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Web Torch Light Parade at Snow King 2014Text

January 2014 Daily Reports for Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole

A monthly journal of daily weather reports, road reports, wildlife reports and tidbits for both photographers and Teton visitors!

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Wildlife Report ImagesWildlife Reports for Mid-January:

  • Bison (updated 1-18): 50-75+/- Bison are hanging around north of Kelly. The newspaper reports 234 bison killed in this year’s hunt on the National Elk Refuge. The hunt is now over and the rest will probably move onto the refuge for the winter months.
  • Moose (updated 1-18):  A few are still found near Ditch Creek and Ditch Creek Road. I keep hearing about a nice bull with his antlers hanging around the Shane cabin area. It appears many of the moose have moved West towards the Snake and are hanging around North of the JH Airport. I counted 14 moose on January 18th in that area. Many bulls are dropping their antlers. Moose bed down by about 9:00 to 9:30 am at this time so be out early if you want to find them.
  • Bighorn Sheep (updated 1-18): 60-90 are wintering on Miller Butte in the National Elk Refuge. They are on the tail end of the rut, but you might still see some rut behavior. Best viewed between 10:00 am and 3:30 pm. For some reason, the Sheep have been staying high on the ridges instead of grazing near the roads. I’ve heard of wolves being seen on the refuge.
  • Pronghorns: A herd of about 25 hung around the valley longer than normal this year, but appear to have migrated out of the valley for the Winter.
  • Elk : Thousands of Elk are already on the National Elk Refuge. Consider taking the Sleigh Ride into the herds. Many more elk a clustered north of the Gros Ventre River between the town of Kelly in the east and the Snake River in the west.
  • Wolves: There are numerous packs of Wolves in GTNP, but I seldom see more than tracks. Generally, they are close behind the prey animals like elk and deer. I’ve heard numerous reports of them hanging around the edges of the National Elk Refuge and around the Kelly Warm Springs area. Coyotes are also in the same areas.
  • Mule Deer: Seen most often early in the morning around the small town of Kelly. Be out early!
  • Mountain Goats: (updated 1-24) Seen “regularly” at the mouth of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction. Best viewed mid-morning through around 3:00 pm. Warm weather may be melting snow up high and reducing the need to come down to the road for exposed grass.
  • Bald Eagles & Golden Eagles: Seen on occasions all over the valley.
  • Ruff-legged Hawks: Common this year, seen on the fence posts along the Elk Refuge.
  • River Otters have been sighted on occasions at Oxbow Bend.
  • Bears are hibernating.
  • Waterfowl: Flat Creek is frozen solid forcing waterfowl into other parts of the region or sending them along their migration paths. Check out the Swan Pond at Boyle’s Hill.
  • Wintering Birds such as Woodpeckers, Flickers, Chickadees, Robins, Nuthatches, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Cedar Waxwings, & Steller’s Jays, can be seen in JH fairly often. I’ve seen a Pygmy Owl twice this year.
  • Road Reports and Winter Closures:  Not all areas are open. Check out the link to get a better idea of where to go in January.
  • 750line

January Daily Reports:

January 31, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 12°F : Sunrise 7:40AM, Sunset 5:34 PM :  High Temp Forecast 32°F

The Last Day of January: When you come back to the site tomorrow, I should have the beginnings of a February Daily Updates page. Watch for it!

Today in Jackson Hole: I had a pretty good day today. Clouds broke early and I got patchy blue skies all afternoon.

Web Sunrise on the Grand Jan31

Sunrise on the Grand: I about gave up on sunrise shots but the light clouds blew off and I shot just a few of the first light hitting the Grand.

Web Graphic Trunk Jan31

Graphic Tree Trunk: While I was waiting for the clouds to clear off, I shot a few tight shots of things that interested me. This one was stylized slightly in Lightroom.

Web Moose Feeding Willows Jan31

Bull Moose Feeding Willows: There were two bulls feeding on willow branches near the Gros Ventre River on Spring Gulch Road this morning. This one has no antlers now, but you can see the pads where they were for the fall.

Web Young Bull Aspens Jan31

Young Bull Moose Stretching for Aspen Branches: This healthy young moose still has his antlers. Most will have already lost them by the last day of January.

Web Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride Jan31

Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride: I have been waiting for a day with good light following a recent snow storm to make a trip to the National Elk Refuge. Today was the day! This sleigh full of tourists was returning as our sleigh was heading out. Sleeping Indian mountain can be seen in the background.

Web Elk On Refuge Jan31

Bull Elk on the National Elk Refuge: There were patchy clouds casting occasional shadows on parts of the valley floor while I was on my trip. Light was GREAT in between. Flat Creek runs through the Refuge. I’ve said it before, but now is a good time to mention it again. The Sleigh Ride on the National Elk Refuge might be the single best value in the valley. I cost me $19 for a full hour tour into the herd, plus the bus ride to and from the visitor’s center. The bus drivers and sleigh drivers are friendly, informative, and entertaining. When I can, I’ll create a Feature Post with some of the images from my Sleigh Ride.

Shooting Info: I took the D4 and 28-300mm lens with me today on the Sleigh Ride. It gave me a lot of flexibility for wide shots to short telephoto shots. I had the VR set to ON today and handheld all of the shots. I kept the shutter speed high to help with the shaking of the sleigh with all the people. I shot some while moving with the VR  set to Active.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 at 300 mm, 1/2000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 320, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

This Weekend in Jackson Hole: If you can make it, the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race  starts here in Jackson on January 31. This multi-stage race begins and ends in Jackson Hole. The Friday night event is more ceremonial than a big part of the race. The town puts snow on the streets through parts of town for the event and removes it quickly after the event. You can get more info by clicking on the link. I’ll probably go there to get a few shots for this blog.

Night Time in Jackson Hole: I made it to the big event downtown tonight. There were lots of people and all appeared to be having a great time.

Web Sled Dog Race Jan31

Sled Dog Racers: The town square was blocked off on Broadway, with two lanes of snow for the racers all the way to Snow King. This was taken at the starting area.

Web Sled Dog Race Blur Jan31

Sled Dogs Racing By: I took this one with a strobe using rear curtain sync, panning at 1/6th of a second. I’d have loved to shoot a dozen races to fine tune all of the settings.

Web Skater Jan31

JH Winter Wonderland:Community Special Event: January 18 & 19, 24,25,26, 31, February 1,2: Sponsored by The Grand Teton Skating Association on Town Square. Enjoy the square lights & ice.” Colored lights lit the small rink on the square. I set up an off-camera strobe on the far left and lit the little girl from the side—casting strong shadows across the ice.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 at 65 mm, 1/60 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, 1/3 EV,  ISO 5000, SB910 Strobe controlled by an SU800 and a pair of Radio Popper receivers and transmitters.


January 30, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 27°F : Sunrise 7:41AM, Sunset 5:32 PM :  High Temp Forecast 31°F

Morning Weather in JH: Light snow with wind 10-15 mph and temps dropping from the current 27°F to 3°F overnight. I have a few small projects for the early morning, including running the snow blower so we can get out of the driveway. If I can get them completed, I am considering a very slow drive to Alpine Junction to look for Mountain Goats.

Today’s Outing: At mid-morning, I headed south on snow packed roads to Alpine Junction. I spent three hours down there and never saw a single Mountain Goat. That area received lots of fresh snow. Oh well!

Web Grays River Refuge Jan30

The Grays River Refuge is a mile or two south of Alpine Junction. I usually go there for a few minutes if the Mountain Goats are not present. It helps fill the down time while waiting for Mountain Goats to possibly come down.

WebSwan Take Off Jan30

Take Off!: As I entered Jackson, I saw a break in the clouds in the west and very dark gray skies in the east. I drove over to Boyle’s Hill to see if I could capture a shot of a white Trumpeter Swan against the dark, moody skies. This Swan flew from one area to another with the trademark running and flapping. Light was beautiful when I first got there.

Web Swans In Flight Jan30

Swans in Flight: Just imagine a shot like this with afternoon gold light on the Swans and steel gray skies behind them! I was at the pond long enough for the clouds to fill in and kill the evening light. Finally, a trio of Swans took off but the light was very flat at the time. Maybe some other day!

WebRuff Legged Hawk In Spruce Jan30

Active Hunter: I found this nice looking Ruff-Legged Hawk sitting in a spruce tree late in the afternoon.

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds: If you have an Ace Hardware nearby, tomorrow is the last day on their Red Hot sale of black oil sunflower seeds. A 20lb bag is $9.95, but you have to act fast! I stocked up on the seeds for my back yard birds and the ones I hope to attract in the early summer.


January 29, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 10°F : Sunrise 7:42AM, Sunset 5:31 PM :  High Temp Forecast 31°F

Today in Jackson Hole: We had some light snow overnight and flurries off and on all day. I drove through town and out to Miller Butte this morning. A few of the Bighorns were half way down the hillside and a couple were at the base, but still too far off for me. With the current storm, I suspect more of them will be down tomorrow. They also like to lick the salt from the snow chunks that fall off vehicles, something we haven’t had in a while. Later in the day, I drove through town looking for Waxwings and other birds before going back to the Swan Pond at Boyle’s Hill.

Web Swan Walk Jan29

Swan Walk: I used my “rangefinder” today to find out how far it actually is from the pullout to the edge of the open water. The estimate I made yesterday was off. It’s roughly 100 yards to the open water. This afternoon, I was shooting through falling snow and standing in the brisk south wind. While I could still brighten these images, this is about the look and feel of what I remembered seeing there.

Web Bald Eagle Swans Jan29

Bald Eagle Fly By: An immature Bald Eagle pushed a couple of Ravens off some sort of winter kill. The Mallard’s seemed uneasy with him in the area.

Web March of the Mallards Jan29

March of the Mallards: Once the Eagle left, most of the Mallard Ducks marched single file back to a feeding area.

Web Mallards Jan29

Mallards in Flight: The Eagle hung around most of the afternoon and would spook the flock of Mallards every time he moved from perch to perch.  Cottonwoods line the edge of the pond with plenty of perches. In the summer months, I’ve seen Eagles fly down to take an unsuspecting fish but I’ve never been able to get of a shot of it. Ospreys occasionally take a fish out of the pond, too.

Swan Roundup 2007

2007 Trumpeter Swan Roundup: In stark contrast to the images I took today, this is an image I took in bright morning sunlight in 2007. Once a year, the agencies do a Swan Roundup at Boyle’s Hill. The wild swans would have left the pond when the Game and Fish ranger put his kayak in the water. That leaves only the captive swans. They are “herded” into a pen near the water, not too unlike they do at a wild horse gather. These Swans are distributed around areas of the West to start new flocks elsewhere.


January 28, 2014  | 7:00 AM: -13°F : Sunrise 7:43AM, Sunset 5:30 PM :  High Temp Forecast 24°F

This morning in Jackson Hole: Yesterday, with the morning clouds, we were at 22° at 7:00am. With clear skies overnight, we dropped to -13° this morning. I checked the upcoming weather forecasts and hope to see some of the clouds and occasional snow they predict.

Wedding Trees and Moon 2010

New Feature Post! In case you missed it, I stayed up late last night to add: Alpenglow: Morning’s Fleeting Phenomenon  I’ve been taking photos of the mystical morning event for a many years and added quite a few of the images on the new page. Alpenglow happens all year, but capturing it in the middle of the summer can mean needing to set the alarm for 4:00 am to be in a good spot when it happens. During the winter, you can get up at 6:00 am and be in a good spot. Since it will be dark when you leave home or the hotel, there’s an implied “gamble”. Thick clouds in the east can thwart the effort. Conversely, you might see some clouds in the dim glow of morning and decide to go anyway. If you are lucky, the clouds lift or thin at about the right time and you get an even more dramatic Alpenglow show! The photo above was taken at the Wedding Trees in 2006.

Pilgrim Pond 2011

The Pond on Pilgrim Creek Road: I am not sure if this qualifies as Alpenglow? It was taken at 5:37 am on July 4th of 2011. With 45 mph speed limits at night, it can take the better part of an hour to get to this spot from Jackson. I would have had to get up at least 30 minutes before heading out…or 4:00 am as I recall. Wind was howling! That’s opposite of what you’d want for a water reflection shot. The thick storm clouds developed, so I shot anyway. I tried making the foreground lighter on my initial processing, but it made the scene look too fake. There’s very little light at that time of the morning. Right? The shrubs you see in the middle of the pond have grown up considerably since 2011. In the past few years, I haven’t gone there as much during the lupine blooming period.

Pilgrim Pond 2009

Pilgrim “Pond” 2009: I don’t know if this place actually has a name. From all I could ever tell, it was an old gravel pit. In the early summer, the pit fills with ground water from nearby Pilgrim Creek. That only happens on a “wet year” with a lot of snow pack. The pond normally fills at about the same time as the Lupines are in bloom.  Depending on your angle and the amount of willows in the pond, you can get a few reflections from the mountains. Since this shot on June 17, 2009, the willows in the pond have grown considerably.  The location is a good place to try “stack focusing” or use a tilt-shift lens.

Afternoon Outing: I ended back up at Boyle’s Hill today for more Trumpeter Swan shots. Only one pair took during the entire time I was there, despite quite a few false alarms.

Web Swans Taking Off Jan28

This pair bobbed their heads a couple of times and took off.


Pair of Swans in Flight: This is the same pair of swans as they flew by.


Swan Squabble: The open area of the pond is 50-60 yards away from the pullout. An aerator in the middle keeps some of the pond open, even during the coldest weather. The closeness of all the birds can sometimes spur interaction like this. Sometimes it can get quite intense, but most of the time, some intimidating wing flaps and stretches does the job.


January 27, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 22°F : Sunrise 7:44AM, Sunset 5:28 PM :  High Temp Forecast 25°F

This Morning in Jackson Hole: Cloudy, light and variable winds. We had a light dusting of snow overnight. I found some Cedar Waxwings on some Choke Cherries in another part of town last night. The sky is white. I’d prefer either blue skies or steel gray skies for the bird shots, but surprises can happen with any light.

Afternoon in Jackson Hole: I came up empty on a couple of quick drives through town, so I drove over to Boyle’s Hill (West of the Maverik convenience store), hoping to capture a few Trumpeter Swans in flight.

Web Trumpeter Boyle's Hill Jan27

Take Off at Boyle’s Hill: I hit it just about right and caught several groups of Trumpeter Swans taking off over a period of about 45 minutes. Mallards and Geese are also residents there.

Web Trumpeter Flight Jan27

Swan in Flight: On many days, the wind is blowing out of the south and they take off into it. Today, the wind was blowing out of the north, causing them to fly by in almost all directions.

Web Trumpeter Over Ice Jan27

Banded Trumpeter Swan: A couple of conservation groups work together at Boyle’s Hill. Some of the wild birds have been banded as seen here. Some of them have clipped wing feathers, keeping them confined to the pond area. A Wyoming Game and Fish worker comes by and feeds the resident birds, but some of the wild birds also take advantage of the free meals.

Web Trumpeter Straight On Jan27

Approaching Trumpeter: With a stiff north wind, the Trumpeters flew towards me and past me quicker than normal. I was shooting with my D4 today along with the 200-400mm lens. I think it is a great combination at Boyle’s Hill when the birds are in the air and coming at me.

Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/3200 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 400. All of the images today were shot at essentially the same settings. For the big birds in flight, I have the AF set to Continuous : 21 point and I have the AF Focus Duration set to LONG (5 seconds). As long as I can get the bird inside the 21 point focus zone, the camera will track and attempt to predict the focus, even if it goes out of the 21 point focus zone for a short period. Conversely, if I don’t get the bird inside the focus zone initially, it will stay out of focus until I release and let the camera try to lock on the subject again.


January 26, 2014  | 7:00 AM: -3°F : Sunrise 7:45AM, Sunset 5:27 PM :  High Temp Forecast 28°F

Morning Outing: It was calm, clear, and cold again today. Weather forecasts call for some snow and clouds over the next few days.

Web Alpenglow and Bison Jan26

Bison with Alpenglow Sky: A few Elk and Bison are still roaming the sagebrush north and northwest of Kelly. Snow pack on the valley floor is below normal. The moose have been moving out of the area. I didn’t see any today.

Web Sunrise Fog Jan26

Fog Bank Above the Springs: This was taken from the road heading out of Kelly. The Kelly Warm Springs generate a layer of fog on most cold mornings. I would have preferred to get a couple of ghostly bison, moose, or elk at the base of the shot. Not long after this shot, clouds rolled over the top of the Grand.


January 25, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 3°F : Sunrise 7:46 AM, Sunset 5:26 PM :  High Temp Forecast 31°F

Morning Outing: I had considered another morning shooting out the window, but with no clouds, I cruised around for other opportunities in the South end of GTNP.

Web Grand Peak Jan25

Grand Peaks: Taken from Spring Gulch road just as the first glow of morning light was hitting the range.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/250 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 250, ©Copyright 2014

Web Grand With Elk Jan25

Grand with Elk on a Ridge: Taken along the Gros Ventre Road.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 270 mm, 1/640 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 250, ©Copyright 2014

Web Elk Silhouettes Jan25

Elk Silhouettes: Taken along the Gros Ventre Road looking towards the Teton Range.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/800 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 250, ©Copyright 2014

Web Grand Elk Herd Jan25

Small Elk Herd: I’ve had loved to get this show with clouds, earlier light and at least one big bull.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 135 mm, 1/2500 at f/9, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 400, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Web Ruff Legged Hawk Jan25

Ruff-legged Hawk: This adult raptor has tail feathers resembling those of an adult Golden Eagle.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/2500 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 400, ©2014 All Rights Reserved


January 24, 2014  | 7:00 AM: -2°F : Sunrise 7:47 AM, Sunset 5:24 PM :  High Temp Forecast 24°F

Today in Jackson Hole: Early morning fog gave way to hazy blue skies by mid-morning, replaced later in the day with light clouds. I tried going to Miller Butte early, but like many of the previous days, the Bighorns were higher up on the butte. I headed to Alpine Junction, hoping to find some Mountain Goats. On the way, I saw a Golden Eagle feeding on a road kill next to the road. Paul Martin came by not long after the Eagle flew to a rock outcropping. He let me know the Goats were not out when he was there, so I killed time around Hoback Junction. In many recent years, Bighorn Sheep grazed near the road at Camp Creek Inn on the Hoback River, but not today. I headed on down to Alpine Junction and found a few Mountain Goats grazing near the road and up on the rocks.

Web Golden Eagle Jan24

Golden Eagle of a Road Kill: This Golden was incredibly tolerant. I shot through the window, just to get a shot, then opened the door of the truck and got out. He kept feeding with me standing there.

Web Mtn. Goat Jan24

Mountain Goat near the Mouth of the Snake River Canyon: This Nanny was feeding on grass near the road. I only saw around 20 today. For whatever reason, they didn’t feed long close to the road.

Web Mtn Goat Group Jan24

Mountain Goats on a Rock Pillar: This group hung around on the rock for quite a while. I don’t often get them against blue skies. Today, I shot with my Nikon D800. The Bald Eagle was taken with a 70-200, mainly because it was the combination next to me in the truck at the time. For the Mountain Goats, I switched to the Nikon 200-400mm lens and used my heavy duty tripod.

Loose Ends: The bridge at Hoback Junction was about to open this afternoon as I was driving home. I saw several other Bald Eagles along the Snake River today, along with a few deer feeding near the roads.


January 23, 2014  | 7:00 AM: -4°F : Sunrise 7:48 AM, Sunset 5:23 PM :  High Temp Forecast 21°F

Today in Jackson Hole: When I looked out the window early this morning, thepre-dawn sky was dark, with no visible stars anywhere. With a few months of bookkeeping to do, I decided to stay home for the morning. As it turned out, I was seeing thick fog. By the mid-morning, the fog began to lift and I could see a nice sunrise through the thinning fog. A little while later, all of the fog burned off and we had a “bluebird” clear day. It stayed sunny, but chilly, all day. There’s a bit of a lesson in this report. The town of Jackson can often be socked in with fog while areas north of town can be perfectly clear. We get steam and fog from some of the warm springs and Flat Creek and it settles in the low valley zones in town.

I did a quick zip through town hoping to find some interesting birds, but came home with no shots. I have to admit, I didn’t work it too hard today!

Out of curiosity, I pulled up my images in Lightroom from last year at this time. I’ve mentioned it quite a few times before, but each year in Jackson Hole is usually quite different from the earlier ones. That’s not necessarily a negative! Last year, I was taking photos of Bohemian Waxwings instead of Cedar Waxwings. Along with the Bohemians, we had a few Pine Grosbeaks in town. They were both feeding on the crab apple trees scattered all over town. I also managed to capture images of quite a few Bighorn Sheep, a few River Otters, and Trumpeter Swans on the thick slabs of snow and ice on Flat Creek.

Pine Grosbeak Jan2013

Pine Grosbeak 2013: Last year was the first time I had been able to find and photograph Pine Grosbeaks. They shared some of the same trees with Bohemian Waxwings at times. A few years ago, we had a wave of Red Crossbills and White-winged Crossbills. Over the years, I’ve had White-breasted Nuthatches in my yard, yet a year later I had Red-breasted Nuthatches in the Winter instead.

Swans with Ghost Otter

Swans with Ghost Otter: For this shot, I was set up one early morning at the observation on Flat Creek taking photos of these Trumpeter Swans. They were diving and cleaning, as they often do once the sun hits them. I took lots of shots there that morning and never noticed the River Otter in the distance until I opened a few files in Photoshop.

Loose Ends and Tidbits: In town, the new Walgreens opened last week. The bridge over the Hoback River is scheduled to be open for traffic tomorrow, even though they will need to do some finish and detail work during the summer months. After a sleepy feeling couple of weeks, the town looks a little busier to me. Flat Creek threatened to flood my part of town, but after the town turned on a couple of thaw wells, my section is flowing well again. Others downstream are still dealing with freezing problems in Flat Creek. While the local ski resorts are open and doing well, I think most of the people would like to have a few more snow storms to help add to the snow pack. The sage flats northwest of Kelly seem much less covered with snow this year. Gasoline prices have held steady all winter at $3.18 per gallon for self-serv unleaded at many stations around town. The town of Jackson recently passed an ordinance against talking on a cell phone while driving. Texting while driving has been illegal for a long time. The newspaper said they will start actually fining people on March 1.


January 22, 2014  | 7:00 AM: -0°F : Sunrise 7:49 AM, Sunset 5:23 PM :  High Temp Forecast 34°F

My Morning Outing: I have been working on an upcoming Feature Post about Wintertime access in GTNP for visitors and photographers with disabilities. I hope to post it very soon. Today, I headed North and chose to stay inside my truck and shoot out the window for a morning sunrise. I tried to use only turnouts or pullouts when I could, then pulled off as far as possible on other images. Sign up to Follow This Blog to be the first group to know about that upcoming Feature Post. I took enough photos this morning to create a page of just images from this morning, so I’ll making that one this morning. Again, sign up to follow the blog!

Web Sunrise Pano Jan22

Sunrise Panorama From the West Boundary Road: (Click this smaller image to see a much larger version) This is one image out of about a dozen I’ll post this morning, all taken from the cab of the truck. For this image, I spliced three horizontal images in Photoshop. I was pulled over in a turnout just north of Ditch Creek and South of Antelope Flats Road.

Web Ruff Legged Hawk Jan22

Ruff-Legged Hawk: This image was taken in town near Karns Meadows. I was out of the truck for this one. I was set up with single point, single servo focusing while he was posing on a post. Luckily, he flew from the post perpendicular to me so he stayed in fairly good focus. This cropped image shows some of his beautiful markings, but it also shows how someone might have mistaken one of these raptors for a Snowy Owl if seen from a long distance. Since that report several weeks ago, I haven’t heard any additional possible sightings.

Web Broom Ball Action Jan22

Broom Ball Action: After I saw my action shots from last night, I felt I could do better. Back to the rink tonight! I was more lucky last night with my positioning, but my exposures were much better tonight. I need to shoot this sport half a dozen times to dial it in, but I feel better about tonight! It was a hard fought game, with the Red team winning 2-1.


January 21, 2014  | 7:00 AM: -2°F : Sunrise 7:49 AM, Sunset 5:20 PM :  High Temp Forecast 31°F

Loose Ends: Farmington Bay Eagles : Richard Pontius forwarded this link to me this morning.  Eagle Days will be held on February 8th, but they will not be poisoning the carp this year. (Actually, it isn’t really poison. The substance robs the water of oxygen and the carp suffocate). I added a photo of the area in yesterday’s update.

Teton Photography Group:: I went to the monthly meeting last night. Price Chambers, a photographer at the local newspaper,  showed some of his photos and then demonstrated his aerial drone. It was a great presentation. TPG has now grown to over 200 members.

Today in JH: We had another cloudless, bitter cold, calm morning. Check back! I will be testing my repaired D4 and 200-400 lens on “something”?

Web Ruff Legged Hawk Jan21

My Afternoon “Something”: After dropping off a few packages at the Post Office, I took off looking for something to photograph with my repaired D4 and lens. Initially, I looked for Cedar Waxwings in East Jackson, then found this Ruff-Legged Hawk on a fence post in Karns Meadows. By the time I found a parking space, the light dropped, but it gave me some time with the gear again. Good thing! Most of my in-camera settings had been set back to defaults. I had to go through menus again, but it appears things are back to normal now.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/320 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 1250, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

New Feature Post: In case you missed it, yesterday I added: Winter: Jackson Hole Outdoor Activities and Events: JH offers plenty of things to keep people busy in the Winter months.

Tuesday Night Broom Ball: I did a quick trip to the Rodeo grounds to capture a couple of images for the new post. Some of my shots came out okay, but I need to go back a few times and fine tune the shoot.

Web Cold Soles Jan21

“Cold Soles” on the Attack: In the old days, teams actually used old brooms wrapped with duct tape.

Web Goal! Jan21

Goal! The orange object on the left of the frame is the ball in the net. Halftime looked like it is about the same length of time it takes to drink a beer.

Web Raptordactyls Jan21

Victorious Raptordactyls: Happy team after their league night win.


January 20, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 6°F : Sunrise 7:50 AM, Sunset 5:19 PM :  High Temp Forecast 29°F

Monday Morning Notes: It is cold and clear here today. No clouds! After two three early mornings out in a row, I opted to stay around the house at sunrise. I am working to two new Feature Posts I hope to add very soon. One is on helping visitors and photographers with disabilities find places and subjects in the GTNP area.  The other is about Outdoor Winter Activities in the JH area. Both should be helpful additions to this site. Sign up now to follow this blog and you’ll get a notice when they are posted.

FREE ADMISSION today in Grand Teton National Park! In fact, there will be quite a few free days this year:

  • January 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 15-17: Presidents Day weekend
  • April 19-20: opening weekend of National Park Week
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 27: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day

Web Farmington Bay Eagles 2008

Loose Ends: While this might be “out of the region” information, I’ll pass it along. In February each year, large numbers of Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles migrate to Farmington Bay to feast on carp and sunfish killed by the area biologists. The town of Farmington hosts Eagle Days on one of the weekends, with bus loads of people ported out to view the eagles. This year, eagles in that area have been dropping dead with West Nile Virus. NBCNews story. Recent reports suggest over 50 dead eagles so far this year. This image shows a few of them I captured in 2008.

Web Ice Skater Jan20  Web King Tubes Jan20

Today in Jackson Hole: I hung around the house waiting for USP to deliver my Nikon D4 and 200-400 lens from the Nikon Repair Center.  That gave some time to add photos on a new Feature Post called: Winter: Outdoor Activities and Events in Jackson Hole. Above are a couple of photos from the page. The young girl was taken on the new outdoor rink on the Town Square and the other was taken at Snow King’s King Tube. I took these while on my loop through town looking for Waxwings, then to Miller Butte and finally the observation platform on Flat Creek.

Teton Photography Group: “The next meeting of the Teton Photography Group will be Monday, January 20 at 6P in the Conference Room at the Art Association of Jackson Hole. Price Chambers, photojournalist for the JH News and Guide, will discuss the general topic of photojournalism but specifically will address the hot topic of photography using areal drones. It should be a great presentation.”  (I suspect they meant aerial droneThe meeting is open to all photographers. By becoming a member at the Art Association, you become a member of the group. Click the link for more information.


January 19, 2014  | 7:00 AM: -3°F : Sunrise 7:51 AM, Sunset 5:18 PM :  High Temp Forecast 31°F

Sunday Outings: It looked clear this morning, so I wasn’t in a hurry to get out. Too bad! I missed a wonderful sunrise!

Web Spring Gulch Tetons Jan19

Distant Peaks: Taken with a telephoto lens at the south end of Spring Gulch Road.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 350 mm, 1/3200 at f/4, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 500, ©Copyright 2014

Web Elk Crossing Jan19

Elk Crossing: Taken from the road along the Gros Ventre River.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/1250 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 500, ©Copyright 2014

Web Gros Ventre Jan19

Morning Vista: Taken along the Gros Ventre River.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 66 mm, 1/640 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Web Frosted River Jan19

Frosted River: Taken on the Gros Ventre River.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, 1/640 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Web Frosted Branches Jan19

Frosted Stems: Morning along the Gros Ventre River.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, 1/800 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Web Frosted Cottonwoods Jan19

Frosted Cottonwoods: Also taken along the Gros Ventre River just after the sun appeared.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 32 mm, 1/800 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Web Waxwings Jan19

Cedar Waxwings Feeding: Taken on a Mountain Ash Tree in town.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 240 mm, 1/1250 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 640, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Web Waxwing Jan19

Cedar Waxwing and Berry: This one lacks the small red “wax” feather tips.

Chipper Woods Bird Observatory, Inc. This site states: “The number and length of these red tips are useful to determine age and sex. Tips may be lacking in young birds, and are most developed in adult males”. 

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/5000 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 640, ©2014 All Rights Reserved


January 18, 2014  | 7:00 AM: -3°F : Sunrise 7:51 AM, Sunset 5:16 PM :  High Temp Forecast 31°F

Grand Sunrise and Moon Set~Take Two!: Yesterday, the moon set before we had much ambient sunrise light, causing it to blow out at almost all Exposure Compensation values. I went out again this morning. This time, the moon around 30 minutes later and farther to the south (relative to the same spots from yesterday).

Web Snake River Overlook Jan18

Beginnings of Alpenglow at Snake River Overlook: This is my first shot from this morning. The moon was still a little high, but the pinks and magentas were adding color to the sky.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 34 mm, 1/4 at f/8, Manual Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©Copyright 2014

Web Snake River Overlook Jan18

Pink Sky at SRO: A sunrise in the Tetons is more of an “event” than a specific time slice. The sky and light changes considerably within minutes, so it is possible to capture a variety of “looks” in a single morning.  Not long after this shot, the sky turned pewter gray. That’s normal. It always gives me time to check settings, replace batteries, get something warm to drink, or relax until the first glow of light starts hitting the tip of the Grand.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 34 mm, 1/4 at f/8, Manual Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©Copyright 2014

Web Snake River Overlook First Light Jan18

Advancing Morning Light on the Teton Range: This is a cropped single image taken at Snake River Overlook. Normally, I set up and shoot a couple of single, wide angle shots like this one, then adjust the necessary settings and shoot the same scene with 3 to 4 shots to be used for a “stitched” panoramic image. The shots might look very similar on a web page, but the stitched pano images can be printed much, much larger. I shot panos like this one with 1/3 of the range tops lit, then 1/2, 2/3, and eventually fully lit.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 24 mm, 1/50 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -1 1/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©Copyright 2014

Web_Moo Setting North of the Grand Jan18

Setting Moon: I left Snake River Overlook to get a shot with the moon just to the north of the range. I drove south along the highway until the moon was just to the right of the ridge and pulled over along the highway for a few shots, including some more pano parts. When shooting from the highway, I find it difficult to find worthy foreground elements. The random Lodgepole Pines and Spruce trees probably work better in the pano shots. I prefer to have some clouds for sunrise landscapes, but the full moon seems to do a good job of making up for them today.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, 1/160 at f/8, Manual Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 100, ©Copyright 2014

Shooting the October Moon: Tips for Being at the Right Place at the Right Time : If you are interested in more information about taking photos of the full moon, check out the linked page.   Anatomy of a Teton Landscape : Occasionally, I mention hoping to find landscapes with a foreground subject. This old Feature Post explains more about what I keep talking about.

Web Little Bull Moose Jan18

Small Bull Moose: It was dark as I was driving north this morning. I had to stop for an elk standing dead center in the road, but luckily I saw her in time. On the way back to town, I counted at least 14 moose in the area north of the Jackson Hole Airport. I stopped to capture this young one standing in the first bit of golden light and with the Grand as a backdrop. I drove out to Kelly and then north where I saw another half dozen moose but none were close to the road.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 92 mm, 1/400 at f/5.6, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Web Shane Cabin_Jan18

Shane Cabin: Taken from the road. I liked the way the light was hitting just the face of the cabin this morning.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, 1/200 at f/9, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Web Grand Elk Jan18

Grand Elk: Elk are still migrating into the National Elk Refuge. They are still very spooky, but the danger of the hunt is over. This image was taken along the Gros Ventre Road.

Web Cedar Waxwing Jan18

Cedar Waxwing on Mountain Ash Berries: Taken in town on a Mountain Ash tree.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/800 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 400, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

January 17, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 3°F : Sunrise 7:52 AM, Sunset 5:15 PM :  High Temp Forecast 32°F

A Morning in the Tetons: I knew the moon would be setting early this morning. I timed it fairly well to be at Teton View Overlook at about the time the moon started nestling in the peaks. When the moon went behind the peaks, I jumped in the truck and headed North until I could see it again. I caught the sunrise at Snake River Overlook, then headed back South. I stopped at Antelope Flats Road and shot from the turnaround.

Web Moon Teton View Jan17

Setting Moon over the Teton Range: This one was taken at Teton View Overlook.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, 1/2 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -1 1/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©Copyright 2014

WebMoon North Of Grand Jan17

Setting Moon and Low Clouds: This image was taken a mile or so north of Teton View Overlook. I pulled over to the side of the road.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 95 mm, 1/5 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -1 EV,  ISO 100, ©Copyright 2014

Web Moon at SRO Jan17

Moon Setting at Snake River Overlook: Quite honestly, this might have been the better spot to be today. I went there last month for the setting moon, so it wasn’t really on my radar for today. By the time I made it to the spot, the moon was already going behind the range.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, 1/13 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -1 EV,  ISO 100, ©Copyright 2014

Web Sunrise at Snake River Overlook Jan17

Sunrise at Snake River Overlook: I hung around for the sun to hit the Teton Range. Clouds had been passing through from the West. I “dropped the horizon”  and dialed the zoom lens to 24mm to capture more sky and clouds in this shot.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 24 mm, 1/125 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, 1/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©Copyright 2014

Web Cottonwoods Jan17

Cottonwoods: Hoar Frost covered a lot of the trees along Antelope Flats Road. These were backlit.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 380 mm, 1/5000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2 EV,  ISO 400, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Web Moulton Barn Jan17

Moulton Barn: Taken at the Winter turnaround on Antelope Flats Road.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 380 mm, 1/4000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2 EV,  ISO 400, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Web Sagebrush Tops Jan17

Sagebrush Tips: Taken along Antelope Flats Road. I adjusted the aperture to wide open on this one to make everything behind the sagebrush go out of focus quickly.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, 1/2000 at f/2.8, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©Copyright 2014

Web Sleigh Teams Jan17

Incoming Sleighs: Each morning, the crews drive the horses and sleighs from the barns to the tourist pickup point along the highway.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/1000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2 EV,  ISO 100, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Afternoon Outing: After making a quick trip to the bank and post office, I drove through town and found the Cedar Waxwings again. I got a few shots before they flew off to who knows where. I drove to the Elk Refuge, and again found the bottom area devoid of Bighorns. I heard a report of someone getting shots of wolves through binoculars with an iPhone, and there was a coyote on an elk carcass half way up the hill. It looks like the sheep are spooky right now and staying on top of the butte.


January 16, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 1°F : Sunrise 7:53 AM, Sunset 5:14 PM :  High Temp Forecast 31°F


Setting Moon 2009: Taken with a Nikon D300 and a Nikon 200-400 at 340mm.

Moon Stuff: According to The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE), this month’s full moon officially occurred at 9:52 pm on Wednesday, January 15th. If I lived on the Nebraska plains or along the California coast, I’d probably be out on the morning of the full moon to catch it going down along the natural horizon. In the mountains, we have to allow for the moon setting  behind the range 15-20 minutes minutes sooner. Likewise, the sun clears the mountain range in the east a little later each day.  To allow for the earlier “moon set”, I normally try to go out on the morning following a full moon. Still, I refer to TPE for specific times each month and use it to find the best locations in the valley to capture the moon setting somewhere close to the Grand peaks.

The January Setting moon should be going down around the Grand tomorrow morning if you were at Schwabacher Landing. That’d be about ideal, but the river bottom is closed during the winter months—even if I wanted to hike in.  Since we can’t go down in the river bottom, the next best locations are the turnouts at Glacier View and Teton Point. They are overlooks, so it is difficult to get much in the foreground. I think either of the two overlooks would be good, depending on whether I’d want the moon on the left of the Grand or the right of the Grand.  Across the valley, the location would be close to the end of the paved portion of the East Boundary Road near the Schwering Studio. I’ll probably get up tomorrow morning and see how it goes.

Loose Ends: After making my Trumpeter Swan post yesterday, I looked outside and saw one of the best sunsets I’ve seen here all winter. All I could do was to enjoy it from my upstairs window. Someone probably had a wonderful evening shoot! I’ve recently heard of a pack of wolves being sighted in the area around the Shane Cabins. The last time I was there very early in the morning, there was still a herd of elk hanging around, so it makes sense the wolves would be in the region. Other people got shots of the River Otters at Oxbow Bend yesterday. Another person told me they saw a couple of Moose with antlers in the area. Moose are seen fairly often around the JH Airport. It got much colder again last night. Flat Creek can freeze quickly when it gets close to zero.

Waxwing Conflict Jan14

Waxwing Conflict: I took this image a couple of days ago here in town. I am not sure yet if I will do an Early January Keepers page or wait until the end of the month, but this one would be on it.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/1000 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 400, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Taking Pictures in Cold Weather: Here’s a link to some winter photography tips at the Nikon site you might enjoy.

Teton Photography Group: I received this information this morning by email: “The next meeting of the Teton Photography Group will be Monday, January 20 at 6P in the Conference Room at the Art Association of Jackson Hole. Price Chambers, photojournalist for the JH News and Guide, will discuss the general topic of photojournalism but specifically will address the hot topic of photography using areal drones. It should be a great presentation.”  (I suspect they meant aerial droneThe meeting is open to all photographers. By becoming a member at the Art Association, you become a member of the group. Click the link for more information.


January 15, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 28°F : Sunrise 7:53 AM, Sunset 5:12 PM :  High Temp Forecast 39°F

Jackson Hole Today: Much warmer! Some people call this a “January Thaw”.  Both Bighorns and Waxwings were scarce today. The warmer weather thawed a nice channel in Flat Creek attracting numerous waterfowl such as Swans, Mergansers, Pinheads, Buffleheads, Golden-eyes & Mallards.

Web Swan Stretch2 Jan15

Swan Stretching: Captured on Flat Creek from the observation platform.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/2000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 400, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Swans Stretch Jan15

Swan Stretching: Also taken at Flat Creek.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/1600 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 400, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved


January 14, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 28°F : Sunrise 7:53 AM, Sunset 5:11 PM :  High Temp Forecast 29°F

Pacific Creek Fishing April6

April Fishing at Pacific Creek: How about an oldie from last April? That’s me standing in the Snake River during winter flows. I was just out from the Pacific Creek Boat Launch near Moran Junction. At that time of the year, I could have easily walked all the way across the river. To be honest, I wasn’t fishing, even though it is legal there if you have a license. I was just acting as my own model. If I had been behind the camera and taking pictures of a friend, this would have been a piece of cake shot.

Most photographers know the best shots are usually taken during the periods of first light and last of the evening light, but convincing a friend to get up long before sunrise is often harder than capturing the shot if they do go! Capturing a shot like this of yourself is not an easy assignment either! I tried it several times last April, including a couple with strobes. Maybe I can make a dedicated Feature Post on the shoot sometime soon? Interestingly, I had planned on doing quite a few similar shots down at Schwabacher Landing in 2013, only to find out they were not going to open the area.

Today’s Outings: I made two trips to Miller Butte today. For whatever reason, the sheep were not down either time. While driving around, I found a small flock of Cedar Waxwings and (happily) spent the afternoon with them.

Web Waxwings In Aspen Jan14

Cedar Waxwings in the Top of an Aspen Tree: This is what I am looking for when I drive around town. There can be half a dozen or up to 50 or 60 of them in one tree. It is not uncommon to set up, hoping to get shots of them feeding, only to see them take off as a flock and head to another part of town. But, occasionally, they do feed at a nearby berry tree and put on a good show.

Web Waxwing With Berry Jan14

Cedar Waxwing With a Mountain Ash Berry:  There’s a stem between me and the Waxwing and clump of berries in this web image. I am sure I captured lots of them without a stem or distraction. They are off-loading from my Sony XQD card as I write this post.

For anyone following my Nikon repair story, you might get a chuckle from today. I have a loaner Nikon D4 and a 200-400 mm VR2 lens here through Nikon Professional Services. Mine are still back at the service department. I paired up the two for the Waxwings this afternoon. Lightroom tells me it is importing over 3,300 images from the 64 gig card. I believe there are quite a few on the second card still to download. When I send the body back to NPS, I’ll check the actuations to see how many I took with their equipment. It’s like renting a car with unlimited mileage!

Web Last Shot Sleeping Indian Jan14

Last Shot of the Day: While I was at Miller Butte the last time, I felt like ol’ Sleeping Indian needed to be photographed! After all…he has a new layer of snow! This was shot across the valley with the 200-400mm lens on the D4.  MJ


January 13, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 28°F : Sunrise 7:54 AM, Sunset 5:010 PM :  High Temp Forecast 31°F

Wild stallion chasing a kicking young stallion on a Wyoming prairie. (Mike R. Jackson)

NEWS: Cowboys & Indians Magazine: If you have a chance to pick up the March issue, this image will be in the Equestrian category of their annual “Photographing the West” photo contest. I’ve had a Wild Horse image in the magazine three years in a row.

Reader Comments: Occasionally, I forward one of the heartfelt messages I receive about this blog to my wife. She has given my incredible latitude for the past five or six months. I am out shooting photos way too much and making endless posts here. Lots of things get neglected, but she tolerates it! Last night and this morning, I collected a bunch of the comments and created a PAGE of Reader Comments .  As the page says, I can get teary eyed reading some of them. Sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to write them. Feel free to add any additional comments at the bottom of the Reader Comments page.


January 13, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 28°F : Sunrise 7:54 AM, Sunset 5:10 PM :  High Temp Forecast 31°F

Today In Jackson Hole: It was overcast all day. I checked out a few places in town and the Swan Pond at Boyle’s Hill before going to Miller Butte. I met a couple of photographers from Montana that said they’d been here a week and never got to see the Tetons! Light has not been great either, but a tiny bit of it broke through last Saturday, if only for an hour or so.

Web Bighorns Resting Jan13

Bighorns Resting: A pair of Bighorns were on a relatively close rock ledge.  I set up and shot the same scene a few hundred times with each of two bodies. It is always nice to have time to try various compositions. Bands of snow also blew through the scene at times, so the same pair of resting Bighorns yielded quite a few shots from exactly the same spot.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/160 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 640, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Bighorns Ram Lip Curl Jan13

Bighorn Lip Curl: Most of the large Ungulates (hoofed mammals) exhibit a Flehmen Reaction during the rut season, as seen here.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 330 mm, 1/250 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 640, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Bighorn On Snowy Traverse Jan13

Bighorn Ram on Snowy Traverse: I had hoped the ram would stand up and over the resting Ewe when I first set up the tripod and camera gear. It never hurts to previsualize what you “hope” to see so you are ready to capture it when it happens…or if it happens. Today, the Ewe got up first and went behind a large rock long before the Ram decided to follow her.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/200 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 1000, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

>> January 12, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 23°F : Sunrise 7:54 AM, Sunset 5:09 PM :  High Temp Forecast 27°F

Web Moran Entrance Jan12

Into the Great White North!  This morning, I headed North towards Oxbow Bend, hoping to find the River Otters. The wind was blowing hard all morning as seen in the American Flag above. Unfortunately, I didn’t find Otters and there were no tracks indicating they had been out prior to my arrival. I drove around quite a bit and kept going back to the opening in the Bend.

Web Tree Tops Jan12

While driving around, I watched for subjects that “interested me“. They might not make the portfolio, but I have fun shooting them and they document our Wyoming Winters.

Web Buck Rail Fence Jan12

This shot was taken on my drive up Pacific Creek Road. Light broke through the clouds at times and helped add some contrast, color, and interest.

Web Snow Piles Jan12

Mounds of Snow with Shadows and Textures: Taken at the North End of Pacific Creek Road.

Web Raven Jan12

Raven at Oxbow Bend: There were a couple of Ravens hanging around the parking lot at Oxbow Bend just after the snow plow came through. During the winter, most of the big game leaves Oxbow Bend and the region, so it is uncommon to see them. Smaller mammals like Foxes and Otters can sometimes be seen—if you are lucky!

Web Small Pines Jan12

Future Forests: This row of small Lodgepole Pines caught my eye. I liked the way the light was hitting them. On the way home, I drove by Miller Butte and through town hoping to find some Cedar Waxwings.

>> January 11, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 34°F : Sunrise 7:55 AM, Sunset 5:08 PM :  High Temp Forecast 28°F

This Morning in JH: We are starting out with a warm morning. The weather report suggests 100% chance of snow (2″-4″) and heavy winds by the afternoon. It is cloudy and windy this morning at 7:00 am. I have been hanging close to home all week, so I had planned on making a little bit longer trip today. I keep wanting to go to Oxbow Bend where I hope to see River Otters. However, I think my best photo opportunities on a day like today are with the Mountain Goats. It can be windy at the mouth of the canyon on a calm day. When the forecast actually calls for wind, it can be brutal! Inclement weather can make for some dramatic images, so I am leaning towards a trip to Alpine as I write this entry in the January Updates.

Web Goats On Road Dec12

If you go there, be forewarned! The Sheriff, Highway Patrol, and Game and Fish are less tolerant to viewers and photographers along the State Highway when the roads are snow packed and icy.  I took this shot on December 12th. Between the goats actually ON the road and the people stopped to take photos, the 55 mph roadway can become a huge traffic jam. Truckers are usually not tolerant of this situation at all!

Web Double Trailer Jan11

Fully loaded double tankers travel up and down the Snake River Canyon at 55mph as seen above. If amazes me when I see people stop in the middle of the road to take a photo or watch the animals—just as they do in Yellowstone National Park! Check back later today to see which direction I went and if I had any success.

Web Mtn Goat Herd Jan11

Today’s Outing: I left home at 9:45 am and headed south to Alpine Junction, expecting to find a near whiteout blizzard. It was still quite warm by any January standard. I found a herd of around 20 Mountain Goats near the mouth of the canyon feeding in the brush. Their coats were rain soaked from the drizzle and occasional wet snow.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/640 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 500, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Mtn Goat On Ledge Jan11

Star of the Show: One young Billy wandered away from the herd and posed on the rocks for me for quite a while. That allowed me to compose and recompose the shot to my heart’s content. Other days, you get only a few shots.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/400 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 500, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Mtn Goa tOn Rocks Jan11

Mountain Goat on the Rocks: There had been snow overnight. It dusted the rocks to highlight all of the textures there. Once he rejoined the herd, I decided to head on home. It was getting dark and the herd appeared to be moving up the hillside instead of towards the rocks. I drove back to Jackson where I looked around for the Pygmy Owl and Waxwings before heading out to Miller Butte. I found plenty of Bighorns, but didn’t stop to photograph them today. I hear my wind chimes, but it is still warm and wet here. The mountains are probably getting pounded with snow.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/400 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 500, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

>> January 10, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 21°F : Sunrise 7:55 AM, Sunset 5:07 PM :  High Temp Forecast 31°F

Web Barrows Golden Eye Pair Jan10

Barrows Golden Eye Pair: Taken on Flat Creek in the afternoon. I went out to the National Elk Refuge twice but didn’t take any shots of the Bighorns.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/400 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 1000, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Muskrat Jan10

Muskrat on Ice: This little Muskrat was just a few yards from the Barrows Golden Eyes. He’d go under the ice and return to the same spot over and over and didn’t seem to mind my presence.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/640 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 1000, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Loose Ends: I tweaked my back muscles a couple of days ago. It seems much better now, but I am still taking it easy. I sent my Nikon D4 and 200-400mm lens in to Nikon for service. I got the price for the repair today: $50 plus $12.50 shipping. Not bad! I am using the loaner pair I got through Nikon Professional Services, so I haven’t felt deprived during this repair. Snow is in the forecast for the next few days. I found Waxwings today, and after standing near a berry tree for over 30 minutes, they flew off to another part of town! I never got a shot.

January 9, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 27°F : Sunrise 7:55 AM, Sunset 5:06 PM :  High Temp Forecast 27°F

This Morning in JH: My back muscles are better this morning after a good night’s sleep. It is snowing this morning and the wind chimes out my window are singing. I don’t feel too compelled to be out in it for a little while today. If you live in the Northern tier of states, check out this Aurora Forecast. It looks like the Jackson Hole area will be cloudy tonight, but maybe you can see the Northern Lights. I am anxious to photograph them over the Tetons someday.

I’ve mentioned doing some hard drive backups. It is easy to get files scattered all over numerous hard drives by deleting or moving them on one drive and forget to do the same on the backup drive(s). A friend at the Art Center recommended Allway Sync a long time ago and I have been using it ever since. Mine is the PC version, but I am not sure if they make a Mac version or not. It is free for a casual user, but you will be asked to pay if you are using it a lot or with a lot of files. It is great for syncing hard drives in one direction, or both directions.

Web 2009 Cutter Races

Jackson Hole Shrine Club Cutter Races – Having fun and helping kids. Here’s a link for the 43rd Annual Cutter Races to be held just south of Jackson on the 15th and 16th of February. This image was taken in 2009. Check out the link for more info. The town hotels can fill up that weekend, so if you are interested in attending the event, I’d suggest booking early. Here’s a link for a new Feature Post on the Cutter Races with more photos and information: Jackson Hole Cutter Races: February 15th & 16th

Afternoon Outing: I did a quick trip to town and found a few Cedar Waxwings feeding during the snow storm.

Web Cedar Waxwing Snow Fall Jan9

Cedar Waxwing During a Snow Storm: The streaks of snow let you know the wind was blowing today.

Web Cedar Waxwing On Berries Jan9

Cedar Waxwing Surrounded by Mountain Ash Berries: This Waxwing seemed be having trouble picked a berry. Most Winter subject matter is gray, black, blue, or brown. It is always a pleasant surprise to be able to capture something with so much color!

>> January 8, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 10°F : Sunrise 7:56 AM, Sunset 5:05 PM :  High Temp Forecast 27°F

This Morning in JH: I decided to stay home this morning and work on some backups and hard drive changes. It was overcast again, with some occasional snow flakes falling. Yesterday, I put out quite a bit of food for the birds. This morning, there were several Black-billed Magpies, a Northern Flicker and a Red Squirrel visiting the feeders and tree trunks. I buy peanut butter when it is on sale, then spread it in the cracks and holes of the tree trunks for them. Wintering birds also like Peanut Butter Suet. Solid cakes of suet will free in the Winter, so I grate the cake into some of the suet feeders. There were a few Chickadees and Sparrows mixed in today, too. I man get out some time later in the day. Check back! A couple of days ago, I posted a new Feature Post called Photoshop Techniques:. I’ll be adding to it over the next few months, but you might find techniques of interest there right now.

RS Orton Effect

This is an example of one of the images on the new page. This is an “Orton Effect”. There are several layers, one of which is blurred considerably. In the post, I line out all of the steps I went through to create the image from a standard photo.  I took the image one night in Rock Springs, WY. Night time shots with rainy streets are always more interesting than the same shots with dry pavement. Orton originally created the effects in the darkroom, but the effect can now be created digitally.  Something for FREE! Over the years, several of the third party Photoshop Plug-in developers automated the steps. I currently have OneOne Perfect Effects 7 and will be updating to version 8 as soon as today. While I was at their site, I found a link I thought I’d pass along to readers here for their FREE sampler effects: Perfect Effects 4 Free  consisting of 70 of the same effects you’d get in the full package. I downloaded the Free ones last night and tried installing them, but got a message letting me know I already had them installed with my paid package. I don’t know if the Orton Effect is in the Free package, but it’s hard to beat a free deal like this!

Rock Springs OnOne Orton

This shows the results of the default version of OnOne Orton Effect on the same image. There are a few sliders in the Plug-In version, of course. The price is right! I have a feeling you’ll find enough uses for the Free filters to consider paying for the full package. I’ve had mine for quite a few years.

Today at Home: I never know exactly how much to say or disclose here. I suspect most people are most interested in photos and reports. Others might like to hear a little about what goes on behind the scenes and behind the photos? Yesterday afternoon, I picked up a small box of Christmas decorations while somewhat twisted. I got a surge of pain in my back. and decided to take it easy last night and all of today.  I didn’t feel like hiking around with a heavy tripod and camera on snow and ice. Light was not great today, so I never felt like I was missing out on too much shooting. I am still nursing the back, but it is much better tonight. I recently bought three 4TB USB3 hard drives and have been busy at home transferring data and backing them up. It takes a long time to back up that much data! The sore back muscles and necessary file management seemed to come at about the same time!

Upcoming Weather: We are supposed to be getting snow off and on for much of the next week. That’s good news for the ski resorts! I’d normally rather have snow than rain and drizzle and I’d rather have snow for many shots than just plain white skies. Of course, too much of anything isn’t great either! I’ll try to get a few shots tomorrow even if they are only of the birds in the back yard. I have plans on going North more and hopefully catch the River Otters at Oxbow Bend. I doubt we’ll be seeing the Tetons much for a few days, so normal sunrise landscape opportunities will be less likely. Bighorns look great in the snow, especially if they are near the rocks. Cedar Waxwings on snow covered Mountain Ash berries are always high on my wish list. Owls…heck yes! But I don’t know where they are right now. I plan on taking an Elk Refuge sleigh ride someday soon, but I’ll probably wait for a relatively warm, sunny day for that shoot. As always, please visit the blog as often as you can and let others know about it! MJ

>> January 7, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 0°F : Sunrise 7:56 AM, Sunset 5:04 PM :  High Temp Forecast 23°F

This Morning in JH: I was up and out early. It was still fairly dark and cloudy as I drove north. When I saw the clouds covering the top 1/3 of the mountains, I turned back towards town. I parked and waited at the Flat Creek Pullout to see if I might get a colorful sunrise over Sleeping Indian mountain. It didn’t happen! After lunch, I drove through town watching for Waxwings and then out to Miller Butte. I came home without taking a single photo.

Web Black-capped Chickadee Jan7

Afternoon: Lacking a photo for today, I set up the tripod in the back yard and filled a few feeders. It wasn’t long before I had a few Chickadees in the willows. This one is a Black-capped Chickadee.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/500 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 500, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Mountain Chickadee Jan7

Mountain Chickadee: Mountain Chickadees are a bit smaller than a Black-capped Chickadee. They have a couple of white “racing stripes” on their heads, while the Black-capped species has a solid black head.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/500 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 500, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved (The grain in this image was added in Lightroom)

Web Black-capped Chickadee on Spruce Jan7

Black-capped Chickadee on Tree Top: I sprinkled a few sunflower seeds in the top of this small tree. The Chickadee found them quickly.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/800 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 500, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

>> January 6, 2014  | 7:00 AM: -4°F : Sunrise 7:56 AM, Sunset 5:02 PM :  High Temp Forecast 18°F

Web_Grand Clouds_Jan6

Grand Clouds: Taken early today from the Moose-Wilson Road. I had planned on going quite a bit farther North, but when the clouds started filling in, I stopped at Moose. There were about 10 Moose south of Moose Junction and North of the Airport. You might call this a “record shot”. I was driving around the Moose Visitor’s Center area looking for some foreground subject matter when the gold light began. I was hoping the clouds would blow off the Grand.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 40 mm, 1/80 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 100, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Bald Eagle Jan6

Bald Eagle: Taken alongside Highway 89/191 in the 45mph zone near the Gros Ventre bridge. I saw this eagle in the tree before first light. I waited until the first light hit the tree, then got out, expecting him to fly at any time. I was standing out in the bitter cold for 45 minutes waiting for him to fly, but he never did! At some point, my toes started telling me it was time to leave.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/500 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 200, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Miller House Jan5

Miller House with Afternoon Clouds: Taken on the Elk Refuge Road heading out to Miller Butte. I’d love to walk out into the field for a shot, but all visitors are restricted to only a few feet from the road.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 160 mm, 1/8000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -1 1/3 EV,  ISO 800, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Cedar Waxwing Jan5

Cedar Waxwing with Mountain Ash Berries: Taken on a Mountain Ash tree in the town of Jackson.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/500 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 500, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Peach House 2010

Peach House and Frosted Aspens: Even though the signature says 2014, I took this image after a frosty, foggy morning in 2010. Once the fog lifted, everything was coated with a beautiful layer of hoar frost. Normally, the frost lasts only a few minutes once the sun hits it. This house and the barns along Mormon Row are still open to the public in the Winter, but Antelope Flats Road has been closed to vehicle traffic since December 24th. You can hike in, shoe shoe in, or cross-country ski into the historic area. Snowmobiles are prohibited. The shortest direction is from the West. I checked it on the odometer on my truck once and it is roughly 3/4 mile from the parking area to the intersection at Mormon Row. It is another half mile or so to the T.A. Moulton barn—south of the intersection. Early in the season, you can probably still walk in, but winds and heavy snow can cause deep drifts on the road. If you hike in during the winter, you’ll be almost guaranteed to find fresh, untracked snow, but be careful! It can be darned cold, especially early in the morning. Morning temperatures in that area can get down to -30°F—not counting the wind chill!  I’ve hiked out a few times, but only if the temperatures are in the 0-20°F range. It is usually rewarding and good exercise if you are prepared for the cold and conditions. The area has good cell phone service if you have an emergency, but I’d also suggest making the trip out with a companion. For additional information and photos, check out this earlier Feature Post: Pretty In Peach: The Historic Stucco House on Mormon Row

January 5, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 10°F : Sunrise 7:56 AM, Sunset 5:01 PM :  High Temp Forecast 18°F

Web Bighorns In Rut Jan5

Bighorn Rams In Pursuit of a Ewe: I spent the middle of the day at the National Elk Refuge. This Ewe was still of interest to a few of the Rams on Miller Butte.

Web_ Chasing Bighorns Jan5

Bighorn Chase: There was quite a bit of action today. Sometimes, the biggest Ram turns on the chasing Rams. This allows one of the smaller Rams to get close to the Ewe as seen here.

Web Science School Dec21Where’s Ditch Creek and Ditch Creek Road?I’ve mentioned seeing Moose near Ditch Creek and in the sage flats north of Kelly in quite a few recent posts. I added a map on the Map page with the link in the top navigation panel. About four miles north of Kelly, there is an asphalt road that cuts off the East Boundary Road and goes East to the old Teton Science School. It continues as a dirt road way back into the National Forest. Some people call the paved section “Science School Road”, but it is actually called Ditch Creek Road. If you had turned West instead of East, you’d be on a two track dirt road. Some people call it the “Power Line Road”, but is also officially Ditch Creek Road. In the old days, it would have connected to Mormon Row just south of the house with the metal windmill. Currently, the Park Service has a barricade to prevent vehicle travel on roughly the last mile of the dirt road.  The old Schoolhouse would have been on the corner of the intersection at Mormon Row. Running essentially parallel to Ditch Creek Road is Ditch Creek. It runs right behind the old Science School, then travels almost due West and crosses under the East Boundary Road on its route West to Mormon Row. There’s a small bridge over it along Mormon Row—just North of the house with the steel windmill. Ditch Creek runs diagonally across the valley floor to the North end of Blacktail Butte, then under Highway 89/191 and onward to the its confluence with the Snake River—just south of Blacktail Ponds overlook.

Today in Jackson Hole: I’m taking it easy today after a lot of driving yesterday. It is overcast, slightly windy and colder today. I’ll probably spend time on the computer, then look for a few birds and make a quick trip to Miller Butte once it warms up some and light gets a little brighter. Check Back!

>> January 4, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 10°F : Sunrise 7:56 AM, Sunset 5:00 PM :  High Temp Forecast 18°F

Today in Jackson Hole: It snowed a little overnight. I was hoping to find moose with snow on them, but they were too far out. Clouds were thick at sunrise, so I didn’t attempt any kind of landscape shots. I found a few nice buck Mule Deer around Kelly. Neither were in good shooting spots, plus it was still very early. I drove back to town and then on down to Alpine Junction and back to the Elk Refuge. Overall, I got a few shots for the blog today, but I didn’t capture anything I’d probably include in the “keepers” post for the month.

Web Buck Mule Deer Jan4

This buck looked at me when I was rolling down the window to take a shot, but started walking and never looked back. At least you can get an idea of his size. They typically hang out around Kelly, occasionally feeding on left over hay from a few of the horse corrals there.

Web Bald Eagle Jan4

Morning Bald Eagle: Taken along the Gros Ventre Road as I was driving back towards town. My kids could tell you, but I don’t know the name of the ski run on the distant mountain at Teton Village.

Web Mtn Goat Pair Jan4

Mountain Goat Pair of Rock Ledge: I watched these two for quite a while. One was bedded down, then got up about the time I was taking the camera off the tripod. They dropped into some thick brush under the rocks.

Web Nanny and Kid Jan4

Nanny and Kid: I found quite a few more sheep down by the road and close to the mouth of the canyon. I took my normal quota of Mountain Goats feeding on grass by the road, which I have lots of already. A Wyoming Game and Fish ranger came by and asked me to move completely off the road (my truck was already well inside a pull-out). The roads were snow packed and potentially dangerous, I guess. He pulled out a couple of fireworks “screamers” and shot them towards the goats. The first one sent them up to a ridge. The second one sent them on up the mountain. I am afraid that scenario will be the norm down there this year? Photographic opportunities will likely still exist, but possibly only for a short time on any particular day.

Web_ Rams Watching Jan4

Rams on Miller Butte: After the fireworks, I left the Snake River Canyon earlier than I had originally planned.  I made it out to the National Elk Refuge for a short period and captured a few images. Sheep were down by the road in several places, but I decided to head on home and make today’s blog post and do some work on the computer.  The larger ram in this shot left there and walked out to the ewes north of the road.

Recaps for Early January: Flat Creek opened up some yesterday, but I didn’t see any Trumpeter Swans on it today. There weren’t many Swans at Boyle’s Hill the last time I was there, so it is possible the migrating Swans left the valley. Maybe this report is still premature, but that’s what I am seeing. I’ve seen quite a few Bald Eagles along the Snake River. I’ve seen several Golden Eagles on the Elk Refuge. Several people tried getting shots of the Otters at Oxbow Bend, but I haven’t heard of much success lately. There are two dirt roads that go due West from the East Boundary Road north of Kelly. I’ve heard one called Warm Springs Road and the other one is Ditch Creek Road, but is often called Power Line Road. Both of them are still open, but after the recent snow and heavy winds, I wouldn’t recommend going down either of them unless you have a high clearance truck, good tires and 4-wheel drive. I tried it yesterday, before last night’s snow, and I was at least a little concerned if I was going to make it back out. Antelope Flats Road is closed, of course. At this time of the year, Moose move towards the west to graze on Bitter Brush. Normally, they stay out of that area during Elk hunting season, but go there once it is over. Many of them have lost their antlers. For the most part, I’d suggest Moose “season” is about over for the year. Bison are still being hunted on the National Elk Refuge. A large herd of them is huddled on the Southeast corner of Blacktail Butte in GTNP, and out of the hunter’s shooting zones. The big game animals move away from the base of the Tetons during the Winter months. Snow is much too deep for them to find food in those areas. The road is open from Moose Visitor’s Center to Death Canyon Road (about three miles). I haven’t been on it in a while, but I seldom find much to photograph there in the winter. The Visitor’s Center at Moose is closed for the winter this year. Rams are still chasing and mating with the Ewes on the Refuge. Consider a Sleigh Ride trip on the National Elk Refuge!

January 3, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 28°F : Sunrise 7:56 AM, Sunset 4:59 PM :  High Temp Forecast 30°F

Today in Jackson Hole: I’m up early and just checked the Weather Channel for this morning’s forecast: It should be cloudy and breezy, with chances of snow flurries. I’ll probably make a quick trip to Kelly and check on the Moose and look around for Mule Deer. It is dark here, so I have no idea whether the mountains are covered with clouds. My wind chimes are singing loudly today, but at least it is relatively warm for January. I’d love to get a few breaks in the clouds around sunrise.

WebBulls At Climbing Rocks Jan3

Today’s Outing: I made the short trip out to Kelly. I found eight moose with no antlers before finding these three young bulls at the “Climbing Rocks”on the east side of the park. If you ever watched the movie “The Mountain Men” with Charleston Heston, there was a scene where Indians were jumping off cliffs into the river and where Heston’s character was captured. This is the  spot! The Jacksons at the Jumping Rocks: Click this link to view a YouTube video clip I shot there a couple of years ago with my wife and two sons. After seeing these three bulls, I drove on out the Gros Ventre to the dead end. I was hoping to see a few of the bighorns seen on the red rocks on occasions. Not today, however!

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 330 mm, 1/200 at f/7.1, Normal Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 500, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

New Feature Post! If you bookmarked this page and are coming directly to it, check out the new Feature Post: December “Keeper” Images There are a LOT of images on this new page!

>> January 2, 2014  | 7:00 AM: 18°F : Sunrise 7:56 AM, Sunset 4:59 PM :  High Temp Forecast 29°F

Today in Jackson Hole: It’s cloudy this morning. That’s not usually great for Teton Vista Views photography, and it takes at least a little light to get good wildlife shots. The gamble, of course, is if you go out and get a break in the clouds with a wonderful band of light across your subject. A somewhat plain image can immediately turn into a portfolio piece if you are prepared to capture it.

Stuck at Home For Part of the Day: Last year at this time, I neglected to tighten the lens in the clamp of my tripod’s ball head. When I needed to move from one spot to another, I threw the rig over my shoulder. I felt it get much lighter, followed by a big crash behind me. My Nikon D4 and Nikon 200-400mm lens crashed to the hard, ice packed ground and broke in two. I sent it in for service. Nikon repaired it and my insurance company paid for all but the deductible. It has worked perfectly since the repair. That’s the good news. However, some of the parts needed for the repair had to be ordered and it took very close to 45 days before I had the body back. It was during that time I bought the Nikon D800 to use during the down time.

At the first of December this year, I found I couldn’t get the 200-400mm lens off the D4. I tried everything, including calling Nikon Support. They told me to send it in. The two little pins on the D4 are not retracting when I push the release button. Traditionally, January is not as busy for photography as December, so I decided to leave the D4 and 200-400mm together and shoot with it all month. That was a good decision, and easily apparent if you look  over  December Daily Updates for Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole.  This time, I called Nikon Professional Services and requested a loaner D4 and 200-400mm lens to use while my combination is being repaired. They shipped it on December 30th and the package is out for delivery by Fed-Ex today. After it arrives, I will be shipping mine off.  I’ll do a few focus tests on the loaner, then go out and try to get a few images. If you are looking for a takeaway or two from this long paragraph, here they are: 1: Equipment insurance is relatively cheap and well worth it. 2: A tether is very cheap and well worth it. (I’ll show mine in a photo or two someday) 3: NPS (Nikon Professional Services) isn’t necessarily easy to get, but is worth the effort if you qualify. 2013 Totals: Out curiosity, I checked the actuations on my two main cameras for 2013. The D4 now has 365,877 total actuations. 173, 654 were taken in 2013. The D800 was purchased new in January and ended the year with 72,938 actuations. The total for the two bodies in 2013 was 246,592.

Web Icicles Jan2

Winter’s Jewelery: The box arrived from Nikon at 3:00 PM. I added some cards and my battery and headed out for a few shots before I lost the light.

Web Townsend's Solitaire Jan2

Townsend’s Solitaire: I drove around looking for Cedar Waxwings and saw this bird in the top of a spruce tree.

>> January 1, 2014

Web Torch Light Parade at Snow King 2014Text

Snow King Resort’s Torch Light Parade and Fireworks: Technically, this event happened in 2013, but it celebrated the New Year to happen a few hours later. It was a relatively “warm” night for the end of December. There were plenty of skiers and lots of people at the bottom of the hill watching the show. If you are ever in town at the end of the year, I’d certainly recommend being there. This is a composite image consisting of four shots of the torches and skiers and four shots of the fireworks. They were layered in Photoshop.

  • Shooting Info: The images were captured with a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 24-70mm lens on a sturdy tripod. ISO was set to 400. Exposure times were roughly 2.5 seconds to capture the skiers, then adjusted for the fireworks. I was in manual focus and manual exposure with the white balance set manually to around 3880K.

Web Ram At Shadows Jan1

Ram Entering Shadows: Taken at Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge just as sunlight began hitting the rocks.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/2000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 640, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Still In Rut Jan1

Still In The Rut: Bighorns are still displaying rut behavior. There were at least 50 bighorns down from the mountain and near the Elk Refuge Road.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/1000 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 200, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Ram Portrait Jan1

Bighorn Ram Portrait: This ram was still in the shadows when I took this image. I’ve photographed him each year for quite a few years.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 380 mm, 1/400 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 640, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Waxwing On Berries Jan1

Cedar Waxwing on Mountain Ash Berry Clump: We had a nice layer of new snow overnight. I was eager to find Waxwings on the clumps of berries with snow still on them. The rich blue sky is a great compliment for the burnt orange leaves and bright red berries.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/3200 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 800, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

Web Waxwing and Berry Jan1

Mountain Ash Berries: A Waxwing can pick a berry and swallow it in a split second. Occasionally, one will hold it in their beak just long enough for a shot or two. I prefer my D4 for these birds so I can shoot at close to 10 frames per second.

  • Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/6400 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 800, ©2014 Mike R. Jackson,  All Rights Reserved

The NEW January Daily Reports: This is the first entry for January and the new year. Near the top of this page, I added links to the most recent Daily Updates pages, including the recent December page. Please come back to this page daily to see what’s happening around Jackson Hole. If you haven’t done so, be sure to sign up to follow this blog site by adding your email address in the text box in the upper right corner of the page. You’ll get an email when I make new Feature Posts. I ended 2013 with the Snow King image above, but earlier in the day, I found an elusive little Pygmy Owl and included a couple of shots of him on the December page. Lastly, this site is written for both non-camera toting tourists and photographers of all levels. Please help me by spreading the word about the site to everyone in your circle of friends. I am trying to make this the best blog out there by filling it with plenty of photos, tips, and information. Cheers…and Happy New Year!



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Comments (8)

  1. LaGail West

    I love getting your email and seeing the spectacular photography you do. I am sharing your email address with close friends who we traveled with this past October to Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons. Unbelievable beauty!!

  2. Lowell Schechter

    Mike, it amazing what you have gone through with your equipment over the past year. I remember the incident you had with the D4 and the 200-400. And now you could not remove the that lens from the camera. Yes, Nikon professional service can save the day if you qualify for that service. Our luck has run out here in the Northeast and now we in the middle of a blizzard with bone chilling temps. Also here on Long Island we have had a abundance of snowy white owls and you would need a lens like your 200-400 to capture images of them. And we now have Bald Eagles in one of the local state parks.

  3. Hi Lowell,
    With NPS, I am supposed to be able to get priority service and get the equipment back quickly. The other feature of NPS is the option to get loaner equipment. I just have to pay for the shipping both directions. I’ll also have to pay for shipping both directions to the repair center. But…I get to shoot with a one of the newer 200-400 mm lens for a while. It will be interesting to see if I can see a difference in image quality.

  4. Seetharaman CG

    It was a pleasure talking with you the other day. Thanks to all of your tips I had a great couple of days at Jackson Hole. Thanks once again.

  5. Hi Mike, your blog has become my daily check in site to get my Grand Teton fix. I enjoyed meeting you and photographing the Great Grays on Spring Gulch road with you. That day marked the end of a TWENTY plus year quest to find and photograph them. Thanks for all of the great information and the outstanding images.
    Tim Vaclavek

  6. Your cropped image of the Ruff-Legged Hawk is spectacular! Was that taken with the D4 or D800? What a great shot! Raptors are truly one of my favorite subjects to photograph. Very nicely done.

  7. Bill,
    I saw this bird sitting on a fence post and stopped to try to get a few shots. Light wasn’t great at that time. I wasn’t thinking much about trying to get a flight shot. I took the D800 with the 200-400mm lens on it with the big tripod, intending on just getting perched shots. There was a wire fence under the top of the post. Normally, when they take off, they drop down a little before the first wing flaps, which would have put him under the wire. To be honest, I was just trying to improve on the late evening shot from yesterday. I got quite a few shots of him perched on three or four of the posts, but this one was interesting because he was in the air and still fairly sharp…considering my settings. It also shows how his light colorization could possibly be confused with a Snowy Owl at a distance. Hopefully, I can get shots of him perched in the top of a spruce tree (which I missed today) and with better light.

  8. Marion Dickinson

    I cannot tell you how much I enjoy and appreciate your columns. Your photos are fantastic, I hope to get over there while the goats are still visible.

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