How to SAFELY Delete Smart Preview in Lightroom to Free Space (4K UHD)

I show you how to safely and properly delete Smart Previews in Lightroom to free up hard disk (HDD SDD) space. Lightroom’s smart previews and previews can become very large. You may run out of hard disk space and not even know why when using Adobe Lightroom. The smart preview feature can completely fill up […]

The post How to SAFELY Delete Smart Preview in Lightroom to Free Space (4K UHD) appeared first on Adversity Expert.

Can Feedback Improve Your Photography ?

In my last Blog I shared ideas about photography that came to me from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers.  Gladwell discloses some very interesting explanations for how exceptional musicians, athletes, millionaires, and others have attained success.  I wondered if I’ve been adopting Gladwell’s interpretations as I worked to improve my photography?

I began my retirement assuring myself that extending time behind my camera would improve my photography, and that was a good start to my development.  But 10,000 hours of click-click-click (OK, I probably haven’t spent 10K hours yet) didn’t lead me to arrive at my goal.  How did Gladwell’s Outliers make impressive leaps and bounds?  What might I have been missing that could really improve my photography?

Two ingredients seem to stand out: someone to give you honest positive and negative feedback, and involvement in challenging opportunities.  As I read and reflected on Gladwell’s assessment, I realized that I was, in a sense, taking part in an activity that was improving my photography.  Being an active member in an active photography club can give you effective feedback and raise important challenges to your photography and your growth as a photographer.  I suppose striving to improve your photography by yourself could work for some people, but not for me.

Gladwell shares a number of examples of successful experiences for outliers which were built on challenging opportunities and feedback.  Bill Gates first experience with computers was in an after-school high school club in the 1960s which happened to connect with the University of Washington which had cutting-edge computers.  Gates and his high school friend Paul Allen “played” with the computer system at Washington for thousands of hours experiencing challenges and immediate feedback.  My experience in the Teton Photography Club gave me many challenges and when I decided to develop a mentoring program it gave me and the group an opportunity to give and receive effective feedback.

I suppose working to improve your own photography can work for some people, but I need to experience challenges and receive feedback from other photographers.  You can receive feedback from family, friends, and Facebook but I suspect that feedback is along the lines of “Awesome”, “Gorgeous”, “Beautiful” … or maybe a grouchy old person who never has a positive word to say 🙂  But I am convinced that it is important to receive feedback from other photographers that includes specific information abut your photos; especially from amateur photographers that you work with on a regular basis and who will give you honest, thoughtful feedback.

On January 27, 2016 I posted one of my early blogs called How Feedback Helps or Kills our Motivation that discussed the importance of working with a photography colleague.  The content of that blog was tied to my experience as a university professor and it probable came across as a bit too academic: heck, it had only one comment and that was by my wife 😉  But it might help you understand what I am about to suggest: working with other amateur photographers may help you explore photo challenges and give you the feedback you need to improve.  Feedback is critical to your long-term motivation.  Where do you get “good feedback”?

In March 2016 I started a Peer Mentor Program for amateur photographers who were member of the Teton Photography Club.  We started with seven amateur photographers and met once a month.  Our PMP started out as a photography discussion group and soon evolved into a critique.  Members brought in a few photos for the group to critique, but I quickly recognized that the critique tended to sound like Facebook with lots of “Beautiful” or “Awesome” compliments, but the comments lacked detailed informative explanations. 

As our PMP grew to more than double in size, I realized I needed to modify our critiques to encourage (perhaps “require” is a better description) everyone to explain why/what they liked or didn’t like about a photo.  I added what we call a “Pair Critique” where each member would send me two quite similar photos (typically a pair of photos taken at approximately the same time/place) for our critique.  These critiques quickly evolved into informational feedback that helped us explore which photo we preferred with detailed information about why we favored that photo.  This eventually evolved into peer mentors sharing what they didn’t like about the less “popular” photo.  And we quickly learned that we typically did not totally agree.  Our Pair Critiques helped us to understand the importance of composition, exposure, lighting … and the diversity of opinions.

The Pair Critique helps us discuss photography variables such as composition, exposure, lighting AND it invites everyone to share what they like, and what they find as distracting or “not so good.”  I have come to believe that this feedback is essential to the growth of us as photographers.  It is not just about getting feedback on our own photography, it also helps us recognize the details that leads to an exceptional photo.  And it brought us together to understand the photography style of one another and respect others as we gave them specific detailed feedback about their photography.

Honest Feedback is Critical

How to Encourage our Peers to be more Constructive

Let’s use three examples to give YOU a chance to be involved in a Paired Critique:

Below are two pairs of photos that I took from Pine Creek Pass which is about 20 minutes from my house.  These photos were taken just as the smoke of CA started to enter eastern Idaho.  Which one of the next two do you like best and why?  The main difference is the composition and to some extent the sky.  Send me a response and indicate which of the “Pine Creek Pass Pair” do you prefer and why … and include why you don’t like the other photo.





Pine Creek Pass #1

What are your thoughts/feedback about this photo?








Pine Creek Pass #2

What are your thoughts/feedback about this photo?






You may like, or dislike, both of them but what differences make you prefer one image over the other?


OK, let’s move on to a somewhat similar pair of photos, but this time let’s compare two Pine Creek Pass images that are both Pano shots.  There isn’t a huge composition difference but is there a difference that seems very important to you?  What do you like, or dislike, that draws you to one of these images?




Pine Creek Pass Pano #1





What are your thoughts/feedback about this photo?



Pine Creek Pass Pano #2




What are your thoughts/feedback about this photo?

You might find the Pano critique to be a bit more difficult or more straight-forward.  The two are similar but there is a clear distinction.  Which do you prefer and for what reason?  It is easy on Facebook to say “Oh wow, that photo is amazing” but much more difficult to explain that there is too much distraction, or one of the images is slightly out of focus, or I like the color of the sky … you get the point.  When feedback includes specific information about the “good, the bad, the ugly? AND when there are a significant number of colleagues who discuss their reaction to YOUR photo, it can be very educational.  On to one more Pair Critique …


And for the third Pair Critique let’s move ahead in time to see the impact of the CA smoke moving into Teton Valley ID.  These two photos were taken a few days after the Pine Creek Pass photos, but at dusk right before the sunset off our deck facing west.  The first one is a single shot and the second photo is a pano about 5 minutes later than the first shot.  Which do you prefer and why?  WHAT do you prefer about your choice and/or what is a negative?





Smokey Sunset #1

What are your thoughts/feedback about this photo?







Smokey Sunset #2 Pano

What are your thoughts/feedback about this photo?



Unlike a Facebook comment (“Cool” or “Gorgeous” or …), I am asking you for which one of each of these pairs you prefer and why.  What makes the 1st or 2nd photo better or worse than its pair?  The purpose of Pair Critique is to move beyond a critique where everyone likes a photo, to encourage the peer mentors to dig-in to their criteria of what makes a good photo, evaluate these two photos using the criteria, and apply that criteria to both photos.  I have found this approach to be very effective in increasing the thoughtful, honest, helpful feedback to their peer mentors.  And I have found that informational feedback that helps me understand the key elements in exceptional landscape photography has helped me to grow as a photographer.


Right now, our Peer Mentor Program has left having a monthly meeting with Pair Critiques to now having a Zoom meeting due to Covid-19.  Our Zoom meeting is attended by about half of the peer mentors, which I have learned is not as engaging as in-person meetings.  Our Peer Mentor Zoom meetings also do not have a Pair Critique but rather a Monthly Theme Challenge, which I will share in my next Blog.  Our Monthly Theme Challenge pushes us outside our comfort zone … another criteria for becoming our own Outlier.


I have found informational feedback to be essential to the improvement of my photography.  And I have found that being involved in the feedback of the photos of my colleagues is almost as informative.  Looking at outstanding photos on-line or in magazines and books has been helpful to me.  But being involved in discussions that reveal how other amateur photographers take photos and how they judge their own photos and other’s photos is much more powerful in educating me that simply viewing professional photos or reading about how to take outstanding landscape photographs.

In my next blog I’ll discuss a path the peer mentors and I have taken to create a challenge that helps us to move out of our comfort zone with a Monthly Theme Challenge.  I’m asking my friends the peer mentors to share their theme photos, and maybe I can get them to share how a monthly theme can challenge them to move outside their comfort zone.  This year our September Monthly Theme is WEATHER, and the snow we received this week (Snow in September? Yep!) gives us plenty of opportunity to take some interesting photos of our mountain weather in September.

How does feedback impact your photography?

Where do you receive the feedback that is most informative?



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Foliage Reports: September/October 2020

Jackson Hole & Grand Teton National Park

Changing Leaf

Click Here to see 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, & 2019 Foliage Reports

During September, I’ll work on two pages simultaneously. This September Foliage 2019 post will contain more specific information about the ever changing foliage status in the area. The September 2019 Daily Journal for JH and GTNP page will contain some foliage information, but will focus more on wildlife and landscapes. You’ll want to go to both regularly.

Archived Resources: September Daily Journals

September 2019 | September 2018September 2017 | September 2016  |  September 2015   | September 2014:  | September 2013:

Fall Season Feature Posts

Click this link to find a variety of Feature Post from earlier years!

Foliage Scale 2015

Foliage Scale 2020

 Note: Peak Fall foliage is not a one day event! It evolves over several weeks. Some areas go first, then lose leaves while others are just beginning. You should be able to find colorful foliage anytime from around the 10th of September to the first week in October.

Science of Fall Colors

Click the link above to view an informative page written by the US Forest Service


October 22nd, 2020 – Thursday

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Colorful Aspens

Aspens: This will be the last day I enter new updates on this page for 2020. If you are in GTNP, look for colorful aspens along the Moose-Wilson Road, but almost every other zone is done. The photo above was taken just south of town. Colors are still good there, but are starting to thin.


October 19th, 2020 – Monday


For all practical purposes, most of the foliage is over inside GTNP EXCEPT for the aspens along the Moose-Wilson Road! You can still find a LOT of color in and around the Town of Jackson and south of town.


This is one of the Aspen stands along the Moose-Wilson Road.


Death Canyon

Death Canyon can be seen in the distance, with a nice grouping of Aspens in front.

Mountain Ash

Mountain Ash trees are quite colorful in town.

Mountain Ash

The birds will eat the colorful berries on the Mountain Ash trees throughout the winter months.


October 16th, 2020 – Friday

Death Canyon

Death Canyon: Taken along the Moose-Wilson Road.

Little House in Gold

Little House in Gold: Taken a few miles south Jackson.

Meadow Ranch Barn

Meadow Ranch Barn: Also taken south of Jackson.


Black Bearctober 15th, 2020 – Thursday

Bondurant Lip Curl

Across the board, most zones of Aspens, Cottonwoods, and Willows in GTNP have stripped leaves. There are remnants in some areas, as seen in this photo.

Black Bear

If you are looking for “color” in GTNP try the Moose-Wilson Road.

There is a lot of color in and around the Town of Jackson.


October 14th, 2020 – Wednesday

Tetons with a Gold Cottownwood

I took this photo from the road near Uhl Hill, located east of Elk Ranch Flats. I liked the single cottonwood with leaves highlighted by a band of light. Watch of chances to capture the changing seasons!


October 13th, 2020 – Tuesday

It was WINDY yesterday, blowing off a LOT of leaves! By now, I would expect the leaves at and around Oxbow Bend to be on the ground. There is still color in the Aspens around the Peach House at Mormon Row and along the Moose-Wilson Road. There’s a lot of bright color south of the Town of Jackson.

Black Bear

I posted this photo on the October Daily Journal for GTNP and the JH Area. I’ll post it here to show the color of the Black Hawthorn berries along the Moose-Wilson Road. Also, with some of the leaves missing on the trees and bushes, it it becoming easier to spot bears and owls. Similarly, the willows along the river bottoms are thinning and forcing the Moose to begin feeding more regularly on Bitter Brush, mixed in with the Sagebrush.

Great Horned Owl


October 11th, 2020 – Sunday

Mormon Row

Overnight Snow covered much of the valley floor early today, but much of it melted quickly. The mountains should hold some of it for a few days.

Leaves in Motion

Leaves in Motion: I spent some time along the Moose-Wilson experimenting with long exposures and both vertical and horizontal motion.

Leaves in Motion

Leaves in Motion:

Leaves in Motion

Leaves in Motion:

Mountain Ash

Mountain Ash:

Victor, ID Color

Idaho Color: I drove over the Pass after lunch to capture some of the Idaho color in the Victor area.

Idaho Country Roads

Idaho Country Roads:

Idaho Country Roads

Idaho Country Roads:

Idaho Country Roads

Idaho Country Roads:

Idaho Country Roads

Idaho Country Roads:

Idaho Aspens

Idaho Aspens:

Idaho Aspens

Idaho Aspens:

Victor Barns

Victor Barns:


October 9th, 2020 – Friday

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Fall Moose

Fall Moose: Many cottonwoods have lost their leaves along the Snake River, but not all of them!

Black Bear

Colorful leaves are hanging onto many of the Black Hawthorn trees and bushes.


October 8th, 2020 – Thursday

Aspens and Hawthorns

Colors along the Moose-Wilson Road. The Black Hawthorn trees are turning orange and red to compliment the bright yellow aspens.

Colorful Leaves

Colorful Leaves: Taken along Cottonwood Creek.

Bar-B-C Foliage

Bar-B-C Ranch Ridgeline: Clouds began rolling in after lunch…a great sight after many days of cloudless skies.


October 7th, 2020 – Wednesday

Seasons in Transition

Berries Bushes in Transition along the Moose-Wilson Road.

Foliage in Motion

Leaves in Motion:

Leaves in Motion

Leaves in Motion: This kind of photo requires a lens that can spin in the collar.

Leaves in Motion

Leaves in Motion:


October 6th, 2020 – Tuesday

Oxbow Bend at Sunrise

Alpenglow Pano at Oxbow Bend: Click this image to see it much larger. Oxbow is still looking good. Nikon D500 and Tamron 18-400mm lens, Tripod.

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend Pano: The upper lot has some beautiful aspens right now. Click to see this pano larger. Nikon D500 and Tamron 18-400mm lens, Handheld.

Aspens and Grand

Aspens and Grand: Skies were still clear today, but the Tetons were much more visible. The weather report calls for one more day of clear skies before we get a few clouds. Nikon D500 and Tamron 18-400mm lens, Handheld.

Aspen Stands and Grand

Aspen Stands and Grand: Nikon D500 and Tamron 18-400mm lens, Handheld.

TA Moulton Barn

TA Moulton Barn: The Aspens and Cottonwoods along Mormon still need a few days. Nikon D500 and Tamron 18-400mm lens, Handheld.

Jenny Lake

Cottonwood Creek at Jenny Lake. Nikon D500 and Tamron 18-400mm lens, Handheld.

October 2020 Daily Journal For GTNP & JH

This foliage page is only one of my pages for October. Click the link above to see a LOT more, including wildlife and other subjects!


October 5th, 2020 – Monday

Ditch Creek Fall Colors

Ditch Creek Fall Colors:

Berries in Red

Berries in Red: Lots of color in Jackson Hole now.


October 4th, 2020 – Sunday

Oxbow Bend Color

Upper Lot at Oxbow Bend: The aspens are turning even more gold!

Oxbow Color

Oxbow Color:

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend:



Peach House

Peach House: Aspens are changing at Mormon Row, but still a few days from prime.

Wet Leaves

Wet Leaves: Leaves in Ditch Creek.


October 3rd, 2020 – Saturday

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend: Taken in the afternoon…showing the color at the “bend” and the haze in the sky.

Oxbow Bend Upper Lot

Oxbow Bend Upper Lot: This stand of aspens is turning even more gold and orange. Looks GREAT!

Trumpeter Swan in Gold

Trumpeter Swan in Gold: Taken at the Boyle’s Hill Swan Pond.

Pilgrim Creek Fire

Pilgrim Creek Fire: This photo shows the Jackson Lake Lodge with the distant fire and smoke, taken from the road to the Jackson Lake Dam.

Pilgrim Creek Road

Pilgrim Creek Road: Closed during the fire.

The Grand and Fall Cabin

The Grand and Fall Cabin: Taken on the Inner Park Loop Road. Aspens are still looking good there.



October 2nd, 2020 – Friday

Bull Moose in Gold

Bull Moose in Gold: I’ve been spending most of my time in the southern portion of the park lately. Some of the river bottoms are still bright, while others are past prime. The choke cherry bushes are red now.

Shoshone Crossing

Many of the hillsides are screaming yellow.

The Mormon Row barns and homestead’s cottonwoods and aspens are beginning to change. There are lots of zones with green trees.


Expect “some” haze. The wind can either bring in new smoke or temporarily whisk it away.


October 1st, 2020 – Thursday

Aspen Hillside

Aspen Hillside: One of the many hillsides lit up with bright aspens!

Aspen Stand

Aspen Stand: This is the stand of aspens behind the Chapel of the Transfiguration.

Reflected Trunks


Black Hawthorn Berries

Black Hawthorn Berries and Colorful Leaves:


September 30th, 2020 – Wednesday

Oxbow Bend Reflections

Oxbow Bend Reflections: Lacking clouds, I opted to look for “tight” shots in the Oxbow area.

Oxbow Bend Reflections

Oxbow Bend Reflections:

Oxbow Bend Reflections

Oxbow Bend Reflections:

Oxbow Bend Reflections

Oxbow Bend Pano Reflections:

Oxbow Bend Colorful Drive

Colors at the Oxbow Turnout:

Oxbow Bend Reflections

Oxbow Bend Reflections:


September 29th, 2020 – Tuesday

Oxbow Aspen Stand

Oxbow Aspen Stand: This is the aspen stand in the “upper lot” at Oxbow Bend. It changed considerably in one day!

Chapel of the Transfiguration

Chapel of the Transfiguration: Check out the yellow leaves.

Teton Smoke

Teton Smoke: We’ve bad essentially clear skies for a few days, but it appears there is a fire on the West side of the Tetons. Smoke was flowing in on both sides.


September 28th, 2020 – Monday

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Oxbow Bend Alpenglow

Alpenglow and Oxbow Bend:

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend: The Aspens at the corner of “the Bend” are turning. Peak? Some are peak now, some are half way.

Upper Parking Lot

Upper Parking Lot: This zone is nearing peak.

Arizona Meadows

Arizona Meadows: This golden field is located near Arizona Creek in the northern portion of the park. It has a lot of nice orange Aspens.


Aspens: This was taken near Spread Creek. Some of them will turn even more orange.

Other Notes: The cottonwoods in the Snake River north of Snake River Overlook are essentially done. South of there, the cottonwoods still have leaves but are not as vivid this year as in some other years.


September 27th, 2020 – Sunday

Teton Sunset

Teton Sunset: Fresh snow on the peaks should make foliage season extra special this year. I hear Oxbow looked great today.


September 26th, 2020 – Saturday

Colorful Aspens

Colorful Aspens: Taken near the Visitor’s Center at Moose. That area is generally bright now. Some of the Black Hawthorn bushes are turning orange and red, too.

Leaf Detail

Leaf and Drops: I think this one could have been a little sharper if I had set up the tripod. At 1/100th second, the light wind probably rocked it a bit Even so, the colors are so beautiful!

Leaf Detail

Leaf Detail:

We had rain overnight along with plenty of wind. The clouds were covering the Teton Range, so I didn’t concentrate on the vista views so popular this time of the year.


September 25th, 2020 – Friday

Aspen Hillside

Aspen Hillside: This hill is always an early indicator of the fall foliage changes. It’s on the north edge of town across from the Teton National Park sign.

The wind is blowing today and there is some haze. The weather forecast suggests we might have some rain tomorrow.


September 24th, 2020 – Thursday

Oxbow Bend Upper Lot

Oxbow Bend Upper Lot: Not prime yet, but the leaves are changing now.

Oxbow Bend Pano

Oxbow Bend Pano: Hopefully, today’s brisk winds didn’t strip the early leaves at the bend.

Teton Range Pano

Teton Range Pano:

The Grand and Aspen Stand

The Grand and Aspen Stand:


September 23rd, 2020 – Wednesday


Aspens: Aspens are nearing peak in some areas. Cottonwoods south of Schwabacher look dull at the moment, but are brighter in the Triangle X Ranch and Moran Junction area.

Haze? The haze from the California fires was back this afternoon. It is usually more clear in the mornings. I tried adding a circular Polarizing filter today, but it didn’t affect the distant smoke. It might be time to have it ready, however! Check out this post:

Polarizing Filters for Fall Foliage


September 22nd, 2020 – Tuesday

Colorful Leaves

Leaves: This was taken along the Gros Ventre Road while waiting for a bull Moose to wake up and get active again.

Bull Moose in Gros Ventre Channel

Bull Moose in Gros Ventre Channel: Other zones of the Gros Ventre River are actually quite yellow, but this section is just turning. …Oh yes. The Moose finally got up!


September 20, 2020 – Sunday


Aspens: This pretty stand of aspens was taken just East of Moran Junction. Lots of color there.

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend: This “record shot” shows the status of the stand of trees at the corner of Oxbow Bend. I’d say it still has a week to go. Aspens on the upper hillside are turning now.

Other Notes:

  • The Cottonwoods around the Mormon Row Barns are just showing “hints” of color. They usually change in October.
  • The Cottonwoods along the Snake River are changing
  • The Willows and Cottonwoods along the Gros Ventre are definitely changing.
  • There are lots of stands of Aspens near Triangle X and the Cunningham Cabin with yellow.


September 19, 2020 – Saturday

Spring Gulch Aspens

Spring Gulch Aspens: A lot of zones are starting to “turn on” now. There are similar stands on Snow King Mountain.

Black Bear

Black Bear and Black Hawthorn Bushes: The Hawthorns and Choke Cherry trees are turning along the Moose-Wilson Road. There’s a bumper crop of berries this year.


September 18, 2020 – Friday

Moose Cow and Calf

Moose Cow and Calf in the Gros Ventre: Actually, I took this photo yesterday, but had so many Mountain Maple photos, it got lost in the shuffle. You can see how the trees are changing along the river bottoms. The Snake his similar. There are many cottonwoods with yellow and green in the same tree. They need another three or four days.

Oxbow Bend: I haven’t been there in a few days, but the lower section of aspen at the “bend” was still very green. History “suggests” October 1st is a good bet, but Oxbow could turn prime before then. The hillsides above Oxbow Bend were definitely changing.


September 17, 2020 – Thursday

Mountain Maples

Mountain Maples: I drove down the Snake River Canyon and to the Palisades Reservoir Dam this morning. The mountains are “on fire” in many areas. Mountain Maples are ablaze!

Mountain Maples

Mountain Maples: For now, I’ll just add the photos and will try to add comments later. It’s ON…get there if you can!

Mountain Maples

I took all of these Mountain Maple photos with my Nikon D6 and Sigma Sport 60-600mm lens…all handheld.

Mountain Maples

Mountain Maples

Mountain Maples

Mountain Maples

Mountain Maples

Mountain Maples

Some Aspens are turning, but as you can see, many of them are behind the Mountain Maples.

Mountain Maples

Mountain Maples


Yes…the skies are hazy, but as you can see in the previous photos, you can still work with the closer trees.

Mountain Maples


September 15, 2020 – Tuesday – Middle of the Month!

Buffalo Fork

Buffalo Fork River: There is a lot of color around Moran Junction.

Moran Junction

Moran Junction: Things are changing from green to yellow, but not prime there.

Oxbow Bend: The lower portions of Oxbow are still green, but the upper hillsides are beginning to change.

Haze is still with us. Right now, don’t expect the big, clear vista views and wide panoramic shots. As you can see in the recent photos, relatively close shots are not greatly affected by the smoke and haze.


September 13, 2020 – Sunday

Jackson Lake Junction Color

Jackson Lake Junction Color: These aspens always turn gold and orange early. Very pretty!


Aspens: This stand of aspens is located next to the Christian Creek bridge near the Jackson Lake Lodge.


Grizzlies: Notice the colors behind the photographers along the Buffalo Fork River.

Except for the random patches of color, much of the Oxbow Bend and Willow Flats is still a “3” or maybe “4” on the scale.

Landscape Haze

Haze: Smoke re=entered the valley today. If you shoot long distances, expect layers of haze. If you can shoot tight, similar to today’s colorful photos above, the haze shouldn’t be as much of an issue.


September 12, 2020 – Saturday


Aspens near Moran Junction. The willows along the Buffalo Fork River at the Moose Junction are also turning.


September 11, 2020 – Friday

  • Oxbow Bend: Using the scale above, most of the aspens around Oxbow Bend are only a “2” with maybe a few “3”s.
  • Snake River Cottonwoods: They are looking dry….maybe a “3” but not colorful.
  • Gros Ventre Willows and Cottonwoods: “5” with a few “7”


September 10, 2020 – Thursday

As in every year, I get emails asking me when I think “prime” will be this year. To be honest, I can never really predict it! As of September 10, I can find some bright yellow trees, but they are scattered all over the place.

Rolling Color: It helps to understand that Prime Foliage “Day” is really not a day, but more of slice of several days. The primary yellow color is supplied by cottonwoods, willows, and aspens. They do not all change at the same time, and they change at different times based on elevation.

Oxbow Bend often hits prime “sometime” between September 25 and October 4th. We’ve had several very cold mornings lately, so that might jump start the season. It was 24ºF yesterday along the Gros Ventre, and it is usually a bit colder farther north.

Gros Ventre

The willows and cottonwoods along the Gros Ventre are definitely shifting. I saw some similar colors in the river bottom of the Snake River Canyon today.

Watch for early cottonwood colors at the Highway 26/390 junction near Wilson.

Some Aspens are already bright around Triangle X Ranch. Large stands of Aspens are changing along the East Boundary Road.

As the month begins, the sky is mostly clear of smoke, but California Fires can change that at any time. Click the link below for ideas if the smoke returns.

Make Lemonade! : Smoke Filled Days of 2020

Mountain Maple

The brightest colors are currently in the Snake River Canyon and along the Palisades Reservoir, but I’d suggest the best is yet to come. Aspens are behind most of the Mountain Maples.

Mountain Maple

As you can see in this shot, there are ranges of yellow, orange, and red leaves on the Mountain Maples. Mountain Maple leaves seem to stay on the branches longer than the Aspens.


You can find berries and changing leaves on the berry bushes all around the valley.

Spring Gulch

Spring Gulch Road typically has a few early yellow aspens. I took this shot a few days ago, so I suspect there are more now.

Colorful Choke Cherry Leaves

Colorful Choke Cherry Leaves: The Black Hawthorn bushes and the Choke Cherry bushes along the Moose-Wilson Road are changing. A few Black Bears have been seen there, along with a Grizzly. When a Grizzly is sighted along the road, the Park Service closes the road for several days.

Variegated Leaves

Variegated Leaves: Watch for the color! The ground cover is brightly colored in many areas already.

Choke Cherry Leaves

Choke Cherry Leaves: For now, look for color where you can find it. The big stands of colorful Aspens should turn relatively soon!


Remember, this is the Initial Entry for the 2020 Foliage Reports. I will be adding more photos and updates fairly often throughout the foliage season.

Best of the Tetons Photo Tours

I offer year round photo tours in Grand Teton National Park. Seasons are changing! Book now! Click the image for additional information.

Client Comments: “As a published and passionate photographer, I recognized Michael Jackson’s extraordinary skills as a photographer. Today I learned more about composition and creative technical ideas than I ever could have imagined.” G.S., Jackson Hole

The post Foliage Reports: September/October 2020 first appeared on Best of the Tetons, Area Info & Photography.

Velvet Antlers of Summer

Moose drop their antlers in December. That’s the “norm”, but some hang on until January. I’ve even seen a bull with antlers as late as March 1st, but that is definitely the exception. Moose look pretty scruffy through most of May and June, then begin growing their new antlers. At first, the hint of a new antler might appear about the size of an old style incandescent light bulb, but then start to take shape as the months pass by.

Young Bull

Unnamed Young Bull: July 28,2020

Resting Bull Moose

Unnamed Bull: June 27, 2020

By late August and through the first week or so of September, their antlers are fully developed and they begin stripping the soft velvet. Between the two time periods, the bulls are always careful not to damage their velvet. They gingerly pass through the trees and shrubs, and seldom spar with other bulls during this time.

Interestingly, bulls grow their antlers back in mostly the same shape and size from year to year. By the time their antlers are mature for the year, I can (usually) identify each one as a bull I photographed a year earlier. Whale and dolphin watchers can identify many of them by cuts on their back or splits in their fins. Moose watching can be much the same. For example, most Moose have a dewlap. Some of them have either long and full dewlaps dangling from their bell, while others have short dewlaps, or none at all. Others have a split in one ear or sometimes both, making them easier to identify from year to year. Washakie, a beautiful and popular moose in the area for many years, had a distinguishable scar on the right side of his muzzle. It reminded me of warpaint.


Shoshone has been my favorite bull for the past three or four years. The next three photos show his easily distinguishable antlers. Notice the dates!

Shoshone: July 8, 2018

Shoshone Oct 25, 2019

Shoshone: Oct. 25, 2019

Shoshone: July 5, 2020

As you can see, Shoshone’s brow tines have grown back about the same for three years in a row.


Moose Hoback

Hoback: July 8, 2020

The distinctive feature on this bull is the “drop tine” on his left brow tine. His right brow tine is also well developed. As I watched him early in the season, I made an assumption he was a brand new bull and gave him the name “Hoback”.

Hoback: Sept. 6, 2020


Bannock: Dec. 8, 2018

I’ve had a couple of people suggest that Hoback 2020 is actually Bannock? Hmmm…I am not convinced. Maybe? Scroll up and see for yourself. As I mentioned earlier, the bull’s antlers grow back similarly from year to year, but not always the same. When I first named this bull “Bannock” in 2018, his left brow tine was quite similar to Shoshone’s left brow tine. I even considered they “could be” brothers, whether born as twins, or possibly a year or two apart.

Shoshone and Bannock’s names have an origin—possibly of interest to readers here. Each summer, the Shoshone and Bannock tribes have a Pow-Wow at Fort Hall in Eastern Idaho, called the Sho-Ban Pow-Wow. The two tribes are closely related. In 2018, the similarity of the two bulls prompted their names.

Bannock August 25, 2019

Bannock: Aug. 25, 2019

In 2019, his left brow tines were a bit different, but his right brow tine is essentially the same. The inside points on his left brow tine had a “Bowie knife” style scallop, helping make him easy to identify that year.

Bannock: Nov. 3, 2019

This bull and Hoback both have a substantial dewlap. They also have a small white mark on the front of their muzzle. They look similar in these respects, but the right brow tines are considerably different.

What do you think?

Hoback/Bannock Behavior

So far in 2020, the bull I would have called Bannock hasn’t shown up along the Gros Ventre. Possibly, that’s another clue. Another beautiful bull I called “Custer” was a fixture for three or four years, then hasn’t shown up for three years. Possibly, he was killed by a hunter, killed by wolves, or hit by a vehicle, I’ll never know. He lacked a dewlap, so I know neither of these two bulls are Custer. The 2020 Hoback is not hanging in the same areas as 2018 and  2019 Bannock. Possibly Bannock will show up when the cows come into season for the upcoming rut, putting an end to the mystery. Other bulls show up throughout the fall, some of which come from the river bottom of the Snake River.


Anthropomorphism is a term used when humans assign a name to an animal, often a human name. Scientists frown on it, I figure if Jane Goodall can name apes and monkeys, I can name the bulls I love to photograph. Often, I am the first person to start seriously photographing the moose each year, so I give them a name of my choice. I use the name as a keyword in my Lightroom catalogs, making it easy to bring up a specific bull by the year, or from my entire catalog. Unlike the grizzlies being studied by the park Service, the bull moose do not have an assigned number, such as Grizzly 610 or Grizzly 399. As more photographers show up, they often adopt the names I have been using. We can say, “I saw Shoshone” near the fisherman’s access point” and we all know which moose is out. You, of course, can give them your own name, number, or no identifier at all.

The Velvet Season

By about the mid-July, the bulls start looking pretty good. By mid-August, they usually look great! At some point at the end of August through the first week of September, they begin stripping their velvet. After their antlers are stripped and polished, they are ready to begin the rut. Bulls can travel miles looking for a cow, so it is not uncommon they seem to disappear for relatively long periods of time.

The photos below are some of the images I have taken this year while they were still in the velvet.

Moose Assembly

While some people suggest that moose are essentially solitary creatures, I find that to be incorrect around here. That is even more so in the few weeks prior to them beginning to strip their velvet.

I enjoy trying to find moose in unusual conditions like fog. Both of these bulls were still in velvet at this time.

Shoshone in Fog

Shoshone’s trademark brow tines make him easy to identify even in thick fog.

In the Fog

Fog removes details but adds mood. Shoshone and Hoback are about the same size this year.


Early morning light seems to always be the best! This is a bull I call Kemmerer.


Moose are often seen in the sagebrush, but I like the cottonwood meadows.


Hoback’s drop tine makes him easy to identify.


Likewise, Shoshone’s brow tines are quite distinctive.


Shoshone’s paddles may not be as large as they were last year. That could be an indication he is a year past his prime, but who knows.


I love to capture a nice bull, like Shoshone, in water. Great early morning light is a bonus.

Bull Moose

Bulls seldom spar while still in velvet, but they occasionally faux spar—going through the motions without actually touching antlers.

Shoshone Drinking

Needless to say, I love the moose! They seem to have so much character!


A partially lit subject is often more interesting than an evenly lit subject. It works for me!


If given the choice, I’d usually pick the biggest bulls, but any bull next to water and with good light is a worthy shot.


Little bull…good light…low angle…worth a shot!

Moose Hoback

Good light…big bull…low angle…worth a shot!

Stripping Velvet

Hoback Losing Velvet

While not for everyone, trying to catch a big bull stripping his velvet is high on my bucket list each year. There is never a way to know what time of the day they will do it, and they often out of sight when it happens. Persistence can pay off! Of course, this is Hoback.

Shoshone Stripping

Bulls find an appropriate tree or branch for stripping their velvet. While this shot does a pretty good job of showing the activity, videos are actually much better!

Shoshone Stripping

While thrashing, they often break off branches onto their antlers. Maybe they do it to impress the cows, but I’ve seen it countless times.  I caught this one backlit with some of his hanging velvet with a transparent look.


I’ve seen bulls strip the bulk of their velvet in fifteen to thirty minutes, but some bulls take a while. Tassels often hang from the base of their antlers a little longer. The outside of their antlers always falls off first, while the velvet on the inside of their paddles is more difficult. Without a mirror to let them know the status of their fall “job”, they continue to thrash the willows and branches for weeks.


While the rut is still ahead of them, bulls are always in the market to mate with a female. The Flehmen Reaction, or lip curl, lets them know the status of the female.

Shoshone and Hoback

Even though their antlers aren’t fully polished, the bulls know it is okay to begin sparring.

Sparring bulls

The serious fights are yet to come.

Rain Storm

I don’t know how much longer these two big bulls will hang with each other, but they were still together as a recent rain storm moved through.

Rain Storm

Give him a few more days, and I would expect Shoshone to finish stripping the velvet from the inner side of their paddles. This shot was taken during the rain storm.

Photos on this Page

Other than the few earlier photos of Shoshone and Bannock, all of the photos on this page were taken with a Nikon D6 and a Sigma Sport 60-600mm lens in 2020. Some were supported with a tripod, while others were handheld.

Additional Moose Feature Posts

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