Sep 292012

I couldn’t leave today without one more short trip into Yellowstone.

For only being in there for a few hours I was blessed.  I walked back to the upper madison and followed a bugling bull elk.  It didn’t take time to find him and his “girls”.  A magnificent animal.  I shot some video today and hope to figure out how to post it.  All in all this week was incredible.  Though I am anxious to get home I will miss this place.




 Posted by at 10:36 PM
Sep 282012

It just goes way too FAST!!!!!!!

I have really enjoyed my time in Yellowstone these past few days.  Like I mentioned before I found my self wanting to improve a photographic weak point of mine.  Many times I found myself at places where I have never been in Yellowstone or maybe only once before.

Everything took on a different look.  I traveled less looking for wild life and planned my shots by location and time of day.  All the shots have a story behind them.  This one I paid a messy price to get it.  It was at Mammoth.  Climbing to the site I fell in a very soft area to my thighs.  The worst part was the incredibly strong smell that was in the “Muck” I was stuck in.  Chocking the rest of the way up I eventually took the shots.  Stayed up very, very late washing my clothes, shoes and photography vest.

Up on Mnt. Washburn just past Dunraven Pass is an area that was decimated by the fires in the 80’s.   A huge number of dead trees still stand as a reminder.

Today I took my own challenge.  It’s been years since I took the climb down Uncle Tom’s Trail.  At the trail head there is a sign talking about the very steep grades, three hundred plus steps, and is VERY STRENUOUS!  The sign said take a lot of rests coming back up.  I saved this effort for the last day.  Knowing my legs would turn to rubber I wanted to make this trek last.  Boy was it worth it.  At the bottom I met a very nice gentlemen from Germany that shared a great passion for photography.  Soon I was helping him with the exposure of the scene to cover the wide dynamic range.  He brought down a 24-70 zoom and was disappointed that he couldn’t get the whole falls in one frame.  I offered to let him shoot with his camera and use my 16-35mm lens.  You’d think I just gave him my life savings.  We worked together and made sure he left with a fun and accurate capture.  He was very grateful.  I was honored to meet him.  Look very, very close at the top of the falls.  You can see people standing at the brim of the falls.  Gives you an idea of the size of the falls  From the bottom of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.




I ended up in Hayden Valley before heading back towards West Yellowstone.   It brings it all together with what we in photography call “God Beams”.  And off course my daily Black and White capture.


 Posted by at 11:47 PM
Sep 282012

I have been to Yellowstone to0 many times to count.

Been to Artist Paint-Pots once and have never seen a Yellowstone Grouse.

There’s a first and second time for everything.

I remembered why I had only been once to the Paint-pots before as soon as I walked the 1/3 mile back.  Seen it once.  Second time not a thriller.  Unlike all the beautiful features around Old Faithful, Artist Paint-pots is mostly hot air and bubbling mud.  Very little color.  The most colorful feature was this…..(kinda reminds me of Dad’s watered down powdered milk when I was growing up)

There was an interesting phenomenon around this area.  A lot of fallen trees had fallen with the root ball still intact.  I wondered if these are trees that burned and fell or died then blew over in high winds?

Another first for me were these very strange colored pine needles.  They were on one tree and only at the end of one branch.  It was a very small pine tree.  Maybe 3-5 years old?  It reminded me of the dramatic color changes that oak trees and cottonwood trees make in the fall season.  But this was weird!    The color is not enhanced.  The exposure is compensated only -1/3 ev.   If you look you can see that I burned in around the pine needles to add contrast only.

Here is the crazy part!  I was hiking up to photograph paint-pots.  No need for a normal, medium or long lens.   In fact I took my D800 and my 16-35mm lens.  Pretty dang wide zoom.  One of my favorites.  I can use my polarizing filter, ND filter and my neutral grad filter on it.  Great for Yellowstone Artist Paint-Pots photography.    My 12-24mm is more expensive and highly rated.  But with the very large domed front glass on the 12-24 that does not accept filters I find myself using the 16-35mm more.    Definitely not a wildlife lens.  Until I met grace the Grouse.  Typically very shy the grouse is difficult to photograph.  Most likely the best chance to photograph a Grouse is from a great distance with a monster lens like my 600mm.  And usually with a teleconverter pushing it out to 1200mm.

Today my pheromones and cologne was dead on!  I saw Grace and immediately laid down.  Yes other hikers thought I was crazy.  And some even yelled out to see if I was OK.  With a very slow thumbs up I was left alone with Grace.  She was mostly interested in feeding.  She was not sure what the motionless big blob was ahead so she foraged on.    Eventually she got about 15-20 feet away.  With cat like hunting skills I slowing raised my camera and fired a few shots.  Not interested in love I guess because she flew off like a bat out of ……….

Hey!  My first Grouse photograph in Yellowstone.  Moose Peterson this ones for you!  I cropped the heck out of it to look like a PANO!!!!!  Some rules are meant to be broken.

 Posted by at 8:52 PM
Sep 282012

I hate traffic jams.

Especially in Yellowstone!

In the old days traffic jams were mostly caused by Bear sightings.  They still are.  But fewer bears means fewer bear jams.  With the Buffalo being everywhere, form Madison, to Lamar Valley, to Hayden Valley and even at the top of Dunraven pass you’d thing they weren’t such rock stars.  But yes I sat for 15 minutes in a buffalo traffic jam until I chose to go around the cars in front of me, drive the wrong way down a narrow two lane road, and push my way through the buffalo.  Yea! me.  I had enough guts to instead of sitting and waiting for the giant, behemoth and stupid as Donkey buffalo to move I plowed through them.  Yes they are afraid of cars.  May favorite thing is as I am passing close by them in my vehicle I grab a tuft of hair.  They jump every time.  It’s hilarious.

Photographically speaking they are somewhat boring to photograph. Ok a lot boring.   Unless they have brand new calves, are rolling in the dirt or fighting they are just huge hairy numbskulls.  Kinda how I looked to my Father-in-Law the first time I picked up my then girlfriend now wife for our first date.  Explains why he shut the door.


I visualized this photograph slightly different.  As they approached me they came up from a low area with the sun behind them.  Their lighter colored fur on their backs glowed.  I knew right off this was a very difficult shot.  Black faces and highlighted fur.  Lots of contrast.  And off course all backlit.  Then it hit me.  This may look good in black and white.  The buffalo will still have silhouetted faces.  But with their large humped backs and huge muscular shapes as the subject I went for it.  Took a few frames to the exposure just right.  Never to my memory took buffalo in black and white.  I like it.

 Posted by at 8:01 PM
Sep 282012

It’s late and I am hoping to get up very early. So just posting a couple of my favorite photographs from today.

This trips passing way too fast!!!!!

I never pass an opportunity to capture a Blue Heron.  Especially in Yellowstone.

Just skimming above the water!!!!!


Today I had some time with a Golden Eagle.  Don’t see many.  Especially this close.  What a huge and beautiful bird.


Eventually he took off.

He flew right at ME!!!!!  gave me the willy’s for a second or two!

Thought maybe he wanted to chat or something.  Our company jet can’t almost get me off the ground.  What did this guy think he was going to do?

 Posted by at 12:43 AM
Sep 262012

Today I met a very nice couple (newlyweds) from the Spokane area.  We only talked for maybe twenty minutes.  Two people who have helped others most their lives.  One a retired Pastor and the other works at the VA Hospital.  Delightful people!  One of the joys of my trip to Yellowstone.

Today though I saw quit a bit of wildlife it felt like a Scenic Day shooting day.  A real test for my NOT-so-good abilities at scenic beauties offered here in Yellowstone.  Water was my draw.  Starting with Gibbon Falls.


Then on to Hayden Valley.  Mid-day.  Not the best time to shoot.  Had lunch in the shade along the river.  Watched the “folks” going crazy around the Buffalo.  Those foreigners are amazing.  Real stupid.  Yes some were getting almost close enough to pet the buffalo!  Simply amazing.


After lunch I hiked back a mile or so from the road in Hayden Valley.  Peace and quiet.  My next stop was the falls near Nez Pierce.  A popular place to shoot.


At the falls the reflections in the water were incredible.  I ran into a wonderful friend and famous photographer Laurie Excel.  She had a photo excursion group with her.  It was fun to catch up quickly with her.


Of course I need to add to my elk collection.  Especially when the light was PERFECT!!!!



Just before the sun went behind the mountain I rushed back up the Madison and had took get this Black and White.   Beautiful!!!  All the elements where is place for just a minute or two!

 Posted by at 11:03 PM
Sep 252012



Worked until noon today then made my way to heaven on earth.  I love Yellowstone.  It’s not just the wildlife photography.  It’s the peace and quiet.  The constant meeting of new friends that experience God’s wonders with me.  And a slower heart rate, no teeth grinding, little or no phone calls, green apples, lunchables, low temps, and The Ten Tenors softly serenading.  Checked in the Hotel.  Then made my way into the Park at about 4:30pm.  A couple of hours to enjoy.  The Madison is a good place to start my adventure with the Elk during their Rut!   With rain making it’s daily mark I found my first Bull and his group of cows.  The usual bugling and herding taking place.  Fun, Fun, Fun to watch and capture.

The bull rarely eats.  And is constantly moving/herding his cows.  When bringing a cow back to the group the bull throws his head back and charges the elk that is wondering too from his control.

I stayed until the rain was really coming down and the light was diminished.   Heading back down the Madison A Bald Eagle caught my attention.  When perched along the Madison the Eagles are usually fishing.

To my surprise the Eagle flew across the Madison and landed full talons out on a small animal.  I could not tell what animal it was.  If you look close at the eagles talons you can see the little critter.

 Posted by at 9:24 PM
Sep 232012

The bees are busy on one of our flowering bushes.

The number of bees is dwindling.   There used to be lots more.  Today I watched as they little workers carried pollen to and from our bush.  A couple of them was so loaded down it appeared they were having a hard time flying.  What do I know.  This…that I needed a photographic record of theses crazy litter bugs.

 Posted by at 3:42 PM
Sep 192012

At Photoshop World Expo I bought a metal photo wall hanging.  The photos are a mosaic of 12″ square pieces of metal pics.  Each a portion of the full photo.  Now I find myself going back through my photo’s looking for the perfect photo.  i have about 8 terabytes of photographs.  As I have purused some photo’s I realize I have more favorites then I expected.  That’s not to say they are perfect photo’s.  Just ones I like.  This is going to be tough.

This photograph taken last year on the Oregon Coast.  The actual photograph has less contrast.  When posting to the blog all my photographs increase in Contrast.

 Posted by at 9:05 PM
Sep 192012

What is the chance of getting a pic of a Mountain Lion in the wild?

Slim to none.

So we seek out places like AnimalArk in Reno.  It’s an animal sanctuary for injured or parentless animals.  A small facility.  And not very photographer friendly.  That’s not what they are there for.  They rescue animals.  My only decent shot was a Mountain Lion that was hit by a car and just happened to have an animal biologist collect the injured animal and took him in to the animal hospital.  Now a few years later the Lion is healthy and fun to watch in it’s large and natural enclosure.   In post I turned down the highlights a bit.  Then turned up the blacks a little to add a little contrast.  I was shooting through glass late in the day with glare on the glass.  I also cropped the pic about 10%

 Posted by at 8:57 PM