September 4, 2011

Ask Dave, September 4th

First off... Sorry that I took the month of August off, without warning. I was charged with launching the new website for Rocky Mountain College, and they had lots of issues thanks to a consultant and designers that did not understand the needs of the college. It all worked out okay, but I did end up spending a few weeks working 100+ hours each week. When you work 108 hours and there are only 168 hours in a week, well... you can do the math, but sleeping about 42 hours left me with less than 18 other hours to cook, eat, clean the house, do dishes, do laundry, attempt to stay in touch with friends/family and work my last few shifts at Best Buy. No time for blogging, I barley made time to make an end of the month trip to Yellowstone (I had no choice, I had to make a trip to keep my 5 year run going).

If you forgive me, keep reading :)

Ask Dave, September 3rd
I get tons of questions each week, I respond as quickly as possible, and I might just answer them here too. If you have questions you can email me at

From... Colleen
I will be visiting Yellowstone in September and have been addicted to your photo galleries. Beside the tourist areas in Yellowstone, are there any areas that you love to photograph at? Any advice you can give a novice photographer?

September is a great time in YNP, but much will depend on weather.  Some years early September is cool, and the shooting is spectacular all around the park.  Other years it is hot into September/October and then the shooting can be much like summer, best at sunrise and sunset, then very slow all day.

My advice would be:
  • To spend time at higher elevations if you are looking to see and photograph bears;
  • To head to the Tetons mid September - early October if you seek moose;
  • To spend time around Canyon and Madison if elk are the object of your desire;
  • To search for great grey owls around Canyon;
  • To spend time around Canon/Hayden and Lamar if wolves are what you seek.
As far as landscapes the temperature will greatly impact the changing of the leaves, so it is always a guess as to where the colors will be best at any give time.  I tend to shoot early change in the Tetons, then focus on the colors of the Beartooth Pass and finish fall shooting whatever color I can find.  I know many folks who put all there eggs in the big change at Ox-Bow Bend, but normally they miss it (the big change happens inside of 24 hours most years).  I keep an eye on the Beartooth Pass because it is a short drive for me, if I lived in Jackson I would watch Ox-Bow Bend, and that is about the only way to be present at the right time (other than being super lucky, which I am not).

Use Av (aperture priority) mode if you can, make sure that you are checking your screen/histogram, bring all the telephoto power you can, download and inspect your photographs each night/day and enjoy your time out taking pictures in paradise.

I'll be making a trip in a few days, and will try to post to my blog/site/etc quickly after I return, but another great way to keep track of what is happening is to follow me on Twitter/Facebook/Google+, as I post my day by day while on trips (and share some updates that I receive from friends too).

The general nature photography tips still hold true:
  • You can't photograph it if you don't see it (so get up early and stay out late);
  • Bad weather makes for good light;
  • Change in weather stirs animals behaviors;
  • If you don't have a camera with and set you cannot capture an image.
Happy shooting

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