yellowstone

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone is the image you see on almost everything promoting the park.  The image you see most often, though, is taken from the air.  Unless you pay for an airplane or heli ride, you are out of luck to re-create that shot.

There is a trail that will gain you some elevation above the spring so you can shoot somewhat down on it.  It is a bit of a booger.  Straight up.  Not fat friendly.  I didn't go all the way up to the top.  I got high enough to get above the trees and stayed low enough to keep my heart inside my chest.

Shooting this thing from above you need a few things to be in your favor.  First, you need it to be a little windy.  If it's not windy the steam from the hot spring just sits above it and blocks the spring.  The wind pushes it out of the way.  Secondly, you need sun.  Afternoon sun is better.  You would think softer light would be better, but I've tried it and it isn't near as vibrant.

Another thing that really helps when you are processing your image is the new Dehaze Tool in Lightroom.  IN the case of these hot springs, it pretty much kills all of the haze caused by the humidity surrounding these springs.

ISO 100, 75mm, F/14 @ 1/30th second

I made this image with my Sony A77ii and Tamron 16-300mm lens.  I'm glad I took that lens, because the composition I needed was just outside the range of my favorite landscape lens, the 24-70.

More Yellowstone Sunset

Keeping with the theme of the last few posts...

Here's another sunset image I made in Yellowstone.  I was super excited to get these sunset images at Yellowstone.  I had this conversation with more than a handful of people that Yellowstone isn't really a "landscape" park.  Meaning, it's real tough to find a good landscape image there.  The people that had been there, totally agreed, while the folks that hadn't visited the park before couldn't figure out why I would say such a thing.  

The Yellowstone area is a lot of thick forest, which makes things a bit difficult.  The other thing about the park is if you want to include any of the geysers into your image, then you have to work on the geyser's schedule.  Many times that isn't the same as the sun's or yours.  

So, being able to get a few landscape images of sunset in Yellowstone I was super excited.  Here's one of those.

ISO 100, 35mm, F/16 @ 1/10th second

This area was one of the many pools scattered along the Upper Geyser Basin in The Old Faithful area.  I'm not even sure this pool had a name.  It should be called The "this is where I knew sunset was going to be awesome" Pool.

This image was made with my Sony A7R, LA-EA4 Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  All mounted a top my Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT Tripod and BBH-200 Ballhead.

Morning Glory

Yesterday I told you about how I got lucky on my way to photograph The Morning Glory Pool in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone and was able to capture a bonus sunset image.

Well, this is the image I was originally going after:

ISO 100, 24mm, F/16 @ 1 second

While I am happy with this image, I'll take this and another good sunset image on the same day any time I can ;)

This pool is one of my favorites in Yellowstone.  Unfortunately, it's suffering from abuse.  Visitors to the pool have thrown coins, trash and debris into the pool over the years which has blocked the vents of the pool.  When the vents to the pool are blocked the water becomes cooler than normal causing more of the brown algae to thrive and the vibrant blue and green bacteria to die off.

The park service does attempt to clean the pool from time to time in an effort to combat this.  Remember, tossing your penny in might get you a wish, but does long term damage to the pools in the park.

This image was made with my Sony A7R, Sony LA-EA4 Lens Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  All of this gear was stabilized using my Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT Tripod and BBH-200 Ballhead.

Sometimes it IS luck

Ok, so sometimes luck plays a very important role in a photographer walking away with a fantastic image or a dud.  You, as a photographer, still need to have the skills to know how to quickly adapt.  You need to be able to quickly setup your tripod, compose properly, adjust your focus, select an aperture, shutter speed, ISO...quickly, without even really "thinking" about it.  Then you can take advantage of the lucky moments.

On my first day in Yellowstone I wrote off sunrise because I got in very later because of travel issues.  My only hope for "magic light" was at sunset.  I put a plan together and took off that evening.  I knew I was going to stay in the Upper Geyser Basin that was near Old Faithful.  I shot Old Faithful at the last eruption that would occur before the sunset.  Then I started making my way down the trail to the Morning Glory Hot Spring, which is about a 1.5 mile walk.  Well, about half way on my journey the cloud cover rolled in and I had pretty much written off any kind of sunset, but I was halfway to my destination and I might as well finish the trip.  In a very lucky moment, as I got to the bridge that crossed The Firehole River, the clouds broke up just enough, the sun dropped below the horizon and lit up all of those clouds that had rolled in and created a pretty magical sunset.  I took a few images and quickly ran to Morning Glory to capture it at sunset.  Well, it was nice, but the reflections coming off of the river with the steam from the nearby geysers made a much stronger image, so after a quick few snaps at Morning Glory, back to the bridge I went.  It seems the longer I waited, the better the color got.  Well, until it gave way to rain.  That's right, rain.  I was 2 miles from my car and it's raining.  In another lucky twist, it only rained for about 15 minutes and not very hard.  I like to think I was being rewarded for suffering a horrible travel day on the previous day. ;)

ISO 100, 35mm, F/16 @ 0.4 seconds

This image was made with my Sony A7R, LA-EA4 Lens Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  All gear was mounted on my Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT tripod and BBH-200 Ballhead.

The Aftermath

Last year, after a workshop I was teaching in Grand Teton National Park was over, a few friends and I took an impromptu run up to Yellowstone.  There were several memories made on this trip and even more great photos!

The photo below was taken at Old Faithful.  Not really planning on photographing it at this time, we kind of casually pulled up for a restroom stop.  Then on our way out the geyser was erupting, so we grabbed our cameras and took a few shots.  By the time we had cameras and got close enough most of the crowd had dispersed and the eruption was all but over.

I normally don't include people in my photos often, but when they do a few things like show scale...and emotion, it's hard not to.  

I quickly grabbed this image with my Tamron 24-70mm lens.  I shot it at 70mm mostly because we were late and I am slow.  I needed all the reach the lens had.  I shot this in Aperture Priority at F/16.  Setting the ISO to 100 yielded a shutter speed of 1/60th.  That is a bit slow, but the VC of the lens kicked in and helped out a lot!

After processing in Lightroom I sent this image over to the Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 filter to do the black and white conversion.  I added some grain during the black and white processing step.  I am pleased with the classic look.