Sunday, October 30, 2011

Elk Panorama

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 70-200mm VR I, ISO, f5, ISO 640

Half of this photo is my favorite from day 1 in Yellowstone National Park.  While I was waiting to catch my flight home at the Bozeman airport. I stitched two HDR photos together in CS5. I like the painterly feeling of this panorama. I really feel like it shows the viewer what the mood was like when I took the photo.  I still have many photos to process from my trip. Check back soon for more from my Yellowstone trip!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Photo of the Week! Bison

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14e II, ISO 640, f4, 1/800, +2/3ev

This bison was grazing along the Nez Perce Creek in Yellowstone National Park. This was just one of a large herd that was gazing in an open field all week long.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nez Perce Creek pt. II

Nez Perce Creek, Yellowstone National Park
Nikon D7000, 12-24mm @22mm, ISO 200, f16

One of the places I wanted to make a stop at while in Yellowstone National Park was the scene where I took my favorite image from last years trip (photo below). It's a very nondescript location right off the road along the Nez Perce Creek. I knew it was going to be difficult to replicate that magical moment from last year. This year it had snowed the night before, so I knew I would at least get a different look than before. 

I pull the original photo up on my phone and stood in the spot that I thought I took it in last year. I went back to my car to grab my camera and tripod. I set up the camera and framed my shot. Again, I wasn't thinking that the shot would turn out nearly as well as it did the previous year, but somehow it did in its own way. The colors weren't as dramatic, and the sky wasn't completely covered in clouds. I do like that its similar to the original,  the new one has snow, a different dramatic sky that tells the story of the weather on my 2011 trip. 
Maybe this spring I can get back out there and take a spring/summer photo!

Nez Perce Creek
Nikon D90, 12-24mm @22mm, ISO 200, f14

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yellowstone Day 5, My final Day

Bull Elk, Yellowstone National Park
Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14e II, ISO 500, f4.5, 1/160, +1/3ev

On day 5 I had limited time in the park so I could catch my flight home. At one point, I thought about not going into the park for the few hours I had. Well, I'm glad that I didn't skip out on it. My plan was to stay between West Yellowstone and Madison Junction and looking for the bull elk that had been hanging out there all week. It wasn't long before I found what I was looking for. There were several other people watching and photographing the elk harem. The bull elk was on the move, and not real close to me. 

I hopped back in the car and moved on to the Nez Perce Creek Road where there was a large number of bison hanging out all week. It was a cold night so I was hopeful that the bison would have frost on their backs. Again, my gamble paid off! There were bison everywhere along with the frost I was looking for. I made a few shots before I had to move on. 

On the way back to West Yellowstone the bull elk from earlier was still on the move, but this time he was much closer to the road. He was in a surly mood not allowing the females in the harem to wonder too far from him. If they did, he would lower his antlers and quickly round them up. This is one of my favorite photos from the day because I was able to include the females. 
I still have many photos to look through and share with you all. Thank you for following along with me on my trip. Yellowstone is one of my favorite places to visit. I look forward to heading back in the near future.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yellowstone Day 4

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14e II, ISO 640, f7.1, 1/320

On day 4, I headed south to Grand Teton National Park. I woke up early so I could get to Oxbow Bend shortly after sunrise. Once I got to GTNP the clouds once again took over the skyline. I could see parts of Mt. Moran once I entered the park, but it was intermittently at best.

I headed further into the park to find out the clouds had taken over the Teton range as well. I wanted to photograph the Mormon Barns again, without the Teton range in the background I didn't see much point. From there I decided to head towards Moose Junction to look for moose. Just as I turned onto the main road I saw a moose standing in the middle of a field. Suddenly a second came out of the tree line then a third. As I was shooting a number of other cars had stopped to watch/photograph the moose. There was a young bull with two female grazing, but there was a fourth heading down the side of the hill. This one was a much bigger than the other bull. I couldn't believe it, right in front of me there were four adult moose with beautiful fall colors in the background. 

The other common area in GTNP to find moose in west on moose junction towards Wilson Road. I was about to turn onto Wilson Road when I saw 7 park rangers blocking the entrance. I drove past to grabbed a map of the park at the gate. The Ranger there told me there was a grizzly with two cubs on the road, and they wanted to keep in closed until the bears moved off the road. 

This was only the beginning of my adventure on Day 4. Check back to hear about my black bear, coyote and one of my favorite photo from the trip!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Yellowstone Day 3

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8, ISO 200, f5, 1/400

Day three was a long day in the park. It started early so I could make the trek from West Yellowstone to Lamar Valley. As some of you may know, Chad and I had an absolute blast out there last year. I knew it was remote that I would come across a elk carcass that was near the road that wolves were feeding off like last year, but I had to try. 

Not long after entering Lamar Valley I saw my first car jam. I stopped and asked what everyone was looking at. A lady said there are 3-4 wolves laying down out in the field. No way! Could I be this lucky again? No, was the answer. The wolves were over a mile out and could only be seen with a spotting scope. Which the lady was nice enough to let me view the wolves through. As we were talking about the wolves I asked if they had seen any grizzly's yet. She said there was a sow and three cubs that just went into the tree line 5 minutes prior to my arrival! Dang! Missed'em.

After spending a good chunk of time in Lamar with not much going on (other than the wolves laying around) I decided to head to Canyon. That's when I ran into my next car jam. Due to the number of cars it had to be a bear jam, and sure enough it was! I quickly parked my car, grabbed my camera and set off to see my first grizzly. There is was in the middle of a field digging up the ground to eat. I'm not sure how long I watch/photographed the bear, but it was long enough to realize that I forgot my jacket, hat and gloves in the car. Although the bear was a little too far out I was able to make a shot that I'm happy with. I usually shoot fairly tight on my subject, but I wanted to show the setting the bear was in when I made the image.

More to come! I haven't even come close in getting through all of my photos.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Yellowstone Day 2

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14e II, f/4, ISO 640

Day 2 was a difficult and frustrating one for the first part. Due to road conditions all roads in the park were closed at one point. The Rangers told me to check back in a few hours to see if road conditions have improved. When I came back to the west entrance a few hours later there was a long line of cars heading into the park. When I was my turn to pass, I was told I had to have a 4 wheel drive vehicle! Ahh! I should have rented an SUV.

None of the less, by noon I was in the park with bone dry roads. I made a few pit stops on the 14 mile stretch of road between West Yellowstone and Madison. From there I hit up Midway Geyser Basin between Madison and Old Faithful. Grand Prismatic Spring is a place we didn't stop at last year that I really wanted to see this time around. The whole Midway Geyser Basin is a really cool alien like landscape. It was difficult shooting though, the cold air mixed with boiling water created a lot of steam. If I get time I'll defiantly go back.

On my way back from the geysers I stopped at the Nez Perce Creek where I created my favorite image from last year. I stood nearly in the same location and made a wintery landscape photo. I'll post that photo later on. Nearby there was a large herd of buffalo feeding along the Nez Perce Creek. There were roughly 60-80 bison feeding and resting in one area.

Lastly, I wanted to find a bull elk and get a good shot of it. Well, it didn't take long. There was one laying in the grass just off of the road. I set up my camera and tripod and waited for him to stand up. While waiting I was talking with other photographers on how some people were so bold to literally walk up to the bull elk with there iPhone's to get a photo. As I was waiting I had a couple of people stand in front of me three quarters of the way between the elk and I. All we could do was laugh and hope the man in the photo didn't get attacked!!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Yellowstone Day 1

Nikon D7000, Sigma 24-70 @70mm, ISO 640, f5, +2/3ev, 3 Shot HDR

As many of you may know, I'm in West Yellowstone right now on my fall trip in Yellowstone National Park.  I have been watching the weather on and off for the past couple of weeks. The forecast for the area was rain/snow Thursday and Friday October 6th & 7th. The second that I arrived here it started snowing. I quickly checked into my hotel and grabbed my camera gear and set off to the park. 

At first, there was a light drizzle with a few snow flakes flying.  As I drove further and further into the park (OK, I only went to the Madison Jct. 14 miles away) the snow really started to come down. I wanted to stay close to West Yellowstone due to the weather and the light was going to fade really quickly. The good news is that I saw roughly 40-50 elk with two large bull elk. I didn't take too many photos on day 1, but this is my favorite. 

This photo is a three shot HDR. Since the light was really poor, I wanted to try something new to me. An HDR with animals in the photo is something that I have been thinking about, but just didn't have the right opportunity.

Well, its hurry up and wait for the park to open again. I'll keep you all posted on how this trip goes!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gearing up for Yellowstone National Park

Geyser, Yellowstone National Park
Nikon D90, Tokina 12-24mm

I've got my flight booked, hotel lined up and my car rental all set to go! So what's left? The park of course. I was in Yellowstone just over a year ago and have a pretty good idea of where I want to go and what I want to see. 

There are a few things left for me to do however, one is to review where I was and at what time of day from last years trip. I saved my park maps that I marked up for this very reason. Another key part of my trip planing was talking to other photographers that have been in the area recently. Use social network sites as your search engine. I follow several people that frequent the park or have people post their YNP wildlife sightings on their site. I follow/ visit these Tweeps sites @ynpwildlife @FragilePlaces @RichardpPhoto 

My next debate that I'm having is if I want to make the trip to Grand Teton National Park or not. I'm not sure that I'm going to have enough time to do both parks. I am really itching to get back to GTNP, but this is going to be a game day decision. One of my biggest reasons for not going to GTNP is that I don't want to stretch my self too thin in YNP. I want to see as much of Yellowstone as possible and get to areas that were closed off last year due to wildfires. 

Lastly, gear. What to take and what to leave home? If I were driving, I'd probably take it all. Between Chad and I we have a lot of gear. I was at Chad's house last night and he kept on handing more and more gear. Now I need to decide what lenses to take, and if I want to bring video gear as well. I have limited space in my bag, trust me it holds a lot. Once I get it all packed, if I have time I'll show all of you what I'm bringing.

Here is what I have so far:
Nikon D7000 (2)
Nikkor 300mm f2.8
Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 VR I
Sigma 24-70mm
Tokina 12-24mm
Nikkor TC14e II
Induro CT414 tripod and ballhead
Flip HD
Then various memory cards, cables, chargers, batteries, and other miscellaneous equipment.