Archives for January 2011

Yellowstone Below Zero Lamar Valley

Our final day brings us back full circle to the Lamar Valley where an evening snow storm dropped about six inches of fresh snow. We cruised the valley in search of wildlife and scenic landscapes and were not disappointed. The snow covered buildings and fence made a lovely pastoral scene. The fog made the scene monochromatic so, I took it the rest of the way to B&W using NIK Silver Efex Pro to finish the image…

With the deep snow and harsh conditions, the wildlife will take to the road to move from one place to another and while we were stuck in a bison jam, I photographed a trio working their way through the snow and blowing wind…

We made our way out towards Soda Butte and then turned around as it was totally socked in on the road towards Cooke City. As I was driving along an ermine darted across the road with a mouse in his mouth and stopped on the other side, dropped the mouse and looked right at us. Shutters were blasting as he popped in and out of the snow before he grabbed his mouse and ran up the hill pausing once more to look back at us before disappearing under the snow. What a treat!…

The wolf watchers were out in force but, the wolves were pretty elusive and could only be seen through high powered spotting scopes. We did come upon a relatively fresh kill that the coyotes were finishing off…

It was interesting to watch as there were three coyotes in the area with the one on the kill seeming to be dominant keeping the others at bay as he cleaned up the remaining morsels of meat. This gave us great photo opps of not only the kill but, some clean portraits of the others waiting for a chance to grab a bite…

One curious fellow moved in to frame filling head and shoulder range and paused for a moment, in the beautiful afternoon light…

As the last bit of light remained, we headed out the north entrance gates to search for Pronghorns. We did find a couple of females who went about their business unconcerned at our presence…

And, then the day was over, bringing the first week of my Yellowstone Below Zero Adventures to a close. What a great week it has been with excellent photo opportunities, both landscape and wildlife, made that much better with a great group of enthusiastic photographers to share it with. I look forward to a second week in Yellowstone with a new group of photographers. Stay tuned.

Yellowstone Below Zero Old Faithful To Mammoth Hot Springs

Our time at Old Faithful passed quickly and it’s time to head back to Mammoth. We spend time in the geyser basins working the thermals. Leaving early to get the best frost and steam we found a herd of bison hunkered down near a pool at Biscuit Basin. This male watched us photograph him before lumbering to his feet and wandering off to the meadows to forage for breakfast…

While I have had more opportunities to photograph frosty bison this year, I still don’t have that iconic image of a big bull totally covered in frost with steam billowing around him. When you have a particular image in mind, it’s fun to work towards finding the right moment.

A quick stop at Tangle Creek yielded some nice images of the creek meandering through the dead tree forest…

At Fountain Paint Pots there are signs to beware of the ravens who have learned how to get into just about anything if there is a chance for food. This guy landed on the handlebars of a snow mobile and posed nicely for us likely thinking he was going to get something to eat out of the deal…

It’s been a beautiful and yet crazy weather pattern with sun one minute and snow the next. We were lucky when the sun came out near while we were at Grand Prismatic Springs. Unfortunately the wind was blowing in the wrong direction to get much near the thermal but, we were able to photograph the wintery scene as we wandered around the boardwalk…

We made it to Mammoth Hot Springs and will spend our last day driving the Lamar Valley and Gardiner in search of more subjects to photograph. Stay tuned.

Images created with Nikon D3S, AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-14E II, D3X, AF-S 24-70mm 2.8, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II on Lexar digital media

Yellowstone Below Zero Lower Loop

No trip to Yellowstone is complete without a visit to West Thumb. This is especially true in winter. We departed Old Faithful and first thing headed towards West Thumb. The bonus was fresh snow, steam and the sun trying to burn through making for a magical, mysterious mood…

So, you wait, finger on the shutter and when the fog clears enough to see the frost covered trees in the background, you click…

When we arrived at Black Pool, the wind was blowing the steam towards us making it difficult to get the shot but, patience and keeping the lens clear paid off with a quick click of the edge of the pool. I love the color contrast between the bacteria along the edge of the pool and the clear blue of the water. The temperature of the water is what brings out the colors…

After all these years of coming to Yellowstone in winter, I finally broke my fox jinx. We were fortunate enough to spend several minutes watching a fox on the hunt. He didn’t catch anything while we were watching but, I now have a fox in winter and look forward to catching that moment when they leap in the air and dive into the snow for a mouse or vole…

With the temps dropping, the bison we found had frost covered faces. This big guy took up his share of the road while we pulled over and let him pass…

Time is flying. We head back towards Mammoth Hot Springs today looking for wildlife and scenic photo opps along the way. Stay tuned.

Images created with Nikon D3X, AF-S 24-70mm 2.8, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II, D3S, AF-S 600mm f4 VR II, TC-14E II

Yellowstone Below Zero Upper Geyser Basin

We awoke to heavy fog generated by the cold temps and all the steam from the Upper Geyser Basin where Old Faithful is located. By the time we had finished breakfast, the fog was lifting giving us a glimpse of the beautiful light, the frost and the steam from all the pools, geysers, etc. We loaded up our gear and headed towards Castle Geyser. Before we got very far we ran into a herd of frost covered bison. The bison like to spend the night in the thermal areas for warmth and with the steam and cold temps, they become frosty…

As I was processing my images, I decided a B&W conversion using NIK Silver Efex Pro was in order. I used the High Structure setting adding texture and contrast to the bison and frost…

The bison were milling around Old Faithful providing us with classic Yellowstone photo opps…

And then Old Faithful erupted with a lone bison in the foreground. In all the many visits I have made to the area this is only the third time I have been able to include wildlife in the foreground with Old Faithful erupting…

We continued along the path towards Castle Geyser with the weather changing every few minutes. One minute the sky was blue, the next it was all clouded up and snowing on us. By the time we made it to Castle Geyser it was pretty foggy making for a monochromatic scene of steam against grey skies so we worked the edges of the pools using color and shape to create graphic images…

On Geyser Hill we stopped at Spasmodic Geyser which bursts and bubbles almost constantly. Wanting to create a sense of motion, I dialed my ISO down to it’s lowest setting of L1, set my aperture to f22 and with 1/8 of a second I was able to blur the motion of the water…

Al day long the weather was in a constant state of change. We went from balmy temps in the twenties where we were wishing we could shed our coats to blowing wind and snow that made us very glad for those same coats. I wish I could have set up a time lapse camera somewhere to photograph the changing light and weather throughout the day. Something to think about for future visits. More adventures await us tomorrow, stay tuned.

Images created with Nikon D3X, AF-S 24-70mm 2.8, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR, Nikon D3S, AF-S 600mm f4 VR II, TC-20E III on Lexar digital media