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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reflection of Yellowstone National Park


3 Shot HDR Panorama, Nikon D7000, Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 @ 24mm ISO 200 f/13

I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my trip to Yellowstone National Park last September. As many of you know Chad and I took a road trip to YNP for a vacation/photography trip. That was our second trip out to YNP, however, the first trip was when we were 4 and 6 years old. So it really was our first trip. We both had high expectations of what we were going to and what potential animals we would come across.

While making the long drive from Minneapolis to YNP we were talking about what animals we would really want to see while we were in the park. Top of the list for "it would be great to see" was a wolf. We knew there was an outside chance of seeing a wolf, but still not a great chance. Well we did if face see 3 different wolves including wolves in Lamar Valley that we blogged about back in November.

Nikon D90, Nikkor 500mm f4 w/TC14 @700mm, ISO 1600, f5.6, 1/800

Other than animals, landscape photography was high on our list. Before we left for our trip I purchased a B+W Circular Polarizer to help cut reflections and help saturate the scene. When using a circular polarizer you have to remember to watch the corners since it tends to create funky colors when using a super wide lens (in my case I used a 12-24mm). Chad and I used either a Tokina 12-24mm f4, Nikon 50mm f1.4, Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 or Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 lens for landscapes.

Lower Falls, YNP
Nikon D90, Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 @60mm, ISO 200, 3 shot HDR

 The landscape of the park really surprised me. I've watched countless films of Yellowstone, most of them focusing on the wildlife. To my surprise much of the park didn't look how I expected. It looked better! The rugged rocky terran, pine trees and rivers were all beautiful beyond my expectation. It turned out that I really didn't recognize Yellowstone until we got to Lamar Valley. Most of what I've seen on video seems to focus there, for good reason too. Lamar Valley features large open areas for the grazing animls to heard and feed. This obviously gives the predators a place to focus too. All of which can be observed from the road that winds through.
Nez Perce Creek
Nikon D90, Tokina 12-24 f/4 @ 22mm, f/14

Chad and I are planning on going back out to YNP this fall again in late September 2011. Some things that really helped us get the shots that we were looking for was good old fashioned research. We met with a local Minneapolis photographer that made virtually the same trip that we were about to go on 2 weeks prior to us. He was extremely helpful, showing us on a map where we could expect to find grizzly's, black bear, moose, eagles, and elk to name a few. I advise everyone to connect with other photographers that either live in the area that you visit or that has experience at the location your heading to.

Be sure to allow yourself enough time each day to arrive safely at your destination within the park. Remember the best times are early morning or late evening so you will be driving when it's dark out. For our next trip we are going to explore options of staying in the park (camping) or stay in hotels just outside the park boundaries.

For those of you have have experience at YNP please feel free to leave a comment or tip for people that are thinking about making a YNP trip!