As I make my way from my winter location in Tucson to the NANPA Celebration in Jackson Hole, WY, I’m photographing some of the iconic locations in California: Sequoia, Yosemite, the Redwood National and State Parks. Then I’m going to venture up the Oregon coast. I find myself spending more time in these iconic locations. They are beautiful and wonderful places to photograph.
The Internet is full of photographers saying, “don’t go there,” “too many people,” “I need solitude to make beautiful images.” Even on NANPA’s Facebook page, I see comments that say, “find a different location to photograph.” Don’t listen to them (unless you have 1,000 images from places such as Yosemite Valley)!
As I stood at Tunnel View in Yosemite looking over the valley, thinking, you’re crazy if you don’t come here at least once in your life, I noticed there were only four tripods, but 150 selfie sticks. Everyone was polite, and I ended up taking a lot of cell phone pictures for couples. Yes, our national parks are crowded, and park service staff are doing their best.
So why photograph here in the footsteps of Ansel or other great photographers such as William Neill? Will I sell any of the images I take? Probably not, but I don’t care, nor should you. I will try to find other less iconic locations and shoot more intimate landscapes, but the waterfalls are roaring, and I can’t resist. Yosemite flooded two weeks ago, the meadows are littered with logs and branches, the wildflowers are gone, and so are some of the roads; yet, I will stay and photograph this amazing place.
What I will do with my Yosemite images is use them for greeting cards, coasters, and slates. It’s amazing how many non-photographers like these things and they sell well. During my local craft fair, I sell all the cards I bring. You don’t need to be a “pro” to do these sorts of things. It’s fun and you meet some great people, and it can help a little bit with your photo budget.
As I said earlier, I will eventually get to Jackson for the NANPA Celebration. While I’m there, I plan to look for bears, moose, and owls to photograph each morning. I hope there is snow (I’ve been in Tucson all winter). Last spring, at the NANPA regional event in Yellowstone, I was able to photograph seven bears the first day, but the second and third day, not a bear was in sight. What I’m also looking forward to is seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Every time I attend a NANPA event, the friends I make are always the best part of the event. So, if you see me in Jackson, come say hi and I just might take you to the spot where I know a big bull moose hangs out.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
One of the great things that I get to do as president of NANPA is work with our High School and College Scholarship Program students. During the Summit event, college students work with a client on a multimedia project; they also meet NANPA members and participate in Summit activities. Over the past several years they have produced projects for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Florida Land Trust.
During the summer NANPA brings the high school students to the Great Smoky Mountain Institute at Tremont. This past year all of the NANPA instructors for the high school group were themselves past college participants.
These students are the future of NANPA; they will be our Board of Directors, committee chairs and volunteers. One of these past scholarship winners serves on the current Board. The NANPA Foundation raises the funds for these two programs and the majority of the donations come from our members. We all have lots of activities to attend with families and friends over the holidays but I hope each of you can donate $5.00 to the Foundation. These donations will help NANPA introduce these young photographers to all of the things we hold in high regard–nature photography, education, and being an ethical photographer in the field.
Susan Day, our executive director, wrote about the coming Nature Celebration in Jackson, WY, May 20 – 22, 2018 in her last newsletter column. I want to remind everyone about the presence of Canon, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, and Tamron at the Celebration and that they will be lending the participants gear to be used out in the field. It’s not often we will have access to so many cameras and lenses to use especially in such a beautiful location. Our presentations will be held at the Jackson Center for the Arts, a 500-seat theater located just off the center of downtown Jackson. We have a great line-up of speakers who will be making “Ted Talk” style presentations. I’m really excited about hearing the presentation by Dennis Jorgensen titled “Buffalo-People: The Path Back for Bison and Plains Tribes,” and Jenny Nichols’ presentation, “The Power of Multi-Disciplinary Projects” among others. Check the schedule to see a listing of all the other wonderful presentations at this event.
If you’re looking for a warm place to photograph this winter, NANPA has one event that still has space available in January—at Lake Hodges in southern California. Registration deadline is December 28th.
During the upcoming year NANPA will be offering several new locations for regional events and workshops. The committee is exploring possible locations along the Oregon coast, Moab, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Madera Canyon in Arizona. We’ll update you as soon as more information is available.
Wishing you and yours a Festive and Peaceful Holiday Season.