A monthly journal of daily weather reports, road reports, wildlife reports and tidbits for both photographers and Teton visitors!
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Bison: A few Bison are hanging around north of Kelly, but most are now on the north end of the National Elk Refuge. Roads to that area are closed in the Winter.
- Moose: Most bull moose have lost their antlers by early February and will begin growing them again soon. Some of the smaller bulls still have them as of February 1. Watch for moose along the Gros Ventre river bottom, in the sage Flats north of the JH Airport, and along the Snake River. Some cows move into town for the winter. Some are seen along Fish Creek in the small town of Wilson.
- Bighorn Sheep : 60-90 are wintering on Miller Butte in the National Elk Refuge. 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, including parts of Miller Butte.
- Pronghorns: All of the area Pronghorns appear to have migrated out of the valley for the Winter. Most of them winter near Big Piney, WY.
- Elk : UPDATED FEB 12: Thousands of Elk are on the National Elk Refuge. Consider taking the Sleigh Ride into the herds. Recent snows are likely pushing more of them to the refuge. The Refuge should be feeding the elk by now.
- 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 and along the butte running parallel to the National Elk Refuge. Be out early!
- Mountain Goats: UPDATED FEB 11: February is usually a good month to see Mountain Goats at the mouth of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction. So far this February, sightings have been much less frequent for some reason.
- 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 and along fence posts south of town.
- River Otters have been sighted on occasions at Oxbow Bend.
- Bears are hibernating.
- Waterfowl: UPDATED FEB 17: Flat Creek was frozen during much of January. With recent warm weather, much of it opened back up, but can freeze again if temperatures drop low enough overnight. When the creek is open, watch for Golden Eyes, Swans, PinTails, and Geese. If it is frozen, 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. Cedar Waxwings were in town for a few weeks, but I haven’t been able to find them lately.
- 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.
February 28, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 34°F : Sunrise 7:01AM, Sunset 6:011 PM : High Temp Forecast 29°
This Morning in JH: Ditto! Cloudy, windy, light snow. Most of the days in February started out this way. A big storm is heading our way and bringing colder weather. This is the last day of February. It went FAST! Tomorrow, I will begin a new March Daily Photos and Updates post and this one will get archived. Yesterday was another of those days where little loose ends projects stacked up and I never got out with the camera. I was tempted to go out for some light painting last night, but spent time with my wife instead. I got a few Facebook lessons, too. Check back…I am sure I will get new shots today. MJ
Lunch Time Outing: I drove to Flat Creek and then North a few miles. Mergansers and Swans were on the creek. Mule Deer were feeding on the hillside. I drove to Miller Butte and saw a few Bighorns, but they were way off. I drove south of town to see if I could find the Rough-legged Hawk. Nothing!
Miller House Pano: (Click the image to see it quite a bit larger) While at the National Elk Refuge, I pulled over and took this shot using the Pano feature on my iPhone 5c. When I got home, I downloaded it to my computer and fixed the distortions in Photoshop using the Adaptive Wide Angle tool and a bit with the Liquify filter. I used the new Adobe Photoshop CC option to run the photo back through Camera Raw where I added some contrast, lightened the shadows and darkened the blues.
On my birthday earlier in the month, I finally got an iPhone 5c…thanks to my wife! I have been learning how to use it all month. We also bought a LifeProof case for it. The case is supposed to be rugged and waterproof to 6′. That’s a good feature for a fly fisherman! A few days ago, I ordered a bicycle holder for it, sold by the same people. I spent part of yesterday adapting the bicycle holder to work on the top of my camera by attaching it to the hot shoe. I’ll take a photo of the bracket someday soon. I set everything up on the tripod with a leveling pan head and made a few of the iPhone panos. It worked perfectly! The quality of the pano from the iPhone is not up to the same standards I get when I stitch three or four images from my D800, but the iPhone can make a nice image in only seconds.
Corey Jackson on Skis: If you are interested, here’s a video clip of my 21 year old son skiing in Park City, UT. He is a ski coach for the Park City Axis Free Ride Team. The videos were shot with a GoPro and a Nikon D5200.
February 27, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 14°F : Sunrise 7:03AM, Sunset 6:09 PM : High Temp Forecast 35°
Today In Jackson Hole: I went out yesterday and took a lot of landscapes, as seen below. Today, I got up and saw clouds again. I am having trouble hitting it just right! I drove my wife out to the airport this morning. The sun was breaking through in some areas, but the Grand was still obscured by the pesky clouds. On the way up, I saw quite a few swans in Flat Creek, most of which were still sleeping. There were lots of Mule Deer and a few Elk on the hillside West of the Refuge. On the way back through town, the Swans were more active and the light was good. It would have been a good time to head back, but I had to help her deliver a car out to the Pines on the Village Road.
The National Elk Refuge staff is now feeding the Elk much farther out—closer to Miller Butte. The day I took the Elk Refuge ride, the Elk were much closer to Flat Creek. Our sleigh never moved far enough East to see the Grand, so if you go now and if you have clear skies, there is a chance you will get Elk feeding with the Tetons as a backdrop. Worth noting! A few days ago the Jackson Hole News and Guide reported a story stating the official count on the Elk Refuge as 8,296, which is a big jump over recent years. Here’s the full story : Refuge Elk Numbers Jump Big.
I checked the weather reports for the next week and see lots of snow in the forecast and wind between 7 and 10 mph. Every day shows clouds.
- Jackson Town Downhill – Mini Hahnenkamm: March 01. Locals look forward to this race on Snow King Mountain
- 3rd Annual Great SnowFest: March 1st and 2nd with SkiJor and Calcuta in Victor, Id. Next week is a Sno X Competition.
- 1st Alpine Winter Jubilee : Feb 28 – Mar 2nd. in Alpine, WY.
OnOne Perfect Photo Suite 8: Earlier in the week, I upgraded my OnOne Photo Suite to their new Version 8. I haven’t had a lot of time to actually work with the program, but I spent some time watching tutorial videos on the software off and on today. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t get back out for shots. I don’t know if it will replace Photoshop in my workflow, but it definitely offers some nice features as a standalone product, plus it is well integrated with Lightroom, Photoshop, Aperture and Elements. Their Content Aware Cloning tools (Perfect Eraser) look to be superior to Photoshop’s, but of course I was seeing examples in their videos. I’ll give it a try soon.
Wildlife Apps: A while back, I was talking to one of the tour guides at the observation platform along flat creek. He was with a load of clients in his van. We were looking at the Trumpeter Swans and one of his clients asked about the difference between them and a Tundra Swan. He grabbed his iPad or Android pad and found the bird in no time. I purchased the Peterson Birds of North America app for my phone and then started looking for a good app for mammals of the Rockies. So far, I haven’t found a good one. If you know of one, please post it here or send me an email. Hint: I am hoping to encourage readers here to add comments and get involved!
February 26, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 11°F : Sunrise 7:04AM, Sunset 6:08 PM : High Temp Forecast 37°F
Morning Outing: We had clear skied overnight. I got up fairly early, but too late for star shots. I posted 11°F above, but it was much, much colder north of town and with the wind blowing from the north.
Early Alpenglow: Taken from the highway just south of Moose Junction.
Alpenglow with Pink: Taken from the Climbing Rocks pullout south of Antelope Flats Road.
Sunrise Photographer: Taken across from Triangle X Ranch.
First Light: Taken at the same place—sans photographer.
Cottonwood Shadows: Taken just south of Moose Head Ranch.
Upper Lot at Oxbow Bend: I had to climb a snowbank for this shot across the upper lot.
Snow Banks at Oxbow Bend: I snapped this one to show how high some of the snow banks are in the valley.
Morning Comments: Last night, the weather report called for “partly cloudy” skies for today. There were a few clouds, but limited to the extreme south end of the valley. The shots above fall into what I call “record shots”….or in this case…Blog Shots. Ideally, I prefer at least some clouds for my landscape images. You my like your landscapes with clear blue skies, and that’s great, too! Clouds, at least in my opinion, would have made all of these images so much better! I’ll go back another time or ten more times! One day, I will hit it right. All of these were taken with a Nikon D800 and either a 24-70 lens or a 70-200 lens. I hand held some of them, but if clouds had been in the sky, I would have used the tripod on all of them.
February 25, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 34°F : Sunrise 7:06AM, Sunset 6:07 PM : High Temp Forecast 35°F
New Feature Post: Lately, I have been receiving emails asking about chances of seeing bears, moose and elk if they make a Springtime trip to Jackson Hole. I’ve thought about the models and photographers trying to capture a festive holiday look in the heat of the summer for an upcoming Christmas catalog. So, here I am in Jackson Hole with two feet of snow in my yard and needing two write a post about Spring opportunities. I’ll probably still have to run the snow blower a few more times before Spring actually arrives!
Here’s the link to the new post: Springtime in the Tetons: The Grizzlies above were taken on April 12th last year and are part of the new post. Please help me by spreading the word of the post and this site.
Today in Jackson Hole: We are getting another carbon copy of recent February days. Skies are gray, with wind.
Afternoon Outing: Yikes! I was just reading over the specs on the upcoming Nikon D4s and realized I forgot to add an afternoon photo.
Rough-legged Hawk in flight: There are still a lot of Rough-legged Hawks along the fences of the National Elk Refuge and one I’ve seen consistently at Rafter J above the River Rock Senior Home.
Afternoon Shadows: While waiting for the hawk to fly, I took a second and took this shot of a plant casting an interesting shadow on the textured snow. After lunch, the skies cleared completely. I was tempted to go to the Boyle’s Hill Swan Pond, but opted to look for Hawks.
Additional Wildlife: I received another confirmation of the young bull moose with antlers east of the Shane Cabin as you drive “up the Gros Ventre”. The Cedar Waxwings appear to still be in town. I saw around 40 a couple of days ago feeding on berry bushes in the back of someone’s yard. No shots…but it is nice to know they are still around. There are lots of Ravens in town right now, too. They are feeding on Mountain Ash berry bushes. Flat Creek is getting more active with the warmer temperatures and open water. Watch for Geese, Golden-Eyes, Buffleheads, Mallards and Trumpeter Swans.
Upcoming Weather: Skies were clear when I was outside tonight. I was tempted to go out for the night skies, but I think I will try to go out early tomorrow instead. The forecast is for partly cloudy skies with relatively warm temps before things turn colder again with new snow storms rolling in.
February 24, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 34°F : Sunrise 7:08AM, Sunset 6:06 PM : High Temp Forecast 37°F
Morning: It’s 5:30 am. Wind chimes are singing, but I can see stars in the dark sky. I am heading North to check it out. Check back!
Morning Outing: When I left town, it was still dark. The traffic lights downtown were still flashing red. I could still see stars, but as it turned out, the clear patch of sky was directly overhead. Clouds clung to the Teton range and a very large, thick cloud was blocking all light in the east. Plows were out on the highway knocking off the drifts that covered the southbound lane. I turned around and headed back to town.
Crescent Moon: The moon was visible at times, so I drove out Boyle’s Hill Road and took a few shots, then out to the Swan Pond. There were over 50 swans at the edge of the water there. Flat Creek had swans in it as I drove by this morning. I took photos of a few barns in South Park and headed on home.
Afternoon Outing: Light was good in town and I had dark skies to the north and east. I headed over to Boyle’s Hill to photograph Trumpeter Swans.
Stretching Trumpeter Swan: Hard to beat good light! I would need to clone out the tail of the swan on the far left, but that would only take a few seconds.
Waterfowl on Snow: This one has a mixture of Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, and Trumpeter Swans.
Swan in Flight: Light was hitting my immediate area, but the distant mountains and clouds were in shadows.
A Gathering of Trumpeters: These Swans were waiting for the guy from the Wetlands Society to come by and feed them. The Swan program at Boyle’s Hill is one of the region’s success stories.
Wildlife Report: When I was at Alpine, Jason told me he saw a bull Moose at the Park boundary east of the Shane Cabin still sporting his antlers. Worth a look if you are in that area in the next few days.
Upcoming Feature Post!: I am working on a new Springtime In The Tetons post. Besides having a chance to win the Clik camera bag, signing up to follow the blog means you will be one of the first to get to read the post. Just enter your name in the upper right navigation bar.
February 23, 2014 | 7:00 AM: ?°F : Sunrise 7:09AM, Sunset 6:04 PM : High Temp Forecast 35°F
Today in Jackson Hole: Skies are mostly white, with reports of upcoming show and light winds. I can’t see the Tetons from my window, but the clouds I am seeing might be only morning fog. I plan on going out somewhere today, but will play it by ear. The mountains are still getting hammered with snow, so getting some new landscape shots are on my radar. If it is too cloudy, I might make another trip to Alpine. My trip yesterday was okay, but I’ve had many days that yielded better images. The last group I saw stayed above the power lines and moved across the hillside. I left after 3:00 Pm, so I gave them plenty of time yesterday.
On the Road Again: Back in the Canyon and having lunch at Yankee Doodles. A few goats were on the top of Goat Rock, but too far for me. A Nanny and a Kid came down fairly close to the road and I got quite a few nice shots. The Nanny has a collar, but she still looks good when she looked at me.
Nanny on Slope: I removed just a little of the Nanny’s tracking collar on this one.
Mountain Goat Kid on a Slope: Kid’s hang fairly close to their mother, but roam around within sight.
Nanny Feeding: For this web blog image, I spent around a minute removing the clearly visible tracking collar in Photoshop.
Billy On a Rock Outcropping: I shot again today with a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 200-400 mm lens. The large file size allowed me to crop a fair amount in this image. I was roughly 150 yards away and shooting through a snow storm.
Mountain Goats of the Rockies: Power lines run across the top of this shot and wire mesh was somewhere below the shot.
Ski Joring: On the way home, I stopped to watch the last eight to ten Ski Joring races that were part of Winterfest. A horse pulls a skier down the race track. The skier goes over three or four jumps and has to navigate the gates. The skier is Daniel A VanDerMeulen from Bellevue, Id.
Stylish Grab: Ski Joring events are held all around the region. The Shriner I spoke with said there would be another one in Victor, ID next week.
On the Road: In the Snake River Canyon having lunch at Yankee Doodle’s Cafe in Alpine. Free Wi-Fi and good food! I had one session with Mountain Goats near the third pullout. Hoping for more. Saw around 20 in one herd and a couple of random goats. Saw a Red Fox and a Northern Flicker at the first pullout. Windy with ocasional snow.
Lots going on in Jackson this weekend. Check the Chamber link for Winterfest info.
Back Home: There were around twenty Mountain Goats in the area near the third pullout. Just a few hundred yards up the canyon is a huge rock outcropping I like to call “Goat Rock”. Anyone spending much time down there knows where it is. This is my least favorite area to try to photograph them because of the wire mesh the highway department installed to reduce rocks rolling onto the road. Today, like many other days, this area was the only game in town, so I went ahead and took some shots. You can see the mesh in the photo above.
Photoshop Editing: This is the same shot after a few minutes in Photoshop using the clone stamp tool and the content aware healing brush. Normally, don’t shoot too many of the shots that I know would later need too much cleaning up, but I also keep my camera aimed at a good candidate just in case they do something unique that would warrant all the clean up. Again, this is a very quick edit just for the blog.
Wire and Power Lines: This is an example of an image that would require minimal post-processing editing.
Edited Image: This image was edited in only a minute or no more than two for this web post. If it was a keeper image, I’d probably spend more time and zoomed in with smaller detail brushes and cloners. I post these here so show that you might encounter down the canyon and that you can fix at least a few of them if you are so inclined.
Minimal Editing: I like to shoot with my 35 mpx Nikon D800 on the mountain goats. They seldom move too fast, so stopping action is not usually an issue. The large file size lets me do some creative cropping in post production and still have an image that could be printed fairly large. There was just a small chunk of wire mesh in the lower left corner I removed in only seconds in Photoshop.
Almost No Post Processing: This Nanny dropped off the wire mesh ledge to get to some weeds and branches as seen in the previous image. On her way back to the ridge, she crossed a snow field with no wire or steel stakes. These are the types of shots I hope for. A purist might frown on removing the wire and stakes. As I have mentioned over and over, photography is a personal “experience”. Photojournalists have a very clear set of rules the must follow, but a casual photographer is usually free to edit their images in any way they feel is best. Each photographer eventually finds their “line in the sand” they won’t cross when it comes to post processing and editing.
My “From the Field” Experience: Today was the first time I tried doing a blog update while out in the field. I tried making the post from the mouth of the canyon, but I don’t think the signal strength was good enough. I had lunch at Yankee Doodle’s and used their free Wi-Fi and the post went fairly well. I had trouble with a copy and paste command, which is the reason there are not temperatures and sunrise entries today. The next step is to figure out how to get an image taken with the iPhone to the pad. As I write this, it just dawned on me to take a shot with the actual pad! I just spoke with my Verizon “Tech-Coach”. He suggested using Drop Box on both devices to transfer the “high-res” iPhone image to my tablet. Maybe next time! MJ
Goat Rock taken with an iPhone: It worked!
February 21, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 18°F : Sunrise 7:12AM, Sunset 6:02 PM : High Temp Forecast 28°F
Over Sized Bison: On a quick run north of town, I saw a few Mule Deer walking by the giant Bison sculptures at the Nation Museum of Wildlife Art. Worth a shot! There were quite a few mule deer along the west side of the road, plus a few Elk grazing above the commercial area at Flat Creek Motel and Wilcox Gallery. Flat Creek was about half frozen, allowing for Geese, Swans, and quite a few different kinds of ducks. It was very windy and the light was flat, so I didn’t take any shots.
Additions to Get Down—and sometimes dirty. I added a few more images and comments to yesterday’s Feature Post. Check it out!
February 20, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 16°F : Sunrise 7:14AM, Sunset 6:00 PM : High Temp Forecast 27°F
New Feature Post!: I just posted a new page called Get Down—and sometimes dirty. (The photo above was taken in 2012, but my Photoshop action was still set to this year’s date. I’ll fix it soon.) The post is about shooting from a low angle, with quite a few example images from the region. You don’t have to own an expensive camera to shoot from a low angle, and you don’t have to be in the Tetons to take advantage of the unique look. Check it out!
6:00 PM sunsets: I always post the sunrise and sunset times in the daily updates. We finally hit 6:00 pm! We are gaining around three minutes a day right now.
Afternoon in the Canyon: Around lunchtime, I headed south to Alpine Junction. I apparently missed some of them close to the road, but managed to get more distant shots of them against the rocks and with snow falling.
Nanny on the Rocks: Most of these were taken in the first pullout at the mouth of the canyon. I shot with a Nikon D800 and a 200-400mm lens today.
Mountain Goat Kid: The Nanny was just above this Kid.
Young Nanny: This one was taken between squalls of snow.
Group of Goats: This isn’t much of a photo, but it shows part of a much larger herd of Mountain Goats that came down a couple of miles up the canyon. It is difficult to get an accurate count, but I counted 38 in this herd and I am sure I missed a few.
February 19, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 28°F : Sunrise 7:15AM, Sunset 5:59 PM : High Temp Forecast 27°F
Wind chimes…clanging again this morning! I have a large wind chime hanging outside my upstairs studio. We can hear it in most areas of the house when the wind is blowing. If you were to read some of my posts from late in the summer through late fall, you’d already know how important wind is each morning as I prepare to head out for sunrise photos. If the wind is blowing—even a little—I opt for a location that doesn’t rely on mirror reflections on the water. For locations like Oxbow Bend and Schwabacher Landing, calm water can be as important as good light. During the winter months, most water locations are frozen or snow covered, so reflections are not part of the morning formula. This photo was taken in November of 2006, just after the pool of water froze over. Right now, the same spot would have two or three feet of snow covering it, but the area is closed to human entry until spring.
Heavy winds, on the other hand, can assist in adding drama if the clouds cooperate. Windy days can also be good for time lapse photography. I didn’t do it on Monday when I was out, but it certainly crossed my mind. When the wind is blowing hard as it was in this shot, all you have to do is wait until clouds clear off the Grand and shoot, then wait for the next good wave.
Today in Jackson Hole: This morning, it is snowing lightly and the skies are white. I already mentioned the wind! The Weather Channel projects the high temperatures should remain under the freezing mark. I am anxious to finish my design project so I can get back out!
Wintering Blue Jay with a Peanut: I need to do a little research on Blue Jays to see if I can tell if this is a male or female. Most photos I see of them have bright white chests. I am wondering if the gray isn’t a winter color? If someone knows, please post it in the comments, or if I find out, I’ll follow up.
Black-billed Magpie: I saw a photo of Yellow-billed Magpie not long ago. After getting used to seeing the black-billed version for so long, the yellow-billed ones look totally wrong!
Birding Today: Earlier today, I put out food for my back yard birdies. In between projects, I was in the yard for about 30 minutes and got a few hundred shots. Besides the two shown above, there were Mountain and Black-capped Chickadees, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Eurasian Collared Doves, Pine Siskens, a couple of different species of Sparrows, a Northern Flicker, European Starlings, and a Hairy Woodpecker.
February 18, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 26°F : Sunrise 7:17AM, Sunset 5:58 PM : High Temp Forecast 33°F
Today in Jackson Hole: I took on a design project last week and spent most of the day working on it. I didn’t get out, however I have quite a bit of info to share. My friend and talented photographer, Daryl Hunter, lives in eastern Idaho. He takes the Snake River Canyon to get home fairly often. I called him a couple of days ago asking to be updated if he sees Mountain Goats in the canyon. Last night, he let me know he saw three or four at the mouth of the canyon on his way home late yesterday. He didn’t see the large herds.
This morning, we had mediocre light, but maybe better than what I have been seeing lately. There was a small amount of light breaking through at times, but it was still filtered. Yesterday, I made a 2:30 pm trip north out of town. I forgot to mention it, but there were lots of mule deer grazing on the hillside north of town. At that time of the day, light is still hitting the sides of the hill—lighting up the deer. There were quite a few nice bucks mixed in with the large numbers of does. At the time, I was interested in landscapes with the fresh snow on the Tetons, so I didn’t stop, but it certainly got my attention for another day, especially if the Tetons are covered by clouds.
I spoke with Bill Long, the head of our Trumpeter Swan program a few days ago. I think he will write some information for this site someday soon. The program is a true success story. I always assumed the Trumpeters migrate through Jackson Hole to locations south of here. As it turns out, Jackson Hole is this group’s southern most wintering home. He said they will be heading north soon. This group of swans above was “rounded up” by Bill and his team one summer day in 2007. Young Trumpeters are shipped all over the country to “seed” new flocks of Swans.
Snow is in the Forecast for the next few days. Much of the valley floor is showing through the snow. The National Elk Refuge is still taking people out on sleighs. If the snow melts too much, they switch to wagons with rubber tires. As I drove out of town yesterday, there were five sleighs out in the refuge—I am sure they all had a great ride. Supplemental feeding started not long after I took my trip. Elk Refuge employees drive something looking like a snow coach to feed hungry elk. The drop loads of pellets, bringing the elk to the feed lines.
JH Tidbits: For whatever reason, gasoline jumped by 12-14¢ at most stations overnight. It had been holding steady at $3.18 for most of the winter.
February 17, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 21°F : Sunrise 7:18AM, Sunset 5:56 PM : High Temp Forecast 36°F
President’s Day in Jackson Hole: It was colder last night, freezing much of the water in the valley. Flat Creek was wide open yesterday, but much of it was frozen again this morning as I drove by. As I was leaving my neighborhood, I saw the remains of the full moon showing through some of the clouds in the West, so I decided to drive up Spring Gulch Road. The moon settled in behind some low, thick clouds and I didn’t see it again. I caught some of the morning sunrise as light hit some clouds behind Sleeping Indian.
Sleeping Indian at Sunrise: Taken with the D800 and a 70-200 mm lens along the North end of Spring Gulch Road. Clouds filled in quickly after this photo, but skies are brighter today than in recent mornings.
- Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 100 mm, 1/8 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, 1/3 EV, ISO 100, ©Copyright 2014
Teton Range in Afternoon Light: The stiff winds eventually blew the clouds off the Teton peaks. At 2:30 pm, I dropped everything and headed north for some landscape opportunities. This was taken just North of the airport on Meadow Road. I would have loved to have had some sort of foreground subject like a moose, herd or elk or even a cross country skier. Access is much tougher in the winter.
- Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 78 mm, 1/640 at f/8, Manual Mode, -1 1/3 EV, ISO 100, ©Copyright 2014
Menor’s Ferry: Taken from the end of Dornan’s parking lot, shooting across the Snake River. You can see the historic old buildings at Menor’s Ferry in this shot.
- Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, 1/800 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV, ISO 100, ©Copyright 2014
Clouds Over the Snake River: Taken at the same place. I changed to a wider lens to get more of the sky and streaking clouds.
- Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 32 mm, 1/1250 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -1 EV, ISO 100, ©Copyright 2014
Mormon Row: Taken at the Snowplow turnaround on Antelope Flats Road. It would take either snow shoes or cross country skis to get to the barns and historic district right now.
- Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 350 mm, 1/800 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV, ISO 100, ©2014 All Rights Reserved
The Peak of the Grand: Taken from the snowplow turnaround on Antelope Flats Road. The light was just about to go off the grand. I got a few shots and everything got much softer and dull.
- Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 200 mm, 1/800 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV, ISO 100, ©2014 All Rights Reserved
JH Tidbits: The unseasonably warm weather forced the cancellation of the second day of the Shriner’s Cutter Races this year. A few lifts were closed due to high winds. My wife let me know of 6″ of new snow overnight at Teton Village. The newspaper reported the snow pack for our region at 118% of normal, following all of the recent snow storms. 3rd Annual JH WinterFest is still underway. Click the link for more event details.
February 16, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 38°F : Sunrise 7:20AM, Sunset 5:55 PM : High Temp Forecast 36°F
Sunday Morning in Jackson Hole: This is sounding like a broken record…It is warm, with light drizzle coming down and windy, with dark dull skies again this morning. This month’s setting full moon shots were not in the cards. Sunrise and sunset shots haven’t been good at all.Thick clouds have been covering the mountains for an extended period. It is Winterfest time here in Jackson, but with the warm temps, I suspect the Ice Sculpture contest was difficult. The tailgate parties at the Cutter Races were probably still going on, but the rain and drizzle probably took its toll on all but the most hardy and dedicated groups.
Morning Outing: Light was still flat and wind was still blowing hard when I headed out. I drove out to Kelly and found a couple of anterless bull Moose in the ravine near the Shane Cabin.
Bull Moose: Neither of the two bull have antlers. I couldn’t see any indication of new growth.
Shane Cabin: This shot illustrates what I keep talking about when I mention the light is flat and gray. It’s hard to beat great light and not easy to dazzle anyone with flat light.
Swan Portrait: In mid-afternoon, the sun broke through the clouds, but unfortunately it only lasted about 30 minutes. Light looked better south, so I went that direction and made it to Boyle’s hill just after the good light disappeared. A couple of the resident swans were working the fences, appearing to look for a weakness or low spot. They worked to within about 10 feet of me. Without feeding them (which they don’t want anyone to do), they seldom get this close.
Take Off: I didn’t really try to count them, but there must have been 75 or more Trumpeter Swans at Boyle’s Hill today. Even after what I thought was the big groups of them took off, there were still 30 left behind. Most of them took in smaller groups after that.
Eight In The Air: One of the hardest part of capturing large groups is capturing one without wings over the face of another one.
Single Swan: A single Trumpeter is much easier to capture.
Yesterday’s Pine Sisken: A few days ago, I put out quite a few feeders full of thistle (Nyjer) seeds. I am not sure if they’ve been around all winter, but the seeds attracted well over 100 Siskens.
Yesterday’s Mountain Chickadee: These little birds seldom stop long enough for a sharp photo.
Mountain Chickadee: Chickadees come to my yard in groups, usually accompanied by Black-capped Chickadees.
February 15, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 32°F : Sunrise 7:23AM, Sunset 5:53 PM : High Temp Forecast 34°F
Today in Jackson Hole: Last night, we had rain instead of snow. It is 36°F as I write this in mid-afternoon. This morning, I took a drive down south of town to the area where the Cutter Races are being held. Trailers and spectators were going though the gates. I made the South Park Loop hoping to see owls, another Rough-legged Hawk, or maybe a fox. There were lots of swans at Boyle’s Hill, but I didn’t take any shots. On the drive back into town, I decided to go home and see if I could capture a few of the birds coming to the yard. Roads were very sloppy on any back road with slush and ice.
Clark’s Nutcracker with a Prize Peanut: I loaded all the feeders and pressed suet and peanut butter into the cracks and holes of the trees. Within only a few minutes, three or four Clark’s Nutcrackers showed up, calling to their buddies.
Northern Flicker: This male Flicker landed on a diagonal branch just off the feeding areas. I surveyed the area, then found a tree trunk with suet.
Black-billed Magpie: I moved a few of my tree branches around today for some variety. This branch was close to the peanut feeder, so it didn’t take long to have the bigger birds on it.
Clark’s Nutcracker: This shot shows their tail feathers fairly well. I took about 600 images in 30 minutes and came back inside. Today’s light is flat, but it still works well for the close birds as long as I don’t aim up into the sky. The smaller birds like Chickadees, Sparrow, Siskens, and Finches stayed away today while all the big birds were in the yard.
February 14, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 27°F : Sunrise 7:23AM, Sunset 5:53 PM : High Temp Forecast 34°F
Today in Jackson Hole: It was warm yesterday, thawing the streets. Everything froze overnight and roads were very slick this morning. As on many recent days, it was cloudy this morning.
Cedar Waxwing on Mountain Ash Berries: I found a small group of Cedar Waxwing’s this morning. I stayed with them for a while, but most of the time, they were feeding up high in the tree. With white skies, they become silhouetted quickly.
- Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/400 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV, ISO 250, ©2014 All Rights Reserved
Young Bighorn Ram at Miller Butte: I’d have preferred a much larger Ram, but anytime one is on the rocks, it’s always worth taking the shot. We had big snowflakes for a while, but when I was there, the flakes were very fine. You can see a few of them in the upper sections.
- Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/640 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV, ISO 250, ©2014 All Rights Reserved
Red Squirrel: The little peanut thief returned to the back yard. It was getting dark fast, causing me to open the shutter, raise the ISO, and hope for her to stop for a split second.
- Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 250 mm, 1/125 at f/5.6, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV, ISO 800, ©2014 All Rights Reserved
3rd Annual JH WinterFest: This event starts today. Click the link for more info. Some of the events include the Cutter Races, Ice Sculptures, Wine Tasting, Ski Jouring at South Park, Cross Country / Nordic races, and many others.
JH Tidbits: Gasoline is holding steady at $3.18 per gallon for Self-Serve Unleaded in many stations in town. With all the melting and freezing, roads are very slick. There was a full moon yesterday. In many months, I’d probably be out trying to capture it setting on the following morning, but with so many clouds and storms, the odds seem against having much success.
February 13, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 34°F : Sunrise 7:24AM, Sunset 5:51 PM : High Temp Forecast 26°F
Today in Jackson Hole: It’s cloudy again this morning. Instead of snow overnight, we had mist or light rain. The snow on the ground is heavy and slushy in town.
Rough-legged Hawk Taking Off: In yesterday’s update, I included a hawk sitting in the top of a tree. This morning, I received a comment on this page from Ashleigh Scully asking about shooting data and any thoughts on why I used those settings. The question is certainly a good one! I added the Shooting Data to yesterday’s shot and will add it to this one.
- Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/2000 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV, ISO 800, ©2014 All Rights Reserved
- Shooting Comments: I was set up hoping to capture some flight shots. At 1/2000th of a second, I knew I could freeze the action, but it also freezes the blowing snow. I was never sure when he might fly, so I was trying to keep my eye on the bird and not fiddle with the back of the camera too much. I was interested in a few shots with streaking snow, so I dialed my aperture settings up (stopping down) to F/25, with three or four shots at the various settings between F/7.1 and F/25. At F/25, I had shutter speeds of 1/160th of a second, which let the snow blur nicely. However, if the bird flew from the tree top at those settings, it would have had a lot of motion blur. I quickly worked back to F/7.1 to be ready. The photo above was the result, but unfortunately, he flew away from me and not towards me or perpendicular to me. The alternative to adjusting the aperture would have been to adjust the ISO downward to slow the shutter speed while in Aperture Priority. That would have been a good option, but I would have had to look at the settings on the back of the D4 (or the dial on most other cameras) and take my eye off the bird. It is easy for me to adjust aperture while still looking through the viewfinder. For opportunities like this, I am in “auto pilot” mode. I just have to trust myself to have the settings right—based on shooting the same kind of shot over and over. Even though my take-off shot isn’t exactly what I was hoping for, I did it correctly. I’ve missed similar take-off shots altogether while fiddling with settings. Lastly, many of the newer Pro-sumer cameras allow you to store User Defined Shooting Banks, sometimes identified by U-1 or U-2. If U-1 is set up for landscapes (high Aperture, slow shutter speed, base ISO) and U-2 is action photography ( mid-aperture, fast shutter speed, and higher ISO), it might be easy enough to switch back and forth quickly.
- Birds in Flight Settings: Lately, I have been using 21 Point Continuous Focus with the Focus Lock set to Long (5) when trying to capture birds in flight. With Long set, my camera doesn’t try to focus too quickly on something in the background if the bird temporarily goes out of my focusing points. The D4 is set to 10 FPS, so it is continuously focusing. As long as the camera locks onto the subject initially, it does a good job staying on it. On the down side, if I missed the focus initially, it will continue to focus on the background for quite a few shots. This has been working fairly well for Swans, Eagles, Hawks, and Owls at normal shooting distances. There are lots of great photographers doing incredible “birds in flight” shots. Do a Google Search and see if you can find additional techniques and strategies.
- Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/160 at f/25, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV, ISO 800, ©2014 All Rights Reserved
- Shooting Comments: Changing to F/25 automatically adjusted the shutter speed. At 1/160th of a second, I was getting nice streaks with the blowing snow. ISO was left constant in all of the shots. Also, at F/25, the distant aspen tree branches start showing up more defined. I can’t say it bothers me in this little cropped area, but the more shallow depth of field allows them to blur into the background more.
February 12, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 27°F : Sunrise 7:26AM, Sunset 5:50 PM : High Temp Forecast 28°F
Today in Jackson Hole: The weather might be the big story today. The Weather Channel reports a 90% chance of snow with accumulations in the mountains in the 2-3 feet range. Whiteout conditions can occur with gusty winds in the forecast.
Rough-legged Hawk: Seven or eight years ago, we had a good population of Rough-legged Hawks here in the Jackson Hole valley. Between then and now, we’ve had a few Rough-legged Hawks. This year, they back! Six or seven of them are hanging around on the fence posts along the National Elk Refuge. Once in a while, one will be in the bare aspen trees near the road. I’ve been seeing several of them in South Park, too. When we used to travel with my youngest son to ski comps in Utah, we used to see a lot of them in the southern part of the state near Cokeville . They are about the same size as a Red-tailed Hawk.
- Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/2000 at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV, ISO 800, ©2014 All Rights Reserved
Miller House in a Snow Storm: We’ve had wind and snow most of the day. I ran our snow blower last night and had to run it again this afternoon. The roads out to Miller Butte were slick and windblown.
Ewes Feeding at Miller Butte: I didn’t see any rams today. A few ewes were feeding near the first outcropping of rocks and moving slowly to the east. I bumped into Dianna Stratton while at the Refuge. She pointed out around 10-11 Pronghorns that are braving the winter on the National Elk Refuge this year. They were too far away for a shot today, but it’s always nice to know they are around.
Young Mule Deer (Feb. 1): I just scrolled through the February Updates page and realized it looks like about all I posted were birds of some species. Let me explain! By late January and early February, most of the bull Moose will have dropped their antlers and are scattering towards the river bottoms. Most of the Elk and Bison will have migrated onto the National Elk Refuge where access is limited. Wolves are hard to find, much less photograph. Bighorns are around, but the rut is over and action is usually limited. Many roads are closed in the Tetons. February is usually my month for Mountain Goats, but they are scarce so far this February. For most of the month, It has been mostly cloudy—limiting good landscape opportunities.
Summer visitors might wonder why I don’t spend more time near Oxbow Bend? That “can be” good if you hit it perfectly, but most of the big game moved south as the first big snowfalls rolled into the valley. Water levels in the lake are terribly low. There are no reflections in the winter. A few people reported seeing River Otters, Coyotes, and Foxes but it is such a gamble driving that far this time of the year. Aside from the trips to look for Mountain Goats, most of my winter outings are limited to Miller Butte, Boyle’s Hill Swan Pond, maybe to Kelly, and a short drive to Wilson or South Park. Back yard bird photography fills short windows. MJ
February 11, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 28°F : Sunrise 7:27AM, Sunset 5:49 PM : High Temp Forecast 33°F
Today in Jackson Hole: By late in the day yesterday, much of the cloud cover had blown off and at most of the Tetons were visible. I had planned on going out for sunrise shots today, but the sky was thick with clouds and murky. As of 9:00 am, we are getting some very light snow and I can hear my wind chimes. As soon as I get more light, or a break in the clouds, I hope to do a quick loop somewhere. Until then, it’s a great day to do paperwork and take care of the never ending loose ends we all have. I filled my bird feeders, so that’s always an option.
Mtn. Chickadee on a Feeder: I have lots of types of feeders in the yard. This one has sunflower seeds in the bottom part and Nyjer seeds in the upper half. I take a few shots of birds on feeders just to have a few.
Mountain Chickadee on a Stump: I like the looks of a more natural shot like this one better than the feeder shots. These little birds are quite a challenge to photograph. They seldom stop long enough for a sharp image.
3rd Annual JH WinterFest: This event starts Friday. Click the link for more info. Some of the events include the Cutter Races, Ice Sculptures, Wine Tasting, Ski Jouring at South Park, Cross Country / Nordic races, and many others.
February 10, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 22°F : Sunrise 7:28AM, Sunset 5:47 PM : High Temp Forecast 37°F
Monday in Jackson Hole: After a couple of days without many chances for photography, I decided to take a trip down to Alpine for the February Mountain Goats. Things are different down there this year. Somewhere, in one of the previous posts, I used the term “Ain’t no repeats”. Okay, I know it is terrible English!, I’ve heard the term applied to both fly fishing and photography—and it can be applied both to activity from day to day and from year to year. This year, Mountain Goats were seen regularly in November and December and occasionally in January. In most years, they are seen regularly in February and seldom in the previous months. I didn’t see a single Mountain Goat during roughly 3 hours of hanging around. I bumped into John Tebbetts. He saw a couple of them just after 11:00 and neither of them came anywhere near the road. Maybe it is still too early down there? Maybe the bigger herds are grazing on different mountain faces this year?
John and I drove back into Jackson and spent the rest of the afternoon at the Boyle’s Hill swan pond.
Swans in Good Light: I included this image to show a few Swans in good light. This isn’t a great shot, but if the subjects were doing something interesting, I would have had a good chance at getting a keeper.
Swan Parade: This shot was taken a little later while a cloud had covered the sun. I only spent a few minutes in Lightroom on the post-processing, but this one could have been better with the light I had in the previous shot.
Trumpeter Swans Landing at Boyle’s Hill: The light is better here. I’d probably lighten it a little more.
Trumpeter Swans Making a Turn: This group took off away from me, then turned to go back south.
Swan in a Filled Sky: I got quite a few full frame flying shots today, but I tend to like a shot like this one more. It’s all subjective, however.
Tagged Trumpeter: Quite a few of the swans at Boyle’s Hill have tags now. I spoke with Bill Long with the swan project today. He said the tags are to help with a study following the death of a dozen or so swans earlier in year.
Jackson Hole Tag: Swans tagged with a yellow band with the H alpha letter are from the Jackson Hole study group. If you happen to get a shot of a Trumpeter with the H letter in any area other than Jackson Hole, the local Wetlands Society would like to get the report and even better if you can get a closeup of the tag.
A Canada Goose Trailer: I don’t recall ever seeing a Canada Goose take off and follow a pair of Trumpeters like this. I was about to leave when this group started acting like they were going to take off. I pulled the camera back out of the truck, put it on VR mode and handheld the last shots. Today’s Trumpeters were taken with a Nikon D4 and a Nikon 200-400mm lens.
I also have some exciting news for Best of the Tetons blog readers. All I can say right now is, “Sign Up” by adding your email address in the entry box at the upper right.
Check Back soon!
February 9, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 8°F : Sunrise 7:31AM, Sunset 5:45 PM : High Temp Forecast 34°F
Sunday in Jackson Hole: We had more snow overnight and I had to run the snow blower again. Anyone seeing Jackson Lake would realize how badly we need all the snow we can get in the high country.
Late January Morning 2012: Sorry I don’t have a photo from today, but I’ll add one from a couple of years ago. It was taken across from the entrance to Triangle X Ranch. This is usually a good photography spot in the middle of winter. It has a good pullout area and you don’t have to get too far from your vehicle. I think the location also makes a nice spot for light painting if you are up to being in the cold during the night hours.
Chalk this day up to a technology day for me! I spent some of it on the phone with tech-support plus time loading files and apps and finding passwords. You know! By Sunday night, I think the worst of all my new “toy” installations are over.
Animal Reports and Suggestions: I received an email from John Tebbetts today letting me know he got skunked trying to get Mountain Goat shots on Friday and Saturday, but found about 30 Bighorn Sheep at Miller Butte Saturday afternoon. The Elk Refuge ride is probably still a great option for anyone in town. There are still lots of in-town activities like Broom Ball and Ice Skating. Christmas lights are still on all of the trees and arches downtown.
February 8, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 8°F : Sunrise 7:31AM, Sunset 5:45 PM : High Temp Forecast 34°F
Today and Yesterday: My Wife and I drove to Rexburg, Idaho yesterday for some service work on a vehicle. We drove over Teton Pass on the way. I thought for a split second about stopping at the top of the pass, but that thought passed quickly. The snow was coming down hard and the wind was intense. We drove across one of the rural roads from Tetonia to Rexburg. I kept getting the feeling I was in the opening scenes of the Fargo movie. We ended up in Idaho Falls last night.
We drove home today through a blizzard. I stopped to snap a shot of a barn near Victor, ID.
At the top of Teton Pass, I stopped and snapped this quick shot just before I lost all light. It’d probably be a cool shot to “light paint” but probably better without the blizzard conditions and wearing better winter garb. By that time, we were ready to just get home.
At Home: Before we could pull into our driveway, I had to run the snow blower. We had about 2 feet of snow at the edge of the driveway from the snow plows and around 8 inches of snow on the hood of my truck. When the clouds lift, we should be back to a winter wonderland here. The mountains got dumped on over the weekend, so skiers were very happy. I may head to Alpine tomorrow and hope a few goats come down. It is 10:30 pm here as I make this unusually late post. The snow is still coming down!
Good New For The Blog: Verizon Wireless had a “deal” on their pads. They were FREE with a $10 per monthly fee for 2 years. I bought one and added a keyboard to make it easier to keep this blog updated while I am on the road. I have an old laptop, but I always had to be near a wi-fi location to post with it. Technology advances! After years of resisting, I finally bought an iPhone—coming from a non-SmartPhone world. I’ll now have to check out some of the nifty Apps. There’s one similar to The Photographer’s Ephemeris I hear is really good. If you have suggestions for Apps I should get, please feel free to post the info here!
February 7, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 8°F : Sunrise 7:33AM, Sunset 5:43 PM : High Temp Forecast 23°F
Today in Jackson Hole: We had another light snow overnight. It’s about 15° warmer to start the morning and the wind is calm but is projected to pick up considerably. I am heading over to Idaho today. We’ll either go over Teton Pass or down the Snake River Canyon. I’ll definitely take a camera.
February 6, 2014 | 7:00 AM: -6°F : Sunrise 7:34AM, Sunset 5:42 PM : High Temp Forecast 11°F
Today in Jackson Hole: We had some light snow last night. It’s still cold this morning. I spent some time working on a new Feature Post called: Attracting and Photographing Wintering Back Yard Birds: and uploaded it this morning. Check it out! The photo of the Hairy Woodpecker and Downey Woodpecker are from that page.
An Oldie: It is cold, white and wintery here right now. How about a summer shot to break up the page! The Park Service ripped up the old footbridge a few years ago. I was bummed! A while later, they rebuilt it and added some new head gates. On this day, the two gates were left shut, allowing the pool to fill. I was lying on my stomach to get the unique reflection shots when a couple of bison wandered into the scene and across in front of the barn. That was a one day event! Since then, I’ve never seen the pool that full.
February 5, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 2°F : Sunrise 7:35AM, Sunset 5:40 PM : High Temp Forecast 5°F
Today in Jackson Hole: I watched a little bit of the National News today. It looks like the weather is a big topic just about everywhere. My computer was reporting -6° a little while ago, but warmed up to -2° as I write this post. The forecast is for -13°F tonight. By the weekend, we should back to “seasonably tolerable” again.
Female Downey Woodpecker: I set up to take a few photos in the back yard again today. This is the female counterpart to the Downey Woodpecker I posted yesterday.
Mountain Chickadee: Yesterday, I posted a Black-capped Chickadee. This one is similar. They are a bit smaller and have the two light gray racing stripes over their eyes.
Winter Back Yard Setup: I took the D800 out with me today to snap a quick photo of the back yard. Hopefully, I can do an in-depth post about the setup.
New “Best of the Tetons Reference Guide”: When I started this blog at the end of last July, I thought about what I’d want know or need to know if I were heading this direction. I began loading the early blog with those kinds of posts. Unfortunately, they get pushed off the front page and into archive pages. Last night, I created a new Feature Post that collects and organizes them by seasons and general topics. This new post will stay close to the top of the site’s home page. Spend some time checking out the old posts! Here’s the link:
If you see a page you like or think your friends might enjoy, try clicking the little “F” icon (or any of the other Social Media icons, near the bottom of every page) and share the link to Facebook or other sites in the list.
February 4, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 1°F : Sunrise 7:36AM, Sunset 5:39 PM : High Temp Forecast 15°F
Today in Jackson Hole: A few days ago, I took the sleigh ride on the National Elk Refuge. Today, I added one more new winter Feature Post this morning called Sleigh Ride on the National Elk Refuge: Hopefully, you’ll like it. After uploading the page, I filled the bird feeders and set up the camera. Within only a few minutes I had visitors and not long afterwards, there were lots of birds. They all appear to be hungry and are more tolerant of me being in the yard than normal. All of these were taken with a Nikon D4 and a 200-400mm lens.
Blue Jay: This is the first year I’ve seen one of these in my back yard.
Black Billed Magpie:
Red Squirrel: aka “Rocky”.
Northern Flicker: This one is a male, with the orange cheek markings.
Downey Woodpecker: There were at least two males today, along with one or two females.
The Winter Cast of Characters: The group above come to my yard regularly if I put food out. Occasionally, there will be a couple of Ravens or Crows and Eurasian Collared Doves. Mountain Chickadees usually feed alongside Black-capped Chickadees. I didn’t get Nuthatches this year for some reason. There was an unexpected Ruffed Grouse today and some sort of small gray bird that didn’t come in close enough to identify. I’d guess it is a Townsend’s Solitaire.
February 3, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 1°F : Sunrise 7:37AM, Sunset 5:38 PM : High Temp Forecast 22°F
Today in Jackson Hole: We started out with clouds that thinned out some in the late morning, then the skies turned white and a few flakes started showing up with the light wind. I stayed inside today to tweak a recent Feature Post called: Mountain Goats of the Snake River Canyon: I’ve been working on it for a while and posted it over the weekend. I had a couple of questions about exactly where to go, so I added a couple of maps and added information about weather conditions in February. I think you will enjoy it. If you subscribe to this blog, you will have already received the email, but check it out again! If you haven’t signed up, do it now!
Back Yard: I filled my feeders yesterday afternoon and noticed a lot of birds this morning when I let the dog out. The Blue Jay is still around. Typically, I can put a bag of peanuts out and between the Blue Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker and Magpies, they’ll be gone in a few minutes. I poured them in a suet feeder yesterday. They are having to work to get the peanuts out now! Chickadees are numerous this time of the year, feeding on the black oil sunflower seeds.
Yesterday: Once I saw a little light, I headed south to Alpine Junction. I made it there at about 11:30, which is late for me, but it didn’t matter. A group of about 15 came down to the road at about 2:00 pm.
Mountain Goat on a Knoll: Taken in the Snake River Canyon with a D800 and 200-400mm lens.
Stars at Slide Lake: Besides working on the Mountain Goat post, I uploaded my recent images to the US Copyright Offices. This is one of the “keepers” from a couple of nights ago. This one was lit with a AA Maglite during a 20 second exposure using a Nikon D4 and a Nikon 24-70mm F.2.8 lens.
February 2, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 1°F : Sunrise 7:38AM, Sunset 5:36 PM : High Temp Forecast 21°F
Super Bowl Sunday!: It’s cold and cloudy here again. In the late afternoon and early night yesterday, I saw the clouds pulling back and revealing mostly clear skies. The thin sliver of the Waxing Crescent Moon was low in the sky, so I grabbed the gear and headed out for some night time shooting. It wasn’t something I had “planned”, so I was a little rushed to get out quickly. There are a couple of subjects around Kelly I have been wanting to light paint, but when I saw the Tetons clearing off, I headed to the Wedding Trees up the Gros Ventre.
Night Time at the Red Rocks: The parking area at the Wedding Trees has not been plowed, but I found an acceptable area to park. Before gathering my camera gear, I walked out to the back edge of the parking area to see no one had hiked into the trees in a long time. Without my snow shoes, and with the moon showing up a little too bright, I headed on up the GV looking for other subjects. I’ve had the snow covered red rocks in my mind’s eye for night shots for a while, so went there after bailing on the Wedding Trees.
Milky Way Over the Red Rocks: While I am making this post on the February 2nd updates, technically I guess these were February 1st shots. I downloaded them to the computer last night, but didn’t spend any time processing them. These are quick edits in Lightroom. I managed to take half a dozen unique shots last night, plus a few “similars” where I changed angles with the flashlight.
Upcoming Night Shots: Each night, the waxing moon will be a more significant player for night shots. If I were to go out again tonight or any of the next couple of nights, I’d probably wait until around 4:00 am to let the moon set, then shoot the dark skies and continue into the blue light period. That’s my personal favorite time of the night. If I could stand the bitter cold this time of the year, I might stay for the morning sunrise stages. An extended period in the cold would require some extra mittens, hand warmers, and some hot chocolate. Cloud cover can spoil the entire effort, too! I’d probably plan ahead a little better and take the snow shoes with me.
- Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 24 mm, 20.00 at f/2.8, Manual Focus, Manual Mode, -2/3 EV, ISO 4000, WB 4350K. Both of these shots were taken with the same settings. I used a AA Mag-Lite for the top image and the AA plus a DD Mag-Lite for the bottom one. ©2014 All Rights Reserved
Today In Jackson Hole: Check back! I have a few Feature Posts to finish, so I may stay close to home and work on them. One of them is about the Mountain Goats of the Snake River Canyon. Sign up if you want to be among the first to read it! Still, I might do a drive down to Alpine to see if the Mountain Goats are down and be back in time for he Super Bowl.
February 1, 2014 | 7:00 AM: 4°F : Sunrise 7:39AM, Sunset 5:35 PM : High Temp Forecast 10°F
Welcome to February!: Here’s a link for January 2014 if you’d like to get an idea of what I was seeing in the last part the month. Many items will probably be about the same for the next few days. February is usually a good “Outside Activities” month. Check out: Winter: Jackson Hole Outdoor Activities and Events
Wildlife usually gets a little harder to find. Oh, maybe I shouldn’t say it that way. The big game animals are well past their rut periods and some of the antlered ungulates lose their antlers. After photographing them for months “with” antlers, seeing them without antlers seems anti-climactic. Elk are some of the last of the large game animals to lose their antlers, so consider a sleigh ride trip on the National Elk Refuge. Some of the other smaller “critters” can be easier to find. Keep an eye out for foxes, wolves, coyotes, ermine, badgers, owls, eagles, ravens, magpies, and so forth. Most of the previous animals are scavengers and will usually be close to winter kills and road kills. Keep an eye on the Wildlife Reports at the top of this page. I’ll try to keep it as current as possible.
Young Bighorn: There were a few bighorns near the road this morning and a few on the rocks. This one isn’t very big, but I like the terrain.
Buck Mule Deer: I found this guy in town today.
Ruff-Legged Hawk in Flight: This Hawk was soaring overhead today. Most of the feathers on the underside of their body is light in color, while much of the top side is darker brown and beautifully patterned.
Mallard on Ice: I found this drake along Flat Creek. Much of it is frozen. This duck took the overland trip between two pools of open water.
Boyle’s Hill Sanctuary: There are signs saying “No Trespassing” in the area where they feed the Trumpeter Swans. Today, Dave Dunlap was there to feed them. He gave me permission to follow him in while he fed them for a unique view of the area.
Swan Pond at Boyle’s Hill: If you’d like to read more about the effort to reintroduce Trumpeter Swans, check out the site at the Wyoming Wetlands Society. Much of Flat Creek is still frozen solid right now, so Trumpeters find other open water.
Check Back!: This is day “1” of the February Daily Updates. The page will grow daily throughout the month.