A monthly journal of wildlife reports, scenic opportunities, and tidbits for both photographers and Teton visitors!
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Where’s the January Overview information?
Starting this month, you can click on this new page: Monthly Overviews for JH / GTNP to get a quick overview of each of the 12 months side by side. Check it out!
January 31, 2015
Cow Moose: At lunchtime, I did a quick trip to the area near Flat Creek on North Cache. A cow moose and calf were putting on a show on the north side of the Visitor’s Center.
Barrow’s Golden Eye: This pair was on Flat Creek.
Barrow’s Golden Eye: Springtime already?
White-breasted Nuthatch: This one was in my back yard late in the day.
Tomorrow I will be uploading a new February 2015 Daily Updates page.
February One-On-One Photo Excursions: I have several openings available for February. Click Here to see last year’s February Daily Updates to get an idea of what you might see here. You can also book for March and other months. I have a new Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens on order. Anyone with a current Nikon DSLR taking one of my Excursions will be able to use the lens on the trip. (should be here soon) The lens has been getting a lot of positive press. I am purchasing mine from Perfect Light Camera and Supply in Idaho Falls after hearing his positive reviews following their recent Africa trip.
January 30, 2015
Wedding Trees: “Up the Gros Ventre” taken before first light this morning. There’s a map to the Wedding Trees on this page: “Up The Gros Ventre” — Unexpected Treasures
Grand to Moran: A wide shot taken from the hillside next to the Wedding Tree.
Gros Ventre River Basin: Taken from the roadway.
Shane Cabin: I waded out into the deep snow for this one. I wanted to include the cabin, Grand and the snowmobile tracks. It will take several good snowfalls to cover them up.
Sled Dog Race: Taken on the Town Square tonight.
Sled Dog Mushers: I went downtown to the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race: Tonight was a ceremonial beginning of a multi-day race. I took a Nikon D4 with a 70-200mm lens and an off-camera SB-910 strobe. I was in manual exposure with ISO 5000, 1250th Second, F/5 or F/6.3. The camera was set to High-Speed Sync for the strobe action. Ideally, I would have had someone holding the strobe a bit to the side to eliminate the “blue eye” in some of the dogs….but I went by myself and just held the strobe over my head with my left hand.
Be sure to check out the new post: Focus Stacking: Increased Depth of Field by Combining Multiple Images
January 29, 2015
Lots of News Today!
Park finds, fixes graffiti on “Shane” cabin : Story in the JH News & Guide. There’s a photo of the graffiti in the daily along with the story. The news story also says the Luther Taylor site is in line for some historical designation within the park. “After completion of a park Historic Properties Management Plan — which faces public review this spring — it’s expected to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Skaggs said.” You can read more about the site in these Feature Posts: “SHANE” — The Epic Western Movie Filmed in Jackson Hole and The Shane Cabins: Authentic Homestead in Grand Teton National Park
US Copyright Office: Last night, I uploaded a couple of copyright submission groups to the US Copyright Office. While most of the steps are the same, they streamlined the actual upload step. We can now select an entire group of zip files at a time. Earlier we had to add them one at a time and then add the file name manually in another field. A few months ago, they raised the cost from $35 for a submission group to $55.
Three Bighorn Rams: Taken on the National Elk Refuge around lunch time. I also saw three eagles on a carcass along the highway and north of Wilcox Gallery. Swans were fairly active on Flat Creek.
Focus Stacking: After making the Copyright submission, I added an extra section to yesterdays comments. If you checked in early, you might want to scroll down to see the late night additions!
‘King of Snow King’ dies at 71: Here’s a story by the Wyoming Business Report about the passing of Manuel Lopez. A torchlight parade down Snow King, planned as part of the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race:, will be conducted in his honor.
Featured Event from An Upcoming Year of Wishes
Name of Event: Utah Bald Eagle Day, Farmington Bay WMA Location: W. of Centerville, Utah; Farmington Bay Waterfowl Mgt Area; Located on the west side of Farmington at 1325 W. Glover Lane (925 South). Take exit 325 off I-15. Turn left on Park Lane and travel west to Clark Lane at the first traffic light and turn right. Travel west to 1525 West, and turn South to Glover Lane, and turn right to 1700 West. Sponsor: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Schedule: Saturday, February 14, 2015; 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Description: Observe Bald Eagles and chat with DWR biologists. Web Site: http://wildlife.utah.gov/watchable-wildlife/events.php Email: BobWalters@utah.gov Telephone: 801-209-5326
January 28, 2015
Focus Stacking: A few weeks ago, I did a few test shots of objects in the kitchen. I tried out a feature built into a CamRanger called Focus Stacking. For this shot, I focused on the closest part of the orange, then set the CamRanger to do a total of 10 shots. It automatically stepped the focus deeper into the scene without touching the camera again. The 10 shots have been sitting in my Lightroom catalog since taking them. Today, I let Photoshop Auto-Align & Auto-Blend five of the images into a single image following steps I found on this page: How to Focus-Stack Macro Images using Photoshop
A test shot like this gives me ideas for shots in the wild…like frosted berries, flowers, or insects.
International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race: If you are in town Friday evening, check out this big event downtown.
WinterFest – Jackson Hole: February 13-22. Click the link for more information and schedules.
Out in the Park: At lunch time, I did a quick sweep through the National Elk Refuge. Lots of animals down. There was a bald eagle on one of the carcasses. The previously frozen water on Flat Creek is fully open. I did a quick run out to Kelly where I saw two moose in the Gros Ventre. I found some mule deer around Kelly, but not in good locations for photography. I watched a nervous coyote for a few minutes. A couple of cars stopped and it moved away from the road. Yesterday, I saw a Great Blue Heron fly by while I was at the pond at Boyle’s Hill. I didn’t think they hung around in the winter.
Focus Stacking in Use: I took this image using a Nikon 200-400mm lens at a long distance from the subjects. I could tell it would be difficult to keep both the distant barns and closer fences sharp—so I took two separate images while locked down on the tripod. The easiest way I found to do this was to place the focus point on the close fence, then hold down the AF Lock (or hold the shutter button down half way) and recompose with the focus point now on the distant barns. I pressed the shutter once which took the shot with the fence sharp, then let up on the shutter button and pressed it again. The camera refocused on the barns for the second shot. Back in Lightroom and Photoshop, I exported the two images into two layers, used (Edit>)Auto-Align Layers and then (Edit>)Auto-Blend while in Photoshop. Check out the How to Focus-Stack Macro Images using Photoshop if you want to go into much more detail on the topic. I did this shot with only two images, but it would be possible to Focus Stack half a dozen captures. If I were to try more than a couple of images, I’d probably set up my CamRanger. Doing multiple shots manually means having to either move focus points on the back of the camera or manually focusing, either of which can jiggle the camera on the tripod ever so slightly. Auto-Align does a pretty good job, however.
Box L Ranch: Results of the two blended layers. We are almost at the end of January. I’ll probably go ahead and turn this subject into a Feature Post to make it easier to find in the future. Sign up to follow this blog if you’d like to get a notice by email!
January 27, 2015
Abandoned Ford: We had hoar frost overnight. I took a ladder and some strobes back to the old Ford on High School Road.
This is a setup I’ve used quite a few times. The tripod straddles the top of the ladder, strapped down with a dog leash. I added some extra text and photos on this recent post: Problem Solving “On-the-Fly” or With a Plan:
Frosty Roadway: Taken on the South Park Loop.
Ely Springs Barn:
South Park Barn: Also taken on the South Park Loop Road.
Pronghorn: On the National Elk Refuge this afternoon.
January 26, 2015
Monday—closer to home: I spent a lot of time and gasoline driving all over the valley yesterday. Today, I slept longer, then shot right here in the neighborhood. That was an easy call when a nice bull moose was standing in the neighbor’s yard when I opened the front door! This bull was standing in front of street signs, power boxes, cars and houses at various times. All I had to do was wait until the distractions were not in the scene. Unless I told you, you’d probably never know the following images were “in-town” shots.
Bull Moose Feeding on Willows: We’ve had a Cow moose and two yearlings in the neighborhood off and on all winter. Last week, I saw one of the young ones wandering on its own. I don’t know if the cow kicked them off to fend for themselves or if they got separated. Bulls are less common in my neighborhood.
Bull Moose on Flat Creek: Traffic picked up in the neighborhood, so the bull moved through a gate into my next door neighbor’s yard.
Moose Head: I stayed with this moose for an hour or so, getting nice head shots and feeding shots. My dog was barking next door and it caught the attention of the bull.
Bull Moose Entering Flat Creek: Flat Creek runs through the National Elk Refuge, then through town and eventually into the Snake River. It runs behind my house here in town. For this shot, I was standing on my neighbor’s footbridge over Flat Creek.
Clark’s Nutcracker: One of four visiting my back yard today.
Black-billed Magpie: I don’t find these birds easy to photograph. There were at least three in the yard today.
Mountain Chickadee: From the back yard.
Moose in Afternoon Light: I found the bull moose again this afternoon.
Incoming Swans: Taken this afternoon at Boyle’s Hill pond.
January 25, 2015
Sunday in the Park: I was up early today, but clouds were too thick for landscapes. Instead, I drove out early to the National Elk Refuge and made a quick lap. There were lots of elk, sheep, and pronghorns south of Miller Butte. I was hoping to see some wolves chasing elk or bighorns. There have been at least four elk kills visible from the roadway.
Red Fox Watching: I headed on North, checking out Flat Creek on the way. Quite a bit of Flat Creek is open now with a few Swans and Ducks swimming around. I found this male and stayed with him until he curled up for a nap. He spent a considerable amount of time hiking his back leg to mark objects, much like neighborhood dogs.
Red Fox Yawning: This male slept on this mound for about an hour. I took quite a few images then moved on.
Poser: Most of my shots today were taken from the window of my vehicle. I used a bean bag with VR turned on.
Resting Fox: I am pretty sure this is a vixen.
Fox Meeting: The female seemed more interested in the male than the other way around.
Fox and Fisherman: The fox went out onto the ice to visit the ice fishermen. The fisherman did a great job of shooing him away and never fed the fox. The fox sat down and patiently waited—but after seeing no fish coming out of the hole, moved on.
Grand Tipi: The sky had a nice lavender hue on the way home. I stopped a Dornan’s for this shot and something to drink.
Food & Drink “In the Park”: If you are heading into GTNP, go prepared! Dornan’s store at Moose Junction is open this time of the year, including the pizza parlor / restaurant. The Deli inside the store is not open, however. I drove out the highway from Moran Junction, figuring the campground store would be open in Buffalo Valley. It was closed. I went on out to the Hatchet Motel at the base of Togwotee and it was also closed. Their gas price signs still say $4.39 / gallon, so I have to assume they have been closed for a while. The only store open inside the park is at Flagg Ranch, catering to the snowmobilers and snow cat riders heading into Yellowstone. Public restrooms are also very limited inside the park during the winter!
January 24, 2015
Saturday in JH: I got up early, looked out at the thick clouds, then decided to finish the new Feature Post: The National Elk Refuge & Miller Butte: Within only a few minutes, the post already has 14 shares and quite a few likes on Facebook. Birds are coming to my back yard feeders. Tempting to stay with them! I see a little blue in the sky. I may head over to the refuge. (see the new post) or I may head down the canyon to look at the Mountain Goats if they are out. I probably won’t make that decision until I have to turn either left or right at the intersection!
Afternoon Outing: I did a quick loop out to the Elk Refuge, then headed south to Alpine Junction. No goats! The lady at the gas station on the corner said they had been down a couple of days earlier and mentioned one had recently been hit by a vehicle. I drove back to Jackson where I found the mousing Coyote on Spring Gulch Road.
Bighorn Ram: On the National Elk Refuge.
Immature Bald Eagle: Taken at the entrance to Rafter J Subdivision just south of town.
Mousing Coyote: This coyote was a little out of my normal shooting range, but I took the series anyway. This was a lethal little hunter. I saw it catch at least six voles or mice in just a short period.
January 23, 2015
The day started out cloudy and cold. I stayed home until lunch time then made a quick drive out to the National Elk Refuge and over to Flat Creek. There were lots of animals out at the refuge, but I didn’t take any photos. Flat Creek is mostly frozen over after several nights in a row of very cold temperatures.
Afternoon Outing: Late in the day, I made a trip up Spring Gulch Road in hopes of seeing owls, moose, foxes, coyotes,, elk, deer, ermine or ANY other critter. All of them are possible, but I didn’t have much success. I ended up driving up the Gros Ventre. I heard of a kill along the river, but didn’t see any ravens or eagles to mark the spot. Eventually, I ended up near Kelly where I spent the rest of the evening looking for Mule Deer.
Two Mule Deer Bucks: I believe the front deer is the same buck I photographed a few days ago. It had a broken tine on his antler, too. The smaller buck is missing one antler now.
Sparring Mule Deer: I couldn’t move to a better angle, so I had to take what I could get with these two sparring Mule Deer.
White-tailed Doe and Mule Deer Yearlings: The doe on the left is a White-tailed Deer. She was milling around with the Mule Deer.
White-tailed Buck: To be honest, at the time I took this shot, I didn’t realize it was a White-tailed Deer. Besides the smaller ears, their antlers project forward more than a Mule Deer. I believe this is the first time I’ve photographed a White-tailed Buck in Wyoming. I’ve seen a few along the Gros Ventre River, but never got shots. I’ve seen them down in the river bottom near Schwabacher Landing and a few much farther north near the Buffalo Fork River. A friend just sent me this page about Hybrid Mule Deer / White-tailed Deer, occasionally found in Wyoming. At least for now, I will assume it is a White-tailed Deer! The does in the same area definitely have the distinctive white tail I would expect to see.
Buck and Yearling Mule Deer:
January 22, 2015
River Otters: I took this shot in early December along Flat Creek. I haven’t seen them lately, but I am always scanning the edges of the water for them. Occasionally, the family goes to the little pond north of the Visitor’s Center. Another group of River Otters hangs around the Oxbow and I’ve seen a family working the Gros Ventre River. When I saw this family last, there were five in the group. Worth watching for them!
It is clear and cold here again today. I am still going through photos, culling, adding keywords, and organizing them so I can get them all copyrighted. MJ
January 21, 2015
Teton Range and Elk Herd: Skies are clear today and it’s cold. Flat Creek froze over again except for a few small open spots. Swans were sleeping on the ice when I went by at lunch time. At 2:15 pm, the temperature is 10°f.
Mass of Elk: These two shots show the snow pack in the lower valley. This shot was taken just south of the Miller House on the National Elk Refuge.
Winter Half Over? We are now 21 days into January. There was a comment in Bert Raynes’ article in the newspaper with someone suggesting Winter might be half over now. Maybe? Each year is different. We can be on the back side of the big storms, yet we might still get hammered with some big one. It was plenty cold today. I am still dealing with paperwork and documents for GTNP for this year’s photography tour permits. I just finished the end of the year bookkeeping for 2014 and am working on my copyright submissions for December. I put food out for my back yard birds today but never got outside to photograph them. From inside, I saw the red squirrel preoccupied with trying to keep the Clark’s Nutcrackers and Magpies from getting to the peanuts and safflower seeds. It’s fun to watch even if I don’t get out. As I write this late night follow-up, it is -8°F outside. There was a very nice crescent moon tonight, lit beautifully from below.
January 20, 2015
Custom (and Private) Metadata for Lightroom: I am not exactly sure where to put this information. I have several third party plug-ins I use regularly. Maybe I could do a single Feature Post showing all of them. For now, here’s one of them. Once this plug-in is installed (using Lightroom’s Plugins Manager), it adds an extra set of fields at the bottom of the Metadata tab. This allows you to add some private information about an image that doesn’t get exported or saved with an exported file. For this example, maybe I want to store the name and phone number of the owner of a special old barn with the image, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to broadcast it to the world. Information inside the Private section might include GPS coordinates to a nest or den. Well, you get the idea! The link will take you to the download site to the free plug-in. (He takes donations)
Afternoon Outing: I didn’t head out until well after lunch today, then stayed out until the last of the evening light. I started at the Elk Refuge, then Flat Creek, and out to Kelly before heading home down Spring Gulch.
Elk and Pronghorns: Elk were all over the place on the National Elk Refuge, including a few sharing space with the wintering Pronghorns. I saw a dozen or so Bighorn Sheep, too. Flat Creek is open. I stopped for a few minutes but decided to go on north for something different.
Winter Hillside: Late evening light on Blacktail Butte.
Sheep Herder’s Wagons: Taken in the small town of Kelly.
Wagon Wheels: Also in Kelly, WY
Curious Mule Deer: I found a few mule deer milling around in Kelly.
Mule Deer Portrait: Also in Kelly.
Mt. Jackson: Evening light and clouds over Mt. Jackson. Taken along Spring Gulch Road.
Red Barn: Also along Spring Gulch Road. The ski slope runs are visible in the background. Light was especially nice late in the day.
Double Gates: During most of the day, clouds covered the mountain range. Just before sunset, they cleared for a few shots.
Wolves! I don’t see wolves very often here in the Tetons. The newspaper mentioned two packs being on the National Elk Refuge. Today, as I was driving around north of Kelly, I got to see four of them on the hillside east of the Kelly Warm Springs. At least three of them were black. The other one was also dark. I saw a few Moose along the Gros Ventre today, too.
January 19, 2015
Monday: Martin Luther King Day
Bull Elk: Taken on Miller Butte at the National Elk Refuge.
Cow Elk: Also on the National Elk Refuge. Yesterday, we had light rain and drizzle all day. It melted off a lot of valley snow. I don’t know if the elk I saw today were just moving into the exposed grass or they were being prodded to move to that area by the area wolves. At any rate, there were lots of elk on the south end of the refuge today. I didn’t see the pronghorns today. A few bull elk were along the top of the butte.
Flat Creek is now open: I didn’t stop to photograph anything, but the entire waterway is open in front of the observation platform just north of the Visitor’s Center. There were a few swans and other waterfowl.
Bull Moose with Antlers: I took a couple out for a One-on-One Photo Excursion last week. He made an amazing improvement in his photography in one day. I showed them some of my favorite places to look for moose and other animals. A day or two later, he sent an email with a nice shot of a bull moose complete with antlers. Apparently there are still a few around—even if I am not seeing them!
Yesterday, I tried making a post but my login password did not work. Turns out I filled my hard drive space allotment for the hosting package. I upgraded it and am back in business for a while. If you tried to subscribe to follow the blog or tried to make a comment yesterday, the software probably prohibited the action. If so, try again today! MJ
January 17, 2015
Teton Sunrise: Taken at the entrance to the parking area at Snake River Overlook. Plows hadn’t cleared the area, so I had to walk in.
Light on the Grand at SRO:
Buck Rail Fence: Taken along the highway near Triangle X Ranch.
Triangle X Gates: I shot this one from the road. I like the way the buck rail fence snake through the scene.
Swan Against Snow Covered Bushes: I took this one at Boyle’s Hill Swan Pond just after lunch. I have lots of images from there, but this one has a unique natural texture.
Ram on Rocky Terrain: Many people like to zoom in on animals to fill their normal frame. Whenever possible, I try to pull back and get a lot more of the scene, especially when it helps highlight their terrain.
Alert Pronghorn: The newspaper reports a pack of wolves now on and around Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge. It also says they had made two kills. Animals seemed to be on more of an alert today.
January 16, 2015
Elk On Ridge Line: The weather forecast was for snow starting in the morning, but I had a little light busting through before it started. I kept hoping for a big bull to enter the scene.
Cow Moose In Snow: Taken along the Gros Ventre River. There were two more upstream about half a mile.
Mountain Goat Kid: The drive down to Alpine Junction yielded only a few tough shots. I was told they were down lower a little while before I got there.
Parade of Does taken through a wall of snow.
Miller House and Elk:
Stalled Bison: Taken at the end of the public road on the National Elk Refuge.
Wintering Pronghorns: Also on the National Elk Refuge.
Winter Outing: Falling snow changes every scene. It takes a little more effort to be out in it, but it is usually worth it.
January 15, 2015
Common Merganser: This group of bird images were still in my camera from late in the day on Wednesday. I just downloaded them. All were taken from the observation platform along Flat Creek on north Cache.
Ravens and Crows are fairly common in Jackson Hole all year. This one flew right over the platform.
Golden Eye Taking Off: Normally, I go to Flat Creek hoping to capture active Trumpeter Swans, whether taking off, landing, or fighting. Many other species of waterfowl also share the waterway. The area is usually fairly active with a variety of birds passing by, sometimes at very fast speeds. It is a great place to hone your “birds in flight” skills.
Golden Eye Over Snow: Mornings at Flat Creek can be good. The sun lifts over the Cache Creek valley at roughly 8:30 am. Many of the sleeping birds begin to wake up and stretch. Fog and steam can make for moody morning images. I also like to go back at about 2:45 pm. Activity often picks up. At 3:30 pm or so, the sun goes behind Saddle Butte. Afternoon light is often golden and casts long, interesting shadows. Snow texture is also more detailed.
Clear and Cold! I am sitting in front of my computer this morning with the heater blowing warm air on my feet. It is -9°F outside even at 10:00 am. Flat Creek my be frozen over today.
Bighorn Ram: Two or three rams were near the road at the bend at lunch time.
Golden Eagle: I wouldn’t call this a sharp image…but worth the effort. The winter kill is 150 yards off the road. I added a 1.4TC onto my 200-400mm lens and stopped down to F/20. I never thought the TC worked that well on my battery of zoom lenses. This was taken on Miller Butte. Yesterday, a biologist from the National Elk Refuge was at the observation platform. She said a few wolves had been spotted chasing elk at the top of Miller Butte.
Grouped Swans: The open area of water at Boyles Hill is getting smaller each week. It is pushing the swans closer together.
Swan on Snow: Some walk. Some fly to the food bins. The wild birds have full wing feathers as seen in this Swan.
January 14, 2015
Rockefeller Parkway Sign: For a change, I headed to the far north end of the park this morning. After a couple of hours, I began making my way back to town.
Winter Trail: The snow is deep near Flagg Ranch. Workers have paths like this one to travel to and from the lodge and their cabins.
Frosted Trees: When the fog lifted, I headed on south. Many of the trees had a layer of frost.
GTNP Sign: I like to capture park signs on a regular basis. I never know when someone will need one for a winter brochure or article, and they work great in personal “coffee table” books. This one is on the Rockefeller Parkway as you reenter the Park. The park map calls this Steamboat Mountain.
Leaning Tree: Fog and low clouds were lifting as I passed Jackson Lake.
Buck Rail Fences: The Park Service replaced much of the old buck rail fencing along the highway, but there are still a few sections of it.
Snake River Overlook: Clouds were thick this morning as I drove North, but were lifting nicely as I came back through.
Teton View Overlook: The window to capture these kinds of shots is often quite short. Once the sun starts hitting the fog bank, it can disappear quickly.
Snow King Chair Lift: A change of pace from the normal wildlife and landscape shots.
Snow King Mountain: The sun was just clearing the peak over the Snow King Lift. They recently added new snow making equipment, new lights and a new terrain park. Skiing is free from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Friday if you want to see the improvements for yourself. I’d have to double check, but I believe you can still purchase a scenic pass to the top of the hill so you can take photos, then ride the lift back down.
January 13, 2015
Mid-day Comments: We had low clouds and fog here this morning. By noon, it started clearing, so I made a quick trip to the National Elk Refuge. Bighorns were down in places. I took a few shots of them. Just down the road were around 45 wintering Pronghorns, but they were a little out of my range. Bison were well out of range.
Miller House with Cloud Bank: The shot I have in my “mind’s eye” for the Miller House is similar to this one. I’d like to get the fog just behind the house, then a band of morning light hitting the ridge of the house, and of course, some colorful clouds over the Tetons. Not too much to ask?
Ewe Portrait: Taken at the National Elk Refuge near Miller Butte.
Ruddy Duck: This is a tight crop of a female Ruddy Duck captured at the observation platform on Flat Creek. In the summer, the males have a baby blue beak.
Mallard Hen Stretching: Mallards are much more tolerant of humans than most of the other ducks on Flat Creek.
Barrows Golden Eye: In flight over Flat Creek. I also saw a few Common Mergansers, but no Hooded Mergansers today.
National Elk Refuge: Almost all of the specks you see in the distance are elk wintering on the refuge.
Parade of Elk: These were walking along Flat Creek.
Tidbits: Gasoline prices finally dropped to $1.98 per gallon here. I can’t remember seeing it that low here in a long, long time (or maybe ever).
One-on-One Photography Excursions: If you are going to be in the area and are interested in a One-on-One Photography Excursion, check out the link. I have a couple of openings left in January and several for February.
Check back for additional photos from today. I plan on checking out the trumpeter swans on Flat Creek after making this post. MJ
January 12, 2015
First Light: Taken along the Gros Ventre River just outside the park boundary.
Eagle Sculpture: Taken at the National Museum of Wildlife Art.
Young Ram: Taken on the National Elk Refuge near Miller Butte.
Bison Herd and Distant Elk: Taken east of Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge.
Landing Swans: Taken on Flat Creek just north of the Visitors Center
Squabble: Also on Flat Creek.
Mallard Duck: Taken from the observation platform along Flat Creek.
Hood Mergansers: I don’t see these too often, but this pair of Hood Mergansers were mixed in with Mallard Ducks, Barrows Golden Eyes, and Trumpeter Swans on Flat Creek.
Swan Coming Out of a Good Sleep:
January 11, 2015
Trumpeter Swans Flying In: Between football games, I drove over to Flat Creek and Miller Butte. Flat Creek is open again, attracting Trumpeter Swans, Mallard Ducks, and Barrow’s Golden Eyes.
Swan Taking Off:
Mallard On Ice
Afternoon on the Refuge: I made a drive out the Refuge Road. There were several Bighorns scattered around, but off the road. Elk were up the hillside plus there were around 40 Pronghorns milling around. Bison were towards the south end, but not close to the road today. A Bald Eagle was circling an area at the end of Miller Butte. I set up to try to capture him, but he never came close enough for a decent shot. There was a lot of potential today, but I didn’t stay around long enough. I headed back to the observation platform on Flat Creek.
January 10, 2015
Morning in JH: Cloudy and foggy here in town, but it appears to be clear at the top of the pass.
Around the Block: We have a few friends who are bicycle fanatics. They do a trip on bikes they call “around the block”. The leave Jackson and over Teton Pass, through Victor, then over Pine Creek Pass to Alpine Junction. From there, they pedal up the canyon to Jackson. Hard core! I’ve even heard of them doing it twice in one day. I will probably go “around the block” today, but I will be pushing the pedal on the vehicle and pressing the brakes once in a while. I’d still like to get the sunrise shot at the pass and hopefully capture some of the hoar frost shots I missed yesterday. I’ll check for Mountain Goats on my way back home. Well, that’s the plan. Check back!
Teton Pass: This morning, we had the layer of low clouds, but also a layer of clouds overhead. The sunrise event was not what I had hoped when I got up at 6:00 am.
Pass Skier and Boarder: By the time I left, the parking lot was filling with people heading up for some free skiing.
Clouds: I pulled out the 200-400mm lens and zoomed in on some details.
Snow Covered Trees: Also on Teton Pass
Pine Grosbeaks: In the Snake River Canyon near Alpine.
Three Mountain Goats on Steep Slope: Taken at the mouth of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction.
Mountain Goat Sequence: I include this set here to shot the acrobatic skills. I was shooting at the time with a 10 FPS Nikon D4. (click the image to see it larger)
Mountain Goats on the Road: On some days, the goats go onto the road licking salt from the sand trucks. When I saw a semi heading up the canyon at high speed, I spooked this group off the road. That’s not something I like to do, but the truckers do not like slowing down. Within about an hour, they were back down next to the road again.
My Comments: IF you go down there, you might be well advised to park in one of the pullouts when you can. People stop in the middle of the road and half way on the road often, causing jams and plenty of safety issues.
Nanny and Billy:
Morning Comments: I had planned on going over the Pass this morning, then through Swan Valley to Alpine Junction. I talked to someone at the top of the pass that told me they didn’t get frost in Victor. I decided to head down the pass towards Jackson and then on down to the goats.
January 9, 2015
Milky Way Over the Tetons
Grand Trail Home
Tools of the Trade
If you get a chance, pick up the new issue of Cowboys & Indians Magazine. It contains their annual photography contest. I sent these four in this year. Only the night scene was chosen. I had hoped it might make the cover so I formatted it to fit and allowed plenty of room for their masthead and copy. The still life was a bit of a gamble to put in the “work” category. Everything in that category ended up being action shots of wranglers, riders, and so forth.
My Day: My wife and I needed to make a day trip to Idaho Falls. I had an appointment with an optometrist. I had hoped to take morning photos at the top of the pass, but clouds were still blocking most of the view. Without the appointment, I could have waited it out. The drive to Idaho Falls was beautiful. They had hoar frost on almost everything and the fog was just clearing. Again…an appointment kept me from stopping. I had also thought we might have a chance to drive up the Snake River Canyon on the way back, but that was way too optimistic. It was almost dark when we left Idaho Falls. I came home with two new pairs of glasses, one of which has a prescription designed for working on my computer. Much better!
Updates and Comments: A couple of days ago, I made this new Feature Post: Problem Solving “On-the-Fly” or With a Plan:
I included a link to CamRanger’s site where they show examples using their controller and hub, sometimes mounted on a pole. The owners of CamRanger live in Pinedale, WY and were at our local Teton Photography Group meeting a while back. They brought one of the poles along with their products. Wireless Control With the CamRanger PT Hub, MP-360, and Pole A friend wrote a note after viewing their site, saying she couldn’t find information on the pole. I believe this is it: Wonderpole. The MP-360 can handle up to 6 pounds, rotating a full 360° and tilting up or down up to 15°. My camera and 200-400mm I used for this shot weigh considerably more than that. A D810 (no grip) and a 70-200mm lens weighs just over 5.5 lbs not counting an L-Bracket and I am not sure if the battery is figured in the weight. I would be right at the limit. Another option might be a D800/D810 or a D4/D4s with a Nikon 28-300mm lens. I think the weight with any of those combinations would be well under the maximum. I am not quite as happy with the sharpness using my D800 with the lens as I am with my D4. I used that combination on most of my shots in Maui. With the Wonderpole, PT Hub, MP-360, and CamRanger setup, I could have easily strapped the post to one of the wooden fence posts, then raised it to any height (up to about 20 feet) and controlled the shooting from the ground. The height might be limited somewhat by the maximum 15° tilt. Wind could also be an issue. On some shoots, a second person might be needed to hold the post while another person controlled the camera and shooting. Currently, I only have the CamRanger unit and not all of the other gadgets.
January 8, 2015
It has been overcast here in town all morning—same as yesterday! But…if you can get ABOVE the clouds, it is clear and relatively warm. On the right navigation bar (computers) or at the bottom of the page there is a link to the area web cams. This could be a valuable resource! I’ve completed a little of my morning business and may drive to the top of the pass to shoot across the clouds as seen in the lower right image. Yesterday, it was clear in the Canyon past Elbow, allowing me to get crispy shots of the Mountain Goats. Web cams down there at this time of the day (1:00 PM) show fog and clouds in the valley down there, too.
Teton Pass: Based on the web cam shots, I headed up Teton Pass and found clear blue skies above the blanket of clouds.
Teton Pass: These two shots were taken from the top of the pass. The top of the clouds were at the hairpin turn near the Phillips Canyon trail head.
Misc. Notes: A few weeks ago, there was a big explosion and fire at AmerGas on High School Road. Last week, the was a big fire in Dubois, taking out several historic buildings and quite a few small businesses. I drove by the AmerGas site a few days ago. It looked like a war zone with burned vehicles and partial walls. ~ I received a report of a Porcupine in the “S” curves when going to the Shane Cabin near the Kelly Warm Springs. I saw two moose on my way through Wilson this afternoon on my way to the Pass. One was near the Snake River and one was just outside Wilson. Coyotes, foxes, owls and otters have been effectively eluding me this year.
New Feature Post! Problem Solving “On-the-Fly” or With a Plan: This post goes through some of the issues and solutions I tried or considered for this tough little shoot.
January 7, 2015
Last night, I checked the weather reports, then checked the status of the phase of the moon. With partly cloudy skies predicted and with the nearly full moon setting about 3o minutes after sunrise, I set the alarm for 5:45 am. I did my part, but instead of having openings in the sky, we had low, thick clouds. I made it to the GTNP entry sign just north of the National Fish Hatchery before I did a U-turn and headed back home. I worked on this new Feature Post instead.
At lunch time, I drove to the observation platform at Flat Creek, hoping to see some open water and swans. It was still frozen over, but much of it looks soft and gray. It might open up soon. I drove to Miller Butte when I saw a few snow flakes, but didn’t see a single Bighorn. Lastly, I drove over to Boyles Hill and found plenty of Swans but they were either sleeping or not doing much. I took a few foggy, moody photos of a barn, then I headed on home. I finished this new Feature Post, then published it.
I include these notes once in a while to document the fact some days are better and more cooperative than others. But, you already know that!
Afternoon in the Snake River Canyon: I received a text letting me know about the Goats near the road. The note also said the sky was clear and blue. I drove down and had a pretty good afternoon.
Mountain Goat along the Snake River at Alpine Junction.
Mountain Goat amongst tall grass.
Evening Light on Two Mountain Goats: I hung around until the sun went down at 4:30 pm. There were roughly 30 Mountain Goats visible today in the last 1/2 miles of the Canyon.
New Feature Post: Here Today, Gone to Maui!
Here’s a mid-Winter “knuckle ball” for you. In the midst of heavy snow, road closures, and weather advisories here in the Northern Rockies, I just added a new Feature Post about my trip to Maui. It’s not “just a bunch of vacation photos”. I wrote it from a perspective of becoming a tourist in an unfamiliar location—not that unlike tourists coming here. Hope you enjoy the photos and the text!
January 6, 2015
Overnight, we had warmer weather. That’s melting off some of the snow on the streets and making for sloppy driving. The road closure between Moose Junction and Moran Junction stayed in effect until late in the day. The newspaper said there was a much as three feet of snow in the mountains from this storm. At lunch time, I drove over to the National Elk Refuge. I saw only one Ram and one Ewe near Miller Butte. Bison were well north of the road and there were a few scattered Elk on the butte on the south side. Driving back through town, I didn’t see any of the Pine Grosbeaks.
Cabin Fever: One of my favorite “cabin fever” Winter cures is a quick trip over to Boyle’s Hill to check out the Swans. I am almost always guaranteed a few shots of swans and geese. On a good day, it is easy to come home with a thousand images. From my house, it is only about three miles. The other two spots close to town are the observation platform along Flat Creek and the road back to Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge looking mainly for Bighorns. Readers at this blog might get somewhat bored seeing similar shots I take at these locations. I don’t get bored taking them, however.
More importantly, I keep going back to these kinds of places because of the “unknown” opportunities. I simply never know if today is the day a pack of wolves chase a small herd of elk across the road or up the butte in front of me. A Mountain Lion showed up on Miller Butte a few years back. Is today going to be the day one appears again? I was driving up the road a few days ago and a frisky Coyote was walking down the road. I stopped to watch her for a while, but it was too dark to get any worthwhile shots. The coyote image above was taken in 2009. It walked right in front of me with a chunk of black fur. I felt at the time the coyote was showing it off to me. Richard Pontius, a friend from Ogden, UT was on the road a few weeks ago when a very large herd of elk ran straight at him. They crossed right by his car and then up Crystal Butte behind him. A couple of hunters spooked the elk from Miller Butte. Apparently he was the “lesser of two evils” to the elk that day. I would have loved to have been there to get shots similar to his! It takes a fair amount of luck, but it also simply takes a lot of time out in the field to appear lucky when it finally happens!
Afternoon at Boyle’s Hill:
Tandem Flappers: There were at least 50 Trumpeter Swans at Boyle’s Hill today.
Parade of Seven: Families of Trumpeter Swans going back and forth to the feeders.
Single Walker: This one’s mate was probably just out of frame to the right. I liked the simplicity.
Just After Take Off: Only two swans took off while I was there today. I might have arrived there late. On most days, once one pair leaves, others follow.
Swan in Flight: This is one of the two seen in the previous photo.
Grand: I’ve never taken a photo from this spot at Indian Springs subdivision.
January 5, 2015
Weather was the big story today. We had quite a bit of snow overnight, augmented by heavy winds. The highway was closed from Moose Junction to Moran Junction this morning. There are many additional travel advisories. Keep an eye on the WY Road Report link in the right navigation bar (computer) at the bottom on a smartphone.
Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture: Yesterday, I checked my Lightroom program for updates and saw there’s a new version 5.7. I was still using version 5.5. In the list of fixes and additions, I noticed a feature which is supposed to let people using Aperture import their existing catalogs. “Apple Kills Aperture, Says New ‘Photos’ App Will Replace It” Maybe this will be a reasonable solution for Aperture users.
Mid-day Outing: I did a quick run to the National Elk Refuge today. Wind was stiff, blowing snow across the Refuge road. They had plowed the few pullouts earlier, so it was possible to find a place to get off the extremely slick road.
Bison Herd: This was taken at the “end of the road” on the National Elk Refuge. Bison have been in the news lately after a couple of them gored a horse or two in the Kelly area. Around the same time, this herd had moved to the Refuge Road and was causing hikers, bikers, and problems. Rangers hazed them off the road and farther north. They were at least 100 yards out today.
Elk on Crystal Butte: While I was getting my permit to take people out on One-on-One Photo Excursions, I asked about the name of the mountain south of Miller Butte. I was told this is Crystal Butte. I’d estimate a thousand elk lounging on the hillside, just below timberline. The bison herd shot and this one are what I call “record shots”. The give readers a glimpse of the valley.
Elk Herd by the Warm Springs: There are a couple of warm springs near the Miller House. Elk were near them today.
Bighorn Ram Walking Across the Snow: There were around 40-50 Bighorn Sheep along the valley floor at lunch time. This one spotted some ewes on the other side of the road but couldn’t cross the very slick road. He tried at least a dozen times and eventually gave up.
Greener Pastures: In this case, whiter pastures and ewes! I took this shot from the window. He was standing next to the road and trying to figure out how to cross the road. Wind was howling!
One-on-One Photo Excursion. I still have a couple of openings in the last half of January for anyone interested. There are numerous openings in February and March if you’d like to pick your date!
January 4, 2015
Yesterday, I was out taking photos most of the day, so I didn’t get to make a post until late. I had a very good, long day of shooting and didn’t get them processed and posted until well into the night. Besides the images I included, there were LOTS more, including some Clark’s Nutcrackers, Red Squirrels, and Chickadees I photographed in the back yard. I also took quite a few snow covered barns around the valley.
Some days are simply better than others…same as fly fishing! The only way to cash in on the good days you must be out on a few days when things just aren’t happening. Even on days when I don’t take a single shot, just being out is reward enough!
Saturday Swans: Cygnets are still partially gray.
Hoback Wagon: I took the gamble today and headed down the canyon towards Alpline Junction. I took this photo at Hoback Junction.
Eagle in Spruce Tree: I didn’t see a single Mountain Goat today, nor did I see any tracks. I found a road kill and spent my time working on shots of the interested birds.
Two for One: Needless to say, I had a variety of weather conditions today. This shot has both a Bald Eagle and a Black-billed Magpie.
Black-billed Magpie: I got a few keepers of the Magipes, but most will get deleted.
Winter’s Grip: I found these in the small town of Alpine Junction.
January 3, 2015
Bull Elk: Taken on East Gros Ventre Butte before first light.
Elk Refuge Sleighs: Incoming sleighs and passing Elk on the National Elk Refuge.
Lone Bull: Single elk along Flat Creek on the National Elk Refuge.
Buck Mule Deer: Taken at the edge of Kelly.
Bucks: Taken near Kelly. I received a report of a bull Moose with big antlers near the Shane Cabins. I didn’t find him, but it’s nice to know he’s around.
Bighorn Ram: Taken on the National Elk Refuge. Bighorns
Ram Portrait: Taken with a Nikon D800 and a 200-400mm lens.
Landing Trumpeter Swan: Afternoon at Boyle’s Hill.
Flying Trumpeter Swans: Also taken at Boyle’s Hill Swan Pond.
Trumpeter Swan: Adult Trumpeter leaving the pond with distant mountains.
Snow Bound Sedan: One artsy image from today.
Saturday in Jackson Hole: I originally set my alarm for 6:00 am. After seeing thick clouds, I stayed in bed and waited a couple of hours. Clouds thinned, so I headed out. Clouds were still covering the Teton Range, so I began searching for wildlife and other opportunities. Since it was Saturday, I didn’t feel like I needed to hurry back to the house. That gave me ample time to drive around and find a variety of animals. At one time, I had considered going down to Alpine Junction, but it felt like I was finding plenty of subject matter around town.
January 2, 2015
This is a timely postcard printed in 1919. The back side had a 1¢ cancelled postage stamp on it! I ran across this card while working on an upcoming Feature Post about “ephemera”. Ephemera is a term for paper items, such as posters, broadsides, and tickets that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectible. Over the years, I have been buying and collecting postcards, maps, travel guides and booklets about Jackson Hole and the Tetons. This first post will be an introduction to local ephemera with some examples and tips on where to find these types of collectibles.
Throughout the year, I plan on featuring specific topics showcasing some of my collection. For example, I have quite a few old postcards (small group shot above) showing downtown Jackson documenting its progress as a fledgling destination tourist hot spot. That Feature Post might be titled “A Nostalgic Look at Downtown Jackson”. I am positive readers here will enjoy seeing them! Sign up to follow this blog to be one of the first to see the new Feature Posts!
Today in JH: Still cold, but instead of -22° mornings, we were closer to only -10°F. Instead of only 8°F highs, we may hit 23°F. It is clear early, but clouds are supposed to roll in for the weekend. At lunch time, I drove through town looking for Pine Grosbeaks and Cedar Waxwings on my way to the National Elk Refuge. The clear skies of morning were being replaced with clouds. I found several groups of Bighorns, but they were just feeding and were well off the road. A few Elk were farther up the hill on Crystal Butte to the south. The bison I saw yesterday were not around today. Flat Creek is still frozen solid.
South Park Barn: I realize we are in the dead of winter, but I thought I’d post a photo from late summer. I worked on it some last week and then added a few more effects today. Click the image to see it quite a bit larger. Images ©Mike R. Jackson, All Rights Reserved.
Other than the quick lunch loop, I hung around the house much of the day today. We are getting a dusting of snow now and I hope to spend most of the day out tomorrow. >>MJ
January 1, 2015
New Years Fireworks: Last night, I drove out to Teton Village to photograph the torch light parade and fireworks. Since I’ve never been to this spot on New Years, I wasn’t sure where the skier would come down, and was not sure if they’d shoot the fireworks off at the same spot as they did on the 4th of July. It was around -14°F when I parked the van along the highway.
At the Teton Village torch light parade, the riders are already at the top of the mountain on Apre Vous peak. At 6:00 PM, on New Year’s Eve, the stream of skiers carrying torches begin to snake down the mountain. If I get to go back next year, I’d start with a 70-200mm to zoom in slightly.
Last summer, I was able to move close to the barbed wire fence and shoot from “under” a power line that runs along the highway. Last night, I found a large berm of snow piled up in that spot, eliminating that option for the night. I ended up shooting from the road. The spot was actually a good one, but there’s a couple of power lines in the images if you look closely. There might be a better spot. Maybe I’ll go out earlier next year and spend some time looking for it.
Skiers worked their way to the bottom as you can see in the small photo above. After the last skier reached the bottom, the fireworks began.
The fireworks display lasted a quite a while with plenty of explosions going off regularly. Still, the entire event was overall quick and efficient—which is good knowing it was so cold.
Snow King Fireworks: After leaving the JH Mountain Resort, I headed on home, but when I made it back to town, I noticed a few skiers still going up the lift. At Snow King, all of the skiers started at the bottom. After lighting their flares, chair after chair carried skiers up the mountain. At the base of the mountain, hundreds of spectators lined up to watch the event. I don’t know the actual number, but it appeared there were 150 skiers, maybe more. Eventually, all of them make it to the top and they begin their descent. The skiers split up and snaked down a couple of different runs before gathering at the base. Fireworks followed.
The image above is a composite of five or six shots. Four or five fireworks blasts are layered over the base layer with the spectators and string of skiers.
Snow King Fireworks Diplay: This is a single capture: Aperture Priority: 2.5 seconds, ISO 500, F/11, 28mm with a 24-70mm lens on a Nikon D4.
Teton Range January 1: Taken from the Elk Refuge Road near the Miller House.
Sleeping Indian and Rising Moon: Taken from the Elk Refuge Road. If you checked out yesterday’s Daily Update (Dec: 2014), I mentioned going to the National Elk Refuge and not seeing a single Bighorn. At about the same time of the day today, I went to the same place and found four or more groups of around 10-12 Bighorns scattered along the road.
Boyle’s Hill Swan Pond: Flat Creek is frozen, so quite a few Trumpeter Swans are at Boyle’s Hill for some free food and open water.
Happy 2015! I’d like to take a second and say THANKS to all the people coming here daily or weekly, along with the readers that make comments here! And SPECIAL THANKS to all that have signed up to follow the blog. I hope to continue to add a variety of “content” for all of 2015. Even if you aren’t planning an immediate trip to the Tetons, hopefully I can include information that can help you back at your home town. Lastly, if you like what you’ve been seeing, I’d appreciate it if you help me spread the word about the site!