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.