Yellowstone and Grand Teton Landscapes

I tried to spend some time in Yellowstone and Grand Teton taking some landscape photos, though it wasn’t my main objective on the trip. I was mainly having fun with my daughter looking at animals. Had I been there alone, I probably would have found a few places to come back to at specific times of the day, like before sunset or after sunrise. But as luck would have it, I got a lot of cloudy weather that generally ruined my sunsets and sunrises anyway. So, the photos here are me trying to make the best of things.

The first is just a scene that I liked with some bison and some yellow wildflowers and a river in the distance. I thought that the bison were lit well and there is a lot to look at in this photo.

Bison in wildflowers. Yellowstone National Park
Bison in wildflowers. Yellowstone National Park

Next, there was an S-shaped canyon that captivated me. I was there in the mid-afternoon and it was mostly cloudy, but I did manage to get some sunlight through the clouds in this photo. I like the way the river curves and leads off into the distance. There are a lot of white-water rapids in the river to add some drama. Because of the position of the sun, there is also quite a bit of contrast with the shadows on the left and the brightly lit areas on the right. It would have been nice to find a foreground item.

Canyon near Tower Falls - Yellowstone National Park
Canyon near Tower Falls – Yellowstone National Park

Below was an attempt to get the mountains in the distance through the geysers in the foreground. The steam is mostly blocking the mountains and I wasn’t able to get far enough back to use a longer focal length on this that would have enlarged the distant mountains (the below image was shot at 92mm focal length).

Geysers - Yellowstone National Park
Geysers – Yellowstone National Park

When you look at the above photo, pretend you smell sulfur (or rotten eggs). And think about standing above an enormous magma chamber that could erupt at any time and ruin your afternoon.

The next photo is from near the continental divide looking down on Yellowstone lake with mountains in the background. I took this from a roadside pull-out and eventually settled on framing the scene between the two trees.

Yellowstone Lake through trees - Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone Lake through trees – Yellowstone National Park

On a road up near Mt. Washburn, I found a lot of wildflowers and I set about trying to get close-ups of the wildflowers with mountains in the background. This area was at an elevation of approximately 8800 ft (2680 m) and it was nice and cool with snow still piled up in some places.

Wildflowers in the Mountains - Yellowstone National Park
Wildflowers in the Mountains – Yellowstone National Park
Wildflowers in the Mountains - Yellowstone National Park
Wildflowers in the Mountains – Yellowstone National Park

I was mostly in shade from the clouds when I took the wildflower photos. In LightRoom, I brightened and warmed up the foreground to give the flowers some life. The clouds were not cooperating with me.

And I took this along the Madison River in the late afternoon as I liked the way the sun’s rays were punching through gaps in the clouds with the mountains in the distance. Just needed a moose or two in the river.

Madison River - Yellowstone National Park
Madison River – Yellowstone National Park

Next, it was on to Grand Teton National Park on a rainy afternoon. I was only at Grand Teton for one afternoon and the mountains were somewhat shrouded in clouds and the only real color was the dark green of the trees, so I decide on black and white for these pictures. Between the white in the clouds and snow and the dark terrain and trees, I hope the contrast makes these photos more interesting.

The first is a panorama stitch from the Colter Bay area from along a hiking trail. The black and white treatment does make it look a bit stormier than it was. The panorama below is level I think, but the shoreline does make it look a bit crooked.

Jackson Lake - Grand Teton National Park
Jackson Lake – Grand Teton National Park

In LightRoom, I brought the blacks down and the whites up to give it more contrast to bring out the snow on the mountains and the shapes of the clouds.

Farther down the road, there is a dam that creates Jackson Lake. This offers an unobstructed view of the mountains across the lake. I thought that this would be a good time for a long exposure. The water was too choppy to get a solid reflection, but I got some movement in the clouds. Shot at f/16 and 15s shutter with a 10-stop ND filter.

Jackson Lake Long Exposure - Grand Teton National Park
Jackson Lake Long Exposure – Grand Teton National Park

In hindsight, I wonder if I should have zoomed in to focus on the middle peaks and not had so much of the lake. I can do that through the magic of cropping, but in the end I think that this photo is a really nice background in need of a foreground. Perhaps I should have hired someone to put a sailboat in front of me.

Thanks for reading.

13 thoughts on “Yellowstone and Grand Teton Landscapes

  1. I especially enjoyed the wildflowers-and-mountains photographs, but the Jackson Lake images appealed, too. Personally, I like the expanse of water in the last photo, and the reflections. The two swaths of bright light on the water seem to me to be the focal point of the image, despite those marvelous mountains.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I well remember my trip to the Arkansas mountains, where I’d hoped to photograph a stunning sunrise. Instead I got fog so thick I hardly could see across the road. I finally figured out a solution: pull out the macro lens and take photos of dew drops. Adaptability, that’s the ticket! (But I was pretty miffed for a while.)

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I love how the colors pop, in your Yellowstone photos. Makes it look magical, to me. As for your need of a foreground, you can hire me for your next Yellowstone trip, and I’ll just stand in front of every scene.

    Liked by 3 people

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