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 https://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.

Bosque del Apache and White Sands with Daniel J. Cox

It’s time for a winter break—join Daniel to photograph in Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, one of the top birding hotspots in North America! Winter is the best time to photograph the thousands of sandhill cranes, snow geese, and various ducks that migrate through the area. Endless photo opportunities in this world-famous wildlife refuge make it the perfect destination to enhance your photography skills.

We will sneak away to White Sands National Monument for an evening and morning shoot of these beautiful white dunes. Relax… Transfers, touring, meals, hotel, and one-on-one time with Dan in the field are all included. A perfect long weekend getaway!

Add Scale to Your Grandscapes by Kerrick James

© Kerrick James

© Kerrick James

Like many of us, my love of photography began with the wild landscape. My early years were spent emulating icons like Ansel Adams, David Muench and Eliot Porter. I followed the grand landscape dream all over the American West, and after years of chasing light and doing “pure” landscapes with no signs of humanity whatsoever, I began to feel a little boxed in, as if I was repeating my favorite lighting formulas everywhere I went, and missing something I could sense, but not see. Continue reading

The “Old School” Graduated ND Filter

It is easy for digital photographers to get lazy out in the field — “Oh, I can fix it digitally, later. . . .”

There is nothing necessarily wrong with that approach, but I like to try to get it right in the field, preferably all in one shot. And sometimes that takes a few tricks.

Take the image below I just photographed.

A long exposure can give a nice abstract feel to an image. Using a polarizer slows down your shutter speed about 2 stops helps give you that longer exposure. Combined with a small aperture and low ISO, I had a nice long 30 second exposure to really abstract the water on the lake.

But what about the sky?  It is a lot brighter than the darker foreground here and will overexpose.  I could shoot it in two different exposures and add in the properly exposed sky later, but I’d rather get it one shot.

So I pulled my 3 stop Graduated Neutral Density filter out of my bag and held it over the lens to bring down the light in the bright sky and equalize the exposure.  Voila – you get the image all in one shot. A little more work up front, sure, but worth it to me. (And less work on the computer, later!).

Sean Fitzgerald

Dock at Sunset on Bitter Lake

On Screwing Up by Gary Crabbe

Story and Photograph by Gary Crabbe

Morning light on sandstone cliffs reflected in the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend, near Pag, Arizona

Morning light on sandstone cliffs reflected in the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend, near Page, Arizona. © Gary Crabbe/Enlightened Images

Even professionals screw up every now and again. We may not brag about it in public, but rest assured, we make mistakes just like everyone else.

The photo above may not look like a total screw-up, but it is. It’s a multi-row, nearly 40-frame panoramic image shot with my Nikon D800. Continue reading