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The more I watch wildlife the more I don’t know!I have been living in the Yellowstone region for twenty-five years and have spent many hours, days, months and years observing wildlife as I photographed them or watching them while leading wildlife tours. Just when I think I am understanding wildlife they throw me a curve ball.
Yellowstone National Park has been a photography destination ever since Henry Jackson took the first photos of Yellowstone in 1872, Yellowstone’s plethora of nature demands documentation from all who visit this world treasure.
It is inarguable that the first sight of the Grand Tetons from any of its approaches it truly breathe taking. Entering Jackson Hole from Yellowstone you are treated to the northern Tetons where they tower above beautiful Jackson Lake.
A photographer that has read about wildlife behavior will have learned the behavioral signs of when an animal is getting irritated. When a bison is mad we will lift his tail, moose and elk will lay their ears back like a horse and start pawing the ground just to name a few. It is important to learn these things before approaching animals.
If the grizzly and wolf are the iconic heart of Greater Yellowstone’s wilderness, I believe Yellowstone’s elk are the soul. The majestic bulls of fall bugling, struting, and fighting for harems of cows surely is one of the greatest shows in nature.
Most photographers create random acts of beauty; enlightened nature photographers deliver consistent encapsulations of light and time. Galen Rowell once said: “The landscape is like being there with a powerful personality and I’m searching for just the right angles to make that portrait come across as meaningfully as possible.” Galen did so because of his mastery of light.
Elephant seals are funny looking any time of the year but to watch them at breeding season is a special treat that will tickle your funny bone. The rookery is a very noisy place during the breeding season as males bellow threat vocalizations, pups squawk to be fed, and females squabble with each other over prime location and pups.
When we choose to shoot in auto exposure modes instead of manual mode we forfeit our judgement, when we forfeit our judgement we are outsourcing our thinking to a computer. Auto exposure settings on camera computers are great but they calculate input to achieve an average. Calculated algorithms are great for good results in average light but algorithms fail in extraordinary light.
I don’t know how many times I have hit my front door at four AM to find miserable slush or pounding rain on my front step and had the overwhelming urge to go back to bed, but over the years I have found that some of my best photos were born in inclement weather situations.
Bison are the largest mammals in Yellowstone National Park. They are grazers of grasslands, meadows, foothills, and even the high-elevation, forested plateaus of Yellowstone. They are uniquely suited for survival in the deep snows of Yellowstone’s winter, their giant head works as a snow plow as they move it back and fourth to clear a place to browse.
When God was finished creating all the animals of the earth he had a bunch of animal parts left over, and not wanting to let anything go to waste he figured he would try to piece together another animal.
God took some giraffe legs and attached them to a horse torso and capped it with a hump from a grizzly bear. He wasn’t sure how the long face of an Englishmen ended up in the animal spare parts pile but figured it would balance the large torso so one it went.
Spring in Yellowstone it the best time to see Grizzly Bears. The peaks are full of snow and all the food is in the valley bottoms where the rivers and creeks flow. Most of Yellowstone’s roads are built along the creeks and rivers in the valley bottoms where the bears forage for food in the [...]
I will continue trying to master HDR as time allows but until then I am glad that because HDR has incentivized me to expose extra images that I can use in an alternative creative process.
Wolves are very efficient predators; the grizzly bears are bigger than the wolves. The wolves kill the prey then the grizzlies take the kill away from the wolves. The Yellowstone Grizzly has been one of the benefactors of wolf reintroduction because of the bonanza of protein that had been much harder to get, as grizzlies aren’t as efficient hunters as the wolves.
Bull elk make a sound called a bugle, a true sound of the wilderness that starts as a bellow, changes to a loud whistle, and ends in a series of grunts. The bugling serves to challenge to other bulls and to attract the cow elk. This timeless wilderness show can be seen in the meadows of Yellowstone and other places where there is no hunting pressure, where elk are hunted they are unapproachable and are often hiding in the safety of the deep forest. Some bugle a lot, others infrequently.
The bald eagle holds a position in the pecking order that parallels that of the grizzly. Of all the birds in the park, visitors are most interested in spotting this photogenic species. The Yellowstone/Grand Teton area is now home to one of largest populations of eagles in the continental United States They can be found along the lakes and rivers of Yellowstone where they perch in trees watching for fish. The Yellowstone Plateau, Snake River, Yellowstone Lake, and headwaters of the Madison River are prime spotting areas for this spectacular bird.
The sow and four cubs awoke a half hour after my return and they put on a good show for about a half an hour 100 yards from the road then they disappeared into the trees. Our extended wait for the next appearance of the cubs came during a downpour of frozen snowballs that came at us sideways but very few of the dozens of us assembled where about to leave.
False Kiva, a compositionally perfect place and a photographers dream. It is an alcove in a cliff face in the canyon wall, looking out at the magnificent buttes of the Island in the Sky district in Canyonlands National Park.
Located in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands on the edge of a cliff about 1,000 feet above the wind chiseled mesa below the light of the rising sun hits the face of the cliff, the rays are bounced upward from the bottom of the arch to its ceiling to glow as if it were on fire.
The most common here is the Great Horned Owl which is one of the most widespread owls in North America. Great Grey Owls frequent the area and may be found in the boreal forest. Great Gray Owl feeds on small rodents like mice and squirrels.
The spring of 2010 brought a nice surprise to Yellowstone National Park, A grizzly sow with four new cubs put on quite a show in Yellowstone’s northwest corner. The sow was dubbed Quadra Mom. One of the quadruplets was a runt half the size of the others and was often seen hitchhiking on his [...]
Mountain Goats the acrobats of the cliffs are a wonder to watch, these natural born rock climbers scamper around in a vertical world that would take the breath away of the typical human if we somehow found ourselves in their territory. The Mountain Goats of the Greater Yellowstone eco-system make a home on the [...]
For most people wilderness and wild places are an abstract, intangible entity that most have never experienced, therefore cannot understand. For those who have they are never the same, an indelible mark is left upon their soul. Paradoxically wilderness can be both daunting yet ethereal filled with both danger yet also a delicate beauty. Once immersed in the baptism of the wild lovers of the wilderness become lifelong advocates of wild places.