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Best of the Tetons

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Local Color and Close-Ups

Photographers are naturally drawn to Jackson Hole’s wildlife and abundant scenic opportunities. Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding area have some of the best of both! While most people pass them by, there are additional “small scene” opportunities. This page is a collection of some of the close-up images I captured in late July and August.

Morning Flowers

I have a tendency to start my day watching for the “big stuff”, and if that’s not happening, I begin to look down for the “little stuff”. In reality, there’s a lot more of it!

Weather plays a big role in most people’s success rate. Rain and fog can “ruin” some photographer’s day, but if you are willing to deal with the weather, you can get shots others don’t. In most cases, it is just a matter of looking down for alternative subjects. Rain drops are a great addition to flowers, leaves, pine cones & spider webs. A duck in a quiet pond with rings from raindrops may be more compelling and memorable than a standard duck on calm water.

Morning Flower

Typically, close shots have a very shallow depth of field.  I opted to take several shots and later “focus stacked” the group in Photoshop.

Berries

More often than not, I walk around with a zoom telephoto lens on my Nikon D5 body. I am ready to take a photo of a Bear in the bushes, a Great Blue Heron in the trees or along a bank, or a Moose feeding in a pond, but as it turns out, the same combination works fairly well for impromptu close-ups. 600mm at 7′ brings many subjects up close and personal.

Sunrise

The same “wildlife combination” works fine for many landscapes, too. For this photo, I had hiked to the river’s edge to photograph a bull Moose when this smoke enhanced sun started to rise above the trees.

Purple Centers

When possible, I use a tripod. It has a lot of advantages, but it’s heavy and clumsy if hiking around “looking” for animals. The VC or VR (Vibration Reduction) features on newer lenses is darned good if below 1/500th second. There’s typically not a lot of motion, so shutter speeds can be much slower than when trying to capture a moving animal.

Bee

There’s another benefit for taking time to photograph the “little stuff”. Often, wildlife is difficult to spot from a moving vehicle. Stopping to take the photos others neglect means you are out of the vehicle and mostly still. You would be amazed at how many times that tactic pays off! Shortly after taking this image a Black Bear strolled through the area and I managed to get a few decent shots. I could have easily missed the Bear if I had surveyed the scene, gave up and moved on.

Weed Center

Mother Nature seems to be willing to offer up interesting abstract subjects on a regular basis.

Columbine

Late evening or early morning light is great for adding mood to small subjects, like this wild Columbine. Wind can be a problem, and when wind is not a problem, summer Mosquitoes can be!

Sticky Geraniums

Long telephoto lenses are also good for blurring out the background. Critical depth of field can be only 1/4″ or less.

Spaulding Bay Wildflowers

Wildflowers add a blast of color back into the valley. They are always welcome following a long, cold winter.

Yellow Wildflower

While on my tours, I joke about not knowing the names of the various types of clouds overhead. I’m an artist…not a botanist, geologist, meteorologist, or biologist. At least at the time of the shot, none of that matters! Take the shot, then look up the name later.

Weed Center

At least for me, about anything “interesting” is fair game!

Thistle

Yep, it’s a weed, but it’s interesting!

Orange Leaves

By late August, some of the leaves begin to turn. Colorful leaves stick out like a sore thumb against the backdrop of green. It seems Mother Nature turns the page on the wildflowers for the year at about the same time she begins to reveal of colors of Fall. In September, I’ll start a new Foliage Reports page, but for now, the brightly colored leaves signal the valley’s pending transition.

Ripe Berries

Berries are another indicator of changes in the seasons. Years of experience tells me that Bears and birds will be harvesting the berries soon.

Abstract

In late July, the Teton County Fair thrills the kids with rides and gives me a week to “play” outside the Park. This is the Ferris Wheel, captured with a long exposure and a twist of the lens.

White Duckies

Many subjects are “on the move” during the fair, including these rubber ducks.

Peppers

Throughout the summer, Jackson Hole hosts Farmer’s Markets. The Saturday Market is on the Town Square and the Wednesday Market is held at the Snow King parking area. There are always a lot of textures and color, and most vendors allow you to photograph their products.

Beads

Photograph subjects out of your normal wheelhouse. That’s my advice on this page! You may be performing for an audience of one (yourself), but who cares!

Onions

It’s not likely this photo will ever adorn anyone’s living room wall, but at the time, it seemed to need photographing. I may use the texture on this image on another project someday. Who knows? But, I have it now.

Opening Ceremony

In a place like Jackson Hole, there’s always something happening! Remember there are fishermen, kayakers, paragliders, musicians, hikers, bikers and so much more that can make good subjects, even on cloudy or foggy days. Watch for chances to get close-ups of their gear, splashing water, and so forth. Get up early for chances for Bears, Wolves, Moose and Elk, but if they are playing hard to get, consider the smaller options! Experiment. Have fun, but keep an eye out for Bears, Wolves, Moose, and Elk!

A Few Steps Closer: Capturing the Finer Details


Equipment Notes

Instead of filling the page with EXIF data for each photo, I’ll include this paragraph with general equipment information.

Most of the images on this page were taken with a Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens. That’s typically the combination I have in hand for my wildlife shots. When I know I am “going small” on purpose, I usually pair up an old Nikon 70-180mm Micro Lens and a Nikon D810. I occasionally hike around the river bottoms carrying a Nikon D500 and Nikon 18-300mm lens. That combination is lightweight, and the 18-300mm does a great job at very close range.


Teton Photo Excursions

 

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Comments (5)

  1. Dennis Horn

    Throughly enjoyed this post. I often get caught up with the wildlife and grand landscapes. Looking at the small photo ops makes one slow down and appreciate the overall beauty of one’s surroundings.

  2. Judy Springer

    Mike, for the umpteeth time, thank you for the eye popping photos of your views of JH. Whether its a moose or bee on a flower, I am there with you. Judy Springer

  3. Rich Cower

    Beautiful set Mike.

  4. Thor Gunderson

    I come home at the end of the day and smile when I see that you have posted. Your pictures take me away from the rat race. Thank you.

  5. Kathleen Little

    The flowers with the dew are beautiful!

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