Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Western States Photography Tour: Grand Teton National Park

Fishermen try the Snake River at Schwabacher's Landing.

The view from Signal Mountain in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

I arrived before dawn at the Oxbow Bend viewpoint in Grand Teton National Park. A number of cars were stopped to watch a moose browsing on the side of the road. I pulled over across from him but stayed in the car, as he was not far away. Then he decided that the bushes looked much better on my side fo the road, and he crossed right in front of my parked car! He proceeded to feed on the bushes next to my passenger side window. He looked up briefly as I rolled down the window, then continued on with his business.

After a while he worked his way down towards the Snake River, oining his mate there. I was able to position myself downriver to get the Tetons in the background, just as the day's first light was reaching them.

This is the standard view from the vista point. Not bad, but compare this the following shot, taken from just down the slope!

Getting here requires climbing over the viewpoint retaining wall, and scrambling down a steep path to a small clearing in the trees about 50 feet below the viewpoint. Working a little harder to get just the right angle, you get much more of the river in.

I blew it on the camera settings here, leaving the ISO at 800, which I had used in pre-dawn light. I set the aperture correctly at f/22 for depth of field and the shutter speed ended up being 1/80th sec. Unfortunately there was way too much noise in this shot to have it ever make a good enlargement. This copy of the file is fine since I reduced the resolution about 9X (3x in the vertical and horizontal directions).

If there's another thing that seems a bit different in this view, I rotated the camera to level the plains below the mountains. There are enough off-vertical trees in the foreground to make it plausible, but to me the mountains getting smaller towards the real vanishing point off the left side of the picture seem to provide enough visual clues to give it away, and make the orientation not quite feel right.

The Mormon Row barns are another popular place for dawn shots at Grand Teton National Park.