. I watched CNN all afternoon and into the night—hoping for a resolution that never came. Based on newspaper reports and a call I made to the GTNP office yesterday, I was fairly sure things would be closed today. So, I initially planned on heading south to try to photograph Mountain Maple trees down the canyon. Instead, I thought I’d take a chance and drive north to see if I could get in long enough to photograph at Oxbow Bend. At the same time, I got a text from a friend already up there telling me the water was calm. But, the text said it was a “zoo” there already—with more cars streaming in. Okay. That did it. Go to Oxbow.
On the way up, the clouds started to light up and look great, so I pulled into the Cunningham Cabin area. If you’ve read many of my earlier posts and feature articles, I always say to stop right then and there if something looks good. So, I followed my own advice.
Cunningham Cabin and Mt. Moran at sunrise on October 1, 2013
I also stopped at Elk Flats to get a few shots of the first light on a herd of bison. Pronghorns can also be seen in the distance.
When I got to the entrance station at Moran, I was surprised to see the lights on and the ranger at the booth. In the end, they made me turn around and leave the park—along with the line of people behind me. I was told the park was “officially closed”.
I was told the people already at Oxbow were being instructed to leave, but at the time I didn’t see any cars coming out of the park. I spoke with a few of my friends that had been in the park before the entrance stations began opening, and they said they hardly ever saw a ranger. They were roaming around at will.
On my way home, I drove out to the barns on Mormon Row. Everything there was normal with no rangers and lots of photographers at both barns. The cottonwoods at the barns are usually some of the last to turn, as seen here. Normally, I’d include the top of the Grand in a photo like this, but with a cloud over the top, I tend to not shoot it or hide it. The photo at the top of today’s post would have been better (to me anyway) if I could see the top of the Grand. Still, it is worth a shot!
The image above was taken at the junction of Antelope Flats road and Mormon Row. You can see how much of the valley is now in either peak or near-peak status.
Taken along Antelope Flats road at the north end of Blacktail Butte. There is great color all around now.
At Moose Junction, I was also surprised to find the Moose/Wilson road was not barricaded. But even while I was there, a driver came by to let people know they are starting to shut the gates at Death Canyon road and were closing the entrance station at the south end of the Moose/Wilson road. The Teton Park Road is closed now at the entrance station at Moose. The commercial area around Dornan’s looked to be operating as normal this morning.
So, be prepared for a closed Park later in the day and definitely tomorrow. State Highway 89/191 will be open to Moran and out towards Dubois. The Gros Ventre Road to Kelly and beyond should be open. The campgrounds are telling people to leave today. I got mixed comments on whether the pull-outs along the highway will remain open. I don’t believe anyone will be allowed to walk down to Schwabacher Landing, though there were nine cars along the highway this morning. I am fairly sure the gate will be locked at the south end of Mormon Row and both gates on Antelope Road by tomorrow. If what I heard today is accurate, I don’t believe people will be allowed to walk in to the barns, again because the park is “closed”. As I get more specifics I will post them here.
If the Park remains closed, consider a trip down the Snake River canyon towards Alpine Junction and onwards to Swan Valley. I saw a few shots from down there and the Mountain Maple are turning red now. The photo above was taken along McCoy Creek a couple of years ago, just south of Alpine. That’s probably where I will go tomorrow if the park is closed. I just added a new feature post for this site called: “Up The Gros Ventre” — Unexpected Treasures. Take the road out of the park at the Kelly Warm Springs and continue on out past Slide Lake and Upper Slide Lake. There are lots of photo possibilities on that drive. I included a map with the post. Another option would be to go to Moran Junction and drive up to Togwotee Pass and look for grizzly bears. I suppose there is a possibility the Forest Service might close some of the smaller roads into the back country, but at least the highway would have to remain open. Look for the waterfall I mentioned earlier near the highway near the Brooks Lake Lodge turn off. I’ve never written about it here, but the Hoback Canyon south of Jackson can be good for landscapes, fishing, and foliage. Granite Falls is also accessible through the Hoback Canyon.
Foliage Report: For today, let me do an abbreviated version and simply say we are nearing peak in many areas of the park and around the region. In almost all cases, you can find a few trees that are just beginning to turn and trees that are either prime or even past prime. Time to be here!
“Enjoy the first day of October”! If GTNP is gated, chances are very good you can still find regional viewing and photo opportunities just outside the park. If the politics of all of this gets you fired up, please go to the other blogs and hash it out. I hope to keep this site positive and loaded with content about how to enjoy the park. MJ