Photographing Grand Teton National Park

A Great Location to Visit during NANPA’s Nature Photography Celebration

NANPA is hosting a Nature Photography Celebration  on May 20-22 in Jackson, Wyoming, gateway to the Tetons.  Join fellow photographers for networking, keynote presentations, vendor demos, inspiration, gallery crawls, and more while you’re in the area.  More information at http://www.nanpa.org/events/nature_celebration/

 

Story and photography by Don Smith

Without a doubt, one of my favorite of all the national parks to photograph is Grand Teton.

Perhaps it’s the starkness and beauty of the Grand Teton Range, but there is so much more to what makes this national park an endless source of fascination for photographers.

The main area of the park is accessible via what is called the inner and outer loop. The outer loop is Highway 191, which connects the town of Jackson with Yellowstone National Park to the north. The inner loop takes one closer to the base of the range.

As you enter the park from Jackson (located five miles south), you immediately encounter the view of the majestic Grand Teton Range.

One of the most iconic views is from a location known as Schwabacher Landing. The Snake River dissects the park. Some tributaries and beaver ponds have formed, creating the opportunity for beautiful reflections and foregrounds.

Lit storm clouds Over Schwabacher Landing, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. ©Don Smith

On fall mornings, one can see more than 100 photographers lined up to photograph first light on the range.

During this year’s Fall in Grand Teton National Park Workshop, I decided to take the group to Schwabacher at both ends of the day and was rewarded with this light at sunset.

Continuing north along Highway 191, one will come across a parking lot area and overview of perhaps the most famous of all the park’s viewpoints, Snake River Overlook.

Ansel Adams’ iconic image from this location captured back in 1942 has been seared into the memories of many landscape photographers.

The scene today looks much different from Adams’ time as pines have grown and obscured much of the Snake River. Rumors have persisted over the years that the park may one day cut back these pines to once again reveal the scene as Adams captured it 76 years ago!

Snake River Overlook, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. ©Don Smith

Another of the park’s most iconic locations comes just past Moran Junction (still on Highway 191).

As the road splits at the Junction, one will soon come to the most incredible of all scenes in the park – Oxbow Bend.

Perhaps never more beautiful than in the fall, the Snake River provides a foreground view that transitions into Cottonwoods and then the range itself with Mt. Moran taking center stage.

Dawn hues at Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. ©Don Smith

This past fall, I had my group on location at predawn. As you can see, the river was perfectly still and as the dawn hues arrived, the snow-covered peaks of the Teton Range reflected beautifully, allowing me and my group to create this image.

Oxbow is a location that one can photograph at both ends of the day. My favorite time is morning but I have made some nice images during and after sunset. Sunset works better if there are some clouds in the sky.

T.A. Moulten Barn and storm clouds at sunset, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. ©Don Smith

Other icons of Grand Teton National Park are the T.A. Moulten Barns, located on Mormon Row just off Antelope Flats Road.

This scene is generally photographed in the morning as first light hits the peaks. I decided a couple years ago to try photographing this scene at sunset and came away with this image.

At sunrise, this location can be overrun with photographers. When I captured this image, I had the location to myself.

This lone barn has been restored recently along with other barns and old homes in the Mormon Row Historic District.

Regardless of the time of year you chose to photograph Grand Teton National Park, one thing will remain constant – the beauty will overwhelm your senses!


Don Smith

Having begun his professional career over 40 years ago as a sports photographer, Don successfully transitioned into the world of fine art landscape photography in 2002. For seven years he was a contract photographer for Sports Illustrated and still keeps active in sports as original co-team photographer for the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. The rest of his time is spent on his landscape photography work. Don is renowned for his work as stock photographer for Getty images and as a landscape workshop instructor, teaching 17 workshops per year. He has had cover images for over 30 books internationally. His work has been displayed in the Getty Museums around the world. Don teaches landscape workshops around the western United States from eastern Utah to Kauai. Don is affiliated with Topaz, Helicon Focus, SmugMug Pro, MindShift Gear, Think Tank, and B&H Photo. He is also part of the pro teams at both Singh-Ray and Lexar. In 2014, Don was named to the Sony Artisan of Imagery team of professional photographers. He has written three books: Refined Vision, The Photographer’s Guide to the Big Sur Coast, and On the Edge. He has also recently released a 22-chapter video series titled: A Simplified Method to Processing which followed his successful video series A Simplified Method to Workflow in which he teaches his innovative approach to post-processing. All can be ordered on his web site (www.donsmithphotography.com). Don and his family live in the Monterey Bay area of California.

NANPA Weekly Wow

Mother leopard and cub tender moment , Botswana. © Adolfo Rapaport

 

Each week www.nanpa.org highlights 7 images from the top 100 submissions of the 2018 NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by:

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From the Archives: Capture to print—creating eye-catching black-and-white landscapes

Editor’s Note:  NANPA is fortunate to have collected a library of excellent blog posts over the years.  We add new members all the time, and our long-time members may not recall a specific post, which they may find more useful than when it was first published because their interests have changed.  Regardless, we’re going to share posts “From the Archives” from time to time.  The post below by Dana Warnquist was posted in June 2017.   DL

 

Text and photography by Dana Warnquist

“Is that an Ansel Adams photograph,” she asked. “No,” the gallery owner replied with a chuckle. “It’s a local photographer.” Overhearing this exchange, I could feel my face warm as I flushed with both pride and embarrassment. True story.

Winter wonderland; Firehole Canyon, Yellowstone National Park. ©Copyright Dana Warnquist

Winter wonderland; Firehole Canyon, Yellowstone National Park. © Copyright Dana Warnquist

While my art certainly cannot be compared to that of master photographer Ansel Adams, his photographs and philosophies about protecting our natural environment have inspired and motivated me to capture eye-catching black-and-white images. Not everyone can create iconic landscape images like Adams, but with a few basic steps, from capture to print; stunning black-and-white images can be produced by even the newest DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera owners. Continue reading

Humpback Whales in Southeast Alaska

Story and photography by Neil McDermott

Humpback Whale. © Neil McDermott

     The only place on earth you can observe Humpback whales working as a team bubble net feeding, is here in the pristine, nutrient rich waters of Southeast Alaska. This most impressive act of cooperative feeding was on display from early October to Mid-November in the Eastern Channel and up towards Silver Bay in front of the aptly named whale Park here in Sitka, Alaska.

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February Blues

Story and photography by F.M. Kearney

 

Snow-covered trees in Central Park New York, NY (HDR 5-image compilation) © F.M. Kearney

It may be the shortest month of the year, but to some, it can feel like the longest. Many of its days are dull and dreary. The few sunny days there are don’t last that long because it will be at least a month before Daylight Savings Time begins. Even people who love winter may be feeling that it’s high time to pack up the parka. As nature photographers, we find ourselves stuck in a sort of limbo between the last snowstorms of winter and the first blooms of spring. February can be a bit challenging in many ways, but when it comes to photography, it doesn’t have to be a barren wasteland.

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Glacier Bay National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

 

Mammoth Johns Hopkins Glacier, calling card of Glacier Bay National Park,
meets the bay’s waters in tranquil Hopkins Inlet. © Jerry Ginsberg

 

For a place that is not reachable by any road, Glacier Bay National Park, tucked away in the southeastern corner of Alaska, can boast a great deal of popularity. This 5,000 square mile park, as large as any in the contiguous 48 states, gets its name from the long and narrow bay and the rivers of snow and ice that creep along its edges at a glacially slow pace. (Was that a pun? Ouch!)

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A Generational Loss

Story and Photography by Jerry Ginsberg

 

Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile.  There is absolutely no substitute for being in the right place at the right time. Capturing the very forst, best rays of dawn mean that we must be all set up and ready to go well in advance. © Jerry Ginsberg

 

Back in the Dark Ages of wet darkrooms, that phrase [generational loss] was used to describe the loss of quality commonly encountered when making a copy of a copy, as opposed to making additional prints from the original negative. Today, however, it seems reasonable to apply that term to a certain loss, or gap in the continuity of institutional memory from an earlier generation of photographers who grew up shooting film to many of our current brethren whose devotion to photography was born in the digital age.

In my experience, many digital photographers can easily fall into the attractive trap of machine-gun shooting while overlooking the fundamentals. It’s easy to get caught up in this. The seductive mood fostered by not having to pay for all of that film and expensive processing never fails to encourage us to shoot more and more.

Just as our civilization migrated from radio to television years ago, we have universally (well, almost) likewise transitioned from analog to digital photography.  But just as both radio and TV require many of the same broadcasting skills, such as the abilities to verbalize and emote effectively, so are film and digital photography comparably similar. It’s axiomatic that both are photography; i.e., – literally “painting with light,” just in a different medium.

El Capitan Reflection, Yosemite National Park. This is the full, un-cropped frame. The shot was composed slowly and carefully while taking advantage of the complementary curves of the rock and the riverbank. © Jerry Ginsberg

It’s clear to all that both are still photography and so rely on the consistent and thoughtful use of the very same basic skills and techniques. For the most part, these are composition and the use of light.

Too often, I see and hear photographers, many with highly sophisticated photo gear and seeming to be really concentrating on making good images, exhibiting a troubling mindset when, employing markedly less than the best technique, they say, “I’ll fix it in Photoshop.”  If only they would mentally take a step back and think about this for an extra minute, many would perhaps realize that, if starting out with a really good image file, it would be much easier and more likely that the final product can be an outstanding photograph.

Photoshop, as well as the many other software tools of the digital darkroom, even though offering an incredibly great degree of control, are there for us to optimize our images and get the best out of them in exactly the same way as we did with chemicals and enlargers in days of yore. These remarkable software programs are not intended to turn bad pictures into good pictures.
Remember that old chestnut, “Garbage in, garbage out?”  It’s just as true now as it ever was.

Let’s begin with the light. By now, we all know, or should know, about the Golden Hour when the sun is near the horizon. Whether morning or evening, the odds are with us at this time of day to be able to take advantage of many wonderful qualities of the light such as relatively low contrast, soft tones, warmth, long shadows and potentially dramatic skies. Even with the great controls in today’s software, we cannot replicate this kind of wonderful light during the harshness of mid-day.

One relevant episode occurred in my mother’s home a few years ago. Soon after my covering her living room walls with about two dozen large prints, my daughter, who fancies herself a photographer, arrived for a visit. She was really excited to see these new images and quickly grabbed a pen and paper to learn and note where I had made each of them.  After managing to suppress a chuckle, I replied, “Listen, it doesn’t matter where I stood to get these shots. By the time you get yourself up and out of the house at the crack of noon, the light that you see here has been gone for several hours.”  The fact is, the sun rises only once each day. There are no do-overs or instant replays. If you miss it, you simply have to wait for another day.

Now let’s turn our attention to composition. The old axiom, “If it’s not helping, it’s hurting!” referring to compositional elements still holds true in the digital age. While we can certainly crop, clone, eliminate fire hydrants, replace skies, etc., in software, there is still no substitute for getting it right the first time. Optimal camera position and framing on site will ultimately result in a more pleasing final image. Much of this reminds me of how many people think of knee replacement surgery. No matter how sophisticated the technology or how good the repair may seem, it’s never as good as the original creation.

If we compose the frame to the very best of our ability, we’ll be way ahead of the game. Cropping reduces our overall file size, often significantly, and the various pixel replacement tools can be very time-consuming.

Clingman’s Dome.  Sunset over the Great Smoky Mountains. This image was made from a very narrow and difficult to reach spot.  There was room for only a couple of people. Photographers are expected to get their shots quickly and then make room for others. © Jerry Ginsberg

Now we come to what is perhaps the least productive aspect of digital photography, aptly named “chomping.”  One of the primary benefits of digital photography is undeniably the ability to see and review our images immediately. This gives us the opportunity to alter our exposure and framing, correct for apparent errors, tweak the results, and re-shoot on the spot if necessary.
So far, so good. But this is where the process can break down. While the large majority of photographers are really considerate, there are sometimes exceptions.  One of my pet peeves and perhaps yours, is the occasional individual who, once finished making images at a particular spot, remains right there staring and often gawking at his/her screen while standing in the very spot either desired by others or smack in the middle of someone else’s composition.

I know, seems like another great application of the object removal/replacement feature of some software even if the inconsiderate photographer in question doesn’t exactly resemble a fire hydrant.
Not being the most patient person in the Western Hemisphere, these situations can make me wish that I have a cattle prod handy. While I grant that this is an extreme remedy and just wishful thinking, perhaps you can relate.

Much as some of us might yearn for the halcyon days of Kodachrome 25, that iconic film is now ensconced in a museum right next to my favorite buggy whip.

Jerry Ginsberg is a freelance photographer whose landscape and travel images have graced the pages and covers of hundreds of books, magazines and travel catalogs. He is the only person to have photographed each and every one of America’s National Parks with medium format cameras.
His works have been exhibited from coast to coast and have received numerous awards in competition.  Jerry’s photographic archive spans virtually all of both North and South America.
More of Ginsberg’s images are on display at www.JerryGinsberg.com  Or e-mail him at jerry@jerryginsberg.com

 

Where Cats Swim and Dogs Climb Trees

The Winter Bobcats of Yellowstone

Story and Photography by Cindy Goeddel

 

Bobcats are good swimmers and tree climbers and very, very, patient. The bobcat hunts by stealth, but delivers a deathblow with a leaping pounce that can span 10 feet. Concealed between a rock and a log in the Madison River, this feline waited and watched the river flow, alert and hoping for an unwary duck or swan to drift within reach. © Cindy Goeddel

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