January 2015 Daily Updates & Photos for Grand Teton National Park & JH:

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A monthly journal of wildlife reports, scenic opportunities, and tidbits for both photographers and Teton visitors!

Recent Daily Updates Archives:

Jan: 2015  |  Dec: 2014  |  Nov: 2014 Oct: 2014  |  Sept: 2014  |  Aug: 2014  |  July: 2014  |  June: 2014  |  May: 2014  |  Apr: 2014  |  Mar: 2014  |  Feb: 2014  |  Jan: 2014 |  Dec: 2013 | Nov: 2013  | Oct: 2013  | Sept: 2013  | Aug: 2013  |

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January Header

January Overview:

Swan PlatformMost of the winter months offer similar opportunities for both wildlife and landscapes: Dec: 2013Jan: 2014 Feb: 2014 . Also check out: The Dead of Winter: The Cold Realities and Exciting Possibilities of Winter Photography in GTNP.

Suggested “Opportunities”: Right now, here are my top spots to check out, especially for wildlife.  Some will be a bit of a gamble, but they might also pay off in a big way if you hit it right:

Important Winter Links

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Oldie But Goodie Post of the Day

The Dead of Winter:The Dead of Winter: This is a relatively recent post, but it pertains to current opportunities for the month of January.

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Artists and Sculptors

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January 1, 2015

New Years Fireworks

Torch ParadeNew Years Fireworks: Last night, I drove out to Teton Village to photograph the torch light parade and fireworks. Since I’ve never been to this spot on New Years, I wasn’t sure where the skier would come down, and was not sure if they’d shoot the fireworks off at the same spot as they did on the 4th of July. It was around -14°F when I parked the van along the highway.

At the Teton Village torch light parade, the riders are already at the top of the mountain on Apre Vous peak. At 6:00 PM, on New Year’s Eve, the stream of skiers carrying torches begin to snake down the mountain. If I get to go back next year, I’d start with a 70-200mm to zoom in slightly.

Last summer, I was able to move close to the barbed wire fence and shoot from “under” a power line that runs along the highway. Last night, I found a large berm of snow piled up in that spot, eliminating that option for the night. I ended up shooting from the road. The spot was actually a good one, but there’s a couple of power lines in the images if you look closely. There might be a better spot. Maybe I’ll go out earlier next year and spend some time looking for it.

Skiers worked their way to the bottom as you can see in the small photo above. After the last skier reached the bottom, the fireworks began.

Teton Village

The fireworks display lasted a quite a while with plenty of explosions going off regularly. Still, the entire event was overall quick and efficient—which is good knowing it was so cold.

Snow King Fireworks

Snow King Fireworks: After leaving the JH Mountain Resort, I headed on home, but when I made it back to town, I noticed a few skiers still going up the lift. At Snow King, all of the skiers started at the bottom. After lighting their flares, chair after chair carried skiers up the mountain. At the base of the mountain, hundreds of spectators lined up to watch the event. I don’t know the actual number, but it appeared there were 150 skiers, maybe more. Eventually, all of them make it to the top and they begin their descent. The skiers split up and snaked down a couple of different runs before gathering at the base. Fireworks followed.

The image above is a composite of five or six shots. Four or five fireworks blasts are layered over the base layer with the spectators and string of skiers.

Single Capture

Snow King Fireworks Diplay: This is a single capture: Aperture Priority: 2.5 seconds, ISO 500, F/11, 28mm with a 24-70mm lens on a Nikon D4.

Teton Range January 1

Teton Range January 1: Taken from the Elk Refuge Road near the Miller House.

Sleeping Indian and Rising Moon

Sleeping Indian and Rising Moon: Taken from the Elk Refuge Road. If you checked out yesterday’s Daily Update (Dec: 2014), I mentioned going to the National Elk Refuge and didn’t see a single Bighorn. At about the same time of the day today, I went to the same place and found four or more groups of around 10-12 Bighorns scattered along the road.

Boyle's Hill Swan Pond

Boyle’s Hill Swan Pond: Flat Creek is frozen, so quite a few Trumpeter Swans are at Boyle’s Hill for some free food and open water.

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Happy 2015!  I’d like to take a second and say THANKS to all the people coming here daily or weekly, along with the readers that make comments here! And SPECIAL THANKS to all that have signed up to follow the blog. I hope to continue to add a variety of  “content” for all of 2015. Even if you aren’t planning an immediate trip to the Tetons, hopefully I can include information that can help you back at your home town. Lastly, if you like what you’ve been seeing, I’d appreciate it if you help me spread the word about the site!

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Twelve Favorite Photos from 2014 and a Short Documentary

January

Bull Elk and Tetons in Black and White

I had no idea just how much my life would be shaken up through 2014. It all started much the same way as 2013. I was frequently showshoeing up Blacktail Butte in the frigid dead of winter to see what new tracks awaited me, and if any critters would be out while I was.

On an especially windy day, I was exploring late in the day and noticed on the other side of the butte a lone bull elk, likely noticing me as well. With the wind howling over the Teton Mountains behind him in late afternoon light, I knew I’d have at least a decent black and white image. The wind and snow blowing off the Tetons came out beautifully and the ridgeline and the mountains in the background did a great job of dwarfing such a majestic animal.

February

Dead Cottonwood in Blizzard, Black and White

February saw a number of white-out blizzards storm through Jackson Hole. I was driving home to Kelly from Jackson during one in particular where the wind-blown snow and the intense dumping of much more created almost zero visibility conditions. With no shoulder to park on and no certainty of anyone in front or behind me, I made several quick stops in the road before heading home. I caught some nice black and whites from that day, but this one in particular stood out from the rest. The snow that stuck to the smoothed, dead cottonwood trunk created an uncanny sketched look, which still confuses people who see it in print. It was another addition to a renewed interest I was finding in black and white photography.

March

Bald Eagle Flying Over Water, Black and White

Though technically early in the season, many people were beginning to hope for bear sightings as early as March, myself being one of them. I made a few trips up to the Oxbow Bend area eager to be the first to find a great grizzly out on the prowl for some much needed nourishment. Though I struck out in March, I was still able to come away with this bald eagle at Oxbow Bend, captured in flight above a break in the water. The simplicity of the shot and gracefulness of the eagle made for a nice black and white.

April

Grizzly Bear 760 Overlooking Creek, Black and White

With April came the emergence of several bears, though one in particular captured the hearts of everyone in Jackson: Grizzly Bear #760. He was one of the first out and frequented many areas near the road, causing many to suspect that he was related to Grizzly Bear #399 or her daughter, #610. Early in the season, he was noticeably afraid of the water, an unfortunate circumstance since here he was lingering near an elk carcass submerged in a creek surging with snow melt. He was never able to pull it up and eventually moved on, though never too far from the public eye. He quickly became a very loved bear and many would argue that he seemed to enjoy the attention.

Unfortunately, that was his last spring. After simply loitering near a residential area, he was relocated to completely unfamiliar territory on the other side of Yellowstone National Park, where he was almost immediately put down by the Wyoming Game & Fish for reasons that still have not been made clear. Naturally, this caused an uproar in many locals as they demanded a satisfactory explanation, something everyone impatiently waits to hear. It was a tragic end to a loved bear that did absolutely nothing wrong. His only “crime” was showing how easy it is for humans and predators to coexist peacefully. DNA tests eventually did confirm that he was an offspring of 399.

May

Grizzly Bear 399 Shaking Off Snow

In many ways, it’s quite tragic how many of Grizzly Bear #399’s offspring have either been put down or killed. Yet she continues to thrive and is still the most beloved bear in the area.

One day in May, I was simply on my way home from Jackson when I noticed a car pulled over on the road. I had assumed it was just a moose given the specific area, but when I looked back to make sure, I saw a grizzly bear with two cubs! Sure enough, it was 399 herself. I wasn’t at all prepared in terms of the clothes I was wearing to stand out in a wet snow storm for multiple hours photographing bears. The above freezing temperatures combined with a persistent snow would certainly leave me soaked and frigid with hypothermia, plus I was only about 10 more minutes from home. So, like a wise photographer, I jumped out and began shooting. It was only a matter of minutes before she climbed up on a small ridge and shook off the accumulating snow from her back. Had I driven home, I would have missed it.

June

Glowing Tent Under Milky Way Galaxy

Snow was melting and the mountains were calling! I made several short backpacking trips throughout June, a couple of times accompanied by my new girlfriend who was just as eager as I was about getting away from the roadsides and into higher elevations. Along with her, the night sky was also beginning to take a higher priority in my life. With nights being so short though, night photography was hard to come by, especially while trying to work full time. Regardless, I still was able to capture my tent under the Milky Way on a short backpacking trip near my home in Kelly.

July

Pronghorn in front of Grand Teton

July was when I noticed many priorities and interests shifting in myself. In a short time, I was fed up with the drama that occurred whenever a bear appeared by the road. Likewise, I wasn’t inspired to shoot the same photos that dozens of other people were also shooting. I had moved to Jackson years ago to hike the backcountry and still hadn’t done as much as I had hoped. At the same time, I was advancing in dark sky efforts and had by this time gotten a few interviews that I had begun to assemble into a short film. I also had purchased some astrophotography gear that I was beginning to feel more comfortable with now that nights were getting longer again. In between it all I was trying to work a full-time job as a wildlife safari guide.

This all contributed to me having a very stressful and confusing July. As a result, I didn’t capture much photography other than on the safaris, from which this pronghorn is from.

August

Trifid and Lagoon Nebulae, M8 and M20

It wasn’t until August that I finally got over the learning curve of astrophotography with the gear I was using. The first successful image I captured was of the Trifid and Lagoon Nebulae, aka, M20 and M8, respectively. The next few images I captured thereafter came out significantly better than anything I was getting prior. I was shooting as much as I could, but also learning quite a bit of what not to do in the process.

It was also this month that the short documentary film I was working on began to consume me. I had to finish it before the fall, and so I cut my hours at work quite a bit to make sure I would have it done before starting a more ambitious project in the fall.

September

North America Nebula

September became even busier than I could have guessed. I was hard at work getting my short film done as quickly as possible, and also found out that I would be giving a TEDxJacksonHole talk the next month, so the vast majority of the days were spent preparing and rehearsing, or working on the film. At night, if conditions were right, I would set up the astrophotography gear and gradually become more familiar and knowledgeable about the processes required to capture a nice deep space object.

The North America Nebula was one of my nicer ones from another month that saw limited shooting.

October

Southern Wyoming Sunrise

In October, I successfully gave my TEDxJacksonHole talk. The next week, I finished my short film, and then the very next day, left for the southwest. It was only my first morning on the trip when I captured this shot. Having driven through southern Wyoming along Highway 191 many times, I had always thought it was be a great place to camp for a night. Something about the vast open distances and remote high desert landscapes had always seemed alluring. I finally got the chance on my first night out. The sunrise that I woke up to did not disappoint and ensured that I would return one day, though next time getting much farther from the highway.

November

El Malpais National Monument Sandstone Bluffs Sunset

Though not as relaxing as I would have liked, the trip was a success. I gathered interviews from many different people and perspectives and was ready to return home as temperatures began to drop around the southwest. Before heading home though, I was called on an errand for Wyoming Stargazing while in Sedona, Arizona. The executive director had just bought the 20″ telescope that one of my interviewees was selling, and I was to make a quick detour to Santa Fe to pick it up. Along the way, I stopped off at El Malpais National Monument for what turned out to be an outstanding sunset! My only complaint was the ranger at the Visitor Center who had nothing good to say about the area, which was a shame considering how unique and interesting the geology of the landscape is there.

December

Stormy Winter Sunset over Jackson Lake

I spent much of December settling back in and not getting out as much as I would have liked. I made a trip up to Moran earlier in the month to pick up a few things from a friend that lives there. I got there shortly before sunset and decided to kill a little time by going for a quick walk along the dam. To my surprise, Jackson Lake still had not frozen over due to the unseasonably warm temperatures the area was receiving at the time. Shortly after parking, the low sun began to light the backs of the storm clouds that were hanging on the Teton Mountains. The calm water created a perfect reflection as a single duck flew from nearby the dam to a quieter location in the distance. It was probably one of the moodiest winter scenes I’ve ever witnessed.

Reclaiming the Night – Preserving the Dark Skies of Jackson Hole

I’ve always had a fondness for the film industry and movie-making. With the technology now readily available in nearly every camera, I finally had the tools to make my own film, but finding a subject for such a project always seemed daunting and out of reach. It wasn’t until I became more involved in dark sky efforts here in Jackson that the subject all of a sudden seemed so obvious. I wasn’t wondering anymore if I could do it, I simply had to do it. Inspiration and ideas were flowing and I was desperate to make it happen.

I began collecting interviews from people that I thought would give good insight and offer a valuable perspective for the finished product. I spent much of the latter part of the summer editing it together and finding the right progression and timing, where I discovered exactly why good editing takes so much time. The plus side was that I loved the entire process of it.

Once I had most of the film finished though, I ran into a significant problem. There was no music. It wasn’t in my budget to hire someone, which I would have liked to have done locally, nor could I have even afforded to license tracks off the internet. With no other alternative, I downloaded a free (to try) digital audio workstation (DAW) called Reaper and tried to make my own music for the film with absolutely no experience in music production. To my surprise, the friends that I showed rough cuts with some music incorporated to was very positive. I also didn’t mention that it was mine until after they watched it to make sure I was getting honest feedback. I scored the rest of the film, made some final tweaks, and after uploading it, set out on a road trip to start shooting a feature-length documentary.

TEDxJacksonHole – Restoring the Night Sky For a Healthier Future

I attended TEDxJacksonHole in 2013 and thought how much fun it would be to give a talk that was important, original, and relevant. With no idea at the time what my talk would have been on, I let the idea go and didn’t think much of it. When nominations for speakers for 2014 were announced, I was deeply involved in dark sky efforts in Jackson Hole and knew right away that that would be a great fit to the Imagine theme that they had announced.

After an adventurous weekend in the Wind River Mountains with my girlfriend, I came back to town to find out that I had just enough time to get the forms filled in before the deadline. I rehearsed and refined my talk all of September and into October with the help of two different coaches, as well as my girlfriend’s invaluable insight. The day finally arrived, and I gave the talk above.


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Winter Night Life in Downtown Jackson Hole:

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Tourists doing what tourists do!

During the holiday season, the downtown merchants decorate their storefronts with lights and boughs of spruce and pine. The town government wraps the trees and antler arches in the square with thousands of LED lights. On any given night, you can find tourists and a few locals milling around in downtown Jackson. They will be window shopping, eating, and generally having a good time. Numerous shops stay open late to cater to the visitors. I like to go downtown a few times each winter and try to capture some of the ambiance and “action”. As the night progresses, the families head back to their hotel or condo and the party crowds begin taking their places. I have a great time taking the photos, and if nothing else, readers at Best of the Tetons can get a quick glimpse of the night life and lights in downtown Jackson during the busy and festive holiday season.

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Photo Review. The guy took a shot of the girl and then the two checked it out. (1/50th second)

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Dad and Stroller. This one has a very short pan to try to keep the face in focus. Doing so slightly blurs the lights.  (1/20th second)

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A Ghost Crossing. The town leaves the lights on the Square up well into January. Similar to the last image, this one has a short pan and a fast moving, close subject. (1/8th second)

Street Crossing

Festive Street Crossing. This scene is repeated hundreds of times nightly at each corner. I prefer going out for shots like this following a good snowfall. As you can see, the ground is white, picking up light from the various sources and allowing subtle details to emerge that would be lost if the streets and walkways are dark. (1/30th second)

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Zoomed Neon Sign. Exposed neon is against the town sign ordinance except for a few historic old signs like the one over the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. (.4 second)

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Zoomed Classic Bulbed Sign.  I angled this one a bit and zoomed over a longer exposure. (.4 second)

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Posers! Good times in Jackson Hole. Occasionally, they see me set up across the street and willingly express their approval. (1/15th second)

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Antler Arches: I added Topaz Star Effects in post production. I’ve taken similar photos before using a star filter on the lens at the time of capture. (1/2th second)

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Out of Focus Arch: Experimental shot of the NW arch. (1/4th second)

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Standard Shot of Antler Arches with Posing Tourists. It seems just about every tourist stops to get their shot under one of the four antler arches. (1/5th second)

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I Love Big Tetons. This shot is even more funny if you know the French translation for Tetons. (1/20th second)

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Youngsters Inside. I was standing outside Lee’s Tees and swung my camera around to capture these two young girls.  (1/50th second)

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Father and Son. All you have to do is set up at about any corner and wait. The subjects magically appear! This Dad told me he had a D3s and would like to get a D4 or D4s. (1/30th second)

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Thumbs Up. Another typical group photo under the arches. (1/13th second)

Shooting Info: I set up a tripod to help with the very slow shutter speeds, then just worked my way around the square. These images were captured with a Nikon D4 and a 70-200mm lens.  I usually keep the ISO relatively low (400-640) and concentrate more on the essence of the shot and not so much on whether they are tack sharp. Some are taken at speeds as low as 1/4th of a second with the lens wide open at F/2.8. I like to let people walk through the lights. If I do it right, I get a recognizable human figure with just the right amount of motion blur. In between the tourist shots, I also like to experiment on photos of the neon signs and downtown lights. I took all of these images on a cold, clear night. I’d like to go back another night and shoot similar images during a snow storm. There might be less people out, but the shots could be very interesting.

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Note: These are candid images taken from the streets of Jackson Hole. If anyone sees a photo of themselves or family members that you would prefer not to be displayed, please let me know and I will remove it immediately.

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Here are a few earlier Feature Posts from Downtown Jackson:

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The Dead of Winter:

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The Cold Realities and Exciting Possibilities of Winter Photography in GTNP.

There are generally two entities at play. First: The weather. Snowfall, cold temperatures and short days are big players. Second: The National Park Service and Bridger-Teton National Forest. They establish closure rules and decide which roads are plowed. I guess you could suggest a third one might be the lack of demand or volume of tourists, but that would probably be a stretch.

Elk Running

This is my second Winter season writing posts for Best of the Tetons. There are numerous related posts specifically written about the season along with the associated Daily Updates pages. (Check the links at the bottom of the page).  The purpose of this Feature Post is to concentrate on the span of time from mid-December to early April.  That’s when most of the region is firmly in the grip of the winter snow pack and when many access roads are cut off.  It is also when large chunks of the area are closed to human activity for wildlife protection and habitat.

SRO December 2014

Snake River Overlook is open year round. It is one of the few winter locations where you can get a good foreground and a vista view. In years past, many people took photos over the beautiful old buck rail fences in front of Triangle X Ranch, but last year, the Park Service tore them down and replaced them with a rather ugly barbed wire fence. It’s just not the same!

Schwabacher Landing is a great area to use as an example for this post. It is one of the most popular areas of the park when it’s open. Countless thousands of photos are taken there every single day. After the first good snowfall, the Park Service locks the gate. Several areas, like Schwabacher Landing and Antelope Flats Road are gated as soon as weather conditions make it dangerous or if the road becomes impassable. Schwabacher can close as early as Thanksgiving or even before. The area is still open until December 15th, but you have to hike in from the highway. There isn’t much of a parking area at the top of the hill, so except for a few hardy souls, you might call it closed.

November 24, 2006

After December 15th, no activity is allowed in the river bottom (North of Moose) at all. While that might sound like a loss, I don’t really think of it that way. The pond and streams at Schwabacher Landing would have already frozen over, eliminating most reflections. It still might be photogenic, but not in the same way as summer and fall. Additionally, almost all wildlife will have left the area, moving south towards the Gros Ventre River or into the National Elk Refuge. Snow is simply too deep for them.

Peach House with Aspen Trees

The Moose-Wilson Road is still open from Moose to the Death Canyon road junction. I drive that three or four mile section several times each Winter. In much the same way, you learn quickly we are not missing that much by not having access to some of the other areas. The snow is deep and there are few animals. You can strap on your snow shoes and hike around in many areas, but scenic vistas are limited there. Great Gray Owls and Horned Owls “could” be there, but I never see them. Snow is too deep for them to hunt for active mice and voles. They move to areas of the valley where they can dive through the snow to the unsuspecting prey.

Sunrise Over Sleeping Indian 2

Three major arteries are severed during the “dead of Winter”. Actually, one of them closes from November 1st to May 1st. The Teton Park Road (Inner Park Loop Road) closes at the Taggart Lake trail head to Signal Mountain resort area. The Park Service closes the road to vehicle travel during those dates regardless of whether there is any snow on the road or issues of through travel. The other artery is Antelope Flats Road. It closes following the first big snow after hunting season. This year, the road was locked sometime in the week prior to Christmas.  The Moose-Wilson road also closes between November 1st and May 1st between the Death Canyon road junction and the South entrance station near Teton Village. A lot of smaller side roads are closed, but those three effectively create a series of one-way-up and one-way-back trips. Cross country skiing and show shoe travel is still permitted in all three areas.

Web Bull Moose Aspens Dec13

The weather is also a factor. During this period, there will almost always be a layer of snow on the ground. Jackson Hole can get 400″ of snowfall during a winter. It takes snow shoes or cross country skis to get around if you want to leave the roads. That’s plenty doable. But, it can be cold…brutally and dangerously cold! Wind can multiply the effect. Winter is often harder on equipment, especially batteries! This page has a few maps, closure areas, and some tips for winter photography: Winter in the Tetons: Tips for travel and photography.

Fly Fishing Snake River March 8

So, why come here in the Winter?

Hoar Frost

It could easily sound like there are just too many cards stacked against a visitor or photographer. Winter photography is not for everyone! It is usually harder. It’s colder. It’s often less predictable. But, the “dark clouds can have a silver lining”.  There are far fewer photographers out taking photos on any average winter day. When you find something good, there won’t be a lot of other people taking the same images. The landscape itself is entirely different than during the green days of summer, or even the golden days of fall. Days are short, so you don’t have to get up as early or stay out as late. Light is usually good for photography all of the daylight hours, a result of the sun being low in the sky. Sunrise and sunsets can last a little longer for the same reason. Some animals hibernate, but the remaining wintering wildlife is pressed into much smaller areas—and some of those areas are right next to the road. I live in town, so knowing the much of the wildlife is in the south end of the valley, I don’t have to drive as far as in the summer. That saves time and gasoline.

RedFoxOnePaw_Mar22

During the spring and summer, many of the large animals shed their winter coat. Moose, deer, foxes, sheep, elk, bison, and so forth can look terribly shaggy and unappealing for a whole month. During the winter months, the coats on the same animals are bright, long, and sometimes flowing.

Sleigh Ride

I can get “tunnel vision” at times and forget there many more attractions in the valley, like downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, shoe shoeing. snowmobiling, sled dog tours, sleigh rides, and…well the list goes on and on! I write this blog for all, so I try to include the other activities on the blog once in a while whether I am a participant or just a viewer. I titled this post “The Dead of Winter”, but Jackson Hole is far from dead in the Winter!

Otter Family

The “Tapestry of the Seasons”: As the preceding paragraph suggests, there’s a lot to see and do here. As the last of the leaves fall to the ground in the fall, the area begins its transition into winter. The landscape changes—sometimes overnight—and sometimes gradually. Wildlife opportunities often occur or unfold like chapters in a book. One heats up as other opportunities cool down. Some overlap. For example, I spend a lot of time photographing moose in the fall. I love it! But, in other areas of the park, elk are in their rut period and bears are just finished polishing off the last of the berries. An owl might make an appearance at any time and “steal” some time from moose and landscape photography. As the moose move out to the sage flats, bison move into the south end of the park. Deer and pronghorns begin their annual rut. By late November, bighorns move onto Miller Butte and Trumpeter Swans return to the valley in large numbers. By late December, moose move away from the roads and the bulls lose their antlers, but that’s okay. Swans and Bighorns fill the void. That’s about the same time to start watching for river otters, foxes, and owls again. And so it goes. By late January, the fur on most of the bighorns are beginning to bleach out, yet that’s about the same time some of the mountain goats show up in the Snake River canyon. Berry eating birds like Cedar Waxwings, Pine Grosbeaks, and Bohemian Waxwings often migrate through the valley during the winter months, filling in small voids, or offering a break from the other action. Before long, you look up and snow is melting and the animals begin moving around. A whole new season is ready to change the valley again. You might not recognize it initially, but each season has its own tapestry and it repeats itself with an amazing amount of predictability.

Winter Storm

Back to that “Cold Reality” thing: Okay. If you read that last paragraph, you might think its easy to get images here daily. Well, in some respects it might be. If you look over the Daily Updates pages, you can see I can usually bring home some shots for the blog. And, I should probably note I am usually only out for a little while each day. I like making the blog posts about as much as taking the photos, so if things are slow, I start thinking I should be back at the office wring a new Feature Post.

White Out

Some days are down right miserable in the winter. When the wind is howling and the temperatures are hovering at -10°F, it takes a special kind of dedication to open the door of the vehicle and endure those kinds of winter conditions. On some days, I have more of that kind of dedication in me than others. A little snow falling down is actually a plus. Too much can be a negative. Fairly often, the winter light is flat, gray, and dull. On most of those days, you can’t see the mountains, so there’s limited chances for the massive vista shots. If the light is good, or if there is an animal close, I can endure about anything for a while. I like taking photos of the old barns along Mormon Row. I have thousands of photos of each of them. Once the road is closed, it’s a 3/4 mile snow shoe hike from the parking area to the first barn. I can handle that. But for sunrise shots, that means leaving the vehicle roughly 45-60 minutes earlier, and when it’s -10° or lower, the hike with a tripod and gear is a long one. Throw in some wind and it can be dangerous. This is definitely a cold reality! The Chapel of the Transfiguration is open to visitors in the Winter, but you have to hike in from the main road. Issues there are much the same as hiking into the Mormon Row barns.

Some people make it look easy, but you have to look past that and understand they make it look easy by working at it long and hard. Mother Nature seems to pay off in a big way if you are willing to put in the time. You just never know when you’ll come around a bend and find a red fox standing only 25 yards off the road and will spend the next thirty minutes mousing for you. Winter photography is the season when you have the opportunity to get your most unique images, but you get them at the expense of some cold toes, fingers, ears, and a few days mixed in where nothing seems to want to pan out. There’s always “something” to photograph. It takes a certain discipline to be looking for unique “small shots”, even when you’d like to be getting the “big shots”. It’s amazing how often the latter will emerge while thinking small initially.

People reading my Daily Updates in December of 2014 will recognize the section below. I wrote it mainly for the wildlife viewers, knowing the landscapes pretty much stay in the same place.

Settled into Winter:

Most of the winter months offer similar opportunities for both wildlife and landscapes: Dec: 2014 | Nov: 2013  | Dec: 2013Jan: 2014 .

Suggested “Opportunities”: Right now, here are my top spots to check out. Some will be a bit of a gamble, but they might also pay off in a big way if you hit it right:

Previous Winter Related Posts:

Winter: (after the leaves fall until the snow melts)

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