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Best of the Tetons

Web Barbed Wire Fence Dec17

A December Morning Along Mormon Row:

Long Shadows, Hoar Frost, and Snow Can Enhance Commonplace Subjects!

This morning, I was out fairly early. The skies were clear in town, so I wasn’t in a big hurry to be out for sunrise images. As it turned out, there were clouds hoovering around the Tetons, so I probably didn’t make the best call today. I went out instead hoping to get a few shots of Moose before they lose their antlers. I saw 21 of them today, but they were just far enough out, I didn’t take a single photo of them. At one time, there were 17 lined up in the sagebrush, including about five bulls with antlers I could see.

Web Moulton Barn Dec17

Moulton Barn: After striking out on the Moose, I drove to Antelope Flats and eventually to Mormon Row, where I turned South. This shot attracted me initially because of the long shadows. On closer inspection, there was a set of tracks leading perfectly into the scene. I pulled out the gear and took a few shots using a Nikon D800 and 70-200mm lens. This is just a standard shot, taken at F/8 in Priority Mode. It held the depth of field fairly well. Of course, it is the same barn a zillion people photograph each year—but from a completely different angle.

Web Fading Fence Dec17

Fading Fence: I took a couple of shots of the fence seen on the right in the previous image, then changed to F/2.8. I focused on the X of  between the first two posts and let everything else get blurry quickly. I liked this shot much better than the first couple at F/8. It was a technique I repeated a lot this morning.

Web Barbed Wire Fence Dec17

Frosty Fence: Just down the road, I took a similar shot looking towards the south. In the summer, tourists and photographers would be crawling all over the place trying to get a shot of the barn with the Tetons in the background. Winter is great for intimate little shots like this. I focused on the second post at F/2.8.

Web Frosted Leaves Dec17

Frosted Branches: Once I “got into the zone”, I easily found subjects that “interested me”. I don’t know if anyone would ever buy them or if I would ever even offer them for sale. That often isn’t the driving force— I don’t approach it that way anyway. On this shot, I liked the few little cottonwood leaves hanging on for dear life. The hoar frost accented the branches and the orange leaves are complimentary colors to the saturated blue, morning sky.

Web Stump And Grass Dec17

Grass and Stump: There are many days, or many times of the day when I wouldn’t even think twice about taking this shot. We are in the period of the year with the shortest days. Shadows are long almost all day because the sun is very low on the south horizon. We can shoot with low contrast light almost all day during December. Even if you are not a photographer, it is just darned pretty all day because of the nature and angle of the light. I liked the long shadow and the complimentary color scheme in this simple scene.

Web Leaves Dec17

Frosted Leaves: The image on the left was taken at F/8 and the one on the right was taken a F/2.8. Okay, neither of them may never be “wall hangers”! If nothing else, it was an exercise in learning how to anticipate how depth of field can be controlled. There are a lot of frosted leaves on any given day in the world, but most people could tell you about where this stem was located. The Tetons are so recognizable—even blurry!

Web Frosted Barb Wire Dec17

Frosted Barbed Wire: This one is the same concept as the previous image. I focused on the barbed wire while at F/2.8 to let the barn go well out of focus, yet you know it is a barn. If the viewer is a frequent visitor to the area, they’d probably know exactly which barn it is and where it was taken.

Web Blurred Barn Dec17

The Fence, Barn, and Mountains: Taken at F/2.8, this one is still focused on the fence. At the time I was there, the large cottonwoods were putting the barn into shadows. While some shots might benefit from light on the face of the barn, I liked letting the silhouetted barn highlight the fence posts and wire.

Web Windmill Dec17

Windmill: I left the barn and drove south a short distance. I liked the composition and stark, high-contrast nature of this scene, so I stopped to take a few shots. Again, it might not be a “wall hanger”, but there is plenty to like about it—at least for me!

Web Chambers Homestead Dec17

Chambers Homestead: At the end of the road, I turned around and shot back towards the Chambers Homestead. I took a photo at this same spot a few weeks ago. This time, I composed so the tree was to the right and balanced it with the house. I shot this one at F/2.8. This one might have been better at F/8? I don’t know…I still like the slightly blurred secondary subject matter.

Web Steel Rim Dec17

Steel Rim: How can you pass up a shot like this? I love the long shadows and texture of the snow.

Web Bicycle B&W Dec17

Seldom Used Bike: For this shot, I changed to the D4 and my 200-400mm lens. The bike was leaning against a building farther into the private property at the Bed and Breakfast. I shot this one from the fence. In the December Daily Updates, I included this image in color. Except for this image, all of the images on this blog page were very quick post processing adjustments in Lightroom. I used NIK Silver Efex Pro to make the B&W conversion.

Web Wooden Gate Dec17

Wooden Gate: Someday, I am going to “light paint” this old handmade wooden gate, but today, I was attracted to it because of the long shadows.

Web Steel Rim Dec17

Steel Rim: This is the same steel rim as in one of the earlier shots, just taken in portrait orientation and from a different direction. The sun was just about to start melting the hoar frost.  It was still lit up, or slightly back lit from this angle.

People come to Jackson Hole to get photos of the Tetons and the wildlife. There can be little gems scattered all about if you take time to look for them. Maybe they are not for everyone, but I like to occasionally slow down and enjoy taking photos—even if I am the only person that ever sees them.

Industrial Grunge:
If you like the small shots like some of these, you might enjoy checking out a few of the galleries on my Teton Images web site. Here’s a link to my Industrial Grunge Galleries.

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Comments (6)

  1. Gerry

    Great post, Mike and very helpful. Will try some of these techniques out there soon. Have a great holiday.

  2. Lowell Schechter

    mike, I like the diversity of images that you took and I can see that if you drove around long enough you can get nice
    images of different subjects.

  3. Now you’ve got me hoping that it soon snow here so that I can get out and look for some new and unique opportunities right here at home. As usual, I really enjoyed your photos & insights.

  4. Bill and Lowell,
    I love taking these “smaller” shots. Best of all, they are literally EVERYWHERE and available in every season. Of course, good light can make a plain scene or subject so much better. As I mentioned in the caption under the wooden gate, I plan on going back and taking a few in the same areas with light painting techniques. Someday, I will post a few of them here, too. MJ

    Oh yes, I have a page of textures on my other site: Textures

  5. Paul

    Merry Christmas Mike! We were there during the government shutdown in October and your blog gave us many alternative ideas. Thanks to you it turned into one of our most memorable trips to the area!

  6. Hi Paul, Thanks for the note. These kind of responses make me feel good about all of the effort it takes to write the blogs. Cheers, Mike Jackson

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