October 9, 2011

Yellowstone and the Beartooth Pass, September 24-26, 2011

A grove of quaking aspen shimmer in the midday light on a warm fall afternoon along the Beartooth Pass. Captured with a Canon 5DII and 17-40L in aperture priority mode with an exposure bias of + 1 1/3 at ISO200, f/16, and 1/100th of a second. The camera was handheld.


First I need to say, "I LOVE the Beartooth Pass!"

After my car trouble earlier in the month I decided to make a quick three day trip to Yellowstone via the Beartooth Pass. My gut said that the leaves should be starting to turn up on the pass, and in fact they were. But I am getting ahead of myself, as usual there were plenty of last minute issues at work, so I left a bit later than I wanted. Racing to the top of the pass I arrived just in time for the sun to fall behind the mountains. That is fine, as I am one of those photographers that shoots sunset after the sun sets... imagine that.

Some beautiful clouds had developed and they were an ideal canvas for the sun to paint its magical colors onto. The color was so overwhelming that I was coaxed into creating a "sureal" high dynamic range image of the scene. I made sure to follow that up with plenty of straight captures of a scene that packed with color, even the alpine lakes were aglow with color.

There was not a cloud in the sky, so upon arriving at camp I decided to try my hand at some shots of the Milky Way, and set up a camera to click away a night timelapse (I have yet to find time to edit it). The sneaky Northern Lights, managed to slip into a few of my shots, thanks to the big solar eruption.

Morning comes early when you are a photographer, and the alarm awoke me before 5 a.m. so I could collect my gear, pack camp and get into Yellowstone before sunrise. Most of you know that I use lunar predictions to help guide my wildlife photography, so it will come as little surprise that I also planned to shoot the moonrise that coincided with sunrise. I am a sucker for minimalist landscapes, so I was smitten with the conditions that I found at first light. As usually happens after first light, the sun raced into the sky and I was chasing the light. On my way back to the car I caught a glimpse of a red fox, so i proceeded to "chase" her for the next few hours.

"Chase" is not the right word, as she was putting on a show, and the light was following close behind. When I say she was putting on a show, I really mean it, she jumped up onto every rock she could find, and that made for some interesting images.

The show ended and I headed South. A brief stop to shoot a coyote, and I was back on my way out to Cody, Wyo. to return a pair of boots and look for an alternative for my upcoming trip to the Canadian Arctic.

I drove back to the Beartooth Pass via the Chief Joseph Highway, a beautiful drive that I have not made in a few years. I am captivated by the beauty of quaking aspen trees, especially in fall, so I spent some time shooting the colors before heading up the pass for sunset. Unfortunately the sunset got chocked off by some clouds, but you can't get the shot sitting in your tent, so I stuck it out.

The clouds gave way to the stars, so I set up and took some single exposure star trail images over Pilot Peek.

The next morning I attempted to shoot sunrise at the Buffalo Ranch, but it was a bust. I got in my car and went looking for my foxy friend from the day before, and I found her just where I expected to. She did just as much rock climbing as the day before, but she also did a better job hunting, and we all know that is when you get the "good" shots.

After a great conversation with some hobbiest photographer I decided it was too hot, and that I should head back up the Beartooth Pass. The sun was out, blue sky all around and the leaves looked beautiful in the midday light. Needless to say I spent numerous hours walking through groves of aspens taking shot after shot (thank God for digital) before calling it a day and heading back home via the pass.

As I have said before, and I'll say again, I love the shoulder seasons and I love the Beartooth Pass.

Make the jump to go through the online gallery, I ask that you leave comments/criticism or at least give your favorites a thumbs up... THANKS!

If you have questions, ask... I published the camera information with each image and have added full keywords to share just about anything you would want to know about the images.

Happy shooting

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