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


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


Recent Daily Updates Archives:
Aug: |
July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2014: Dec: | Nov:
| Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug:


Check out the August Overview!

Monthly Overviews for JH / GTNP . Get a quick look at 12 months side by side.


Intermittent Springs

New Feature Post! Intermittent Springs: Another Lesser Seen Regional Waterfall. It’s the world largest intermitting spring — pulsating from a couple of cavities in the earth at roughly 20 minute intervals.


August 28, 2015 :

Two Ravens ~ Stylized

Screen GrabTwo Ravens ~ Stylized: These two Ravens were sitting in a tree long before there was any usable light. There were some pink clouds in the north but not at any angle I could include. I took the shot anyway (seen in the screen grab from LR). At home, I did some “stylized” adjustments in Lightroom and then a few more in Photoshop. I liked the graphic look and feel of the rendered image. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Backlit Pronghorn

Backlit Pronghorn: I checked out Mormon Row looking for progress on the barns, roaming Bison and Pronghorns. The main roof at the TA Moulton barn is still awaiting the professional roofing crew. The connecting path is still unfinished, but it looks like a crew is working on a footbridge over the irrigation ditch (across from the barn). This buck Pronghorn was at the South end of Mormon Row. I took the photo out the window of the van. I didn’t see a single Bison. There were quite a few people lined up along the Gros Ventre (probably looking at Moose) but I didn’t stop today. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Upcoming Plans?  If you are planning a trip to the region, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • All Summer: Jackson, WY: Farmer’s Markets ~ Saturdays on the Town Square.
  • All Summer! Jackson, WY: Rodeo on Wednesday and Saturday nights all summer.
  • All Summer! Jackson, WY: JH Shootout on the Town Square at 6:30 nightly (except Sunday).
  • All Summer! FREE in Jackson Hole ~ Areas & Activities:

One-On-One Excursions Openings: I have two slots available between August 29th and August 31 . Some of September is filled, but there are a couple of open spots towards the end of the month. Just ask! September 8/9 recently opened up. The trips are designed to help people learn to use their DSLR cameras and help photographers find some of GTNP’s nice shooting locations. Click the link for more information. (Golden Era Studios / Mike R. Jackson is an Authorized Permittee of the National Park Service and the National Elk Refuge.)


August 27, 2015 :

Dog Bane

Dog Bane: The ground cover in some areas are starting to change. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Black BearBlack Bear:  This is a tight crop of a distant Black Bear captured in the low morning light. At 1/320th second and wide open at F/6.3, my ISO went up to 12800. This is the only bear I saw or had even a remote chance to get in the camera. Earlier, I saw a moose in the sagebrush along the Gros Ventre River. It was still too dark to tell if it had antlers. I heard there was a moose at the big overlook on the Moose-Wilson Road. As I drove by, I saw a Great Blue Heron there as I drove by. By noon, much of the low morning clouds and fog were burning off. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Choke Cherries

Choke Cherries: It started raining around noon yesterday and continued through the night. Many of the berry bushes and trees are beginning to ripen. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Beginning AspensBeginning Aspens: I saw this group of aspens on my way south near Granite Canyon trail head. Most aspens are still green but there has been a noticeable color shift in the willows and cottonwoods along the Gros Ventre. This could be an early fall! Stay tuned for more observations. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


August 26, 2015 :


Chipmonk: Recently, I’ve been taking photos of Bears weighing 300-400 lbs (or more). This little Chipmonk weighs only 3-4 ounces. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Red Squirrel

American Red Squirrel: This little critter probably weighs between 7 to 8 ounces. I found this one along a trail on the Moose-Wilson Road. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Squirrel on Trunk

Red Squirrel with Pine Cone: This Squirrel was taking his prize back to his den. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Pine Marten: I needed only a few more seconds to capture an image of a Pine Marten this morning. It scampered off just as I was obtaining focus.

Area Birds: While tromping around in the forests, I’ve been seeing a lot of Yellow Warblers, American Robins, Chickadees, Cedar Waxwings, and an occasional Western Tanager. Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks are fairly common in the sagebrush and fields. Hummingbirds seem to be thinning out lately.

Foliage Status: In many areas, the ground cover is changing colors from greens to yellow and orange. Grasses are turning amber or ochre. Some of the Cottonwoods are turning brown already…similar to what happened to the Aspens a few years ago. Aspens are still mostly bright green.


August 25, 2015 :

Delicate Dining

Delicate Dining: Young Black Bear feeding on Black Hawthorne berries along the Moose-Wilson Road. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Cinnamon Black Bear

Cinnamon Black Bear: This nice looking bear had just taken a drink in Lake Creek. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Berry Leaves

Berry Leaves: I am anticipating creating a Foliage Reports 2015 page. It’s still a bit early, but if you look around, you can find harbingers of changes to come. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Black Bear atop Berry Bush

Black Bear Atop Berry Bush: D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Black Bear

Black Bear: D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Chapel of the Transfiguration

Chapel of the Transfiguration:  After four or five days of thick smoke in the Jackson Hole Valley, we had normal skies this morning. There weren’t any other clouds, so I looked for a nearby subject that didn’t need them. I had to wait for a large tour bus of tourists to clear out for this shot. The driver yanked the chain on the bell and his flock or riders mingled back to the bus and drove off. D4 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Pay StationA while back, I created a page called FREE in Jackson Hole ~ Areas & Activities: I mentioned I didn’t think there were any fees if people entered at the Moose station on foot or bikes. Well, I may have been technically wrong! I saw this automatic ticket station next to the road for hikers and bikers as I was driving in to the Chapel. I stopped to get a photo on the way out. There were spider webs across the keypad, indicating not that many people stop there and pay any money. D4 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.


August 24, 2015 :

Moose Monday

Bull Moose Trio

Bull Moose Trio: I found these three bulls grazing on willow shoots along the Gros Ventre River today. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Washakie Crossing a Side Channel

Washakie Crossing a Side Channel: Also on the Gros Ventre. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Creek Crossing

Creek Crossing: I sometimes hear tour guides saying Moose live solitary lives except during the rut. I don’t find that to be an accurate statement. Today, I found two different sets of three bulls staying close to each other. I find them in groups of 3 or 4 regularly. They don’t have much interest in the cows, but will often hang around one.  I haven’t seen any of them with velvet stripped yet. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Early Face Off

Early Face Off: This isn’t a great shot, but it shows two of the bigger bulls face to face. A few weeks from now, they might spar with each other, but right now neither touch their delicate velvet coating against the other moose’s antlers. Some of the velvet on the right moose is cream in color, but still growing velvet. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Young Looking Washakie

Déjà vu: This mid-sized bull is showing a lot of the large “brow tine” characteristics of a bull I have been photographing since 2006. Compare him to the shot of Washakie below. Interestingly, this bull was in the group of three with Washakie today. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


Washakie  from 2012:


August 23, 2015 : Sunday

Morning at Flat Creek

Morning at Flat Creek: Taken through the fence along the bike path just north of town. D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

Soft Tetons

Soft Tetons: The Teton Range was more visible today. This was taken along Mormon Row Road. D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

First Hint of Sun

First Hint of Sun: Taken along Mormon Row Road. D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

Moose in Marsh Grass

Moose in Marsh Grass: This bull has been seen regularly in the abandoned beaver pond along the Moose-Wilson Road. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Cubs in Tree Top

Cubs in Tree Top: There cubs were roughly 40-50 feet up in the top of a Lodge Pole Pine along the Moose-Wilson Road. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

On the Way Down

On the Way Down: Even at ISO 1600, I was getting motion blur once the cub dropped into the shadows and wasn’t as happy with the group of photos as I would have liked. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Black Bear Cub

Black Bear Cub: D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Bull Moose in the Snake River

Bull Moose in the Snake River: This bull was just north of the bridge at Moose Junction. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


August 22, 2015 : Saturday

Night Time at Schwabacher Landing

Night Time at Schwabacher Landing: Smoke softened the night sky this morning. This was taken at 5:12 am at the parking lot. D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Orange Sun Over Mormon Row

Orange Sun Over Mormon Row: D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

Bison Cross the Gros Ventre

Bison Crossing the Gros Ventre: D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Bull Bison Crossing

Bull Bison Crossing: D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


Mergansers: Along the Gros Ventre River while hoping for additional Bison to cross. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Saturday Afternoon in the Park

Sparring Bison

Sparring Bison: Bison were in the fields next to Mormon Row this afternoon. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Passing Bison Bull

Passing Bison Bull: Accented with a couple of warm textures. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Bison Portrait

Bison Portrait: D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Rolling Bison Bull

Rolling Bison Bull: D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


August 21, 2015 :

Gros Ventre Sunrise

Gros Ventre Sunrise: First hint of today’s sun over the eastern mountains. D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

Ridge Line Bison

Ridge Line Bison: D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Dornan's Moose

Dornan’s Moose: I’ve seen this moose several times this year, but never had a good chance to get a shot of him. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Getting Left Behind? In the new Feature Post: Smoke In The Tetons: Use It To Your Advantage!, I showed how the new Dehaze Filter in Adobe Lightroom can help with some of the hazy photos. Apparently, the Dehaze filter (and many other new features) are included only in the Creative Cloud version of Lightroom. Check this page: Compare Lightroom CC


August 20, 2015 :

Sunrise Over the Gros Ventre

Sunrise Over the Gros Ventre: Shot from the Gros Ventre Road. This image aligns well with yesterday’s new Feature Post: Smoke In The Tetons: Use It To Your Advantage! D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Gold Reflections

Gold Reflections: Early morning light bouncing off the rippled waters of the Gros Ventre River. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Bison Family

Bison Family: Also taken along the Gros Ventre Road. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Rolling Bison

Rolling Bison: I was standing in the door sill of my van and shooting over the roof, using a bean bag as support. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Stretching Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk: ~ Swainson’s Hawk: Red-tailed Hawks can have many different color patterns, making them tough for me to positively identify. Help! This bird was along the Gros Ventre Road and is probably the same hawk I photographed yesterday. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Layered Mountains

Layered Mountains: Taken along the highway coming back into town. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Mountain Goat Kid

Mountain Goat Kid: Taken in the Snake River Canyon a few miles from Alpine Junction. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Nanny and Kid

Nanny and Kid: I always watch for Mountain Goats when I drive down the Canyon. Today, it paid off! During the Government Shutdown, I heard of a couple of people seeing them. The Shutdown started on October 1st and lasted just shy of two weeks. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Springs Sign

Intermitting Spring Sign: A few weeks ago, Darla and I had to make a quick trip to Afton, WY. I saw this sign downtown. When I returned home, I did some Internet searches. Most of the pages suggested going down in late August.

Intermittent Spring Sequence

Intermittent Spring Sequence: Click this image to see it quite a bit larger! D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

Spring Information Graphic

Spring Information Graphic: This is a crop of the sign near the Spring explaining what causes the periodic discharge. D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

Intermittent Spring

Intermittent Spring: This is the world’s largest periodic spring, located five miles east of the town of Afton, WY. I had never been to the site, but I’ll definitely go back! Now that I know “the lay of the land”, I can time my next trip better. I was there at noon on a sunny (smoke filled) day. The upper part of the cascades were still in shadows and the lower part was being lit by the sun. I’ll go on a cloudy day next time for even lighting, plus I can do longer exposures on some versions of the scene.  D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

I plan on doing a Feature Post on the trip. I took lots of photos in the canyon, at the falls, and along Swift Creek. The Feature Post will have maps, directions, and some suggestions. Sign up to follow this blog to receive a notice of the new post!



August 19, 2015 :

Sunrise BisonSunrise Bison: If these look “golden”—well…that’s the way it was at first light! Smoke from Idaho and Montana fires have been adding the golden cast to the morning skies and resulting subjects. D4 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

East Boundary Road

East Boundary Road: This is the intersection of Antelope Flats Road and the East Boundary Road. When we first moved here, there were mailboxes on the corner and locals called it “mailbox corner”.  The mailboxes are gone now. D4 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

Golden Bison

Golden Bison: Taken out the window. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


Mormon Row Hawk: There are reports of a Ferruginous Hawk along Mormon Row. I’ve seen a pair of hawks on the fences, but I don’t believe they are Ferruginous Hawks.  D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk: This bird was posing in an old tree top along Antelope Flats Road. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Mule Deer Fawn

Mule Deer Fawn: I probably wasn’t as ready for this shot as I should have been. The camera was still set for the hawk shot. The fawn was at the entrance to the LSR Preserve. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Black Hawthorne Berries

Black Hawthorne Berries: This is a stylized shot with a couple of textures added. Berries are turning dark now and are attracting Black Bears. I saw a sow and two cubs in the Preserve, but didn’t get shots. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Chimpmonk in Hawthorne Tree

Chimpmonk in Hawthorne Tree: Even though I didn’t get shots of the bears, this little critter fed on the berries for me. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Wildlife Reports on August 19: On the way north, I saw three Bull Moose just north of the highway bridge over the Gros Ventre River, plus one near the pullouts along the Gros Ventre Road. Pronghorns were along Mormon Row Road. Hawks were on fences at the barns. A large herd of Bison were along the East Boundary Road. A couple of Cow Moose were along the road on the Moose Wilson Road. A Black Bear was sighted near Sawmill Pond. A sow Black Bear and two cubs were near the LSR Preserve. Trumpeter Swans were in Flat Creek on the north edge of town.


August 18, 2015 :

Washakie: Doug Yarrow Guest Shot

Guest Shot: Washakie by Doug Yarrow: I was out on a six hour One-on-One Photo Excursion today with Doug Yarrow. At lunch time, we processed this image on my MacBook Pro. He gave me permission to include it in today’s post. Doug captured this image with a Nikon D810 and a Nikon 80-400mm VR2. With the early morning light, I believe he was using a tripod. Nice shot!

Pronghorn Buck Lip Curl

Pronghorn Buck Lip Curl: Bison, and apparently Pronghorns are in the rut. This is sometimes called a “lip curl”, but it more accurately called a Flehemen response. Check out Flehmen Response or “Lip Curl” in GTNP Moose to see other mammals. I’ll be adding this shot to the page. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Pronghorn Doe in Purple Flowers

Pronghorn Doe in Purple Flowers: We found these pronghorns along Mormon Row Road just after lunch. Normally, I prefer to capture Pronghorns with more legs showing, but I liked the layers of grass and the purple wildflowers in this one. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Smoke in the Valley: There are wildfires in Montana and Idaho pumping white smoke into our skies. I am unaware of any fires close to Jackson Hole at this time, but the others are obscuring our normal clear views of the Tetons. If you are out early in the morning, you can get some spectacular gold and orange skies.

Afternoon Outing:

Washakie Stripping Willows

Washakie Stripping Willows: Along the Gros Ventre later in the afternoon. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Sunset Over Mormon Row

Sunset Over Mormon Row: The same smoke that obscured the details in the mountains all day created a beautiful sunset. I shot this one with a 9 image “bracket” group and then processed it inside Lightroom CC2015 (Lightroom 6) using the new Merge to HDR feature. D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.


August 17, 2015 :

A Morning at Schwabacher Landing:

Abstract Ducks

Abstract Ducks: .4 Second shutter speed of a hen and baby. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Ducks in Morning Light

Ducks in Morning Light: Same ducks. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Shaft of Light on the Beaver Den

Shaft of Light on the Beaver Den: Typically, people go to Schwabacher Landing for the reflected vista views of the Teton Range. Today, I took the telephoto zoom lens and looked for smaller scenes. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


Grass: F/6.3 is close to “wide open” on a Tamron 150-600 at 550mm. It helped blur the background on this one. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Reflected Snag

Reflected Snag: When it’s windy, I seldom go to Schwabacher Landing. The calm waters allow for mirror like reflections, which often includes the mountain peaks. The sign is missing at Schwabacher Landing, so look for the road going down to the river between Glacier View Overlook and Teton View Overlook on the highway. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Blacktail Ponds Overlook is OPEN again! It has been closed most of the summer with construction equipment and supplies for the bike path. That overlook is just north of Antelope Flats Road.

Beach Boat

Beached Boat: I was going through a few of yesterday’s images and decided to go ahead and process these two boats I took from the dock at Jenny Lake. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Docked Boat

Docked Boat: Both of these images have a bit of negative “Clarity” in Lightroom, then a few areas of sharpening and clarity using the Adjustment Brush. Early morning light is hard to beat! D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


August 16, 2015 :

August Is Effectively Half Over! So far, I am happy with the variety I have been able to find and include here. I don’t know if I can put my finger on the specifics, but things seem to have taken on a different feel around the area (to me anyway). Some college age kids are heading back to school, leaving businesses short handed. Bull Elk have stripped their velvet. Bull Moose antlers are starting to look fully formed. Bison are in the middle of their rut. Leaves, especially on the willows, are starting to turn from vivid green to a duller hue or even brownish. We are at the doorsteps of my favorite time of the year!

Pre-Dawn Elk

Pre-Dawn Elk: I was out very early today and found a few elk near Jenny Lake Junction. They weren’t close to the road, nor were they as tolerant of photographers this morning. All of the bulls I saw had already scraped their velvet and should be ready for the rut soon. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Yellow Wildflowers

Yellow Wildflower Patch: I took this group of flowers next to the parking lot at Jenny Lake. I stylized this one somewhat using the clarity slider in a negative direction, then bringing back some sharpness in a few flowers using the targeted adjustment brush.  D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Cascade Creek

Cascade Creek: If you are a bargain hunter, here’s a tip for you — The first boat leaving the dock at Jenny Lake (roughly 7:00 am) is only $5 per person instead of the normal $15 per person. The cost is for both directions, too. The image above is a 1/15th second exposure at F9 and ISO 100. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Hidden Falls Hidden Falls in Cascade Canyon: This morning, I carried my lighter Gitzo carbon fiber tripod, a D800, and the Tamron 150-600mm lens up the half mile hike to Hidden Falls. It was plenty cool and calm, making for a pleasant climb. I was the only person on the boat going to the Falls, so I had it all to myself for quite a while. This vertical pano image was actually taken with five horizontal shots and then stitched together in Lightroom 6. Vertical panos are no more difficult than horizontal panos, but it definitely helps to have a sturdy tripod for this kind of early morning shot. Overcast days are also good, but if you go later and get sun on parts of the water, it has a tendency to blow out some of the brightest areas. This “group of five” was captured at 1/40th second, F/5, ISO 100 at 150mm in Manual Mode and Manual Focus. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Detail at Hidden Falls

Detail at Hidden Falls: The beauty of taking a telephoto lens to a place like this is the ability to pick smaller zones within a larger scene and isolate them as individual photos. I carried a small back pack to hold a Nikon 24-70mm lens and some water, but didn’t use either. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Morning Pika

Morning Pika: To be honest, this was my primary target for this morning. I tried getting shots of them earlier in the year, but they were not too cooperative. Actually, they weren’t that cooperative today either. I had been sitting, waiting and watching for over an hour when this little one climbed on a rock. When I first saw it, I was worried it was closer than the (roughly) 8ft minimum focus range on the Tamron 150-600mm. Apparently, it was just out side the range and focus locked on it with no problems. I got half a dozen captures and he was off to another rock farther up the boulder field. I stayed roughly two hours today. It’s possible more show up to bask in the sun later in the day? D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Upper Hidden Falls

Upper Hidden Falls: I climbed part way up the boulder field to get this image. Sunlight was just beginning to cause problems. I don’t think going higher will expose too much more of the falls as the trees near the bottom are very close to the stream’s edge. I had never hiked higher, but want to give it a try today. I’ve seen early shots of the falls, but similar to the trees at Snake River Overlook, trees are obscuring chances for the same images. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


Branches: On the way down, I saw this stoic old pine tree standing against the blue morning sky. Worth a shot! D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Moose Entrance Station

Moose Entrance Station: “Note to Self”: get into the park early! On my way out at 11:15 am, there were two long lines to get into the center section of the park at Moose. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


August 15, 2015 :

A Morning With Oodles of Potential!

Gros Ventre Gravel Bar

This isn’t much of a photo…I know! But, it has a story. A year ago this weekend, I was watching a moose near the overlook on the Gros Ventre when I heard a dozen or more sharp noises coming for the National Elk Refuge (on the other side of the river) that sounded a lot like gunfire. I had seen horse trailers parked along the highway and more at the parking areas along the Gros Ventre. My first thoughts were the Elk Refuge had organized volunteers to haze bison off the refuge. Later, I learned it was the first day of the Bison hunt on the National Elk Refuge. A few minutes after last year’s shots, a large herd of around 75-125 bison burst across the river, across the road, and then north into the safety of Grand Teton National Park. I was too far away and severely under prepared for all the action.

Today, I was ready. I read about the hunt in the paper a couple of days earlier. I made my way to the Gros Ventre, hiked out in my waders, and was standing next to a good spot if the bison were sprinting across the river at break neck speeds. The photo above was a test shot to get the settings correct. I never heard a gun shot, nor ever saw a bison. Sometimes, the best made plans develop serious flaws — like no bison! A series of gun shots on the other side might have also sent a few Moose bolting across to the north. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Washakie in Morning Willows

Washakie in Morning Willows: As it turned out, one of the nice moose was in the river bottom, feeding on fresh willow shoots. I would have never seen him from the road.  D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Washakie Watching Hunters

Washakie Watching Hunters: I was around 35 yards from the Moose. He was aware of me, but was more concerned with the noises, movements, and voices of the hunters on the other side of the river.  D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Washakie's Scars

Washakie’s Scars: Washakie has had a couple of deep scars in his muzzle on the right side for quite a few years. He also has splits in each ear, and usually has distinctive brow tines. His left antler is less massive this year. Both antlers now have well defined, long tines. Today’s experience is similar to others, as explained in this earlier post: Serendipity Happens!  D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Today’s Potential: Other people in other parts of the park probably had a spectacular sunrise experience. I saw it developing, but was hoping for the Bison splashing through the river. There will be other sunrises, but opening day for Bison happens only once a year. The decision to work the Bison crossing was a no-brainer, even though it didn’t pan out. I waited around until just before 8:00 am, hoping Washakie would cross the Gros Ventre in the morning light. He bedded down in shoulder high willows instead. At some point in the morning, the sun will bare down on him and he’ll probably cross the river the shade of the cottonwoods, but that could be several hours, and he may never cross.

Teton Valley Rendezvous

Teton Valley Mountain Rendezvous: LAST DAY! This is the third year for this event, held just over Teton Pass outside of Victor, Idaho.  D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Black Kettle

Black Kettle at the Teton Valley Rendezvous: D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Mountain Man

Mountain Man: Black Kettle, with his new hat, in front of one of the “Primitive Tents”. D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Corey  In Wild West Skateboard Contest JH

Corey  In Wild West Skateboard Contest JH: I returned to Jackson Hole just in time to watch the skateboard contest. This is an “edgy”, (stylized) image of my son, Corey in one of the bowls. All of the adjustments were done in Lightroom. Oh yes, Corey won 1st place today! D4 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Regional News: Killer griz put down Aug 14, 2015 ~ Elk refuge bison hunt starts Saturday  Aug 13, 2015 via Jackson Hole News & Guide


August 14, 2015 :

Photos From Late Last Evening

Cowboy Gear

Cowboy Gear: Taken at the John Moulton Barn on Mormon Row. D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Gear on Corrals

Corrals: Taken at the John Moulton Barn on Mormon Row. I tried this version with the ridge of the barn, mountain silhouette and stars, but it ended up being too much competing for a story lineD800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Moulton Homestead

Moulton Homestead: D800 and Nikon 14-24mm lens.

Peach House and Milky Way

Peach House and Milky Way: D800 and Nikon 14-24mm lens.

Photos from Early This Morning

The Window at the Shane Cabin

The Window at the Shane Cabin: D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Shane Cabin Fences

Shane Cabin FencesD800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Passing Bison

Passing Bison: I drove by the Mormon Row barns and liked the developing clouds, so I pulled over and waited. This solitary old Bull Bison was strolling along on the road, clearing out the photographers that had been standing in front of it. Perfect scenario! D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

TA Moulton Barn and Bison

TA Moulton Barn and Bison: D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

TA Moulton Barn and Bison

TA Moulton Barn and Bison: Harrison Goodall’s three crews of volunteers have completed their work on the T.A. Moulton barn for this year. Another crew will work on the rest of the roof. You can read a lot more about the preservation efforts on this page: Mormon Row Preservation and Enhancement 2015: D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.


August 13, 2015 :

A Moose Morning in GTNP

Moose on the Move

Moose on the Move: Taken along the Gros Ventre. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Resting Moose

Resting Moose: Bedded down in high grass. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Resting Moose

Resting MooseD800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

With GrassTo Clone or Not to Clone?
I did my initial adjustments for this image in Lightroom, then took it to Photoshop to do some additional fixes. I copied the base layer to a new layer and then used the “content aware” Spot Healing Brush to remove the tall stalks of grass across his face. I used the Clone tool to fix a couple of tough areas like the stalk going across the Bull’s mouth. For this image, I probably spent two or three minutes on the quick fix. I left the grass in the wider image above. I think it works fine with his eye sharp and not covered with a stalk…but then…I moved my camera left and right to get that clear shot of the eye. There was no angle to eliminate all stalks of grass. I have lots of other images of resting Moose without the grass, but who knows when this version is requested by an editor? Resting Moose: A Collection of Less Seen Lifestyle Images

I left the resting moose pair and drove out looking for Bison. They were quite a ways off, so I passed on them. Before heading home, I hiked another half mile of the Gros Ventre, but didn’t see any additional moose. Gambles sometimes pay off!


Bison Rut

Bison Rut: The Bison were fairly far out in this shot, so I cropped it fairly heavily, but if you are lucky, you might get similar shots at much closer range. This is one of the more vicious fights I’ve seen so far this year. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


August 12, 2015 :

Shane Cabin

Shane Cabin: (Luther Taylor historic homestead) The morning clouds looked very promising today. I passed up a chance to photograph a moose, thinking the sunrise would be worth it. I ended up with a few minutes of color and then everything turned gray. I used an off-camera strobe to add some light on the corner of the cabin. You might enjoy seeing these two earlier posts about this cabin and homestead area: “SHANE” — The Epic Western Movie Filmed in Jackson Hole and The Shane Cabins: Authentic Homestead in Grand Teton National Park D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Through the Window

Through the Window: Also taken at the Shane Cabin and with a little light added using an off-camera SB-910 Strobe.  D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Bison Lip Curl

Bison Lip Curl: Taken in the fields north of Kelly. I snapped this one out the window and over a bean bag.  Check out: Flehmen Response or “Lip Curl” in GTNP Moose D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Preening Beaver

Preening Beaver: Taken at the overlook along the Gros Ventre. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Beaver Crossing

Beaver Crossing: This large beaver had to cross a gravel and rock bar to get from the main channel to a side channel. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Gaggle of Mergansers

Parade of Mergansers: Also taken along the Gros Ventre. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Jackson Hole Live

Jackson Hole Live ~ Free Concert at the Snow King Ball Field: This is Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe with Maddy and the Groove Spots. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Karl Denson

Karl Denson: Near the end of his solo performance. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


August 11, 2015 :

First Light on Bull Moose

First Light on Bull Moose: Yesterday, I received a report of five Bull Moose along the Gros Ventre River. This morning, I drove out hoping to see them. I found this bull…one I call Custer. Just like last year, he has a few white spots in his fur, no dewlap, and a drop tine on his right antler. D800 and Nikon 200-400mm lens.

Bull Moose in Cottonwoods

Bull Moose in Cottonwoods: A couple of minutes after this shot, he bedded down for the morning. D800 and Nikon 200-400mm lens.

Moulton Barn Progress

Moulton Barn Progress: The crews are still working on the T.A. Moulton Barn. It received new shingles on the two sheds and will get a new roof in the center section soon. Keep an eye on this page as they make more progress:  Mormon Row Preservation and Enhancement 2015: D4 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Shootout In JH

Jackson Hole Shootout: Held nightly (except Sunday) on the NE corner of the Town Square. Get there at 5:45 pm and be ready for some dancing’ and shootin’ at 6:00 pm. I added this photo to the new page:FREE in Jackson Hole ~ Areas & Activities: D4 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.


Cycles: There are lots of cycles passing through town this week, returning from the big rally in Sturgis. Riders line their bikes in front of the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar  and then wander around town like any of black leather chap wearing tourists. D4 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.


August 10, 2015 :

One of the most popular old Feature Posts on this site is: If I Had Only One Day in the Tetons. I wrote that one not long after I started Best of the Tetons two years ago. Today, I spent some time on the page to make the images larger and clarify some points. Check it out!

I Need YOUR Help! Yesterday, I posted this new Feature Post: FREE in Jackson Hole ~ Areas & Activities: I included a lot of activities and locations you can visit in the JH area for FREE. Please, check it out and let me know if you have something to offer! I’ll be adding to the list over the next few months.

JH Fish Hatchery

JH Fish Hatchery: This morning, I drove north out of town and took a few photos of the JH/YS Area Visitor Center on North Cache, the National Museum of Wildlife Art and did a quick tour of the Jackson Hole National Fish Hatchery at the north edge of the National Elk Refuge. The photo above was taken inside the runways in the five year old facility. The hatchery tour is just one of the free activities on the list in the new post:  FREE in Jackson Hole ~ Areas & Activities: D4 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.


We Love GTNP: I saw this one a vehicle and had to turn around to get a shot of it. It looks like they have been up and down Mormon Row a few times! D4 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Wildlife: I had a Photo Excursion on Saturday. I tried desperately to get my clients in front of a Bull Moose, but they were nowhere to be found. I went out again on Sunday. Same story. This morning, I received a report of five of them at the overlook along the Gros Ventre, even though he said they were not in great photographic locations today. Otters have been spotted with their new offspring. And, I heard a report of some of the Elk beginning to strip their velvet. Soon, we should start hearing some early morning bugling. Moose usually begin stripping their velvet on the last few days of August and the first week of September.

Cowboy Kenny

Cowboy Kenny: I took this shot late in the day on the Town Square. D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens


August 9, 2015 :

Sunday Morning in the Park

Foggy Morning

Foggy Morning: The fences are part of the old John Moulton Homestead on Mormon Row. The distant buildings are the Thomas Murphy Homestead. D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.


Sunflower: I believe this is a sunflower? There are a few plants around the Kelly Warm Springs. I underexposed the original scene, then added light with an off-camera Nikon SB910 strobe. The strobe was held slightly from behind. D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Upcoming Plans?  If you are planning a trip to the region, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • All Summer: Jackson, WY: Farmer’s Markets ~ Saturdays on the Town Square.
  • All Summer! Jackson, WY: Rodeo on Wednesday and Saturday nights all summer.
  • All Summer! Jackson, WY: JH Shootout on the Town Square at 6:30 nightly (except Sunday).
  • West Yellowstone, MT: Smoking Waters Mtn. Man Rendezvous: July 31-August 9
  • Fort Hall, ID ~52nd Annual Shoshone-Bannock Festival & Pow Wow  ~ August 6-9, 2015

From the Back Yard:

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird: I don’t know how much longer the male Hummingbirds hang around the valley.  I figured I’d better try to capture a few more of them today. D800 and Nikon 200-400mm lens.

Hummer Two

Iridescent Gorget: When light from the lower strobe hits the goret just right, it explodes with color. D800 and Nikon 200-400mm lens.

Late Afternoon in JH

Devon Allman Band

Devon Allman Band: A free concert in the Commons at Teton Village. Concerts are held in July and August starting at 5pm. There are usually three different bands on each of the days. D4 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Devon Allman

Devon Allman: Devon is the son of Greg Allman. He was singing “ Melissa at the time I took this shot. D4 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

These photos tie in with a brand new Feature Post called: FREE in Jackson Hole ~ Areas & Activities:


August 8, 2015 :

Blacktail Butte

Blacktail Butte: It was “moody” in the Park today with low clouds mixed with passing thunderclouds. This was taken from Antelope Flats Road looking south towards the Gros Ventre. D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens

Sunrise Opportunities

Sunrise Opportunities: The tips of the Teton Range was visible at times, but was chopping them off as the first bands of light hit them. D800 and Nikon 70-200mm lens

Bison In Gold Light

Bison In Gold Light: The Tetons might not have lit up, but a band of gold light moved across the Gros Ventre Road, lighting this majestic old Bison Bull. I love the shaggy hair at the top of his head. D800 and Nikon 200-400mm lens

The Standoff

The Standoff: When a Bison’s tail is upright, he’s alert and ready for action. This dog somehow managed to get out of a camper and was chasing bison along the Gros Ventre Road. The owner was trying to get the dog to return, but it was having too much fun chasing the big prey. D4 and Nikon 200-400mm lens


Retreat: One of the big bulls finally had enough and sent the canine off the bluff and back to his master’s arms. This dog was lucky! D4 and Nikon 200-400mm lens


August 7, 2015 :

Jumping Squirrel

Jumping Red Squirrel: Last year, I spent some time trying to get similar shots. The squirrel was very active and eager to hoard a large supply of peanuts, so she gave me plenty of chances to get the shots. There was a learning curve for me, however. I kept seeing sharp perches, but blurry parts in the squirrel. It became apparent the blur was motion blur and not depth of field blur, so I began experimenting with the shutter speeds. I originally figured 1/1250th second would work, but at that distance, the squirrel was zipping across the scene. At around 1/4000th of a second, I started seeing clean, sharp images throughout. Yesterday, I started where I left off and began at 1/5000th second. I was able to nail numerous shots right off the bat. All I had to do was anticipate her jumps and click. There is more about the specifics in yesterday’s entry.

Waterfalls on the South Fork

Today: My fishing buddy and I did a fly fishing trip on the South Fork (of the Snake) in Idaho. I’m packed a D4, Tamron 150-600mm, a Nikon 24-70, and a small tripod. This is a shot from an island across from this beautiful waterfalls at .6 second. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens. More information on this page: Lesser Seen Regional Waterfalls

White-faced Ibis

White-faced Ibis: I wasn’t sure about this bird. In the cloudy afternoon light, it looked almost black, but there are traces of green and maroon in its feathers. There’s an image on this page showing a Non-Breeding Adult: All About Birds ~ White-faced IbisD4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


August 6, 2015 :

Osprey Youngster

Osprey Youngster: The close bird is a young Osprey still on the nest. The female is watching from behind and awaiting a morning meal. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Osprey in Flight

Osprey in Flight: D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Incoming Male Osprey

Incoming Male Osprey: The female and young Osprey can be seen anxiously awaiting the arrival of the male with a small trout. This nest is just inside the south gate of Grand Teton National Park on the newly reopened Moose-Wilson Road. Numerous other Osprey nests can be seen along Highway 390 and around the small town of Wilson, WY. Moose: The mother moose and one calf was back in the tall grass near Sawmill Ponds, just up the road. Owls: People are always asking about the Great Gray Owls, seen and photographed by many earlier in the year. To my knowledge, none have been seen in the area recently.

Smaller Creatures — Afternoon Close to Home

Rocky the Squirrel

Rocky the Squirrel: I haven’t stopped to take photos in my back yard for a long time. Today, I set up a branch and a landing stump for the resident Red Squirrel, then waited for her to show up. It didn’t take long! This was captured with three Nikon Strobes. The D800 was set to high-speed sync, allowing the strobes to work at the necessary speeds to stop the action. I was using a Nikon 70-200mm pre-focused on the branch and then set to manual. The ambient light was darkened by underexposing slightly, then adding light through strobes on the squirrel and willow leaves. D800 and Nikon 70-6\200mm lens.

Landing Zone

Landing Zone: These two Red Squirrel shots were captured at 1/5000th second, F/14, at ISO 3200 on a Nikon D800.  D800 and Nikon 70-6\200mm lens.

Perched Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Perched Broad-tailed Hummingbird: This a natural light photo taken with the other camera. This male is the current back yard protector, running off all intruders. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


August 5, 2015 :

Resting Bison

Resting Bison at 280mm: D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Resting Bison

Resting Bison: This big bull was taking a break from the rut. He was next to Mormon Row, far away from the rest of the herd. I shot this one at 150mm.  D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Roof Work on TA Moulton Barn

Roof Work on T.A. Moulton Barn: A veteran team of volunteers have been adding new shingles to the T.A. Moulton Barn. Many of this group have been volunteering in GTNP each year for 20 years. There are more photos and lots more information on this page: Mormon Row Preservation and Enhancement 2015: They anticipate finishing their part of the south “horse shed” roof today, then will roof the north “hog shed” tomorrow. Another professional crew will replace the board and batten style roof after they are finished. Scaffolds will probably be part of the scene for the next couple of weeks. D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Footbridge at the John Moulton Homestead

Footbridge at the John Moulton Homestead: Other crews have been busy at the John Moulton Homestead adding or repairing a couple of necessary footbridges. More info here: Mormon Row Preservation and Enhancement 2015: D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

The Gravel Portion of the Moose-Wilson Road is closed today! It will reopen tomorrow morning at 8:00 am.

JH Tidbits: The second art show will be held this weekend in Miller Park. Gasoline has dipped back to under $3.00 a gallon for unleaded, self-serve. There are minimal construction delays in the JH area now. Sidewalk crews are busy around town and the bike path is still being built between Moose Junction and Antelope Flats Road.

Afternoon in the Park


Hawk on Metal Post: For now I’ll assume this is a Red-tailed Hawk, but if it isn’t someone will surely let me know! I received a Severe-Weather notice on my phone this afternoon, so I headed north. I pulled into Meadow Road, just off the highway. I was setting up to aim my camera towards Death Canyon and hoped to capture a few lightning bolts. That didn’t happen, but turning onto the road gave me a chance to get a few shots of this hawk. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Young Moose

Young Moose: The Moose-Wilson Road was closed all day today. It will open at 8:00 am tomorrow.  I found this young moose and mother in the deep grass near Sawmill Pond on the Moose-Wilson Road. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Running Young Moose

Running Young Moose: On several occasions, the youngster romped around the area. Light was way too low to be able to freeze it, so I adjusted the settings to achieve roughly 1/60th second and attempted to pan with it as it zipped by. I only captured a couple out of a hundred or so with reasonably sharp eyes and face. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Quick Crossing

Quick Crossing: The mother moose eventually got fed up with the little one’s antics and reeled her in—crossing a shallow spring creek in the process. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Nikon Announces Three New Lenses:

I like the looks, specs and prices of all of them! I put my name on the pre-order list for the 200-500mm at Perfect Light today.


August 4, 2015 :

Little Wrangler

Little Wrangler: Instead of getting up early and being out in the field, I spent this morning going through (and culling) some of the images I already have on my computer. It was rainy, overcast and generally dark early this morning, but is clearing by noon. I took this image yesterday afternoon. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Horseback Rides: If you’d like to take a horseback ride in the area, check out these outfitters.

Important Details on Upcoming Moose-Wilson Road ClosureAt  4:00 PM on Tuesday, August 4th, the Park Service will close the section of the road from the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve to the south entrance (north of Teton Village) for application of  magnesium chloride slurry—a dust abatement substance. The road will be closed all day and night on Wednesday, August 5th and then reopen at 8:00 am on Thursday, August 6th. The closure affects roughly 7 miles of the road.


August 3, 2015 :

Old Patrierch in B&W

Old Patriarch in B&W: There was a “chance” I would get splendid color on the Patriarch Tree this morning, but the orange glow of the early sun never penetrated the eastern clouds. I processed this one in NIK Silver Efex Pro. For more information, maps, and directions to the tree, check out: Revisiting an Old Friend: The Old Patriarch Tree.  D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens.

Dusky Grouse

Dusky Grouse: (Previously called Blue Grouse) This bird was walking around near the top of Signal Mountain. Unless they are on the road, these grouse are difficult to spot. I’ve heard of a few Black Bears in the area, but I didn’t spot them this morning. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Afternoon in the Snake River Canyon

Big Kahuna

Big Kahuna: Quite a few companies offer whitewater rafting down the Snake River. Two of the bigger waves are Big Kahuna and Lunch Counter. The weather was overcast today, so I took the opportunity to go down for a few photos. On a bright, sunny day, the whitewater would push the rest of the scene much darker. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Lunch Counter

Lunch Counter: This raft contained a  group of possible “Men in Black” trainees! D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Zoom Blur

Zoom Blur: I stopped down, then lowered the aperture to end up with a 1/5th second exposure. During the long exposure, I zoomed in quickly. There’s a sign along the highway indicating the parking area for the two zones. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


Wrangler: On of the area’s wranglers returning to the ranch. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Carson and His Saddle

Carson and His Saddle: This shot has a layer with regular color, then a layer modified in NIK Silver Efex Pro above it. The opacity of the top layer was adjusted to taste. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


August 2, 2015 :


Sunrise: Clouds hung close to the horizon in the Northeast, filtering the rising sun. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Bull Elk

Bull Elk: A nice sized “poser” near the Jenny Lake Junction. The amber/gold cast in this shot was a result of the filtered sunrise light seen in the previous photo. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Mother Moose and Calf

Mother Moose and Calf: Taken from the overlook along the Moose-Wilson Road. I finally got to see the Black Bear and two cubs on the Moose-Wilson Road, but I didn’t get shots. The gravel portion of the Moose-Wilson Road will be closed on August 4th for dust abatement. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Afternoon Outing:

Bison Bull and Sage Flats

Bison Bull and Sage Flats: There was a layer of haze in the sky most of the day from an regional fire. This nice bull was near Mormon Row, across from the John Moulton Homestead. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Passing the Pink House

Passing the Pink House: Bison are in the rut now. This one was passing in front of John and Bartha Moulton’s “Pink House”. D800 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.


August 1, 2015 :

Best of the Tetons 2 Yr

2 Years at Best of the Tetons! I just hit a milestone. Technically, yesterday was the two year anniversary of the first post here on Best of the Tetons: The West of Yesteryear and Today.  Thanks to all the readers and subscribers! As always, I can use your help to spread the word about this site. I also encourage people to sign up to follow the blog to receive first notices of new posts. Hopefully, I can keep this going another year! Cheers, MJ

Blue Moon Setting Over the Teton Range

Blue Moon! Last night was a “Blue Moon”. That’s a term for the second full moon within one month. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Blue Moon & Grand Peak

Blue Moon & Grand Peak: I shot these two moon images with a Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens on a steady tripod. The typical mid-toned gray peaks were still being bathed with early morning rose colored light. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Bull Elk Looking Back

Bull Elk Looking Back: Taken near Jenny Lake on the Teton Park Road (Inner Loop Road) D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Biker and Blurred Tetons

Biker and Blurred Tetons: I stopped along the highway to try my hand again at capturing a cycle rider. Streams of them are heading north each morning to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Spearfish, SD. Check the July 2015 Daily Updates and Photos: page to see a couple from yesterday. In one, everything was frozen. I had a blurry pan—similar to this one. July was a GREAT MONTH for me. I had a lot of variety of subject matter and chances to take plenty of photos, so check out the page! D4 and Nikon 70-200mm lens.

Note:  Feature Posts usually contain photos and information about a “specific topic” while the Updates and Photos (like this one) contain photos and comments I add each day.

Afternoon Horses

Afternoon Horses: Taken near Teton Village in the late part of the day. D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Young Wrangler

Young Wrangler: D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Short Ride Home

Sweet Ride Home: D4 and Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Quick Notes:

  • Flat Creek on the National Elk Refuge, Blacktail Ponds, and Cottonwood Creek below Jenny Lake opened to fishing today. As I drove north before sunlight, the parking lot was full already!
  • The gravel portion of the Moose-Wilson Road will be closed on August 4th for dust abatement.

Go to Source

Intermittent Springs: Another Lesser Seen Regional Waterfall


The World’s Largest Intermitting Spring — only 75 miles from Jackson

Wyoming has numerous little known gems. Intermittent Springs is one of them! We’ve lived in Jackson Hole for 29 years and I never knew it was there.

Springs SignAfter seeing the roadway sign in downtown Afton, I did some Internet searches and knew I needed to make the trip. Other than a few photos I found online, I didn’t know much about what I might find. My recent trip was intended as a reconnaissance mission, arriving at noon on a sunny day. That’s far from my ideal time of the day for photography.  As it turned out, the entire trip was filled with little gems — not just the Spring itself! After making the impromptu trip, I now know I want to go back in more favorable conditions for photography.

Technically, I guess it is a cascading spring and not a waterfall, but when viewed as a whole, it looks a lot like one. On the day I went, the upper section of the Spring remained in shadows, so photography was tough. I think the shoot would be much better on an overcast day, very early in the morning, or late in the evening. Possibly the rest of this page will help you get the most out of your visit! The sites I found online about Intermittent Springs all said to go there in August or later to see the intermittent action. From what I understand, if you go early in the year, you may only see a continuous flow of water. Even then, it would still be very impressive!

Canyon Walls

The entire area is amazing, and totally unexpected! Swift Creek tumbles down much of the five mile gravel road from Afton. Impressive granite walls line both sides of the narrow canyon in most areas with lush vegetation adding color and diversity. Fall is just around the corner and I’m going back!

Area Map

Afton is 70 miles South of Jackson. Many people drive through the town on their way to and from Jackson and Salt Lake City. Watch for the signs along the highway in Afton to get you headed in the right direction. The parking area is roughly 5 miles east of town on 2nd Ave. If you happen to get confused by conflicting names, the spring is sometimes referred to as “Periodic Spring” as seen on the map above. The trail marker identifies it as Intermittent Spring. The gravel road is open from May 1st to December 1st. I don’t know if you can still hike or bike into the area when the gates are locked.   Since the Spring runs essentially north and south in the canyon, it will be in shadows both early and late in the day. The lay of the land could allow a photographer to get an even exposure and try out some long exposures. Next time!

Shawnee Falls

Intermittent Spring is the big headliner, but there are two additional waterfalls on the way up. Shawnee Falls is tough to see because of the roadside trees and shrubs, but it’s definitely worth looking for anytime. Imagine this shot with oranges and yellows of Fall! This trip was taken during the days of thick smoke in the region from some of the western wildfires. Hopefully, it will be much clearer next trip.

Janee Falls

Janee Falls tumbles off a canyon wall just up the road from Shawnee Falls.

Swift Creek

There are a couple of picnic tables and a restroom at the parking area. A sign just upstream from the parking area informs visitors of the 3/4 mile hike to the base of the spring. Swift Creek runs alongside the pathway. The path is wide and gravel covered with a gentle incline. The last 60 feet or so before the bridge over Swift Creek takes a little navigation through some laundry basket sized boulders.

Bridger National Forest Sign

Once across the bridge, you’ll find this well worn sign next to another shaded picnic table.

Spring Sequence 1

The Spring runs for 18-20 minute intervals, then slows down for roughly the same period. At least when I was there on August 20th of 2015, “some” water was flowing down the boulders at all times. I don’t know if it ever completely dries up during the off periods?

Spring Sequence 2

This group of three shots was originally taken in the vertical orientation, but to show the pulsing spring, I cropped the images for this post.

Spring Sequence 3

Within a minute or so, a wall of water begins cascading down the boulder field and onward several hundred yards into Swift Creek at the bottom.

Intermittent Spring

This shot was taken at about halfway up the cascades as the water made it’s way towards me. The sound of the tumbling water intensifies for a while, then gradually lulls. A trail continues up the canyon where people can see the actual opening where the water emerges from the hidden cavities. Several of the sites I found stated the last part of the climb can be treacherous. While there, I saw several people climb up and then disappear. I was there by myself and had a backpack full of lenses and a tripod, so I didn’t attempt it this time. I saw an older couple slide down one section on their butts. They told me it felt too dangerous to try to navigate over the loose gravel and steep terrain.

Creekside Wildflowers

In between pulses of the spring, there are plenty of additional subjects worth exploring.


I saw a few critters like Chipmonks and Ground Squirrels, but no big game in the middle of the day. Insects and bird sounds were common, including the hissing of Cedar Waxwings feeding on the berry bushes.

The trail down

When I walked up to the Springs originally, it was already in the middle of a new surge. I hung around for two more before heading back down on the gravel path.

Clear Pool

I hiked the path with my photography gear this time, but the fishing looked promising. After making it to the van, I headed back down the gravel road. There was another pool with lots of trout milling around in the clear water. I pulled out the fly rod. After about 30 minutes of frustrating fishing, I figured out what they were interested in eating. I caught quite a few and lost a bunch more. They were all 12″ Snake River Cutthroats, reportedly stocked by the Game and Fish.

Nanny and Kid

The drive to and from Afton will take you through the Snake River Canyon. Watch for wildlife, especially the Mountain Goats near the mouth of the canyon. In recent years, they have been most common in December, February and March but I hear reports of people seeing them off and on all year. The area between Alpine and Afton is mostly agricultural with the Salt River running through most of it. I saw numerous Osprey nests closer to Palisades Lake, still with birds ready to fledge. In the Fall, expect to see brightly colored Mountain Ash and Aspens along the Snake River Canon walls.

This is a great day trip and it is relatively close to Jackson! Take a picnic basket, water and necessities.You don’t have to be a photographer to enjoy this little slice of Wyoming!


Please, if you like this post, share it by clicking on the Social Media Icons and spread the word! Mike Jackson

Go to Source

Hiking Picacho Peak

Desert Floor Below Picacho Peak

Distance (one way): 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Best time of year: Fall, Winter, Spring

Picacho Peak remains one of my all-time favorite hikes. It’s a great adventure up a solitary desert peak for any skill level!

Located nearly halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, Picacho Peak shoots out of the desert floor over 1,400 feet, ultimately reaching an elevation of 3,374 feet above sea level. Interestingly enough, it was also the site of the second western-most battle in the Civil War.

The hike begins on the floor of the Sonoran Desert as you begin ascending toward the walls of the peak. In spring, you’ll notice a blanket of colorful wildflowers accompanying the saguaro, barrel, and other cacti variety along the trail, which climbs steeply as more detailed is revealed in the cliffs ahead. There’s quite a bit of interesting geology for such a (relatively) small peak in the middle of the desert! There’s sandstone, limestone, and even gneiss. Once the trail meets these cliffs, providing hikers with a great view of them, the trail then begins a large switchback ascending up the eastern cliff of Picacho Peak. The vast desert landscape begins to unfold beneath you as you climb higher and higher. You soon find yourself at the saddle with an impressive view to the east, and now to the west as well. Those who have exhausted themselves or have a fear of steep inclines and/or heights may want to end their hike here.

Tip: Bring durable gloves to protect your hands against steel cables along the second half of the hike.

[See image gallery at]

From here, the hike gets a lot more interesting! It immediately drops a few hundred feet with the assistance of a steel cable for support, negating much of what you just climbed. Once you bottom out, there are many scrambles up the rock faces, again, the cables there for support if you need them. More experienced hikers will enjoy the hand-over-hand climbing. The trail can be easy to lose due to its vertical nature along this stretch, so once you finish one of the short scrambles up, make sure to look around to get your bearings and see where the trail is headed next.

The trail soon reaches a crevice that most would prefer to have some climbing gear along for, but thanks to well-placed steel cables the climb is made much easier, though still intimidating for anyone with a fear of heights. Most will appreciate the adventurous nature of the hike by this point.

[See image gallery at]

The trail climbs higher and higher, getting more and more exposed, until you finally reach a rather untrustworthy looking bridge that takes you over a large gap in the rocks. Despite its looks, the bridge is secure, though looking down through it could cause a bit of vertigo. Fortunately though, once you’re past the bridge, the trail gets a lot easier. The final ascent up to the peak is an easy walk up, and once on the summit, the 360 degree panoramic views of the vast Sonoran Desert are awe-inspiring.

Another tip: Go in spring to see an epic display of Sonoran Desert wildflowers!

Enjoy yourself at the top. You still have to climb back down (and then up).

[See image gallery at]

Getting there: From Downtown Phoenix, drive about 70 miles east (south) on I-10. Take exit 219 and go right at the intersection. You will need to pay a day fee to access Picacho Peak State Park and the hiking trail. Shortly after the entrance station, look for Barrett Loop on your left. Find a place to park toward the top of the loop and begin your ascent up the Hunter Trail to reach the summit. If you’re traveling from out of town, Picacho Peak State Park also includes an excellent campground.

Read on Source Site

Smoke In The Tetons: Use It To Your Advantage!


Sunset Over Mormon Row

Many people come to Jackson Hole to experience the grandeur of the Tetons. Current visitors might not be too excited about all the smoke obscuring the vista views. The smoke of 2015 is streaming into the valley from wildfires in Idaho and Montana (and probably Oregon). As I write this post (August 19, 2015), newspaper reports are not too optimistic for clear skies anytime soon. Conditions might not be ideal by most people’s standards, but they certainly offer plenty of opportunities.

Now’s a perfect time to be more creative and more open to what you actually can capture during the hazy days. My best immediate suggestion would be to be out very early and very late. The colors in the sky will be much more vivid than on most ordinary days. Morning light will remain “golden” much longer. Your images will probably have a unique, saturated appearance.

Washakie Stripping Willows

This image was taken late in the evening. The moose was in the shade, but the light dispersed nicely into the scene.

Chimpmonk in Hawthorne Tree

If you can get close to your subjects, the layers of smoke will not be apparent at all.

Pre-Dawn Elk

Smoke and haze will usually turn textured distant mountains and tree lines into solid planes of solid color.

Watch for layered mountains and screaming colors in the morning sky.

Death Canyon

Remember to look for smaller chunks of the landscape. Simplified shapes can be very powerful!


Scenes we’ve seen a thousand times before can take on an ethereal character.


Also, remember smoke is similar to fog and rain—though it might be more vivid. Here are a couple of old Feature Posts that might give you additional ideas on how to capitalize on the smoky conditions:

On many late summer days, a fair number of photographers take a nap or spend the afternoon looking for future shooting locations. Light is often “too contrasty” for their tastes. With the filtered light, it is possible to shoot all day.

Software Helpers

Dehaze Before

This is a screen grab of an image in Lightroom showing the morning’s hazy skies.

Dehaze Screen Grab

The new Lightroom Dehaze filter is located in the Effects tab. It is easy to overdo the effect, and occasionally you might find it necessary to cut back on the Vibrance and/or Saturation sliders. You might also want to try this filter on “normal” shots.

Dehaze After

The image above is the same image after applying the Dehaze filter at +74, as shown in the screen grab above. It might be worth noting this shot was taken just as the morning’s sun had barely cleared Shadow Mountain at my back. The gold was very saturated and the pink cast in the mountains was amplified as a result. The Dahaze filter won’t solve all problems, but it can certainly help! Advanced Photoshop and Lightroom users could probably recreate the results, but the adjustment above was created with one simple slider!

Comments: In some years, the Forest Service and National Parks set controlled burns in the late part of summer and into fall. Most photographers, including myself, complained about the smoke and plead for them to set the fires after the fall foliage season. Our pleas were seldom heeded. Even the JH Chamber of Commerce’s requests for later burns had little affect. This year’s fires are different. As far as I know, none of the current smoke is a result of local fires or controlled burns, so we really have no valid bureaucratic complaints, at least on a local level. Hopefully, we can stay fire free for much of the season. There are plenty of photographic opportunities either way.

It might be worth noting the circumstances this year. When we had prescribed burns and controlled burns here in the Tetons, some photographers bailed on our area and headed into Yellowstone to escape the smoke and haze. The Chamber of Commerce didn’t like it, of course. This year, most of the western states are going to be covered by the same blanket of smoke. The Tetons might be the best place to be during the late summer and fall.


Please, if you like this post, share it by clicking on the Social Media Icons and spread the word! Mike Jackson

Go to Source