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Best of the Tetons

Foliage Reports September/October 2017

Jackson Hole & Grand Teton National Park

Changing LeafDuring September, I’ll work on two pages simultaneously. This September Foliage 2017 post will contain more specific information about the ever changing foliage status in the area. The September 2017 Daily Journal for JH and GTNP Page will contain some foliage information, but will focus more on wildlife and landscapes. You’ll want to go to both regularly.

Note: Think of this page as a day to day or week to week resource containing mainly “record shots”. The photos are not intended to be “wall hangers”, but more documentary in nature. Also, this page will grow in size and scope as the month progresses. Check back regularly!

Archived Resources:

You can go back to the September Daily Updates and Photos pages for the previous few years and probably get a good idea of how the entire month unfolds.

September 2017 | September 2016  |  September 2015   | September 2014:  | September 2013: It will probably be apparent that not all areas change at the same time and some of the fall foliage can go well into October.

Foliage Scale 2015

Foliage Scale 2017

This scale should help with visualizing the approximate color hues. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being summer green and 10 being peak), I will give a three part number. The first one is an average of the least changed. The middle number is the overall average and the last number is the status of the most advanced trees in an area. Note: Some aspens and some Mountain Maple turn orange and red, while many aspens, cottonwoods, and willows peak at something in the 8 or 9 range before the leaves fall or turn brown.

Remember, peak Fall foliage is not a one day event! It evolves over several weeks. Some areas go first, then lose leaves while others are just beginning. You should be able to find colorful foliage anytime from around the 10th of September to the first week in October.

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September 26, 2017  Tuesday

Snake River Canyon / Palisades Reservoir: I received a recent message saying the Canyon and areas around Palisades Reservoir is on “fire” right now…meaning the Mountain Maple leaves are prime. Today should be beautiful with a few morning clouds and lots of sun. The regional snow and rain appears to have knocked down most of the smoke and haze. Happy viewing!

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September 25, 2017  Monday

Cub

I feel like a broken record! Foliage is changing, but it seems when you want it to hurry, it slows down. You can find color, but it’s spotty. Low ground cover and small shrubs are ahead of the larger trees in most zones. A couple more days should make a big difference,

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September 24, 2017

Snake River Bottom

There may be people in the Park at this time expecting a foliage season that mimics last year’s season, but most areas are still at least a full week behind the last couple of years.

Arizona Meadows

Taken today at the meadows just west of Arizona Creek. I often call it Arizona Meadows, but it might correctly be called Kamas Meadow for the flowering plants there.

Arizona Meadows

This photo was taken on Sept. 21, 2014 at the same place.

Oxbow Bend is still four or five days away from being ready. The upper parking lot is farther along. There are a few yellow aspens near Jackson Lake Lodge.

Sprad Creek

Spread Creek is progressing, but not ready. The best color is on the West side of the valley.

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September 23, 2017

Togwotee

Aspens in Buffalo Valley are beginning to turn, but are scarce atop Togwotee Pass. As in yesterday’s post, many areas still need 3-7 days. The aspens behind the Chapel of the Transfiguration are barely showing changes. The area around Moose is usually bright yellow, but is also behind some years.

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September 22, 2017

Oxbow Aspens

Oxbow Aspens: Far from peak!

Oxbow Hillside Aspens

Oxbow Hillside Aspens: These are a little farther along.

Aspens

Aspens: A bright stand of Aspens near Spread Creek.

General Comments: I drove about 160 miles today, covering a lot of the park. Oxbow is still behind last year….probably prime Sept 29-Oct 3. The Cottonwoods near Schwabacher Landing advanced some in the past few days. If you want to find yellow and orange trees, just keep driving around. They are not dominant features yet. The leaves on the Black Hawthorn bushes are just beginning to turn, but are mostly green. In short, most of the valley is only at level 3 with a few 4 and 5 intensities if you compare it to the chart. Even with that said, there is still a lot of 1 and 2 values. I also drove up Togwottee Pass to the Lodge. That area also has a few yellow trees, but today most of the upper portions were covered in snow.

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September 21, 2017

David Langendonk Oxbow

David Langendonk took this photo at Oxbow Bend yesterday. Using my chart, it looks like there are some 1, 2, and 3 trees. David also included a photo of the hillside above the road at Oxbow. Those Aspens are more yellow, which is typical for that area.

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August 14, 2016: I’ll include this photo today showing a similar photo from last year. I’d suggest that it will take another couple of days relative to David’s photo to reach this stage. In other words, it looks like this year is roughly 7-9 days behind last year. Last year, peak at Oxbow was between the 19-21 +/-.  If using the same timing, I’d “suggest” peak should be around Sept. 27-30 this year at Oxbow Bend. The left tip of the Aspen stand usually goes off first and sometimes blows off before the right side peaks. Without heavy winds, peak could go into October. Compare the previous years: Foliage Reports September/October 2016 :  and Foliage Reports September/October 2015:

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird: We are having a “Wintery Mix” today, meaning the upper mountains are probably getting pounded by snow. Great! Some people stay home when the weather is not “Bluebird clear”, but I like being out for the possibilities of unique shots. The Mountain Bluebird was on Mormon Row this morning.

Washakie with Snow Flakes

I heard reports of Yellowstone road closures, but as far as I know, the main roads in the Tetons are open. Part of Mormon Row Road is closed, but that is because of muddy conditions and not heavy snow pack.

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September 20, 2017

East Side

This photo was taken on the Gros Ventre Road after you turn towards Slide Lake. At the bottom of the hill is the Shane Cabin.

Shane Cabin

Old timers might recall there used to be a stand of old Aspen trunks in the opening, but they have all but one fallen down. The trees would have been visible in the 1950s Shane movie. Generally speaking, most of the foliage changes are on the East side of the Park and the South end of the valley.

Mormon Row

The cottonwoods and aspens along Mormon Row are often some of the last to change…usually in the first week of October. Note the snow on the peaks!

Chambers Homestead

Chambers Homestead from Mormon Row. You can see some of the Aspens beginning to turn on the hillsides above Kelly.

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September 19, 2017

Gros Ventre Willows

Gros Ventre Willows: Finally…the leaves on the willows along the Gros Ventre River basin are changing! Cottonwoods are not as colorful, and as you can see on the distant hillside, Aspens are just beginning to turn.

The next few days may include periods of rain and snow for much of the Northwest. That’s great news! Early season snow in the high country should make this year’s Fall Foliage season unique and potentially stunning compared to years with no snow. The snow and rain in the NW should also help firefighters and help us with clearer Fall skies.

In the mean time, this page might help during foggy and rainy days: Making the Best of a Rainy Day:

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September 18, 2017

Schwabacher Pano

Schwabacher Pano: This is a two frame Pano taken this morning at Schwabacher Landing. As you can see, the cottonwoods are just beginning to show any hints of changes in areas of the river bottom. The cottonwoods are farther along south of Moose Junction and around the Wilson Bridge. Reports still suggest the Aspens at Oxbow Bend are not turning much in the two big stands. (Click the image to see it larger)

Washakie

Washakie: Late evening along the Gros Ventre.  Changes…but not prime!

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September 17, 2017

Cottonwoods

Cottonwoods: Taken along the Gros Ventre River. The temperature dropped to around 28°F overnight, frosting the back of the Bull.

Careful Approach

Careful Approach:

East Boundary Road

East Boundary Road: There are several zones of yellowing aspens along the East Boundary Road. They seem to turn early each year. Aspens on Shadow Mountain appeared to be just beginning to turn.

Snow Capped

Snow Capped Tetons: A quick shot showing the fresh snow across the mountain peaks.

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September 16, 2017

Cottonwoods

This was taken in the spruce and cottonwoods along the Gros Ventre River. Depending on where you are in the valley, you might have experienced the first snow storm of the year. The mountains definitely have snow now, but I can’t say if it will last through the entire foliage season. It typically melts quickly. There are a few light flakes in the photo above. I haven’t been north in a while, but I have been hearing the trees are mostly green around Oxbow.

In the past day or two, I’d suggest there has been a switch has been flipped.  More of the trees are in the 2 or 3 stage of my chart above. In some areas, you might even say there are 4 and 5 stages, but there are very few areas with large patches of peak leaves.

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September 15, 2017

Black Hawthorn Berries

It was cool, dark and rainy this morning. I took this photo along the Moose-Wilson Road.

Misty Morning Cow Elk

Shot through a thin layer of drizzle at a high ISO near Cottonwood Creek.  A few trees will be colorful, a few mixed, and a lot just starting to turn.

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September 14, 2017

Changes

Changes: It’s almost the middle of September and I’m still struggling to find clumps of colorful trees. This photo was taken across from the GTNP entry sign at the south edge of the park. There are changes, but the zone is still more green than yellow.

Berry bushes along the Moose-Wilson Road are definitely changing. Some are orange and red! A few Aspens are beginning to change there. A few of the Cottonwoods along the Snake around Meadow Road are starting to have a yellow cast.

Ground Cover

Ground Cover: You can find a lot of color if you look down!

Choke Cherries

Choke Cherries: Look for berry bushes and then listen for Cedar Waxwings and other birds. They’ll likely be nearby.

Flat Creek

Flat Creek runs through the Town of Jackson. Some of the trees and bushes along it are beginning to turn.

Orange

These bushes near Karns Meadows should be vivid soon.

On my way to the Moose-Wilson Road, (see the Great Gray Owls on the daily report) I drove across the Snake River near Wilson. The Cottonwoods near the bridge are far advanced compared to Cottonwoods farther north in the Park. They are not peak, but will get there soon.

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September 13, 2017

East Gros Ventre Butte

East Gros Ventre Butte: I pulled off the highway to take this quick photo of a stand of Aspens above Flat Creek Motel and Elk Refuge Inn. The Cottonwoods and Aspens around the Mormon Row cabins and barns are still deep green. They usually change after October 1st.

Consider a trip down the Snake River Canyon now, then continue on to the Palisades Reservoir Dam for Mountain Maple color.

Gros Ventre

Gros Ventre Cottonwoods: Taken late in the evening along the Gros Ventre Road, with steel blue skies from a passing thunderstorm. Some of the Cottonwoods are beginning to turn.

If you are driving up from Salt Lake or from the South, consider Intermittent Springs: Another Lesser Seen Regional Waterfall near Afton.

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September 12, 2017

Fall at Oxbow Bend Each year, the big question is “When will it be peak at Oxbow Bend”. In earlier years, you could almost mark your calendar to be here for peak on October 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. In fact, during the Government Shutdown, they locked us out on the peak day of October 1st. The past couple of years have been earlier, but it appears this year might be back on the old regular schedule. I keep driving around looking for pockets of bright color and I am not finding it yet. Check last year’s Foliage Reports September/October 2016 : for Sept. 12. You will see a lot of yellow by this date!

Aspens are turning some in and around Wilson and some cottonwoods are shifting in color along the Snake River. There is not much changing on Teton Pass nor on the Idaho side of the range. I received a report that most trees are still green at Oxbow, but a few are beginning to change on the hillside above the road.

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September 11, 2017

Service Berries

Berries: I spent the morning hiking a nice section of the Gros Ventre looking for Bull Moose and yellow leaves. Across the GV zone, the cottonwoods and willows are now turning to a 2 or maybe a 3 on my chart. In other words, there’s a shift, but only a few trees actually have much color.

Weather: If you believe the weather forecasts, we are in line for a few days of rain towards the end of the week. The forecast also calls for low temps in the valley around 29-30°F, so there might be a chance of mountain snow. We had rain in parts of the valley yesterday with mostly clear skies this morning.

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September 9, 2017

Spring Gulch Aspens

Aspens on Spring Gulch Road: Of the areas I’ve driven, the aspens on Spring Gulch Road have the most yellow color. JH still has some haze, but as seen below, the sky has cleared considerably.

Teton Range

Cottonwoods on Spring Gulch Road: The bridge over the Gros Ventre River is closed, so Spring Gulch Road isn’t getting a lot of traffic this year. The cottonwoods are still green in most areas.

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September 8, 2017

Willows GV

Willows along the Gros Ventre are starting to change.

Another photo taken along the Gros Ventre. Yellows leaves are not dominant, but each day I see more of them.

Mountain Maples

Mountain Maples: Taken in the Snake River Canyon west of the Wolf Creek Campground. Overall, I’d say it is still early down there, but if you feel the need for some color, there’s a fair amount of reds, oranges, and yellows. The Aspens are far behind in almost all areas.

Mountain Maples

Mountain Maples: A few trees are in peak form, but they appear to be far from the norm.

Mountain Maples

Mountain Maples: There was a lot of haze when I went down, as seen in this layered image. This little canyon near the Palisades Dam typically explodes with color, and it even better if the Aspens and Mountain Maples are prime at the same time. I’d suggest giving this area three or four days.

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September 7, 2017

Choke Cherry Leaves

Welcome to the 2017 Foliage Report! Last year, I started it in late August, but last year was early. Even now, the 7th of September, you’ll find very few stands of yellowing aspens or cottonwoods. There are a few random trees in near peak color, but they are randomly scattered. With that said, things are changing! It usually doesn’t take long, and quite a few zones have begun to shift.

Mt. Moran Sunset

The last time I heard, there were at least 88 major wildfires in the “West”, but I am unaware of any wildfires in our immediate vicinity. The smoke is finding its way into the Jackson Hole Valley, and barring a huge regional rain or snow storm, expect your 2017 Fall photos to have a golden color shift.  There may be days when the Teton Range or Sleeping Indian is barely visible. The same smoke my also give you some striking sunrise and sunsets if you get up early or stay out late.

Black Hawthorne Berries

Berry bushes, like this Black Hawthorn tree can have advanced color. Berries are thick on most Black Hawthorn trees and a few Black Bears are finding them. 399 and her two cubs have been seen munching on them along Pacific Creek Road, but photography there is limited to only a few seconds if rangers are around.

Mid-Sized Moose

Underbrush is bright yellow in a few zones like the Moose-Wilson Road, and a few of the low willows are changing along the Gros Ventre River. The Snake River bottom is still mostly bright green, but I see evidence of changes on the horizon. The Aspens around Oxbow Bend are still green as of yesterday.

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If you are interested in taking a One-On-One Photo Tour with me, click the links below! For inquiries, send an email to info@tetonimages.com.
Teton Photo Excursions

September 2017 Daily Journal for JH and GTNP

“My Favorite Month!

Daily Updates Archives:
2017: 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:

Monthly Overviews for JH / GTNP .

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September 26th:  Tuesday

Snake River Canyon / Palisades Reservoir: I received a recent message saying the Canyon and areas around Palisades Reservoir is on “fire” right now…meaning the Mountain Maple leaves are prime. Today should be beautiful with a few morning clouds and lots of sun. The regional snow and rain appears to have knocked down most of the smoke and haze.

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September 26th:  Monday

Interesting Note: Sunrise 7:14 AM and Sunset 7:14 PM

Lots of good wildlife and scenic possibilities popping up now. Elk are bugling, pronghorns are gathering, moose are in the rut, and bears are feeding and moving around. Snow in the high country and leaves are beginning to change.

Black Bears

Black Bears: Found near the Jackson Lake Dam. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Bull Elk

Bull Elk: Captured near the Colter Bay convenience store. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Blondie? Blondie was seen regularly for a period in the early Summer, then disappeared for a few months. There was some concern for her health. The photos I posted yesterday were taken yesterday. She and the cubs appeared healthy and plump. I didn’t see her today.

If you are interested in taking a One-On-One Photo Tour with me, click the links below! For inquiries, send an email to info@tetonimages.com. I have openings Sept. 30 along with numerous dates in October.

Teton Photo Excursions

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September 24th:  Sunday

Schwabacher Landing

Schwabacher Landing: Click this image to see it much larger. The cottonwoods in the Schwabacher Landing area are changing, but slowly! Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70mm Lens, Tripod.

Black Bear Cub

Black Bear Cub: Captured along Moose-Wilson Road. There are still loads of berries on almost all of the Black Hawthorn trees. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Brooks Falls

Brooks Falls: This falls is part of the stream coming out of Brooks Lake on Togwotee Pass. Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-200mm Lens, Tripod.

Blondie

Blondie: A stunningly beautiful Grizzly sow captured in the northern zone of the Park. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Grizzly Cubs

Grizzly Cubs: These are Blondie’s two cubs, tagging along behind the sow. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Cross Fox

Cross Fox: Seen cruising the String Lake area late in the day. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Cross Fox

Cross Fox: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

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September 23rd:  Saturday

The early report! If you ever want to experience a back roads bit “Wyoming”, check out the little cafe in Buffalo Valley. We ate there yesterday just before heading up Togwottee Pass. Expect a quaint little eclectic cabin cafe, a slightly loud and rowdy staff, and a good ol’ western menu which includes Buffalo Burgers and fries. The sign at the entrance says some thing like “Please scrape the horse shit off your boots before entering.” You get the idea! The food is always good, too.

Weather: The report for next few days includes considerably more sun and broken clouds. Foliage Reports September/October 2017.

ChapelTrans

Chapel of the Transfiguration: A four shot stitched pano taken this morning. (Click this image to see it much larger!) Nikon D810 and Nikon 700-200mm Lens, Tripod, VR Off.

Chapel Window

Chapel Window: Snow capped Teton Range reflected in the window of the Chapel of the Transfiguration. Nikon D810 and Nikon 700-200mm Lens, Handheld.

Pronghorn

Pronghorn: Taken at Elk Flats. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Pronghorn

Pronghorn: Same buck taken on Elk Flats. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Barn with Aspens

Barn with Aspens: Taken on the way up Togwotee Pass. Aspens are beginning to turn in that area. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Grizzly in Snow

Grizzly in Snow: Taken on Togwotee Pass. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Streamside Bull Moose

Streamside Bull Moose: Another shot from Togwotee Pass. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Togwotee Pass

Togwotee Pass: Looks like Winter is here in the high country! Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

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September 22nd:  Friday

First Day Of Fall! The weather report calls for cloudy skies with a chance of rain mid-morning. For the fair weather photographers, I’d suggest scrolling through the photos I took yesterday (below). Subjects we’ve seen and photographed on dry days look completely different, and usually more interesting! These are words of encouragement…even if you can’t be out in the cold, fog and rain. I should be covering a lot of the park today, so check back later this evening or tonight.

Sow Feeding

Sow Feeding: Early morning on Moose-Wilson Road. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Eagle

Eagle: Seen at the Jackson Lake Dam. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Pronghorn

Pronghorn Buck: Captured on Elk Flats. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

The Grand

Clearing Clouds: Taken from Elk Ranch Road.

Aspens

Aspens: Taken near Spread Creek. More photos on this sister page: Foliage Reports September/October 2017.

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September 21st:  Thursday

If you were to look at a calendar, you might notice that tomorrow is “The First Day of Fall”. David Langendonk sent a photo he took yesterday at Oxbow Bend. Check out Foliage Reports September/October 2017. I added a few photos yesterday, too. The switch has been flipped at Oxbow, but I’d say it will still be a while there.

As I sit here in front of my computer at 7:30 am, I received a report of snow along the Gros Ventre. I was planning on staying home this morning, but now I need to go out! Remember…”bad days can be good days!”.

Washakie in Snow: Captured near the Gros Ventre River. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Washakie with Snow Flakes

Washakie with Snow Flakes: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Great Gray Owl

Snowfall and Wildlife:  This page from earlier in the year might give you some ideas for capturing wildlife (and landscapes) with falling snow.

Washakie with Snow Flakes

Washakie with Snow Flakes: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Washakie and Challenger

Washakie and Challenger: The smaller bull is now match for the venerable old bull. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

John Moulton Barn

John Moulton Barn: Taken from a distance along Antelope Flats Road. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC On.

TA Moulton Barn

TA Moulton Barn: Taken along Mormon Row Road. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC On.

TA Moulton Barn

TA Moulton Barn: Nikon D5 and Nikon 24-70mm Lens.

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird: Captured along Mormon Row. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC On.

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC On.

Cub in Black Hawthorns

Cub in Black Hawthorns: Most of my time was spent watching bushes rustle around, but this cub came out for about 20 seconds. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Black Bear

Wet Black Bear: The Black Bears were photographed on the Moose-Wilson Road. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

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September 20th:  Wednesday

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I just checked the weather reports for the next few days. They indicate we will have periods of rain in the valley and occasional snow in higher elevations. For the “fair weather photographers”, that might sound like bad news, but for the innovative and die-hard group, there are unique opportunities. You may not get “Grand Vistas” on the rainy days, but some of the mundane scenes and objects often come alive. A few years ago, I went out “because it was raining” and took all of the images on this page in the single day: Making the Best of a Rainy Day:. If your goal is to try to capture “something different”, foggy and rainy days give you opportunities missed by the groups that opt to stay home or spend the day shopping on the square.

I am looking forward to this year’s Foliage season, knowing the mountains are getting fresh snow. It might take a little luck and persistence to get breaks in the clouds to see the mountain range, but the payoff should be worth the time and effort.

Remember to keep an eye on Foliage Reports September/October 2017. I add additional photos and foliage comments there during September and October.

Morning Moose

Morning Moose: One of the mid-sized bulls along the Gros Ventre River. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Morning Moose

Morning Moose: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Cow Crossing

Cow Crossing: I haven’t seen any actual mating going on yet this year, but there has been plenty of rut behavior. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Washakie Crossing

Washakie Crossing: He was in pursuit of the cow that had crossed only a few minutes earlier. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Washakie Scratching

Washakie Scratching: Bulls use their antlers to scratch their back. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Sleeping Indian

Sleeping Indian: Nice to see the details in the mountain again! Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off

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September 19th:  Tuesday

Sizing Up

Sizing Up: These couple of photos are from yesterday’s time in the Park. It takes a while to go through that many photos! This photo gives you an idea why I love to photograph Moose. They are quite animated and have expressive eyes. Their down turned ears let other Moose know to tread lightly. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Submissive Approach

Slow Approach: The initial approach is usually slow, and if there are no altercations, the two bulls can be “buds” all day. That’s until a cow is in the area. A female kicks in another gear in which the larger bull keeps the smaller bull at bay. A larger bull could enter the scene and push both smaller bulls away. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel: The Hummingbirds left the valley a while back. A few Northern Flickers are still coming to my back yard, along with an occasional Clark’s Nutcracker. This Red Squirrel shows up for a few Sunflower seeds and an occasional peanut. Chickadees are year round residents, with other birds passing through. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Washakie

Washakie: We had an ice pellet storm for about 10 minutes this afternoon. Washakie and the cow weathered the storm with no problems. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Cow in Channel

Cow in Channel: One of several Cow Moose I found in the side channels of the Gros Ventre. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Buck Mule Deer

Buck Mule Deer: While traipsing around in the Gros Ventre river bottom, looking for Moose, I found this nice buck. Occasionally, I see White-tailed Deer in the same area, which usually bound away on sight, but this buck didn’t seem to care about me being in his area. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Buck Mule Deer

Buck Mule Deer: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

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September 18th:  Monday

Cow Moose

Cow Moose: Just returned from a good day in the Park…thousands of photos! Yikes! This cow was in “Moose Pond” along the Moose-Wilson Road. At one time, a mid-sized bull and small bull joined the cow for some interesting interaction shots. One of the sow Black Bears and two cubs was also visible today. Rangers were amazingly cooperative as long as people parked off the roads. Check back as I have time to download the images and pick out a few more. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Moose Trio

Moose Trio: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Moose Trio

Moose Trio: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Sparring Moose

Sparring Moose: Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500mm Lens, Tripod, VR Off.

Cub In Tree

Cub In Tree: Taken along the Moose-Wilson Road.  Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500mm Lens, Tripod, VR Off.

Schwabacher Morning

Schwabacher Morning: Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70mm Lens, Tripod.

Washakie

Washakie: Shot in the late evening at ISO 10,000. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

 

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September 17th:  Sunday

Washakie

Washakie in Morning Fog: Localized mountain weather reports seldom include the possibility of morning fog. When I started my truck there was a thin layer of ice, and I saw 28° on my trucks thermometer. By noon, most of the valley was clear—as predicted. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Lip Curl

Lip Curl: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Cows

Cows are often territorial around a big bull. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Thrashing

Thrashing: Washakie still has a bit of velvet to rub off, but it might be too late this year. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Moose Courtship

Courtship: Washakie was courting several cows this morning, including digging a scent pit for them. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Washakie

Washakie: Watch for Washakie along the Gros Ventre between the highway and Kelly. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Resting Bull

Resting Bull: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel: Also in the Gros Ventre River basin. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

The Grand

The Grand and First Snow of Fall: The weekend snow covered the top third of the mountains. This was taken from the East Boundary Road. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm Lens, Handheld, VR On.

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September 16th:  Saturday

Cow and Calf

Cow and Calf: Normally, I start out looking for Bull Moose, then backtrack to a cow and calf if I saw one earlier. That’s what happened today. I used a shorter F/2.8 lens today. capable of Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm Lens, Tripod, VR Off.

Cow and Calf

Cow and Calf: As predicted, we had colder weather overnight, including snow in the high country. We had a flurry of snow along the Gros Ventre, but not enough to cover the ground. I heard of much more snow in the north portion of the park and I saw a Facebook photo of heavy snow in Bozeman, MT. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm Lens, Tripod, VR Off.

Cow and Calf

Cow and Calf: I stayed with these two along the Gros Ventre until they bedded down for the morning. A nice sized bull was in Ditch Creek this morning, but was already bedded down when I got there. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm Lens, Tripod, VR Off.

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September 15th:  Friday

Weather Alert

 

If you are new to the site, there is a simple Weather Channel link in the right navigation bar (or at the bottom of the page on a smart phone.) If you want even more area forecasts,  look for the Grand Teton NP & JH Info / Area Links under the main banner. That page has a lot more weather report links.

I took the image above last evening with my iPhone. It shows the Winter Alert that popped up on my truck. It will be much colder tomorrow!

Keep an eye on the Foliage Reports September/October 2017 I added a few photos and comments last night.

Misty Morning Elk

Misty Morning Elk: I would say this was shot long before sunrise, but with the thick clouds, we never had sunrise today. This bull was near Windy Point. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Misty Morning Elk

Misty Morning Elk: Cottonwood Creek can be seen in the background. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Buck Mule Deer

Buck Mule Deer: Taken near the Moose Visitor’s Center. Willows, Cottonwoods and Aspens are just beginning to change in that area. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Portal Bear

Portal Bear: ?….the rest of the story… Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Portal

Portal: I drove down the Moose-Wilson Road this afternoon and found a “standard issue” bear jam. I found a legal parking spot and hiked back with my gear. The bear was well off the road and in a tough spot. I found a tiny hole in the lodge pole pines on the other side of the road and shot through the portal. The bear is in the bushes inside the circle. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Portal

Portal Bear: This is the uncropped image of the bear above, shot through the small opening. It worked for a reference shot or a blog post! Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Black Bear

Black Bear: This sow has a couple of cubs higher in the tree. She was in the same spot this morning, which is one of the reasons I went back this afternoon. I had visions of her and her cubs feeding on berries close to the road. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Latch

Latch: I bought this old suitcase a week or so ago at a junk store here in Jackson. I’ve been planning on photographing it all week, but have been busy. I threw it in the truck before heading out this evening, then set it up on the back of the truck during the waiting game involved with a bear in a tree. I got plenty of strange looks as people passed by. I used a Lume Cube with a CTO filter and grid to add ins some light on a very dark day. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Alligator Texture

Texture: I am guessing this is an alligator skin. Next time, I will photograph the same case with a Macro lens. Just one of Mother Natures amazing gifts. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

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September 14th:  Thursday

Thistle

Thistle: Even though they are just weeds, these plants lit up nicely.  I opened the Aperture all the way to soften the background. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Keep an eye on the Foliage Reports September/October 2017 The area is changing, but slowly! Overnight rains cleared much of the valley smoke.

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl: It was a treat to finally see an Owl! They’ve been scarce since March. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl: This adult was on the Moose-Wilson Road near Death Canyon. This shot shows why it can be so difficult to spot them. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl: This photo was taken using a tripod at 1/200 Sec, F/6.3 and ISO 18000, well after the sun had gone behind the range. Actually, it was quite cloudy all evening with a Winter Storm Alert in effect for the next couple of days. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

The Moose-Wilson Road is open again. I spent quite a bit of time there today and didn’t see a bear. One was seen on numerous occasions, along with a cow and calf moose at Sawmill Ponds.

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September 13th:  Wednesday

Road Closure: The unpaved of the Moose-Wilson Road will remain closed today for dust abatement. Another section is being repaired near the small pond.

I added a new yellow Aspen photo on the Foliage Reports September/October 2017

Sunrise Clouds

Sunrise Clouds: Taken along the Gros Ventre Road. I was tempted to stop closer to town and get similar shots with the Sleeping Indian in the scene, but I had visions of Moose crossing streams in the gold light. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Crossing Cow

Crossing Cow: One of a couple of Cow Moose that crossed the Gros Ventre while I was there this morning. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Drinking Bull Moose

Drinking Bull Moose: Also captured along the GV River. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Bull at Water's Edge

Bull at Water’s Edge: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Rainbow

Rainbow: Captured along the Moose-Wilson Road this afternoon. Nikon D810 and Nikon 14-24mm Lens.

Clouds

Clouds and Tetons: Also captured along the Moose-Wilson Road. The road should be open by 8:00 am tomorrow. Nikon D810 and Nikon 14-24mm Lens.

Cow and Calf

Cow and Calf: These two were grazing in the park on the north side of the Visitor’s Center on North Cache. It was captured at ISO 11400 as a record shot for the blog. A bull, cow and calf were in Ditch Creek this afternoon. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC On.

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September 12th:  Tuesday

Idaho Hot Air Balloon

Idaho Hot Air Balloon: Several times a year, we make a trip to Idaho Falls for a little shopping. Darla had her car serviced in Rexburg and then we headed on south for lunch. Along the way, I jumped out of the car and snapped this photo of a hot air balloon with the reverse side of the Grand. The sky on the Jackson Hole side of the Tetons were fairly clear, while a cloud of smoke filtered the sky on the West side.

There are a few aspens beginning to turn in and around the town of Wilson. The Snake River bottom’s cottonwoods are just now beginning to turn. As I mentioned on the Foliage Reports September/October 2017 post this morning, this year’s foliage season seems to be on pace with seasons four or five years ago and not as early as in the last couple of years.

Eastern Idaho Harvest: On our way to and from Rexburg and Idaho Falls, I kept seeing interesting farming and harvest opportunities. They have rolling hills, with golden wheat and potato pastures being plowed and harvested. Tractors kick up dust and is highlighted by morning and evening light. This could be a great way to fill in time waiting for this year’s foliage season…just thinking out loud!

Oh yes, I stopped in at Perfect Light Camera and Supply and got to put my hands on the new Nikon D850 camera. Chris has been shooting it for about a week. He is impressed with the high ISO on this body. It looked and felt much like a D500.

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September 11th:  Monday

Road Closure on Moose-Wilson Road …”Beginning 4 a.m. Tuesday, September 12 on the unpaved section of the Moose-Wilson Road in Grand Teton National Park. The road will reopen by 8 a.m. Thursday, September 14. On Wednesday, September 13, travelers on the northern segment of the road will encounter delays of up to 30 minutes to accommodate repairs to a short stretch of flooded road.”

Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Closure Beginning Sept 11: News Bulletin….The main building is undergoing construction to repair and replace the roof. During the construction period, the trails leading to the observation platform, the bridge and the two trails are closed. A new access trail from the parking area will bypass this zone to connect with the upper trail to Phelps Lake.

Clear Skies

Clear Skies: I heard there was a heavy rain storm in the GV area that lasted 45 minutes yesterday afternoon. I didn’t see it at all in town. This morning, skies were clear with only a hint of haze. I took this image from the GV Road, over the top of Blacktail Butte. A few days ago, there was no detail visible in the distant mountains.  Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Pronghorn Buck

Pronghorn Buck: This buck had 15 does gathered along the Gros Ventre Road. He had to work to keep them bunched up. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Sandhills

Sandhill Cranes: This group of three flew over the road as I was taking photos of the Pronghorns. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

I’ll add a photo and more comments on this page. Foliage Reports September/October 2017

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September 10th:  Sunday

Bull Moose

Bull Moose: Crossing the Gros Ventre River. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Bull Moose

Bull Moose: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

You might notice that I have been focusing on Moose lately. Other people are seeing Bison, Elk, Pronghorns, and occasional Bears. I’ve heard of a few people getting photos of young Raccoons. I’ll be covering more of the Park soon.

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September 9th:  Saturday

Washakie in Amber

Washakie in Amber: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Morning Range

Morning Range: Blacktail Butte and the Teton Range supply the backdrop for this Bull. There was much less smoke in the valley this morning. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Washakie

Washakie: Taken along the sage flats near the Gros Ventre. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Thrashing

Thrashing: Still trying to scrape the velvet from his antlers. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Thrashing

Resting Bull: Near the Gros Ventre river bottom. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

The Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival began this weekend. Darla and I did the Gallery Walk last evening. The Farmer’s Market and Old Bill’s Fun Run for Charities filled the Square this morning.

Box L Ranch

Box L Ranch: This old barn is on Spring Gulch Road. With broken clouds, I waited until a patch of light hit the barn. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

I added a couple of photos and comments on the Foliage page: Foliage Reports September/October 2017

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September 8th:  Friday

New! Foliage Reports September/October 2017

Morning Sun

Morning Sun: Another shot to document the smoke and haze in the valley. Count on the temperature to be around 38°F in the morning and then warm up quickly! Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Stripping Willows

Stripping Willows: A few of the Moose are eating bitter brush in the sage flats. They still seem to prefer willow leaves—stripping them off their stems. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Worked Up

Worked Up: Bulls thrash trees and shrubs most of the late summer. Initially, this is to finish removing the velvet, but later to let other cows and bulls they are in the area. Sometimes, they thrash long enough to work themselves into an unpredictable “tizzy”. I back up a long distance when I see this behavior. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Morning Drink

Morning Drink: Taken along the Gros Ventre River. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Gros Ventre Crossing

Gros Ventre Crossing: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Crossing

Crossing: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Flower and Bee

Flower and Bee: I took this shot along the Snake River on my way back from a “Mountain Maple” run. See the photos on this page: Foliage Reports September/October 2017

Astoria Hot Springs

Astoria Hot Springs: There’s an effort to rebuild the old Astoria Hot Springs, located a few miles down the canyon from Hoback Junction. This spring supplies the hot water for the pools.

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September 7th:  Thursday

Morning Sun

Morning Sun: In some of the previous years, the Park Service and Forest Service set controlled burns during September. People could leave our area and go somewhere else with clear skies, but there’s nowhere in the West to go this year. This year, firsfighters have their hands full dealing with other large wildfires across the West. Last night, I used The Photographer’s Ephemeris to determine where I might want to be this morning for the setting moon. I was in the right place at the right time, but by the time the moon was moving into position, it was just a faint glow and the Grand was almost indiscernible. This shot was taken from Mormon Row Road as the sun came up. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Road Closure on Moose-Wilson Road Beginning 4 a.m. Tuesday, September 12 on the unpaved section of the Moose-Wilson Road in Grand Teton National Park. The road will reopen by 8 a.m. Thursday, September 14. On Wednesday, September 13, travelers on the northern segment of the road will encounter delays of up to 30 minutes to accommodate repairs to a short stretch of flooded road.

Cow Moose in River

Cow Moose in River: I was fortunate enough today to photograph three different moose cross the Gros Ventre River. Unless being chased, they cross slowly and deliberately. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Washakie Crossing

Washakie: This venerable old bull disappeared for a few days while he stripped his antlers. He reappeared yesterday, but has an eye infection. He’s showing his age…something like 16-17 years old. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Mid-Sized Moose

Mid-Sized Moose: I almost 100% sure this is the Bull I photographed last Sunday. He stripped his velvet yesterday and his antlers are still showing blood stains today. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Featured Moose

Moose at Water’s Edge Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Mid-Sized Moose

Moose at Water’s Edge Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Swan Family

Swan Family: Taken along Flat Creek. I added this photo to show how the amber/rose colored light is affecting the valley. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Afternoon Outing

Aspen Trunks

Aspen Trunks: If you are getting bummed about the smoke covering the mountains, consider tight shots of other subjects! This stand of aspens is on the Moose-Wilson Road, but there are lots of other stands around the valley. Light will likely be rich and saturated. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm  Lens, Handheld, VR On.

Caterpillar

Caterpillar: I was on the Moose-Wilson Road looking for bears, but other fuzzy creatures can also be interesting. This reminds me a lot of the “wooly boogers” I tie for my fly fishing. Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-180mm Zoom Micro, Handheld.

Sunset

Sunset: Taken along the Moose-Wilson Road. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm  Lens, Handheld, VR On.

Death Canyon

Death Canyon: The Grand Teton group gets a lot of attention, but keep an eye out for opportunities with Death Canyon and Cascade Canyon. Nikon D5 and Nikon 70-200mm  Lens, Handheld, VR On.

Starburst

Starburst: Back side of a thistle plant. Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-180mm Zoom Micro, Handheld.

Evening Sun

Evening Sun: Taken along the highway as I was driving home. 8 bit JPGs have a tendency to band when there is very little difference in values. I shot this in 14 bit mode on my camera and can process it at 16 bit in Photoshop if I were going to print it. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC On.

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September 6th:  Wednesday

Spider Web

Spider Web: The spider in my back yard has been busy filling in his web. Natural light was hitting the web at a good angle, so I grabbed the closest camera for a shot. At about the minimum focus on the Nikon 200-500mm lens, the background went out of focus and added a few bokeh spots. Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500mm Lens, Handheld.

Bull Elk

Bull Elk: This bull and roughly 10 cows in his harem crossed near the Moran Junction. He seemed to be worried about something chasing him and not so much with the vehicles pulling over. I only had time for a couple of shots before he headed back into the Buffalo River bottom. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Spider and Prize

Ewwwwwww! That’s how my wife reacted after seeing the spider today. It had netted a wasp and was in the process of wrapping it in web material. It then carried the prize to its safe place along the house. Okay…probably enough photos of the spider, but it’s not something I see every day! Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-180mm Zoom Micro Lens, Handheld.

Other Wildlife Tidbits:

We saw a nice Bull Moose at the Blacktail Ponds overlook parking lot the predawn hour. I received a report of Washakie being seen along the Gros Ventre with his already stripped antlers. Another smaller bull moose was in the area with stripping velvet and bloody antlers. A cow and calf moose were seen crossing at Schwabacher Landing, along with a very large beaver in one of the small side channels.

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September 6th:  Wednesday

Sleeping Indian

Sleeping Indian: This is a fairly good representation of the smoke in the valley at the moment. I had to take our Golden Retriever to the Vet this morning, so I only had a few minutes to get photos. This was taken from Spring Gulch Road at about 7:25 am.

Local Notes:

  • Today is the first day of school. I saw parents taking photos of their kids—just like we used to do!
  • Today is the beginning of a construction project at the “Y” intersection near Albertsons. Expect delays.
  • Spring Gulch Road is still closed. There are talks of a one-direction light being installed later in the year.
  • Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival begins this weekend.
  • Old Bill’s Fun for Charities is this weekend. Starting on the Town Square.

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September 4th:  Monday – Labor Day

Sunrise

Sunrise: Smoke was possibly the thickest it has been here this morning. I captured this image from Antelope Flats Road. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens,Tripod, VC Off.

Water Walkers

Water Walkers: Found regularly at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve on Moose-Wilson Road. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens,Tripod, VC Off.

Black Hawthorne Berries

Black Hawthorne Berries: Also taken at the LSR Preserve. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens,Tripod, VC Off.

Cascades

Cascades: Lake Creek, tumbling out of Phelps Lake at the LSR Preserve. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens,Tripod, VC Off.

Fawn

Fawn: Found in the Moose Visitor’s Center area. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC On.

Three Cygnets

Three Cygnets: Taken along Flat Creek with the rose colored sky reflected in the slow moving stream. Right now, their wings are about the size of your palm. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC On.

Bull Moose

Bull Moose: This is a “Chamber of Commerce” moose! He fed on aquatic vegetation in Sawmill Pond for quite a while this afternoon and evening, allowing hundreds of tourists and photographers to photograph him from the safety of the bluff. Judging from the couple of tears in his velvet, I would expect him to begin stripping his velvet tomorrow or Wednesday. (Sawmill Pond is on the north end of the Moose-Wilson Road.) Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

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September 3rd:  Sunday – Labor Day Weekend

Mt. Moran Sunset

Last evening, my wife and I drove up to Leek’s Marina Pizza Parlor for a Saturday Evening “date”. They have great pizza and the views from the deck are wonderful. Aside from the dinner, I took advantage of checking out the foliage in the north country. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Quick Foliage Report: Park wide, there aren’t a lot of changes. There’s a slight shift toward yellow, but very slight. There are a few random trees, or branches with more yellow if you look for them. In short, it is still early on the Aspens and Cottonwoods. Some of the leaves are turning red along the Moose-Wilson Road, but you might also notice that some of the Aspens there appear to be turning brown instead of yellow. Others look healthy. The Gros Ventre River bottom has a few trees with a hint of ochre.

Foliage Reports September/October 2015 :

Foliage Reports September/October 2016 :

Choke Cherry Leaves

Choke Cherry Leaves: Taken along the Moose-Wilson Road. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens,Tripod, VC Off.

Fall Leaf

Fall Leaf: Lots of changes going on in this leaf. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron:  Taken along the Moose-Wilson Road. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Bull Moose at Water

Bull Moose at Water: This mid-sized Bull Moose took a quick drink from the Gros Ventre. He came back on the bank for a little while, then crossed to the National Elk Refuge. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Bull in Gold

Bull in Gold: Same bull, taken a few minutes before he crossed the river. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Pronghorn in Gold

Pronghorn in Gold: Yesterday, a CNN report said there are at least 88 large fires in the West. Smoke from some of the fires settles into the JH valley, creating early morning gold and rose light. I like it for the sunrise and sunset shots, but the smoke irritates my eyes. This buck was seen along Mormon Row Road. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly: Want a challenge? Try getting a shot of one of these comical faced creatures! This one was along the Moose-Wilson Road. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Spider

Spider: This little creature built a web in my back yard. I taped a piece of black “Fun Foam” to a light stand for the backdrop and then used a Lume Cube to add some light to the spider and web. Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-180mm Zoom Micro Lens, Tripod.

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September 2nd:  Saturday – Labor Day Weekend

Pronghorn Doe

Pronghorn Doe: Captured along Mormon Row Road. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Pronghorn Doe

Pronghorn Doe on the Run: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Bison Bull: Also taken along Mormon Row Road. I only saw half dozen Bison this morning. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

Bison Bull

Bison Bull: Bulls are usually the ones rolling in the dust, but I’ve seen a few Cows do it, too. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Handheld, VC Off.

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September 1st:  Welcome to Fall!

Fall's Sentinel

Fall’s Sentinel: It’s not exactly Fall yet, but there are hints of changes in all corners of the park. A few leaves are changing, but so far, they are not going off quite as early as last year. Then again, I thought the changes were early last year. A few of the bull Moose are beginning to shed their velvet before their rut. Elk are bugling. Pronghorns have been fairly dependable subjects. Bison are seen mostly around Elk Flats and possibly along the RKO road. Grizzlies are being seen in the North part of the park, but can be challenging to photograph. Owl sightings have been scarce in the summer of 2017. It’s berry season and there are plenty of berries. A few Black Bears are being seen.  The photo above was taken during the last few minutes of light on August 31st along the Gros Ventre Road. Notice the hints of Fall color! Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

August was a great month! August 2017 Daily Journal for JH and GTNP. Until I begin filling this new September Journal, check the August page. The first week or so of September should resemble the last week or two of August.

Foliage Scale 2015

2016 Foliage Reports: I will create a 2017 Foliage Reports page in the near future. For now, the 2016 page should give you a good idea of what to expect this year. To start September, most trees are still 1 or maybe a few 2. Some of the underbrush is turning and a few of the Black Hawthorn bushes on the Moose-Wilson Road are turning.

Morning: September 1st

Sliver of Sun

Sliver of Sun: Taken along Gros Ventre Road. September mornings can drop to temps in the high 30s and can climb to the low 80s. Weather reports suggest clear skies through the Labor Day Weekend, though there is some smoky haze throughout the valley. Morning photos often have a beautiful amber  or rose color cast. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Bull Moose

Bull Moose: Captured along the Gros Ventre River. Another smaller moose was in the background. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Early Morning Moose

Early Morning Moose: Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Mallard Duck

Mallard Duck: Moose, Grizzlies, and Wolves occasionally pass through Schwabacher Landing, but you can almost always find a few ducks and other potential subjects like Pine Martens, Squirrels, Mule Deer, Beavers, Otters and so forth. This Mallard is in one of it’s less colorful phases. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher: This morning, a Belted Kingfisher was working the area. They are almost always difficult to photograph. Kingfishers seem to know when you are trying to photograph them and tease you right up to the point you begin to press the shutter button before taking flight. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Soro

Sora: All About Birds says this about Soras, “A small, secretive bird of freshwater marshes, the Sora is the most common and widely distributed rail in North America. Its distinctive descending whinny call can be easily heard from the depths of the cattails, but actually seeing the little marsh-walker is much more difficult.” That makes two difficult birds in one day! Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Female Barrows Golden Eye

Female Barrows Golden Eye: Golden Eyes seem to like the Schwabacher Landing area’s calm waters. Nikon D5 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens, Tripod, VC Off.

Schwabacher Landing

Schwabacher Landing: If you were to watch the 1950s movie “SHANE” you could see little Joey crossing the stream in exactly this spot! Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70mm Lens, handheld. 

Youngster

Youngster: This young Moose soon followed her mother across the channel. Nikon D810 and Nikon 24-70mm Lens, handheld. 

Labor Day Weekend: Remember, things will be winding down in regards to “tourist season”. The last two JH Rodeos are tonight and Saturday. Dornan’s Chuckwagon will stop their breakfast and dinners after this weekend, but will continue lunch for a couple of weeks. The last JH Shootouts and Stage Coach rides will end after this weekend.

750line

 

Another Day at the Office!

Cowboys and Wranglers in Grand Teton National Park.

Three Cowboys and Mt. Moran

Each year, Pinto Ranch moves a herd of cattle to one of the leased pastures north of Elk Ranch Flats. In preparation of tomorrow’s cattle drive down the highway, three cowboys saddled up near the historic old cabins and dude ranch.

Another Day at the Office 1

I managed to get to the cowboys at about the time they were ready to ride West. I asked if I could take some photos. “Yep, no problem. We are headed that direction”.  I did my best to line up either the Grand or Mt. Moran, moving to my right at a pretty quick pace. From what I understand, their job for the morning was to move bison out of their pasture and then patch up the fences. Jon Holland, broke away from the other two cowboys and then all hell broke loose!

Another Day At The Office 2

I have no idea what spooked Jon’s horse, but it began to buck. The rest of the sequence of this page should speak for themselves.

Another Day At The Office 3

Another Day At The Office 4

Another Day At The Office 5

Another Day At The Office 6

Another Day At The Office 7

Another Day At The Office 8

Another Day At The Office 9

Another Day At The Office 10

Another Day At The Office 11

Another Day At The Office 12

Another Day At The Office 13

Another Day At The Office 14

Another Day At The Office 15

Cowboys are tough! I went over to them to see if he was okay. There were no broken bones or blood that I could see. He said, “I’m fine…just another day at the office”. A few minutes later, Jon was back in the saddle, on the trail, and back to their job of moving the bison.

Dan Martin and Morth Yokem were the other two Pinto Ranch cowboys in these shots.

Note: This happened fast! From the first sequence shot until the last one was 15 seconds. The bucking portion lasted less than four seconds!


Shooting Information: I am fairly certain Jon didn’t expect to take a tumble, and I am positive I didn’t expect it! For this “shoot”, I grabbed my Nikon D810 and a Nikon 70-200mm lens, treating the passing cowboys and Teton vistas as a landscape opportunity. The mid-range lens would allow me to include the distant mountains with the cowboys as unique foreground subjects. In full frame mode, a D810 has a maximum frame rate of 5 frames per second, which worked out fine, but if I had known what was about to happen, I would have grabbed my D5 (12 FPS) and my Tamron 150-600mm to be able to zoom in on the action. Who knew?

The Shutter Speed was set at 1/1000th second and the Aperture was set at F/9, in Manual Mode. ISO was set to Auto ISO =  ISO 200. EV as at -1 and the histogram looked pretty good. I would have also been fine at -.7 EV.


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Beating the Summer Crowds in Grand Teton National Park:

Tips and Strategies to Help Make Your GTNP Visit More Enjoyable!

GTNPVisitation at Grand Teton National Park has been on the incline for several years—each one breaking the previous year’s totals. We are likely on a similar pace this year, and that’s not taking into consideration the extra visitors in August for the Solar Eclipse! Air travel is getting more and more difficult—and less fun. It is probably going to get worse with new restrictions on computers and eventually photo gear. Gasoline prices have remained relatively low and there is a renewed interest in the Parks in general.

That’s great for our regional market. It’s great for the tour operators, merchants, galleries, restaurants, dude ranches, and activities! If you are stuck behind a bear jam or waiting to get through the entrance station, it’s not so great!

This page is intended to help readers miss at least some of the congestion and frustration you might encounter at peak times in Grand Teton National Park.

Bull Elk In Velvet

Be out early!  That’s my #1 tip! Early—as in 5:30 am in the summer. I know that for a large family, that could be a brutal and even novel idea! On many of our vacations and Spring Breaks, I’d get up and run around, taking photos, for a couple of hours, then go back to the room to find the family just beginning to mill around. This strategy always worked for me, but if you can’t leave the family, get them all up and get out. Grab a snack, then plan on having breakfast with the family at one of the restaurants in the Park as the line of travelers fill the roadways. The light and clouds are beautiful at that time of the morning. Wildlife will be moving from their early morning feeding zones to their daytime dark shadows. And, of course, there won’t be a lot of crowds to deal with at that time of the day!

Entrance Station

If you wait until mid-morning to head into the Park, expect long lines! It’s even worse early in the year when people are having to buy their Park Passes.

Noon Time at GTNP

At the Moran Junction entrance station, I’ve seen traffic backed up in two lanes all the way to the highway and spilling out onto the highway! Remember my #1 Rule: Be out early!

Approaching Storm

Grand Teton National Park is usually relatively quiet until Memorial Day. The traffic really kicks in around the 7th of June. Coincidentally, that’s the date of this post! It will be busy until Labor Day with the parents and kids. After Labor Day, another batch of tourists flock to the region for its spectacular Fall Foliage show! The crowds thin out considerably on October 1st.

That’s the “big picture”. On a daily basis in the summer, the bulk of the tourists have breakfast in town, then join the masses heading out of town and into the Parks. Many are passing through the Tetons to get to Yellowstone. In the afternoon, the flow is in the opposite direction. From 5:00 pm to around 6:30 pm, traffic can begin to become congested entering the Town of Jackson and can come to a virtual standstill through town as locals and commuters try to get out of town. Throw in a occasional accident or road construction projects in town and the situation can go from bad to terrible! As you can see in the mid-summer shot above, the Park can appear quiet at certain times of the day, even in the Summer!

Sunset

Suggestion #2: In the evening, stay out longer! If you have reservations for a motel in town, call ahead and let them know you will be arriving late and then sit back and enjoy the park an extra hour or two. That’s a bit like my doctor telling me I need to drink a glass of wine each day! Okay…I can do that! The roads will clear, animals may appear, and stress levels can go down! You can even consider having a pizza at Dornans or even Leek’s Marina. You will likely need to eat “somewhere”, even if you go to town, so find a great spot in the park and miss the crowds! Sunsets can also offer some memorable photo opportunities. Check out this page: Teton Sunsets:

On a similar note, when a big summer storm passes through the valley in the summer, many tourists leave the Parks and go into town. Unlike the 5:00 to 6:30 pm daily crowd, they filter into town and fill the shops and restaurants.

Moose Crossing

Rule #3: Don’t be in a hurry! Expect the unexpected and give yourself some extra time to enjoy the Park. Some of these tourists were probably too close, but I am sure they were pleased to get to see a Moose and yearling calf. Wildlife “jams” can cause stress if you believe you are on a tight schedule. Much of Grand Teton National Park and all of Yellowstone has a speed limit of only 45 mph. At night, even the 55mph portion of the highway has a maximum speed limit of 45 miles per hour. Roads are narrow, sometimes winding, and often have deer, moose, elk, and bison grazing and crossing them. Check out this post: The 100 Yard Rule(s)

Crowded Location

Rule #4: Go where they aren’t! On any particular morning in the summer and Fall expect to find a large group of people at any of the “Big Four”: Mormon Row Barns, Schwabacher Landing, Snake River Overlook and Oxbow Bend. Occasionally, as seen in the photo above, there will be numerous photo workshops and tours. I typically pass by this kind of scene and come back later in the morning. In most cases, tours come and go, so just wait them out. Patience is a virtue! Abracadabra: Now You See Them—Now You Don’t!  This page explains how to relieve stress by not worrying if a person is in your shot.

In recent years, tourists and photographers have been able to spread out more at Schwabacher Landing. Beavers had built a bunch of dams, creating additional reflection pools along the side channel of the Snake River that passes by the parking areas. In 2017, high water runoff has washed their dams away, leaving only one reflection pool on the Spring Creek side. Expect that spot to be even more crowded this year.

399 and Cub

Sometimes, you simply can’t go where “they” (tourists and photographers) are not! In most cases, to get Grizzly photos, you simply have to be there and be part of the crowd.

Blondie Watchers

If so, Rangers and Wildlife Brigade Volunteers tell people where they can stand, park, and view the bears. Personally, I can only take this kind of photography is small doses! As the season progresses, Rangers and Volunteers become less tolerant. I was in a bear jam recently that lasted a hour or longer. As I drove off, I could see people had parked as far as a half mile away to walk to the area.

399 and Cubs

This shot was taken only a few seconds before they crossed in front of the Rangers two shots up. I was using a Nikon D500 with a 200-500mm lens, giving me an “effective” reach of 750mm. You’ll need something similar if rules require people to be 100 yards from the bears and wolves. Check out this post: The 100 Yard Rule(s)

Take a Hike

Hidden FallsI don’t know where to look for the statistic, but I’ve heard that less than 10% of the visitors to Grand Teton National Park ever walk more than 100 feet from their vehicle. Some never get out of their vehicle at all! If so, all you have to do is hike a short distance off the parking areas and pull-outs and you can be virtually free from the crowds! Before leaving town, pick up a few “boxed lunches”. Find a cool, shaded stream, then sit back, relax and have a picnic!

Bridger-Teton National Forest butts up against Grand Teton National Park in many areas, offering even more opportunities to get away from the crowds. Even though some trails are fairly popular, hikes to Phelps Lake, Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake offer experiences inside GTNP with far fewer people. Also consider a hike to Goodwin Lake and Toppings Lake on the east side of the valley.

Best of the Teton’s site is filled with content skewed towards photography. If you would like more information about area hiking, try this link: Teton Hiking Trails. They can cover the topic much better than me! Again, most trails have few people on them.

If you would like a hybrid outing, get up early and take the ferry ride from Jenny Lake to Cascade Canyon, then hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. The first boat of the day is even cheaper! The Park Service is working on the parking areas at Jenny Lake again in 2017, so getting there early makes double sense. Beat the crowds and find a close parking spot. Check out this post: Cascade Canyon: One of the Teton’s Many Gems

Try Something Different!

This page is historically popular on Best of the Tetons: Outside the Park: Alternative Places to Visit, Hike, Fish, and Photograph. I wrote that page when the US Government shut down for a few weeks, displacing thousands of visitors still in the valley but unable to enter the Parks. It is loaded with photos and maps to areas fewer people see. A drive up the Gros Ventre Canyon, for example, can take you to red hills, mountains, rivers, lakes and vistas.

Additional Info:

The previous link might be considered a generic introduction to some of the alternative places. Check out these more details pages:

FREE in Jackson Hole ~ Areas & Activities:

This page contains numerous ideas that are mostly free. Some are free simply because you get up earlier than the Park Station attendants. Others are 100% FREE!

Not FREE, but these excursions will get you away from the crowds

Consider one of the many options that whisk you away from the crowds and into the wilds!

Horseback Rides: There are many companies that offer rides, including some inside the park. Check out the stables at the top of Spring Creek Ranch. The rides give you views from East Gros Ventre Butte over the National Elk Refuge and across to GTNP and the Grand. Triangle X offers trips into the wilderness and Park.

Scenic Float Trips: Some of these operations offer trips through some of the more remote areas of GTNP on the Snake River.

Scenic Chair Lifts: Check out the lifts at Snow King Resort. At the top, you can hike the ridge and get views only skier see.

Tram Ride: At the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, you can ride the tram to the top of Rendezvous Peak with unparalleled views of the valley below. Even in the summer, it can be chilly or crisp.

Hot Air Balloon Ride: How about another unique view of the valley. These rides start early!

Come Back in the Winter!

If you’ve only been here in the Summer, consider coming back in the Winter. Here are a few of the Winter pages on Best of the Tetons. You’ll find the area magically transformed by snow.

 

 


Teton Photo Excursions

If you are considering a trip in September, I’d definitely recommend booking it NOW. Some of those slots are filling fast. June is filling, but there are still openings. For inquiries, send an email to info@tetonimages.com.

 

Newborn Moose!

Baby Moose

Newborns are exciting harbingers of the Spring and Summer seasons.  I’ve seen a few baby Canada Geese, a few baby Bison, and I’ve heard of several Fox dens with Kits making their first appearances. Soon, we might be seeing baby Owls, Eagles, Deer, and Elk.

Click HERE to watch my wife’s video on Facebook:

Today, my wife called me to let me know of a Moose giving birth to a single calf. When she called, the calf was still slimy and the cow was in the process of cleaning it. By the time I arrived, the Mother Moose had cleaned the beautiful little calf. The proud Mother looked exhausted. The calf was trying to stand up but would fall over when she licked it. The photo above was the calf’s first attempts to nurse.

Baby Moose

This cow chose a spot between the main house and the guest house in a private sub-division near Teton Village. Call it a symbiotic relationship! The owners gets a few of their willow trees trimmed for free and the Moose gets some protection against wolves, bears, and coyotes. The cow has been a regular visitor to the residence for several years and is comfortable with humans milling around. My presence caused her no apparent stress.

The Window

We were able to open on of the windows of the main house, giving me access to the pair at eight to ten feet! The cow acknowledged the window opening, but was never alarmed.

Baby Moose

The calf could best be described as “wobbly”. It didn’t stay up very long at any one time, and would often fall or crash on its own accord.

Baby Moose

The calf spent a lot of time sleeping and the cow spent a lot of time licking its fur.

Baby Moose

The window gave me unprecedented access to the event! Besides being illegal to be this close in the Park, it would also be very dangerous.

Baby Moose

I was also able to shoot from the yard at a distance of about 20 yards. I was prepared to move back to the house if she looked agitated, but she never did.

Baby Moose

I’ve read that baby Pronghorns are ready to run soon after birth. My experience today tells me it takes baby moose much longer.

Baby Moose

The calf would be up for a few minutes at a time, then back down.

Baby Moose

The calf was never more than a few feet from the cow. Amazing moments!

Baby Moose

I have been using a D500 for the past couple of weeks while my Nikon D5 and Tamron lens are being fine tuned. For these shots, I used either a Nikon 70-200mm or 24-70mm lens on the 1.5 crop factor body. I was shooting in Manual Mode with Auto ISO.

Baby Moose

She had her head up and her ears perked, but the cow dozed like this quite a few times.

Baby Moose

Each time the baby got up, it seemed to get a little stronger and more stable—but it was far from ready to run.

Baby Moose

It appears that most Mother Moose keep them in their secluded birthing spots for several days. Most of the calves I’ve seen over the years have been mobile and active. Check out this page: Baby Moose of the Tetons

Baby Moose

This is one of the last photos I took today. Off and on during the day, the cow stood up and then bedded down in another nearby spot—possibly for some fresh grass to eat. I was standing in the back yard on this capture. It appeared the cow was pushing the calf to the deck and in my direction. There was a pond behind me so I thought she might be ready to head to water. Just as before, she bedded down in a new patch of green grass.

Day 2

1 Day Old Moose

Darla and I did a quick trip back to the Moose family. The little one was much more mobile and was able to work its way through thickets of willows.

Nursing Calf

The calf is now able to nurse while standing.

Young Calf

Clumsy and cute!

Young Calf

The challenge on this shoot is to isolate the subjects from the buildings, deck, roads, and posts.

High-steppin' Calf

With the Mother watching, the little one is working on its high stepping moves.

Resting Cow and Calf

After feeding for a while, both dropped to the ground in deep, green grass. I’d love to be there when the pair head to the nearby pond for a drink.

Day 3

Baby Moose Day 3

The little one is spending more time on its feet and getting braver. I went by in the morning and the pair were tucked deep into the trees. By afternoon, there was some activity.

Baby Moose Day 3

Baby Moose Day 3: The Mother was about 12 feet away, but keeping an eye on the baby and me.

Nursing Moose

You might call this a “rear entry” option for nursing. I’m not a biologist, but this shot might indicate this is a female baby moose.

Romper Room

Romper Room: At one point, the baby did circles around the Mother. She finally stood up and made some sort of signal that dropped the little moose in its tracks. She then bedded down again and I headed on home.

Day 4

I found the Moose, but they were bedded down in a tough spot. I didn’t even try to take photos of them.

Day 5

Mother Moose and Calf

The lawn workers had to mow and trim the yard during the morning and part of the afternoon. This activity spooked the Mother Moose and Calf to a stand of willows across the street. They were there all day. I stopped in a second time later in the afternoon. She led the little Calf back to the birthing yard.

Five Day Old Calf

The five day old Calf is now quite mobile.

Five Day Old Calf

She’s beautiful!

Five Day Old Calf

She?

Mother Moose and Calf

I had hoped to be there when the Cow went to the pond for a drink of water. I got lucky!

Five Day Old Calf

I came home with around 2500 images from the afternoon. Shots from today were taken with a Nikon D5 and a Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens.

Splashing Calf

I tend to shoot a lot when they are near the water. You may only have a minute or two. Today, the two drank from the water’s edge and then the mother started feeding on nearby willows. That left the youngster to romp around and play along the edge of the pond.

Five Day Old Calf

The family named the baby moose “Lucky P”.


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Red Foxes of Jackson Hole

Red Foxes, with their distinctive white pointed tails, roam most areas of the Jackson Hole valley.

Red Fox in Winter

The bulk of the visitors to Grand Teton National Park come here in the late Spring, Summer, and Fall, seasons. Foxes are around, of course, but aren’t seen that often by the average tourist. I believe there are several factors. Foxes are usually hunting very early and very late—and that’s not the same time of day the average tourist is roaming the valley. Much of the year, single Foxes only need to catch enough food for their own needs that day, then can rest and sleep the day away until they are hungry again.

Foxes

When the Vixen is in the den with her new Kits, she seldom leaves for long periods. In reality, half of the Fox population is out of sight altogether for a month and a half or so. As the Kits grow and begin appearing near the den’s entrance, news typically spreads quickly. The Park Service puts up “Do Not Enter” yellow tape around the den area. Adults come and go, hunting often to feed the youngsters. That’s probably the best time for Summer visitors to see scruffy adult Foxes and cute little Kits. Winter visitors probably have a better chance of seeing Foxes with their stunningly beautiful coats!

The Seasons

Sleeping Fox

Winter Foxes have beautiful, flowing coats. Days are much shorter, so odds go up that you might see them hunting and moving about. Sometimes, they find a sunny spot and curl up for long periods— hiding in plain sight!

Alert Red Fox

Winter visitors also have an advantage of shooting almost eye level with Foxes. Snow banks can be four to five feet high in some areas. With less tourists around, they seem more relaxed and less likely to flee into the forests.

Summer Foxes are typically scruffy as they shed Winter fur and replace it with short, sleek fur. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t see them too often other times of the year. They are forced to hunt more during daylight hours when trying to feed 4-6 Kits. By the time the kits are weaned, they seem to disappear again.

Foxes: In General

Fox on a Fence

Foxes are canines, but display some cat like qualities. For example, I’ve never seen a Coyote or Wolf willingly walk down a buck rail fence, but I’ve seen lots of Foxes do it.

Red Fox

At least to my eyes, Foxes eyes remind me more of a cat than a Coyote, Wolf, or dog. While they occasionally bark to notify their mate they are in the area, they are typically much more quiet.

I wrote this page to highlight my experiences and observations. I’m “just a photographer”—and not a biologist! You can read more about Foxes by doing Internet searches and through the numerous books in the local bookstores. Check out this page: Red FoxNational Wildlife Federation

Morning Fox

From what I’ve read, all of our Foxes are “Red Foxes”—regardless of whether they are mostly blonde, red, gray, cross, or black. They all feature a white tipped tail. Gray Foxes may also have color variations, but have black tipped tails. You might relate the color variances in Foxes to Black Bears that can be blonde, cinnamon, brown, or black.

RedFoxLazyOnSnow_Mar22

Habitat

In most cases, Coyotes and Wolves shy away from humans. Outside the Park, Coyotes can be shot as a pest without a license. Wolves that stray into area cattle ranches can be shot, too. Coyotes and Wolves can kill Foxes, so they tend to fill voids left by the two larger canines. Wolves often kill game animals, feed for a day or two, then move on. Coyotes and Foxes move in on the carcass, but Foxes move out of the zone when Coyotes are present.  That’s when Foxes are in “scavenger mode”. Otherwise, Coyotes and Foxes hunt mice, pocket gophers, voles, and ground squirrels. Last year, I watched a Cross Fox that specialized in catching ducks. In other areas, Foxes can become adept at stalking and catching upland game birds.

Cross Fox Hunting

I mentioned earlier that Foxes fill in voids left by human fearing Coyotes and Wolves. That’s another way of suggesting that Foxes are often found around humans and human activity. In short, they are usually safer around humans than their wild canine counterparts. They are plenty adept at scavenging a carcass and capturing small prey, but they are also smart enough to recognize a free meal when it’s offered. Foxes are also smart enough to recognize human habits and patterns—showing up a the right time for handouts. (More on that issue later in the page)

Morning Fox

Foxes can show up near campgrounds, visitor’s centers, gas stations, employee housing zones, and in towns. Dens can be found in culverts, under porches, under the corner of a barn, or in holes in back yard settings. Within Grand Teton National Park, populations of Foxes have been seen regularly at Flagg Ranch, Colter Bay, Signal Mountain, and the Teton Science School. Around the valley, they are fairly common in the towns of Wilson, Jackson, and Kelly. I am sure some are regulars on the Buffalo Valley Road, and around Slide Lake.

Karnes Meadow Foxes

Prior to 2008, I had only random chances to photograph them, but in 2008, a Vixen set up shop in Karnes Meadows, not far from the Snow King Avenue. The den was only about 30 feet from the sidewalk! For several weeks, dozens of photographers lined up for their chance to watch a family of Red Foxes.

If I remember correctly, the Karnes Meadow Fox raised five Kits that year. I don’t recall ever seeing the adult male helping her raise the Karnes Meadow Kits.

Kits

Initially, the Kits stayed inside the den while she was away, but they became braver as they got older. One day, we came back to the spot and they were gone. Since then, I’ve seen quite a few other dens, but none as close, nor as photogenic as that group. As you might expect, I took thousands of photos of the family and it kindled a desire to continue looking for them.

The Area Foxes

Fox with Mallard Duck

In 2016, a “Cross Fox” showed up along the Moose-Wilson Road. That fox was comfortable with people around, but never appeared to be expecting a hand out. She (some people suggested it was a male) hunted for voles, as most Foxes do, but she also developed the necessary skills to capture ducks that winter in the small spring creeks along the roadway.

Cross Fox Resting

I always thought a Cross Fox was a cross between a Red Fox and a Black Fox, but a Best of the Tetons reader (thanks Michael), let me know the name reverences a cross pattern across the Fox’s back. In March of last year, I made a Feature Post called The Cross Fox of GTNP. That post has more photos of this fox, plus a lot more information about Cross Foxes.

Cross Fox

The 2016 Cross Fox had a lot of personality, along with a couple of missing teeth, a large scar on its muzzle, and a cut in it’s right ear.

Cross Fox Approaching

Late in the year, there were reports of this Fox showing up at one of the residences near Teton Village. Unfortunately, it had a broken leg. We heard of attempts to capture it, but I never heard of any positive results. It hasn’t been seen since.

Photographing Foxes

Posed and Watching:

Photographing Foxes isn’t much different than photographing other animals. We still face issues of stopping action with shutter speed, depth of field with aperture settings, and dealing with resulting high ISO and digital grain. Unless people are accustomed to photographing subjects in snow, Winter can require a bit of adjusting within the camera. Many Winter images will need up to a full stop of EV compensation, otherwise images with a high percentage of white will be underexposed. Yes, you can still adjust the Exposure slider in your favorite RAW converter, but I much prefer getting it right in the camera to avoid excessive noise in the dark areas.

Goals

Fox Cover Image

If you can find cooperative Foxes (or any animal for that matter), you will likely fill a card with numerous “good, but average” photos of them standing, sitting, sleeping, or casually walking from spot to spot. Everybody eventually collects lots of them—but they are “just Fox photos”.

Yawner

While we still take the basic shots, I have four or five “catch words” loaded into the back of my brain, just waiting for the right opportunity. I am watching for “action and interaction”, along with “personality and behavior”. Lastly, I know that not all images need to be up close and personal. Wide shots that include more of the animal’s surroundings or the weather conditions many tell a bigger story. These kinds of events happen on a daily basis, but not always with photographers there to capture the moment.

Lounging Fox

A Fox can sleep for hours! Even in their most lazy modes, they can be photogenic.

Stretching Red Fox

Once a Fox wakes up from a long nap, they almost always stretch. It’s not fast action, but it’s action!

On the Move

Foxes are usually quick to react to another fox or a dog in the area. They can go from a stretch to a run in seconds.

Watching Fox

Foxes spend a lot of time moving from spot to spot in search of food. On bright days, Foxes tend to squint A LOT! It takes at least some skill and a lot of luck to capture that split second while their eyes are open. Since I have a lot of images in which their eyes are open now, I usually delete the ones with squinted eyes.

Flying Fox

A shot like this can catch most people off guard. I’ve missed a lot of them, too! They seem docile and sluggish and then can burst into a dead sprint. Luckily, winter shots allow me to keep the shutter speeds fast. (1/1250 second or faster)

Pouncing Fox

Occasionally, you will find a Fox “mousing”. This kind of action is much more predictable. They will likely be in “mousing” mode for a while, so you just have to be ready when they stop, and prepare to pounce. I composited this shot from a burst of images, taken at a long distance near Kelly Warm Springs. In reality, a Fox jumps high into the air, and then into the snow to capture a mouse or vole only a couples of yards out.

The Meeting

Interaction can be between two animals of the same species, or by more than one species.

Skunk In Snow

Occasionally, a third party can enter the scene.

Skunk and Fox

It would be difficult to predict how two different species will react. On this day, the Skunk stood its ground and even chased the fox. Still, the Fox appeared to be more curious than scared of the smaller critter.

Zoom lenses are great for such encounters. It is easy to pull back on the zoom to include two animals. Surprisingly, the Skunk charged the Fox, catching it off guard.

Face To Face

Up close and personal! This was a fun day, probably not to be repeated anytime soon. I happened to be the only photographer around that day, so I came home with unique behavioral and action shots. We all wait and hope for similar experiences. In the end, no fur flew, though there was a pungent odor lingering in the air for hours.

Fox with Flakes

I tend to like these kinds of shots the best, but it takes a lot of discipline to get them. With a 150-600mm lens, I often have choices if I tell myself to take advantage of the situation.

Little Prancer

These kinds of shots are harder to get, but are typically more memorable and tell of a much larger story.

This would be a nice shot of just a fox, but the addition of the Mallard Duck feathers makes it special, at least to me.

Dens

I mentioned earlier that news of a Fox den travels quickly through the valley. Inside the Park, expect the area to be cordoned off to give the parents and kids room to move around and play. A Vixen can give birth to a litter of kits with a variety of color variations.

Red Fox Kits

The Kits are usually active and extremely fun to watch, but are quick to return to their underground den at any hint of danger.

I’ve seen a dozen or two dens over the years. Most are dug in a hole in the ground, while some take advantage of a porch or corner of a barn. Interestingly, I’ve never seen them use the same den twice. It probably does happen somewhere? I’ve heard of Coyotes moving their babies to a new den if the first one becomes flea infested, but I am not sure about this behavior in Foxes.

Kit Foxes

When the parents allow them to play, Kits can be rambunctious. To get 10 minutes of action, plan on spending hours waiting and hoping!

Curious Kit

Unlike their shaggy parents, the Kits are always clean, sleek and “cuddly”, much like a baby kitten!

Great Light

Morning Fox

It’s probably worth mentioning that great light can turn “just another Fox photo” into a memorable one.

Red Fox in Motion

Early mornings and late evenings create long shadows and beautiful light. The sun is usually very low in the sky during the mid-Winter months and snow bounces light back to the subjects, so it usually possible to shoot all day.

As I mentioned earlier, I like the idea of taking a lot of images, including ones where the Foxes are just sitting around or standing, but my goal is to capture shots that are harder to get and unique in some form or another.

The Changing Fox Populations

Outside the National Parks, Foxes and Coyotes are not protected from hunters and trappers. Hunters and trappers don’t even need a license or permit. Town regulations prohibit firing a rifle inside town limits. Hunters and trappers need permission to be on private land. They can’t hunt and trap in closure areas, but that’s about the limit on the controls.

The open season on Foxes and Coyotes probably explains why some of them are leery of humans. In 2008, there were numerous Foxes in and around the town of Wilson, but they aren’t seen too often now. Perhaps they were killed or trapped out once news of their numbers got out. Possibly, it is cyclical, based on the amount of voles and mice in the area, or they move to areas where food is more plentiful? All I know is you can’t count on similar numbers from year to year in any one area.

Dumpster Fox

Inside the National Parks, Foxes may face unforeseen dangers. They are protected from hunting and trapping, but dangers still exist. A few of the Foxes around Colter Bay and Flagg Ranch had apparently been fed over the years.

Fish Heads

Foxes were quick to learn the sound of a vehicle slowing down and the sounds of a potato chip bag being opened. They could be seen waiting for food as snowmobilers and fishermen returned from their day trips. Eventually, several populations of Foxes became what the Park Service calls “habituated” to humans.

Free Food

CUA permit holders (licensed guides) received emails announcing a 2017 program to tag and collar “habituated” Foxes around the valley.

Full Reach

Prior to the 2017 Study Program, the Park Service put up portable signs in many areas frequented by Foxes, letting people it was illegal to feed them. One of the senior Park Rangers in the Colter Bay area recently told me the signs, along with the tagging and collaring of the Foxes has slowed their begging and roadside behavior. Since the program began, Foxes in the targeted zones seem to have essentially disappeared. Few of the tagged and collared Foxes have been reported or seen. Other photographers and tour operators are reporting similar observations.

Red Fox with Snow On Her Nose

I have no first hand knowledge of the Park Service “removing” any of the habituated Red Foxes. If they removed a few of them, the Ranger I spoke with didn’t know about it.

Hunting Red Fox

If you are in the Jackson Hole area, you can help all of us, and the Foxes, if you read the signs and “Don’t Feed the Foxes”. You’ve probably heard the saying, “A fed Bear is a dead Bear”. I’d hate to think a “A fed Fox is a dead Fox” in Grand Teton National Park. Foxes are fully equipped to find their own food, but they are also opportunistic feeders. Potato chips and cookies may seem like harmless offerings, but they could cause their demise if one becomes overly aggressive or bites a tourist.

Unlike Bears and Wolves (100 yards), other animals like Foxes have a minimum viewing distance of 25 yards. The rules are on this page: The 100 Yard Rule(s). For photographers with 400mm to 600mm telephoto lenses, that’s normally not an issue. People with shorter lenses and cell phones, tend to want to be much closer.  In the past year or two, the Park Service has become more strict about the minimum distance rule with the Foxes, just like they did with the Bears. Occasionally, a Fox will walk right by a group of photographers standing alongside the road, like the one above. The rules state people are to stay back 25 yards, and some officers may enforce it.

Loose Ends

The photos below were queued up to be inserted within this post, but weren’t needed. Hope you enjoy them!

Resting Fox

Downhill

Black Cross Fox

Curious Lazy Fox

You simply have to love the Red Foxes!


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Harbingers of Spring

Warmer and longer days are obvious indicators that Spring might be around the corner, but Spring in the Tetons is a rather slow and unpredictable process. Snow melts in the southern end of the valley long before it disappears in the northern section—and it melts even later in the high country. Around town you might see high snow banks dissolvling and roads seeming to get wider. You tell yourself, hopefully, you won’t need that heavy Winter coat again until late November! Spring is coming!

American Robin

Besides the changes to the landscape, we start hearing familiar chirps, screeches, and calls. Robins are some of the first of the returning birds that signal the promise of Spring.

Oregon Junco

For much of the Winter, I see essentially the same species of birds, including Woodpeckers, Ravens, Crows, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Magpies, and Chickadees. Other than the red on the head of a Downey or Hairy Woodpecker, most of them are mostly gray, black, and white. Sometime around the first few days of March, I usually see the first Dark-eyed and Oregon Juncos in my back yard. They are also mostly gray, black, and white also, but they seem to signal that other songbirds will be close behind.

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebirds are the most colorful of the early birds—usually appearing around the middle of March. Some of the earliest sightings are around the Kelly Warm Springs, but once the big waves arrive, they can be seen about anywhere with open sage.

Meadowlark

Meadowlarks often appear, at least in small numbers, at about the same time as the first Mountain Bluebirds. The first Meadowlarks I typically see are north of Kelly and around the Kelly Warm Springs.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbirds are usually heard long before they are seen. Their distinctive call seems to announce the coming of spring. I typically see them around Wilson and along the cattails north of the Visitor’s Center. Yellow-headed Blackbirds are usually weeks behind.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawks may be around the valley all year, but I have a feeling they follow the other migrating songbirds into the valley. This one had just killed an early season Robin. Other Raptors, like Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, Prairie Falcons and Peregrine Falcons also re-enter the valley, pushing out winter’s Rough-legged Hawks.

Eagle and Osprey

Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles winter in Jackson Hole. They are often seen around the National Elk Refuge, feeding on winter kills of Elk, Pronghorns, and Mule Deer. Osprey typically start showing up around the first week of April.

Yellow-bellied Marmots

Yellow-bellied Marmots are among the many species of small critters that hibernate through the Winter months. This year, I saw my first Marmots near the Gros Ventre River on St. Patrick’s day. Other small hibernating critters such as Uinta Ground Squirrels (Chislers) and Chipmonks should be close behind in the southern end of the valley. Beavers, if you can get close to the river bottoms, will also be active.

Grizzly

Grizzlies can appear about anytime after a long period of warm days. I don’t think much about them until mid-April, but there have been reports of Grizzly tracks in mid-March and actual sightings in Yellowstone. The southern end of the the Jackson Hole valley may actually look and feel like Spring, while the Grizzlies might still be moving around on snow covered hills and river banks.

Badgers

Many species of mammals do not hibernate in the Winter, such as Foxes, Badgers, Ermine, Weasels, Pine Martens, Porcupines, Skunks, Raccoons, Coyotes, River Otters, and Wolves. My mid-March, many of them begin pairing up and denning for Spring.

Elk Migration

Elk, Moose, Deer and Bison can often be seen moving from their Winter zones starting in mid-March and continuing through April. Typically, we don’t see the Bison herd during the Winter months, but they begin moving North of the Gros Ventre by the end of March. A scene like the one above signals a major change on the National Elk Refuge as the 2017 herd of over 8,000 Elk leave the area.

Wood Duck

Overhead, flocks of Canada Geese return to the valley. Other migratory birds sneak through the valley, like this Wood Duck. White-faced Ibis may be in the Jackson area for only a day or two. Spring is also a time for returning Pelicans, Sandhill Cranes, and Great Blue Herons. Wintering Swans magically disappear, leaving the area’s breeding pairs to the summer water.

Bullock's Oriole

Back at home, I look forward to the Spring parade of migrating songbirds. The drab rust and brown backdrop gradually changes to vivid green as the first of the colorful Bullock’s Oriole’s appear. Western Tanagers, Cedar Waxwings, and Lazuli Buntings will likely be close behind. At some point, I’ll hear my first Hummingbird buzzing around the yard in search of sugar water.

Old Patriarch

Each year is different! To close this page, I’ll include two images to show how different it can be here in the Northern Rockies. This photo was taken on May 2nd, 2011. Elk, Bison, Moose, and even birds would have still been “penned up” in the southern portion of the valley.

Old Patriarch

This photo was taken at the Old Patriarch Tree on May 5th, 2015. In 2015, Elk, Bison, Moose, and Deer, could have already migrated to their summer zones. Spring came much earlier that year!


For this page, I dug through some of the images I’ve taken in the Jackson Hole region over the past 10 years or so. They were all captured with Nikon bodies, including D200, D300, D4, D800, D810, and D5. Lenses include Nikon 24-70mm, 70-200mm, 200-400mm, 200-500mm, and a Tamron 150-600mm.

Throughout the year, I offer One-On-One licensed photo tours here in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park. Visit Teton Photo Excursions for more information!

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Snowfall and Wildlife

“Bad weather” photography can be challenging—yet can be very rewarding. I’m usually okay with winter bad weather photography as long as I can still feel my fingers and toes! Other photographer’s definition of bad weather may vary.

Shooting Data: NIKON D5, TAMRON 150-600mm at 600 mm, 1/640 Second at f/7.1, Manual Mode, 1/3 EV,  Auto ISO 4500

I’m guessing if you asked 30 photographers how to take successful photos in heavy snow, you would get roughly 30 different answers—and each one would be certain their way is the best. This page as a series of “starting points” I can offer if you venture out during a winter storm.

With few exceptions, a winter storm means the sky will be cloudy—and I’ll be dealing with only limited light. As always, I am left with having to balance shutter speed, aperture, and ISO values, but during a winter storm, it seems that all three are compromised. Critical sharpness is also compromised, but the success of the photos are often much more about the emotion of the shots than sharpness. I usually find that I can “live with” a little more high ISO grain for the same reason.

There are a lot of variables to consider on a snow day, but the two that jump to the top of the list are “distance to subject” and “intensity of the storm”. If the subject is 25 yards out, there could be a few hundred thousand flakes between you and the subject. Double the distance, and there could be twice as many flakes. If the flakes are large, you can be shooting through a wall of flakes that can completely obscure the subject and the distant landscape.

Tree Top Owl

Shooting Data: NIKON D5, TAMRON 150-600mm at 600 mm, 1/800 Second at f/10, Manual Mode, 1/3 EV,  Auto ISO 10000

During a relatively heavy snow squall, I think of three zones. First, there will be a wall of snow between the camera and the subject, an “in focus” zone along the focal plane, and another zone behind the subject. With a shallow depth of field, controlled mostly by the Aperture settings, much of the snow in front of and behind the subject will be out of focus. “Stopping down” will likely make more of the snow in front of, and behind the subject in focus. During the heavy snow periods, the overall picture will likely be lighter—even when staged against a dark background.

An Owl can sit on the same perch for a few minutes or even a few hours. They make good experimental subjects—allowing me to try out various settings.

Alternate Processing

Shooting Data: NIKON D5, TAMRON 150-600mm at 600 mm, 1/800 Second at f/10, Manual Mode, 1/3 EV,  Auto ISO 10000

There are a lot of options and settings available to a photographer at the time of capture. If the image was captured in a RAW format, there is an almost endless set of options for post processing it. You might notice the image above is the same as the one above it—just processed differently. For the most part, it’s simply a matter of adjusting a few sliders in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw or any of the other software designed for adjusting RAW files.

I prefer to shoot while on a tripod when I can. (Remember, I mentioned 30 photographers = 30 answers). Using a tripod for winter storm photography gives me a lot more options, and it allows me to be ready when the action begins. It is difficult to hand hold a telephoto lens on a subject for more than a minute or so at a time. The tripod helps me to be on a subject like an owl as it takes off, vs trying to find it in the scene if the camera is down. A tripod offers the ability to slow the shutter speed to settings well below what is normally possible when hand holding. Yes, it is possible to miss a shot while setting up a tripod, but on balance, I think I get more shots I like.

Watching GGO

Shooting Data: NIKON D5, TAMRON 150-600mm at 600 mm, 1/30 Second at f/6.3, Manual Mode, 1/3 EV, Auto ISO 280

This is a good example of why I like a tripod! It was captured at 1/30th of a second, F/6.3 and the resulting Auto ISO was only 280. At 600mm, it would be almost impossible to hand hold a body and lens and hope to end up with acceptable results at 1/30th of a second. The failure rate is still fairly high while on a tripod! At 600mm, my Tamron 150-500mm lens is wide open at F/6.3. The focal plane is fairly shallow, allowing flakes in front of and behind the face to blur out, while flakes in the focal plane are in relative focus. I tend to go with a shallow depth of field on most perched shots.

Shoot a Lot

Shooting Data: NIKON D5, TAMRON 150-600mm at 600 mm, 1/50 Second at f/6.3, Manual Mode, 1/3 EV, Auto ISO 400

On snow shots, I typically do a LOT of short bursts of three or four images at a time. A Nikon D5 can shoot at 12 frames per second, so it is easy to come home with a lot of images. It takes up disk space and fill cards quickly, but shooting lots of short bursts seems to give me a better chance of getting a good one. This image is a good example. If I only took a couple of shots, the odds are fairly high that a flake will be crossing the Owl’s eyes or beak. In a three shot burst, one of them might be a clean one. Similarly, when the snow flakes are large, the camera’s auto focus often grabs a flake in front of the bird’s face and not the bird or subject. I shoot a lot and keep the best ones. I won’t post it here, but the next shot in this sequence was the better one.

1/20th second

Shooting Data: NIKON D5, TAMRON 150-600mm at 600 mm, 1/20 Second at f/10, Manual Mode, -1/3 EV, Auto ISO 180

At 1/20th of a second, I was pushing the limits of the camera, lens, and ambient conditions. It is difficult to hold the equipment still, and in this case, wind was blowing the snow, but it was also blowing the bird on the top of the tree. Owls can stay perfectly still for a long time, but that doesn’t do me much good if the entire tree is moving. Large mammals seldom sway in the wind, nor do many of them move fast on snowy days, so it might be possible to pull off a keeper with an extremely slow shutter speed.

1/500th second

Shooting Data: NIKON D5, TAMRON 150-600mm at 600 mm, 1/500 Second at f/6.3, Manual Mode, -1/3 EV, Auto ISO 1800

This is essentially the same shot, but this time at 1/500th second. I didn’t mention it earlier, but even on a tripod, wind can shake a photographer and their gear. Hand holding at slow speeds with heavy winds might not be impossible, but the success ratio plummets considerably. In those cases, a faster shutter speed can help!

Head Spinning

Shooting Data: NIKON D5, TAMRON 150-600mm at 600 mm, 1/40 Second at f/10, Manual Mode, -1/3 EV, Auto ISO 360

At slow shutter speeds, I always expect oddball shots like this one. Any movement at 1/40th second will cause motion blur. Even if I had been shooting at a very fast speed, the odds are very low that the shot would have been a keeper. They typically blink their eyes when turning their head like this.

In Flight

Shooting Data: NIKON D5, TAMRON 150-600mm at 600 mm, 1/60 Second at f/6.3, Manual Mode, -1/3 EV, Auto ISO 220

Okay…here’s a hazard of shooting at slow speeds! I was doing a few streaking snow shots, as seen in the images above, when the Owl spotted, or heard, a vole and flew from the tree top. I didn’t have time to spin the shutter speed dial from 1/60th second to 1/640th second or faster.  I’d prefer to be at 1/1250th second or above for flight shots.  Often, they will “lighten the load” (crap) just before flying, and if I am paying attention, I can dial the shutter speed up quickly—but not this time.

Shooting Data: NIKON D5, TAMRON 150-600mm F5-6.3 VC USD A011N at 600 mm, 1/80 Second at f/10, Manual Mode, -1/3 EV, Auto ISO 720

At 1/80th second, I know I can usually get a photo with a recognizable amount of wind blown snow, yet have a reasonable chance of holding my gear still if I am using a tripod. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from trying a bunch of other settings, but 1/80th second is still a good “go to” setting. Admittedly, you won’t always have the luxury of so many experimental shots as I did with this owl.

Great Gray Owl

Shooting Data: NIKON D5, TAMRON 150-600mm at 550 mm, 1/1250 Second at f/9, Manual Mode, 0 EV, Auto ISO 500

If helps to put a dark background behind a subject when trying to capture snowfall. I chose this photo to help illustrate the issue. If the sky had been white, like the upper left corner, you might never know it was snowing when I took the photo.

Owl in Flight

Shooting Data: NIKON D5, TAMRON 150-600mm at 320 mm, 1/800 Second at f/6.3, Manual Mode, 1 1/3 EV, Auto ISO 2500

If this capture had been against a darker background, many more flakes would have been visible. While the Owl was against the white sky, I adjusted the EV to +1.3. I typically do a test shot while it is perched, then check the image and the histogram to make sure the image is neither terribly underexposed or overexposed. For the flight shots, I change the shutter speed to 1/1000 to 1/1250 second and switch to Continuous Focus mode. This happens to be a good scenario for “Back Button Focus”.

Other Wildlife

Moose October 2010

Shooting Data: NIKON D300, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 140 mm, 1/40 Second at f/7.1, Aperture priority Mode, 1 EV,  ISO 400

Photographing other wildlife isn’t much different than the Owls I used in the previous examples. For the long exposures, it helps if the animal doesn’t move.

Red Fox

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, Nikon 200.0-400.0 mm f/4.0 at 400 mm, 1/1250 Second at f/6.3, Manual Mode, 1/3 EV, Auto ISO 360

If the animal is on the move, a faster shutter speed helps freeze its movements, but of course you can also go for artistic motion blur shots.

Mountain Goat

Shooting Data: NIKON D810, Tamron 150.0-600.0 mm f/5.0-6.3 at 550 mm, 1/160 Second at f/6.3, Manual Mode, -2/3 EV, Auto ISO 720

It’s not always easy to find a Mountain Goat on a ridge like this, but when it happens with snow falling, the image can be memorable. Typically, they standy still for long periods, allowing you to try different shutter speeds and settings.

Beaver

Shooting Data: NIKON D810, Tamron 150.0-600.0 mm f/5.0-6.3 at 460 mm, 1/320 Second at f/6.3, Manual Mode, -1/3 EV,  Auto ISO 2500

Fair weather photographers seldom get shots like the ones on this page. When it’s snowing, I like to be out looking for opportunities many people miss. March is usually a good month as the days are usually warm enough, there’s usually a fair amount of snow still around, and storms pass through quickly. The image above was taken in early November as the Beaver families gather food for the upcoming Winter. I included all wildlife on this page, but actually the landscape photos work the same way. Better yet, landscape subjects stay still!

December Bighorns

Shooting Data: NIKON D810, Tamron 150.0-600.0 mm f/5.0-6.3 at 400 mm, 1/800 Second at f/7.1, Manual Mode, 0 EV,  Auto ISO 360

Equipment and Other Considerations

These images were all captured with a Nikon DSLR and a telephoto lens.  I prefer my Nikon D5 for the snow shots (I used a D4 in earlier years) because handles high ISO much better than either my Nikon D500 and Nikon D810. When using Auto ISO on a D5, I don’t think much about the ISO jumping well above ISO 1250. The other two bodies do fairly well, however. The D5 can capture images up to 12/14 frames per second, too! Inside Grand Teton National Park, regulations require at least 25 yards of space between a photographer and any sort of wildlife, and 100 yards for Bears and Wolves. For most wildlife captures, a fairly long telephoto lens is required. Luckily, options for the telephotos are much easier on the pocketbook over the last few years. Check out Sigma’s and Tamron’s 150-600mm lens lineup, along with Nikon’s 200-500mm lens.

All three of my bodies including D5, D500, and D810 include a Group Focus mode. (My earlier D4, D800, and D300 bodies didn’t have Group Focus). While I still like to use Single Servo / Single Point for many of my static subjects, I switch quickly to Continuous Focus if it appears there will be action, and occasionally use Back Button Focus. I’ve found that Group Focus works very well on snow days, but your choices and results my vary. Group Focus seems to more often stay on the subject without locking onto snow flakes in front of it. Group Focus is worth trying if you have it! I still use 9 point Dynamic Focus when not in Group Focus on my D5 (this requires a firmware update).

I recently, made a post about my Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens. Feedback from the post suggests using Vibration Reduction (VR/VC/IS) only when shooting at speeds below 1/500th second, and to get the most out of Vibration Reduction, shutter speeds should be much slower. Additional sources (including lens manuals) say to turn Vibration Reduction OFF when shooting from a tripod.

During periods of snow, I have to constantly remind myself to check the front of the lens. I always use my Lens Hood, which helps, but on windy days, flakes can find their way to the lens. On cold winter days, the last thing I want to do is try to blow the snow off with my breath. It will fog the glass in an instant and it takes a long time to disappear. I usually have a dry lens cloth in my coat pocket. The rule of thumb for winter photography is, “You can go from warm to cold with no problems, but not the other way around”. Glass and sensors will fog up if you have been in the cold for a long time and then return to a warm vehicle or building.

If you study the Shooting Data on the photos, you might notice that almost all of them were taken with a Nikon camera in Manual Mode, but with Auto ISO. This works great on Nikon cameras, allowing the user to adjust EV values as they might in other modes. From what I understand, only a few of Canon’s top end bodies work the same way.

Teton Photo Excursions

If you are planning a trip to Jackson Hole and would be interested in a One-On-One Photography trip into the Tetons, check out Teton Photo Excursions.

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Baby Moose of the Tetons

Sometime during the last few days of May and first couple of days in June, mother Moose give birth to one or two remarkably small babies. Adult Shiras Bull Moose may grow to 1000 pounds or more, but they begin their life on long, wobbly legs. I’ve never been privileged to witness the actual birth, but have seen them soon afterwards on a few occasions.

Newborn Calf

Mothers are usually very close to the newborns, and though I’ve never witnessed it, can be aggressively protective of their young. Initially, flight is not much of an option. (June, 3, 2012)

Resting Mother and Calves

Newborn Bison are sometimes called “Red Dogs”, due to their orangish red colored fur. Baby Moose share the color initially. (June 7, 2012)

Two Calves and their Mom

A few years ago, I received a phone call from an area biologist doing a paper on the Grand Teton Moose. He was interested in photos of Cows with twins—suggesting it is a relatively uncommon occurrence in most other areas. That information was a bit of a surprise to me, since I’ve seen twins regularly over my 10-11 years of photographing Moose. The biologist was trying to determine if the phenomenon is a hereditary trait in this region, of maybe just the result of abundant Spring food. I sent him quite a few photos. (July 15, 2013)

Young Calf

This Mother Moose spent a week or so near the Taggart Lake Trail Head parking area, along with another Cow and Calf. She stayed back from the ridge and allowed fast flowing Cottonwood Creek form a natural barrier on the back side. Tourists viewed safely from the ridge above. Other Mother Moose have spent time in campgrounds and near zones with heavy tourist activity. I’ve always assumed this was not by accident. In GTNP, Wolves typically stay away from humans. Possibly the Moose tolerate a little human interaction to protect their babies? Farther North, another Mother Moose regularly used the small pond near the Jackson Lake Lodge entrance in the same way.  I was informed a Grizzly killed her calf. In the northern areas of the park, where Grizzlies and Wolves are more common, I believe the Moose population has declined significantly. Before their introduction, tourists commonly saw Bull Moose in the  Oxbow Bend and Willow Flats areas. (June 5, 2012)

Scruffy Mom

In early June, almost all adult Moose look scruffy. Last year’s long winter fur will soon be replaced with a fresh, sleek coat. At about this time, some of the adult Bulls will begin showing “light bulb” sized velvet antlers. (June 6, 2008)

Two Calves

In June of 2012, I was fairly sure there were two Cows with twins along the Gros Ventre River. I also believe there was another set of twins hanging around Schwabacher Landing. Last year, I am fairly sure there were two sets of calves and another Cow with a single calf hanging around Schwabacher Landing. (June 7, 2013)

Running Calf

Young Calves seem to enjoy “checking out their new set of wheels”—and almost always within close proximity of its mother. (June 6, 2008)

August Calf

By August, the red fur is being replaced by darker fur. Their legs are longer and they tend to range a little farther from the mother. By this age, a mother Moose and calf will be more likely to flee from danger than stand and fight. (August 8, 2016)

Young Calf

The little Calves are so darned cute! It seems that if the mother Moose is not concerned about danger, the Calves are inquisitive. (June 6, 2008)

May 23, 2007

This isn’t a great shot of a pair of baby Moose, but I included it on this page for two reasons. First, it was taken on May 23, 2007. As far as I know, I don’t have digital photos of baby Moose born before May 23.  Second, these little critters are not always easy to spot. When I do see them, the odds are fairly good they’ll be in the same general region for several days. At that time of the year, the rivers are usually swollen, so they will typically stay on the side of the river they were originally spotted. (May 23, 2007)

Moose Crossing

This set of twins was photographed within roughly 50 feet of where I had seen the pair earlier. I kept going back and it eventually paid off as they crossed a small side channel of the Gros Ventre. (June 9, 2007)

Baby Moose

During the rut, Cow Moose can be quite vocal when around a Bull. There can be a lot of moans and groans on their part. After the Calves are born, they seldom make sounds, but somehow the babies understand what she wants them to do. Whatever it is,the signal is subtle. (July 15, 2015)

Two Calves

This photo was taken at Schwabacher Landing in late August of last year. The Cow was feeding on leaves and aquatic vegetation on the East side of the Beaver Ponds. She looked to the West, then make some sort of snort and these two calves rushed to her from the far side of the ponds. (August 30, 2016)

Nursing Calves

The Cow met the two calves in the deep grass where they nursed for a few minutes. Afterwards, the Cow moved into the Beaver Pond and the two semi-independent calves wandered as much as a hundred yards downstream. (August 30, 2016)

Schwabacher Landing

Late August is a time of “personal conflict”. If I’m lucky, I’ve found a quiet, beautifully lit scene like this. Yet, I know one or two of the Bulls will be starting to scrape their velvet. (August 26, 2016)

Washakie

This Bull Moose, one I call Washakie, stripped his velvet on September 1st. I was there, but I could have easily been standing next to the side of a river with young moose feeding on fall grasses! (September 1, 2016)

River Crossing

Typically, I love capturing a mature Bull Moose crossing a river, while I am slightly less motivated when a single Cow Moose crosses. But, throw in a young Moose with the Cow and I am ready to snap away! (July 15, 2016)

High Stepper

As the babies mature, they begin showing some additional personality and independence. (September 18, 2012)

Foggy Morning

These two Moose were aware of me on the other side of the foggy pond, but never looked too concerned about it. A snap of a branch definitely caught their attention, and they quickly moved away from the sound. (August 20, 2016)