January 17, 2011

Yellowstone, January 15th & 16th

A red fox runs down a hill during a January snow storm in Yellowstone National Park. Created with a Canon 7D and a 500/4.0L IS set in aperture priority mode to f/5.6, ISO 200, and 1/400th of a second. Mounted on a Gitzo 3540XLS with an Induro GHB2 gimbal head.

I made a trip to Yellowstone with the promise of mild temperatures and lots of snow, and the weathermen got it right. Saturday was a very normal day in the park, it was a two dog day with a few coyotes and a nice red fox encounter. The fox encounter produced the above image, thanks to a Livingston based professional photographer who was leading a group trip in the park. I was out photographing the fox when the group approached, the fox moved to the top of the hill and bedded down. The photographer and most of his group pursued the fox, and in doing so scared it down the hill, rapidly, in front of my lens. Thanks T Murphy... wait that was to obvious... Tom M ;)

Saturday midday also presented a chance for me to test out my new 70-200/2.8L IS II with my new 2.0 TC III on a Ruffed Grouse, here is my report of the test results.

I camped Saturday night, after moving a few feet of snow to set up my tent, that made for some cool images, I think.

Day two, Sunday, was a three dog day before ten a.m. That made for a fun start, even though I took very few photos. The heavy snow came in strong and pushed most folks out of the park. I had some pleasant shooting with a coyote in the snow, and then I decided to make another run through Lamar; but that was close to being a mistake. The snow was heavy and the flat light made visibility very poor in the valley, I wear sunglasses even when the snow is falling so that my vision stays sharp and true. Unfortunately there was gentleman driving what looked like a rental SUV who was not wearing sunglasses and seemed to not be able to see the road. I pulled to the far edge of the road, tires actually off of the pavement, my mirror hit the orange road marker. I slowed to a roll, flashed my brights as he approached, and he still kept coming right down the middle of the road. I honked and he swerved over at the last moment. My Subaru with headlights, floodlights, and big black box on top is not hard to see; but snow blindness and near white out conditions can be a sun-of-a-gun. After that I decided that I should leave the valley, not for fear of myself (I could see just fine); but of others. I know that sounds elitist; but I take precautions that many others don't, I also have a little more experience driving in "bad" conditions than some of the parks visitors. Knock on wood. Oddly the visibility around the time of that incident was not the worst of the afternoon, as there were other times when only one road marker out was visible. I pulled into the next pull out to calm my nerves, and at that time I took off my glasses to see what he must have seen, and it was very little. I left the valley and headed towards Gardiner to check weather forecasts for Monday. The forecast called for about a foot of snow in Cooke City with afternoon and night accumulation combined, snow all day Monday, and freezing rain for a Monday night drive back to Billings, so I headed home a day early. From initial park reports all that I missed was the Lamar pack out on a fresh kill, beyond good photo distance.

I hope you enjoy the photos, and wish you happy shooting.

p.s. For those who like wolf dot viewing I shot video of the 7 Lamars on "Dead Puppy." That footage will be online soon.

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