Best of the Tetons

Sunrise SRO

December 2014 Daily Updates & Photos for Grand Teton National Park & JH:

A monthly journal of wildlife reports, scenic opportunities, and tidbits for both photographers and Teton visitors!

Daily Updates Archives: ~
2018: May:Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2017: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2016: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan: 
2015: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2014: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2013: Dec: | Nov: Oct: | Sept: | Aug:


December Examples

December Overview:

Swan PlatformWinter is here to stay! I can almost sum up the month in three concepts: Cold days and nights—short daylight hours—limited access. That’s not all necessarily bad, but it is a far cry from the norms of summer. The cold brings heavy snow and that creates numerous winter activities like snowmobiling, skiing, shoe shoeing, and so forth. Some animals are hibernating, while others are more available to us than ever, such as Bighorn Sheep and possibly Mountain Goats. Some of the winter sunrises can be spectacular and you seldom need a graduated neutral density filter!  The sun goes behind the mountains by 4:30 pm, so it’s easy to be back for dinner. The sun is low in the sky, allowing you to take photos almost all day long with limited high contrast issues. Many roads are closed during the Winter months, however other opportunities seem to fill the void. Consider a sleigh ride on at the National Elk Refuge. The Bighorns on Miller Butte are always good in December, including the opportunity to witness their annual rut. Swans move into the valley for the Winter, with good access spots along Flat Creek and Boyle’s Hill. Check out a guided snowmobile trip to Granite Hot Springs and see Granite Falls along the way. Holiday lights wrap about every tree and all four of the Elk Antler Arches downtown. At the end of the month, plan on going to one of the torch light parades to say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015. Fun photography!

In many ways, the months of December, January, and February are almost carbon copies of each other. Check out each of last year’s Daily Updates to get an idea of the opportunities! Nov: 2013  | Dec: 2013Jan: 2014 . Bull moose drop their antlers during the month of December and early January, so prime moose opportunities become more limited in January and February.

Important Winter Links


Oldie But Goodie Post of the Day

HandicapImageAccessible Viewing & Photography for Visitors with Disabilities in Grand Teton. At this time of the year, many shots are taken within a few feet of the vehicle. I take a lot from my window while pulled over along the side of the road. This post might give you a few ideas. Some of the areas are closed now, however. I am brainstorming a possible Feature Post called: The Dead of Winter: The (Cold) Realities and (Exciting) Possibilities of Winter Photography in GTNP.


December 31, 2014

Teton Village

There will be two torchlight parades and fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve. The event at Teton Village starts at 6:00pm on Wednesday and fireworks follow. The event at SnowKing starts at 6:15pm on Wednesday. Here’s their link: New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade and Fireworks . (The image above was  taken at Teton Village.) Check out this earlier Feature Post: Fireworks 2014  Additional Fireworks photos from tonight will be posted in the January Daily Updates page for 2015.

Elk Refuge _Dec 31

Today in JH: Ouch! My computer is reading -26°F this morning. I was out in the cold yesterday, then took the van over for some service today. Seems like a good morning to stay home and cull images from the past month. The image above was taken just after lunch time at the National Elk Refuge. A herd of bison was along the southern edge with elk seen in the distance.

Resting Ram

Resting Bighorn Ram: This shot was on the card from a quick run to the Refuge yesterday afternoon. I didn’t see a single Bighorn near the road today.

I’ll also be working on a few new images for the new January 2015 Daily Updates page.

Settled into Winter:

Most of the winter months offer similar opportunities for both wildlife and landscapes: Nov: 2013  | Dec: 2013Jan: 2014 . Also check out: The Dead of Winter: The Cold Realities and Exciting Possibilities of Winter Photography in GTNP.

Suggested “Opportunities”: Right now, here are my top spots to check out.  December 24: So far, I believe these areas are still offering opportunities. Some will be a bit of a gamble, but they might also pay off in a big way if you hit it right:

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December 30, 2014

Alpenglow at SRO

Alpenglow at SRO: Taken early this morning at Snake River Overlook. It was somewhere between -22° and -25°F there this morning.

The Grand and Mt. Moran

First Light on the Teton Range: Almost the same shot, but maybe 15 minutes later.

Triangle X Fence Line

Triangle X Fence Line: I added a couple of textures into this image taken a few miles North of Snake River Overlook.

Gates at Triangle X

Gates at Triangle X: The long shadows caught my eye on this one.

North Breeze

North Breeze: Taken at the South Entrance station at Moose Junction. I added some textures to this image.

Aspen Stand

Aspen Stand: Taken along the Moose-Wilson Road. I stylized this image with some overall textures and a bit of an edge treatment.

Spring Gulch Creek

Spring Gulch Creek: A warm springs runs down Spring Gulch, so despite the cold temperatures, this water remains open most of the year.


December 29, 2014

Street Crossing

New Feature Post:  Winter Night Life in Downtown Jackson Hole: Christmas is behind us, but in downtown Jackson, you wouldn’t know it. This page might give you a glimpse of the night in Jackson and maybe a few ideas for taking night shots in your home town.


December 28, 2014

Updates on Previewing and Culling

Last March, I made this Feature Post: My Photographic Workflow: A Real World Workflow from Capture Through Final Backups. It took a lot of time and effort, but a few people had asked how I keep up with all of the images. After 9 months, the workflow is essentially the same. For many years, I did a DVD backup of the keeper RAW files, but have since opted to just rely on hard drives.

Previewing and Culling Issues: Lightroom is very slow in creating preview images. That’s a snag in the workflow that causes other myself and others to look for alternatives. Photo Mechanic is a popular one. Recently, a new player entered the market called FastRawViewer. The idea is to be able to quickly go through large chunks of images and remove or delete the blurry, poorly composed, or defective images. I suspect the team at Adobe will someday tackle the issue and essentially eliminate the competition’s current toe hold in the market.

A friend sent me me a link to a review by Thom Hogan. I bought the software and posted this comment on December 5th: Workflow: FastRawViewer | by Thom Hogan  I will probably try this viewer out soon. It could replace Photo Mechanic in my workflow? My Photographic Workflow: A Real World Workflow from Capture Through Final Backups.

Recently, I found this review on PhotographyLife: FastRawViewer Review: Best RAW Viewer for Your Workflow. This writer did a good job of going through the software and comparing it to some of the other options. He was much more impressed with the software than me. Currently, FastRawViewer does not have a grid view mode, so you have to rely on your system’s file preview, and that’s only if Windows or Mac has the most updated preview software installed. FastRawViewer is only around $15 vs $150 or so for Photo Mechanicc or Lightroom, so it might still be a cost effective option for some.

Before or After?: Some people use Photo Mechanic up front. They do all of their sorting and culling there, then import the keepers into Lightroom. I import them first, giving them converted file names. I sort them into smaller folders containing similar subjects. Then, I go to Photo Mechanic to cull them. That saves me a lot of time. Afterwards, I let Lightroom sync the original folder. It finds all of the images I deleted while in Photo Mechanic and deletes them from the LR catalog. This step is still very quick, so all in all, I’d say it’s a wash either way and not worth me switching up at this point. Check out the review at PhotographyLife using the link above. His review might shed additional light on the various issues and options.

Buck Rail Fence

Buck Rail Fence at the Shane Cabin (yesterday)

Loose Ends

It’s snowing lightly here today and is 16°F at 10:00 am. I hope to get out later and if I do, I’ll add a few photos. Gasoline is holding at $2.47 per gallon for self-serv regular. The town is fairly crowded with holiday season visitors. Jackson Hole is reported to have some of the best snow this year. I’ll be working on the new January Daily Updates page soon. I have a new Feature Post finished called “Here Today, Gone to Maui!” While it contains quite a few photos of my recent trip to Maui, I wrote the article about having to make decisions on what gear I needed to take along and why. It probably follows along with decisions other people have to make when they get on a plane to come to the Tetons. Sign up now to be one of the first to read it.

Today’s Outing

Mountain Goat in Storm

Mountain Goat in Storm: This image was taken through a wall of snow flakes. For a change of pace, I headed down the Snake River Canyon to Alpine Junction. I found about 20 at the mouth of the canyon feeding in the heavy vegetation. One nanny crossed the rocks to get to the others. She posed for quite a few variants of essentially the same image.

Bighorn Ram

Bighorn Ram: On the way back home, I checked out the area near Camp Creek Inn. I saw a few bighorns but didn’t take any shots. This Ram was grazing along the highway across from Rafter J Subdivision. I’ve never seen one there. I pulled over and took some shots from the fence. Before long, quite a few people were pulling over and a Highway Patrol Officer came in with his lights flashing. He asked me if I would please move on.

Boyles Hill Swan Pond

Boyles Hill Swan Pond: Currently, the open water at Boyles Hill is around 100 feet in diameter with lots of ducks, swans and geese sharing the water. Flat Creek is frozen over at the moment, pushing more into these areas. See: Trumpeter Swans of Boyle’s Hill:

Barn along Boyles Hill Road

Barn along Boyles Hill Road: I added some textures to make this one more moody. I love capturing these old barns in the winter, especially after a fresh snow. For people taking a One-On-One Photo Excursion with me, a loop around the valley to photograph them is an option. Most of the barns inside GTNP are closed to vehicle travel this time of the year. (click this image to see it quite a bit bigger)


December 27, 2014

Sleigh Ride

Each morning, the crews bring the horses and sleighs across the valley floor for the daily National Elk Refuge Sleigh Rides. It is usually cold and frosty with a fair amount of back light from the early morning sunrise.

Last night, I published a new Feature Post called: The Dead of Winter: The Cold Realities and Exciting Possibilities of Winter Photography in GTNP. The purpose of this Feature Post is to concentrate on the span of time from mid-December to early April. If you are a regular reader here, you probably already understand some of the issues. In several of the earlier Winter posts, I had to deal with gradual closures starting early in November and continuing until around December 15th when large areas of the valley are closed to human entry.

Gold Sunrise

Gold Sunrise: I headed out early this morning, only to find low clouds covering the Tetons. I headed east at the Gros Ventre Junction and spent most of the morning around Kelly. Today more or less echoed topics I covered in last night’s feature post: The Dead of Winter:  This was a good morning to be out!

Wagon Wheels

First Glow on the Wagon Wheels: Shallow depth of field using a 70-200mm lens.

Shane Cabin

Shane Cabin near Kelly. It was -4° when I was at this historic old Luther Taylor cabin used in the Shane movie.

Mule Deer Buck

Mule Deer Buck taken at the edge of Kelly.

Bison Portrait

Bison Portrait also taken at the edge of Kelly. Bison are still being hunted on the National Elk Refuge. The smart ones are staying out of the shooting zones and finding refuge around the edges of Kelly and in the south edges of GTNP.

The Gros Ventre River

The Gros Ventre River: Frosted over this morning.


Gros Ventre Riffle: Ice and frost on stones along the stream

Frosted Branch

Frosted Branch along the Gros Ventre

Sagebrush Tips

Sagebrush Tips: On any morning, there are zillions of similar opportunities.

Box L Ranch

Box L Ranch along Spring Gulch Road.

Fence Line

Fence Line along Spring Gulch Road.

Hansen Barn

Hansen Barn along Spring Gulch Road.

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December 26, 2014

Most of the clouds cleared this morning, but temps were around 0°. I did a quick loop going up Spring Gulch Road and then back to town along the main highway. I checked out Miller Butte and headed on home, watching for Cedar Waxwings along the way. I caught a glimpse of round 60 in a flock flying above town, but couldn’t find them later. There was a coyote on the road on the Elk Refuge today, but I didn’t really have enough light to do much with him. The rut is still in progress on Miller Butte. I saw a couple of moose as I was driving along the Gros Ventre. Flat Creek is more frozen in than open now. It looks more typical for this time of the year. A family of Trumpeter Swans were hunkered down near one of the open areas, but I was there way too early for any action. I am also always watching for the possibility of seeing a family of River Otters.

Textured Hansen Barns

Spring Gulch: I added some artistic textures on this shot from this morning.

Miller House

Miller House on the National Elk Refuge: Normally, I don’t head over to the bighorns until around 10:15 or so because that part of the valley is still in shadows. I was in East Jackson today, so I drove out early when I saw light hitting the Tetons. Check out the similar shot taken on the 24th (below). Many scenes look completely different with only a little bit of time between them. The shot I still “have in my head” is similar. I’d like to catch a band of light across the trees and house with a low fog bank behind them, but still be able to see the peaks of the Teton Range above it.


Christmas Day

Season's Greetings

Dreaming of a White Christmas: We woke up to about 6-7″ of fresh white powder today. Skiers and merchants should be very happy! Our kids are home, so we’ll go out this afternoon and do some sledding before a big dinner.

New Feature Post: Christmas Lights on the Moulton Barn

Sledding and Tubing: After lunch, two families met at Mosquito Creek for some sledding and tubing.

Christmas Day Sledder

Christmas Day Sledder





Christmas Day Group

Christmas Day Group


December 24, 2014

Christmas in the Tetons

Best Wishes from all of us in Jackson Hole!


I originally planned on posting only the single image above for today and maybe something similar for tomorrow. At some point yesterday, I needed to go to KMart and to Alpertsons. Both parking lots were jammed with cars, making me realize there are a lot of people in town right now. I decided to go ahead and add a few extra photos, some of which might benefit the new wave of holiday travelers!

Miller House December 23

Miller House December 23: I took this image in the afternoon yesterday, but didn’t process it until this morning. The Miller House is on the National Elk Refuge.

Bighorn Ram December 23

Bighorn Ram December 23: Also on the National Elk Refuge. Check out Bighorns of Miller Butte.

Foggy Tree Line

Foggy Tree Line: I took this image this morning along the East boundary road. With Antelope Flats Road closed, I made the call this morning to drive towards Kelly, mainly looking for animals. I saw a few Moose along the Gros Ventre River, a few Mule Deer in Kelly, and a few Grouse in Ditch Creek. The snow is deep enough now in the pastures and sagebrush north of Kelly to force the big game animals back to the river bottoms. I didn’t see any Moose out there this morning. Flat Creek is now starting to freeze, but not fully. Swan activity could be good there.


December 23, 2014

Morning in the Tetons: I did a quick drive north this morning. It was 6°F in town and -6°F in the park. Since the last time I was there, the Park Service locked the gates at each end of Antelope Flats Road. The road into the Chapel of the Transfiguration is plowed in, too.

Band of Low Clouds

Band of Low Clouds: Taken from the road going into Dornan’s.


Cabin: Taken near the Taggart Lake Trailhead parking area.


Tracks: Taken along the Moose-Wilson Road.


Mounds: Taken along the Moose-Wilson Road.

The Grand

The Grand: Taken along the Moose-Wilson Road.

New Feature Post!

BadgersCritters: Maybe they don’t have the “mass” of the large game animals and predators, but they are equally fun and equally challenging to photograph!

This page contains a lot of photos of many of the smaller mammals you might find in Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding areas.

Last Minute Christmas Wish List!

These might come in handy for most readers. It’s probably too late to get items shipped in time for Christmas, but that’s only a technicality! News: Adorama sent an email saying they will ship overnight for FREE!


Apps: You CAN get these before Christmas!


December 22, 2014

Elvis, Washakie & Slim Jim: August 28, 2012

Last night, I switched out a photo of Elvis taken in 2012. After a bad eye infection in 2011, he showed up in 2012 with clear eyes as seen in this photo. It appeared he would make it through the big scare of the prior year. This shot was taken on July 28th, 2012 along the Gros Ventre. Behind him is Washakie and another bull I called Slim Jim. I also added one more shot from 2011 showing the oozing eye infection. Here’s that previous Feature Post: Elvis—King of the Gros Ventre:

New Years 2009I’ll mention it a couple more times before it happens, but there will be a Torchlight Parade and Fireworks on December 31st at both Snow King Resort and at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort at Teton Village. Check out: Photographing Fireworks : Tips and Suggestions. I don’t know about the rest of you, but for myself, 2014 is whizzing by at an amazing speed!

Mountain Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee: Taken at F/7.1, 1/500th Second, ISO400 at close range.

Mountain Chickadee Taking Off

Mountain Chickadee Taking Off: Taken at F/7.1, 1/400th Second, ISO400 at close range. Wow! There’s a lot of movement within 1/400th second.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch: Both Chickadees and Nuthatches are jittery and seldom stop for very long.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel: The sun broke through the clouds for a few minutes, rim lighting this little squirrel just before she jumped to another tree. Taken at F/7.1, 1/400th Second, ISO400 at 310mm on a 200-400mm lens.

Bighorns: When the light broke through the clouds, I loaded up and drove over to the National Elk Refuge. There were several rams paying attention to a couple of ewes, but not in a great spot for photography. It would probably have been good if I felt like waiting them out, but after all of them bedded down, I headed on home.


December 21, 2014

The Winter Solstice: Shortest Day of the Year! Sunrise is at 7:52 am and Sunset is at 4:50 pm. The best part of winter is knowing you can take photos all day long with the sun so low in the sky. I’ll be out some, probably with the Bighorns on Miller Butte. They were active on Saturday.

Corey on the Railing

Corey Jackson on the Railing: Last night, I followed my youngest son over to one of the Resorts to take a few photos of him “urban skiing”. He had built a small jump to get onto the rails, slid down them, then off onto the snow below. Crazy! All I can think about is whether we have good enough insurance! Corey is a Freeride ski coach now for the Park City ski team. I had a couple of off camera strobes set up and triggered them with a Nikon SU800 and a couple of Radio Poppers.

Corey Jackson

Corey Jackson: I set up a strobe behind him to light up the falling snow. Another strobe lit him up from the side and the street light lit the falling snow during a 1 second exposure. I used “rear curtain sync” on this one. Shots like tonight’s captures challenge me. Each time, I get a little better handle on it. Corey is in town for a few days for Christmas, so I’ll probably get another couple of tries at different spots and under different conditions. He gets some sponsorship help from Fat-ypus, so he likes to make sure their logos are clearly visible. Nice to see it snowing again!

Corey on the Rails

Corey on the Rails: Earlier in today’s post, I mentioned you can shoot all day in the Winter. I guess I could say….”and you can shoot all night if you have a few strobes!” This one was taken with a D800 on a tripod with a Nikon 14-24 mm wide angle lens. There’s one SB910 strobe on the far left, aimed at him and with a tight zoom. Three more strobes are on the far side of the parking lot lighting up the wide scene. He slid down the rails to the next section, then dropped off onto the snow bank he piled up. He wanted me to show the little ramp, full rail, and some of the snow bank. (You can click on any of these three ski shots to view them much larger).

Today in Jackson Hole: I made a quick trip to Miller Butte at mid-morning. The valley floor temperature hovered in the mid to upper 30s today, so what should have been fresh snow was actually drizzle. I made a quick trip to Wilson to check it out—hoping it would be snowing there. After a while, I thought I could do more good at home writing the Critter post and processing the images.


December 20, 2014

Elvis at the Dumpster

Another old shot of Elvis—on the left. Elvis—King of the Gros Ventre

Loose Ends: We are now into the shortest three days of the year! Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice and days will begin to get a minute or two longer each day. Gasoline is now $2.55 per gallon at a few stations. We have a 50% chance of snow through most of the day and close to 100% overnight. The valley is getting busier with incoming skiers and seasonal winter visitors.

Trouble Leaving a Comment? A couple of people tried to leave comments with yesterday’s new Feature post about Elvis, but reported problems. I logged out and tried making a post and got a message saying my passwords didn’t match. I did it again and it worked. Suggestions: Use copy and paste (select the password, Control-C to copy and then click in the confirmation box and hit Control-V to paste the code). One more  tip….just before hitting the submit button, go ahead and select and copy your original message. If it doesn’t submit properly, you can paste it back in and try again without needing to retype your message. Lastly, you might try a different browser like Safari, Chrome, Firefox, or Explorer. I installed the newest version of WordPress last night, so if there was a bug, maybe they fixed it.

Comments: I read every comment and respond to as many as I can. Please make comments on the posts if you have time. And, please take a second and SHARE a post if you think others in your “friend” list would enjoy it.

Feature Post Suggestions: I can’t image running out of subject matter for this blog, but if you have suggestions for an upcoming Feature Post, or even a new direction for the blog, please click the Email link in the header bar and drop me a line.

The Chase

The Miller Butte Rut: I did a quick trip to Miller Butte just before lunch. Two or three of the ewes were being chased by around 15 rams. In case you missed the post, check out Bighorns of Miller Butte. It has information, maps, and suggestions for going there.  Flat Creek is still open (not frozen) and there are lots of Trumpeter Swans, Mallard Ducks, a few Buffleheads, Common Mergansers, Barrow’s Golden Eyes, and Coots milling around.

Miller Butte Rut

The Chase: Bighorn Sheep at Miller Butte. East Gros Ventre Butte is seen in the background.

Bighorn Lamb

Bighorn Lamb: For the number of ewes at Miller Butte, there are surprisingly few lambs this year.

Bighorn Lamb

Bighorn Lamb: The ewes and lambs were grazing close to the road this afternoon. The big chase group of rams was on up the hill.


December 19, 2014

Elvis 2010

Elvis—King of the Gros Ventre: Check out the new Feature Post!

Mountain Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee:


December 18, 2014

Resting Ram

Resting Ram: The Bighorns have returned to the roadside at Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge. Recent snows and colder temps have made the area fresh and bright again.

Downey Woodpecker

Downey Woodpecker: This is a female Downey Woodpecker. Downey’s are about a third smaller than a Hairy Woodpecker and have a smaller beak, proportionally speaking.

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker: Males have a patch of red. The birds from today were captured in my back yard. Needless to say, taking photos of these creatures is mesmerizing and captivating. It’s difficult to come back inside knowing there’s a steady flow of birds showing up each day.

You might also be interested in checking out the Teton Photography Group. They have regular meetings once a month at the Art Center, along with blogs, feature photographers, and so forth. My blog, Best of the Tetons, is now syndicated with their site. Currently, they have over 700 members and are affiliated with other regional photography groups.

Tom Mangelsen’s new book: If you are in town on the 20th, you might want to go to Tom’s gallery to pick up a book and have it signed at the unveiling of the book. He was talking about a retrospective book a while back. Looks like it is hot off the press. The Last Great Wild Places: Forty Years of Wildlife Photography by Thomas D. Mangelsen


December 17, 2014

Into the Valley

New Feature Post!

“SHANE” — The Epic Western Movie Filmed in Jackson Hole: If you love old westerns, Alan Ladd, history, or Jackson Hole, this post is for you! It is packed with 19 screen grabs and a few of my photos of the area.

Back Yard Birding

It was cloudy this morning following a light overnight snow. I opted to save gas and stay home today, especially after looking out the back window and seeing a variety of birds scattered in the trees and on the feeders.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcracker at the Peanut Feeder:

Flicker and Downey Woodpecker

Flicker and Downey Woodpecker: At the feeders.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch:

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel


December 16, 2014

Grand Peak

Just the Grand:


Wagons: Snow covered wagons and wheels in Kelly.

Moulton Barn

Moulton Barn: Bands of light lit small sections of the mountains and clouds this morning. The road south to the other barn has cones to block the road to vehicles.

Barns and Outbuildings

Barns and Outbuildings: A winter view from the back side.


Tracks: Taken near the Mormon Row barns.

Bull Moose

Bull Moose: By the time this young bull cleared the sagebrush, the clouds covered the peak of the Grand. There were around 9 moose near the Gros Ventre Junction this morning.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel: In the back yard this morning.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker: Also in the back yard.


December 15, 2014

Luther Tayler Homestead

Photo taken November 15, 2014

Luther Taylor Homestead in GTNP: AKA “The Shane Cabin”. When I visit this site, I am always amazed the Park Service has neglected to install a historical plaque or kiosk to let visitors know about the area. Luther Taylor built the cabin and outbuildings. During the filming of the Shane movie, Roy Chambers (born in the Chambers Homestead on Mormon Row), owned the cabins and leased them to the production company. The character living in the cabin in the movie was named Ernie Wright. The cabin appeared in the movie for only a very short period. This is NOT the cabin little Joey lived in and seen often in the movie. Their cabin was built specifically for the movie and was torn down afterwards. That site (the Starrett cabin) is west of the Kelly Warm Springs. I am working on a Shane Feature Post. Sign up if you want to hear about it first!

Additional areas of the valley closed today to human entry and activity. These links will give you lots of details and specifics.

Winter Closure Maps in PDF format:
Winter Travel Map Jackson |  GTNP Winter Guide  |  Greater Snow King Area | Larger Snow King Area | Gros Ventre Area | Cache Creek Area | Game Creek Area | Leeks Canyon | Russ Garaman | Post Office Area | Horse Creek Area | Pinedale to La Barge

The Elk Hunt is now over in our area, including inside the National Elk Refuge. Bison are being hunted in the Refuge, keeping many of the elk close to the highway.

From the Back Yard this afternoon:

Mountain Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee:

Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee:

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel: In the back yard.


December 14, 2014

Light snow, fog, light wind this morning with temps around 27°F. I am thinking about going down to Alpine Junction today after checking its Web Cams. Check back!

Rock Outcropping

Morning Report: I drove to Alpine and hung around a couple of hours before heading home. The only Mountain Goats I saw were high on the slope but moving laterally and not down. On the way home, I made the executive decision to head “up the Hoback” and check out the Bighorns. The cliff is about 3.5 miles upstream from the new round-about at Hoback Junction. Bighorns hang out in the area fairly often, including a feed grounds nearby. Just past this outcropping is a bar and restaurant called Camp Creek Inn. Satellite Map via The Photographer’s Ephemeris. (Note: the Red Pin is roughly where I was standing today)

Camp Creek Bighorns

Camp Creek Bighorns: There were 11 bighorns near the road today.

Ram In Grass

Ram In Grass: The terrain is a bit different there than at Miller Butte.

Distant Rocks

Distant Rocks: The rocks in the first photo today are very close to the road, but veer away from the highway.

Bighorn Ram

Bighorn Ram: I didn’t seen huge rams at Camp Creek today. I’ve heard reports of a large one, however.

Ram and Ewe

Ram and Ewe: Rams still seem very interested in the Ewes.


December 13, 2014

It’s dark here, with rain in town instead of the promised snow. I am heading north towards Oxbow Bend and hope for snow.

Teton Sunrise

Teton Sunrise: I took this on my way North. I had a few minutes of open clouds, but the fog bank was rolling in.

Grand Peak

Grand Peak: I pulled over near Triangle X Ranch for this shot through the clouds.

Cow Moose High Steppin'

Cow Moose High Steppin’: This cow and and older calf were near Pacific Creek.

Oxbow Bend

Aspen Stand at Oxbow Bend: Most people would recognize this stand of aspens in the fall. I saw tracks, but no River Otters.

Moose Cows

Moose Cows: These two were close to Pilgrim Creek.

Red Fox

Red Fox: Always a treat to find one of these little Vixens.

Morning Comments: It was raining in town, slushy on the way to the airport, and snowy on the way to Oxbow and Colter Bay. Jackson Lake is still open with ice only at the edges and only in some areas.

Big Stretch

Big Stretch: Trumpeter Swan on Flat Creek.

Elk Refuge

National Elk Refuge: I shot plenty of images there, but had problems with conflicting overlaps and merges. There are a lot of elk along the highway right now.

More Winter Closures Coming on Monday: You can always get to this page by clicking the Grand Teton NP & JH Info / Area Links in the menu bar at the top of the page. It has lots of important links, including a long list of area closure maps and PDF documents. On the 15th of December, many more areas of the park will be closed to human travel of any kind. Here’s a paragraph from the GTNP site: “Grand Teton National Park closes key wildlife habitat areas to all travelers during winter. The corridor along the Snake River is closed from December 15 until April 1; and several high peaks are closed from December 1 until April 1. These areas are closed to allow wildlife a place where they will remain undisturbed.” Although there are no places to park, a person could legally shoe shoe down to Schwabacher Landing today and tomorrow, but not Monday and beyond. Elk Hunting on the National Elk Refuge ends tomorrow, however Bison hunting continues for almost another month.

If you are a photographer and want some private instruction, consider a winter trip with me! Mike Jackson’s One-On-One Photography Excursions . The trips allow me to keep supplying this blog!


December 12, 2014

Old Lucas Barn

Old Lucas Barn: Taken on Spring Gulch Road.

Hansen Fence Line

Hansen Fence Line: Also taken along Spring Gulch Road.

Bull Moose Feeding

Bull Moose Feeding on Berries: This Bull recently shed its antlers.

Morning Outing: I did a quick loop around Kelly, then back to Spring Gulch Road and a quick zip to Wilson. Clouds were thick in the Park, prompting to head south and west.

Wildlife Sightings for Today: There are lots of Elk on the Refuge. I saw around 60 bison north of Gros Ventre Road near Kelly. I saw a few moose along the Gros Ventre and a dozen in the sage flats west of the Kelly Warm Springs. I saw a few Mule Deer at the edges of Kelly.  A few days ago, I saw three White-tailed Deer does there, too. One had a large set of antlers. I saw on Rough-legged Hawk on Spring Gulch Road. I found four moose, including the one above along the Snake River basin near Wilson. Of course, there were Swans and Ducks in Flat Creek.

Exposure on the Web for this blog, my photos and my tours: Check out this blog post at

Stretching Evening Swan

Afternoon at Flat Creek: Trumpeter Swan stretching its wings.

Upside Down Swan

Upside Down Swan: I don’t recall ever seeing a Swan roll over like this. It did the same routine a dozen times or move. Instead of flapping both wings like the previous photo, it would keep one in the water and flap just the other one.

Approaching Swans

Approaching Swans: This group swam to the far end, then took off as a group.

Cygnets on Fly By

Cygnets on a Fly By: These are two of the Cygnets in the group of five above.

Evening Feeders

Evening Feeders: A couple of moose calves and a healthy looking cow moose were grazing around in my neighborhood. I saw them on my way to the bank and post office and found them when I returned.


December 11, 2014

SRO Alpenglow

Alpenglow at the Snake River Overlook:  I took a chance and headed north. It paid off today…and I was the only one there!

Orange Sunrise

Orange Sunrise: Looking East at SRO.

First Light at SRO

First Light at SRO: It was 12° there this morning, but only a touch of wind, it was tolerable.

Fence Line

Fence Line: There’s still a good row of buck rail fences south of Triangle X and before you start the climb up to SRO.

Cunningham Cabin

Cunningham Cabin: There wasn’t much light while I was at Cunningham Cabin. I walked in today. If I had been in my 4-Wheel Drive truck, I probably could have driven in. There were four bison in the pasture behind the cabin.


December 10, 2014

National Elk Refuge Grasslands

National Elk Refuge Grasslands: The crews at the National Elk Refuge plant fields grass for the wintering Elk. They added a lot of irrigation equipment over the past few summers.

Sleeping Indian

Sleeping Indian: I drove out to the refuge late in the day. There were a couple of Bighorns on the ridges and a dozen in what I call the amphitheater area.

Refuge Signs

Elk Refuge Signs: I snapped this shot today for two reasons. First, it shows how the early snows have almost completely melted at the southern end of the valley. Second, when I was getting my touring permit, the rangers told us it was okay to get off the road to photograph as long as you stayed behind the signs like these. There’s a 65′ Teton County easement along the road and these signs are sprinkled along the full length of it. A few days ago, I saw a person 50 yards past the signs getting shots of the bighorns.

We Need Snow! All three of today’s shots are unseasonably devoid of snow on the ground. If the Weather Channel is accurate, Saturday is our best chance for snow at 50%.


December 9, 2014


I just hit the “Publish” button on TWO new Feature Posts. I believe you will enjoy both of them! There’s lots of color and action. The images document a few days and nights here in Jackson Hole in the summer in which both locals and tourists mingle and enjoy themselves as one. Knowing there are county and state fairs all around the country,  you might be able to use some of the information in your home state or home town.

Here’s a quick quote from the page, “By the end of my shooting, I realized there is a fair people actually see, and a whole other fair only a photographer with a tripod can see.”


December 8, 2014

Layered LandscapeNew Feature Post! Check out Embracing Fog and Low Clouds. This is a collection of images taken over the past years of opportunities when Mother Nature starts the day out with thick fog. You might pick up some ideas and a few tips for unique images.

Upcoming Feature Posts!  I am putting the finishing touches on two posts about the 2014 Teton County Fair. I have been anxious to post them since I captured them, but timing just wasn’t right for me. It has been over four months since I took them, and all I can say is “Wow”! I like this group of images and I believe you will, too. Why two posts? First there are so many I’d like to share here. The first one is mostly an intro containing mostly traditional shots and some with motion blurs. The second post will contain mostly abstract images of the motion and streaking lights. Stay tuned!

2009 December Moon

December 2, 2009

December 3, 2009

December 3, 2009

I didn’t go out this morning. I missed whatever did happen because I needed to stay home and do some important paperwork and go to an important meeting. I’m still working on the paperwork and still working on the future two County Fair posts. I went to the meeting at the National Elk Refuge where I got my new permit to take people out to photograph Bighorns and other animals there. Like I said, that was an important meeting!

The two photos above illustrate what I had hoped to capture this year. Of course, I am always wanting to improve on any previous shot. If I had been able to see the moon over the Tetons on Saturday, it would have looked similar to the top one. If I had gone out this morning, I might have seen something very similar to the bottom one. At least from my window, it appeared to be clear to the north with maybe some lacy thin clouds hovering around. In December, the moon is as far north as it will be all year. Relative to the Grand, I start moving north each month until June.

Oh yes…one more thing! Check out the two barn images above. Notice how the Grand looks so much larger in the bottom image than the top image? This page can explain it! Distance and Scale Relationships in the Tetons (and elsewhere)


December 7, 2014

December Full Moon

December Full Moon: I was out early hoping to capture the setting full moon this morning. I could see parts of it at times as I drove North, but clouds were just too thick. I captured this one just to document it. Thick clouds in the east and a cloak of clouds over the Grand stifled my hopes for landscape shots this morning.

Passing Swans

Passing Swans: Light looked better towards town, so I stopped at the observation platform along flat creek. This group of five swans hovered in during a very short break in the clouds.

Flat Creek

Flat Creek Trumpeter Swans:

River Otters

River Otters: Only a few minutes after the Swan shot above, a family of five River Otters magically appeared from under the bank next to the road.

Otters on the Bank

River Otters on the Far Bank: Today follows in line with this old post: Serendipity Happens!

Quick Area Updates: First, today is the last day of the GTNP Elk Reduction Program (a.k.a. “the Elk Hunt”). Rangers will be removing the orange signs and it will be safe to walk about the park with out worrying about stray bullets. Wildlife should be able to settle down somewhat, too. Second, at least one of the bull Moose has dropped his antlers. Seems early to me. Lastly, it is still unseasonably warm here right now, melting a lot of our early snow and opening rivers and streams that are often choked with ice by now.


December 6, 2014

Barn at Night

Barn at Night: Last night, I loaded up and went to the John Moulton barn. I left at Midnight and was home by 2:00 PM. I was hoping to catch the Grand with the full moon overhead. I only got one or two images before the clouds thickened and rolled over the peaks. This was lit with a 2 million candle power light.  I was standing on the road with my flashlight and triggered the camera using an RFN-4. It was roughly 40-45 yards back in the sagebrush. I used my D800 at ISO400. It was exposed for 30 seconds at F/10.

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I went ahead and exposed one image without the light to illustrate the difference. Some people don’t like to do Light Painting during a full moon. That’s understandable knowing the full moon washes out a lot of the stars and the Milky Way—but it does a pretty nice job of lighting the mountains and snow fields in the Winter.

1st Test Shot1st Test Shot: I set the ISO to 400. Then, shooting Manual exposure mode, I guessed on the other two for this test shot. The Aperture was set to F/4.5 for 20 seconds.  I knew I’d need a lot of time to light the barn so I increased the exposure time to 30 seconds and started adjusting the Aperture. At f/10, it started feeling like a night scene, where the first one looks like an early morning, low light shot. The full moon was supplying plenty of light until the clouds rolled in.


QBeams: Here are my two QBeam 2 Million Candle Power flashlights. I bought the white Blue Max Marine light from Wal-Mart online and the MaxMillionII from a random site on the Internet. The  front of both look like the one on the right.

MaxMillion II

MaxMillion II: I added semi-permanent 20° grids to the front of my two QBeams. Sometimes, 2 Million Candle Power is too much, so I cut a supply of ND gels I can stack under the grids as needed. These are the two “big boys”. I have a variety of smaller flashlights, too. The grids are used to control the “spill” and concentrate the light to a more specific area. The smaller flashlights have some sort of “snoot” made out of either gaffer’s tape or PVC tubing.


December 5, 2014

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcracker: This is today’s version of Back Yard Birding in Jackson Hole: Within a few minutes of adding a few peanuts in a feeder, a pair of Clark’s Nutcrackers flew in to harvest them.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel: Not far behind, and right on queue, the female Red Squirrel returned to take her share.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel: This trunk is the same one I have been photographing the squirrel and other birds on for the past few weeks. Today, I spun it around for a different view and new possibilities. Although I might get several different chances, I have to be “quick at the shutter“. She only holds still for two or three seconds.

Today in Jackson Hole: I had to go downtown, so I loaded the gear. I made a quick loop out to Miller Butte and then to Flat Creek. We’ve been having a lot of warmer weather, melting considerable amounts of the snow around town. I have a feeling many of the Bighorns are staying up high because of all of the available food there. Normally, Bighorns come down to the road to lick ice chunks dropped from the passing vehicles, but most of it is melted off the vehicles and there isn’t much to make them come to the roads. Likewise, Flat Creek and most waterways are fully open, giving Swans and waterfowl plenty of other options. I’ve heard of a few sightings of River Otters on Flat Creek, but I haven’t seen them myself. Again, they have a lot of open water to work in right now. With all that said, there were still lots of Swans within shooting distance today. I hope to get out a bit more this afternoon and quite a bit over the weekend.

Workflow: FastRawViewer | by Thom Hogan  I will probably try this viewer out soon. It could replace PhotoMechanic in my workflow? My Photographic Workflow: A Real World Workflow from Capture Through Final Backups.

Gasoline: The price for Unleaded/Self-Serv gasoline dropped to $2.74 at the Exon Station today. Quite a few stations are at $2.79 per gallon.

Photo Exhibit at the JH Historical Society & Museum: “Landscapes of Loss – A Window into Grand Teton’s Past”. The museum is located a couple blocks north of the Town Square on the main road in and out of town. Besides the show of images by Lisa Erdberg, the Museum has a very nice book store and gift shop. Check it out when you are in town.

Shane, and other JH Movie Sets: The Museum Book Store sells a CD titled “Wyoming – A History of Film & Video in the 20th Century” by Walt Farmer. Walt passed away back in January. I finally broke down and purchased his CD today for $39.95. I’d give it a thumbs down on the interface, all done in primitive HTML web page layouts, but there is a TON of information…enough to make it worth the investment. The newer version includes the Shane Movie information. In prior editions, the Shane portion was sold separately. If you are a movie buff, you can live with the clunky interface to get to the goodies. There are lots of photos, interviews, posters, ads and memorabilia, but he also includes fairly detailed information on finding the old movie set locations—including GPS coordinates and maps for the Starrett Homestead, town, cemetery, three tree hill, and of course, “the Shane Cabin”. With the CD, I found the cliffs the wagons went off in John Wayne’s first movie or the barns used in Rocky IV.


December 4, 2014

Three Swans

Three Swans: I went to Miller Butte twice today and to Flat Creek once and never fired a shot. That doesn’t happen very often. I could have taken one of a few feeding Bighorns. A few of them were down all the way to the Miller House. This shot was taken yesterday afternoon with calm water. Today, the wind was blowing briskly from the south. Plenty of Swans were around, but not in promising places.

Miller Butte Update: Lately, most of the herd has been grazing near the road and closer to the Miller House and not around the rocks. The biggest rams seem to be staying high unless they are chasing a ewe and she brings them down during a chase. That could happen at any time but I have trouble sitting in a parking area too long if there isn’t a Ram in sight.

Weather Overview: I’ve been getting up early enough to be in the Park for sunrise but there has been thick clouds on most of the recent mornings. It has been unseasonably warm recently, too, especially in town. Possibly, the north end of the park and high elevations have been getting a lot more snow and less drizzle and rain. Hunting season in the Park should be over soon and things might begin to feel normal again. I’d like to get more Moose images before they start dropping their antlers. It sounds like we might get a little snow before some clearing for the weekend.

Welcome to the New Subscribers!  I noticed a few new people signed up to follow Best of the Tetons. Thanks! If you would like to get a notice by email of any new Feature Posts, take a second and sign up. All it takes is your email address. I have several new ones in the “queue”, so now’s a great time.


December 3, 2014

Refuge Elk

Refuge Elk: Actually, I took this image late yesterday, but didn’t download it until today. With hunters on the far east side of the refuge, elk huddle in large herds close to the highway on the west side.


Bighorns: Normally, there are quite a few Bighorns near Miller Butte. Today, I could only find these two. The ewe seemed to have more experience at the “rut” than this younger ram.

Four Trumpeter Swans

Four Trumpeter Swans: I spent a little time along Flat Creek hoping for some “action”. The light was nice, but the swans were content to just feed.

Bottoms Up

Bottoms Up: Flat Creek is the perfect depth for feeding Trumpeters.


Mallard: I like taking this kind of shot on a calm day.


December 2, 2014

Bighorn Ewes

Bighorn Ewes: On Miller Butte in the National Elk Refuge.

Swan Strech

Swan Stretching its Wings: Along Flat Creek.

Sleeping Swans

Sleeping Swans:

Hooded Mergansers

Hooded Mergansers: In Flat Creek. This is the first time I’ve seen them this year.


December 1, 2014

 Elk Arch

Fresh Snow! Yesterday, we had some sun. It was a good way to end November, but snow is back this morning and more is expected throughout the week. You’ll see I found plenty to photograph through the last half of November, and I don’t think I’ll have any trouble finding good subject matter in December. If you are a photographer and want some private instruction, consider a winter trip with me! Mike Jackson’s One-On-One Photography Excursions . The trips help me keep supplying this blog.

Three Rams

Winter Rams: Taken at Miller Butte this afternoon. There were five or six nice sized rams huddled around a couple of ewes. It had a lot of potential, but nothing happened.

Bighorns Mating

Bighorns Mating: Maybe my comment about nothing happening depends on your point of view. This ram probably thought he had a pretty good day.

In the NEWS: Winter wildlife protection closures going into effect . This article in the Daily echoes some of the comments I’ve been making. The road north towards Curtis Canyon is now closed on the National Elk Refuge and the hillside to the south closed this morning, too. The traffic on the Elk Refuge road was much more quiet today.

In the NEWS: Yellowstone allows more time for fee hike comments. This could affect many tourists and residents with a separate entrance fee for GTNP and YS.

WY Road ReportsWinter Helpers: Some of the new links like this WY Road Reports might help you with important information—available with the click of your mouse. This page takes you directly to the road closures and advisories at the WYDOT Travel Site. There are also Weather Reports, Web Cams & Snow Reports.

Quick Sightings: I keep meaning to mention seeing a flock of Gray-cheeked Rosy-Finches feeding on Miller Butte. There are lots of waterfowl on Flat Creek right now with the waterway open. I saw 40 or so Pronghorns on the National Elk Refuge today, too. Over the weekend, a photographer friend saw iPhone photos of a wolf killing an otter at Oxbow Bend. A few Grizzlies are still reported out and looking for gut piles in the Park.

October Bull 1st New Feature Post of December: Flehmen Response or “Lip Curl” in GTNP Moose While the title highlights Moose, I also included a photo of a Bighorn Ram, Mtn. Goat Billy, and a Mustang Stallion. Hope you enjoy it!


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Comment (1)

  1. jackie ireland

    Awesome Photo’s for the month of Dec.

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