Monday, August 25, 2008

Homesteads in Grand Teton National Park

Mormon Row Sunrise, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

One of the barns along Mormon Row Road in Grand Teton National Park.

Sunset at Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Sunset, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

The lighting is different but no less dramatic at sunset at The Oxbow in Grand Teton National Park.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dawn at Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend Sunrise, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

No two sunrises or sunsets are the same at this classic location in Grand Teton National Park.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On to Grand Teton National Park

Beaver Pond Reflection, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

This was taken shortly after sunrise at the beaver pond at Schwabacher's Landing.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Mid-day is the best time to get light in the canyon, but you should use a polarizing filter to cut glare and improve color from the rocks.

Sunset at Midway Geyser Basin

Alien World, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

The Grand Prismatic Spring is one of my favorite shooting location in Yellowstone, and sunset is an excellent time to be there. The horizon is even lower to the West than to the East, so you're more likely to get some nice color at sunset.

Old Faithful Geyser Basin

Morning Glory Pool, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

I wanted to reach the Morning Glory Pool around mid-day, so I arrived at old Faithful mid-morning. Old Faithful was scheduled to erupt at 10:54, so I stayed for that.

As I was waiting, the Beehive Geyser erupted nearby as well with a 200' stream of water.

Old Faithful.

Dawn at the Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone

Yellowstone Moonset, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

WIth people staying home due to high gas prices and to watch the Olmpics, I was able to phone in a reservation for the Madison Campground on the afternoon of my arrival. My goal was to be near the geyser basins near Old Faithful.

I decided to spend my first sunrise at Midway Geyser Basin, but along eh way I couldn't help but stop to catch the full moon setting over the fog created by the steam from the geyser basins.

Midway Geyser Basin is tucked between two small hills, so my stop on the way there was productive while the sun climbed high enough to reach the basin. It will be weeks before I get through all of my Yellowstone photos, but a lot of the better ones will come from Midway Geyser Basin.

Two Medicine

Two Medicine, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

This was somewhat of a "checklist stop" to see what this place was like on my way out of Galcier as i moved towards Yellowstone, but it's definitely a place that I'll have to revisit.

The sun was already setting as I left the East Entrance of Glacier National Park at St. Mary, but a few short miles downt he road I caught the full moon rising over some dead trees. I arrived in two Medicine witht he mountians slightly backlit, with the full moon's light on their southeastern faces.

Many Glacier

Swiftcurrent Lake, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

The Many Glacier Hotel is on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, an excellent place to catch sunrise in Glacier National Park.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Going to the Sun Road

Untitled, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

Having visited Logan Pass a couple of days before, I decided to go back and catch more sights on the Going to the Sun Road.

Sunrift Gorge is only steps off of the Going to the Sun Road.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Logan Pass, Glacier National Park

Going to the Sun Road, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

After my grizzly bear encouunter, I decided to continue up the road to Logan Pass.

Charged by a Grizzly Bear!

Wild Goose Island Dawn, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

I took this shot shortly after being charged by a grizzly bear, maybe 75 yards downhill from this popular overlook in Glacier National Park.

Intending to return to the shore of Lake St. Mary a second morning, I startled a grizzly bear about 40 feet in front of me. He bolted way at high speed, crashing through brush as he went. Standing still and making noise for a while, figuring that he had probably wandered off after the encounter, I suddenly noticed him staring at me looking very agitated, in about the same point that he had bolted from! This highly aggressive behavior is in sharp contrast with what I've experienced with black bears (apparently even our bears in California are laid back). This massive grizzly was clearly very pissed off, spitting and making a loud huffing noise and making short but powerful lunges into the bush in front of him, clawing at it with his giant paws.

He probably thought as I moved downhill swiftly towards him that I was charging him, and although his "fight or flight" instinct initially told him to run, he had clearly chosen to come back for some "fight" once I started making noise and he figured out what I was.

I figured the bear could close the distance between us in 3 seconds or less. I could either retreat inmmediately or turn on my camera on (unfortunately with a wide angle lens on), get it out of 10 second timer mode, and capture a few frames (possibly the last of my life). Choices are rarely so easy. I assured the bear that yes, it was his huckleberry bush, backing up. I don't remember actually getting back up the hill, but I know that I was careful not to run, and an instant later I was most of the way back up. I warned the half dozen photographers at the top of the hill that they had an agitated bear 50 yards downhill.

When I reached the Logan Pass ranger station I filed a bear encounter report. Several rangers told me over the next 24 hours that I was very lucky not to get attacked. I read a book "Bear Attacks" the following morning and the huffing noise is the second most common thing grizzlies do right before they attack. Growling is reported by slightly more survivors of grizzly attacks. Loud vocal noises by people are interpreted as highly aggressive behavior and can trigger an attack. My yelling up to the other photographers at the top of the hill to warn them about the bear and my whistling loudly may have been what brought him back (interpreted as a challenge). If I had happened upon a female and cubs (like the ones I saw this morning), there's a high probability that I would have been instantly charged and the females are much less likely to end a charge as a "bluff" attack.

Always wear bear bells in grizzly country!

I don't think this was the grizzly bear that charged me this morning... it was a second one only 1/2 mile down the road. He crossed the road in front of me and I had a couple of seconds to shoot this right out the window of my car.

Lake St. Mary Sunrise

Lake St. Mary Sunrise, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

Sunrise at Lake St. Mary, Glacier National Park.

A small pond adjacent to Lake St. Mary in Glacier National Park.

Wild Goose Island overlook at Lake St. Mary, Glacier National Park.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Arrival in Glacier

Lake McDonald Sunset, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

I arrived in Glacier National Park just in time for sunset over Lake McDonald.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Say Hello to my Little Friend!

Grumpy By the Side of the Road

While driving Highway 93 from Wells, Nevada to Idaho Falls, Idaho, on my way to Glacier National Park in Montana, I saw a rattlesnake about 2.5 to 3 feet long on the side of the road.  He was coiled up, confused by the passing cars.

I pulled over, crouched down a few feet way, snapped a few pictures, then I carefully picked him up with a hiking stick.

Free Ride

He completely ignored the hiking stick as I picked him up. As a pit viper with heat-seeking pits in his face, his attention was completely focused on the scary warm-blooded creature a few feet away. Apparently the pits are used more than his eyes, or sense of touch. Nothing else caught his attention.

Although he remained on guard the entire time, he never struck at me or the hiking stick, his interest in me was purely defensive.

My interest was in my camera, its settings, the composition, the hiking stick in my hand, and the agitated rattlesnake on the far end of it, while keeping it all steady. It was quite a handful, or two hands full!

I put him in some grass out in the sagebrush about 100 yards away from the road.  Hopefully he wouldn't head back in that direction, or if he did, it was late at night without the traffic.

You can see how well these snakes blend in with the grass and mixed sun and shade. The babies don't even have working rattles to warn you, which is why it's a good idea to wear boots and not place your hands and feet in places you can't see when travelling in snake country.

Dawn in Nevada, maybe 150 miles into the trip. By the time I stopped driving that night I was near the Idaho/Montana border, nearly 1000 miles from where I started the night before.

Along the way, I stopped to do a little fly fishing at the Nature Conservancy's Silver Creek Preserve in Picabo, Idaho. It was a great way to stretch my legs on the long drive.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Boca Reservoir Sunset

Boca Reservoir Sunset, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

I'm back in the Tahoe area preparing for my next trip. In addition to Lake tahoe, there are several reservoirs in the area that provide opportunities to catch reflections when you have an interesting sunrise or sunset. This is sunset at Boca Reservoir in the Tahoe National Forest near Truckee, California.

Sometimes the patterns in the reflections of the sunset are as interesting as the sunset itself.

Even after the light fades past the point of catching competent landscape images, you can still squeeze in a dimly lit "I am here" shot!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Convict Lake

Convict Lake, originally uploaded by Jeff Sullivan.

Tucked in the Eastern Sierra near the town of Mammoth Lakes, Convict Lake is a popular fishing destination that makes a fine sunrise or morning shot.

Trout fishing in the Owens River has gotten much better since the banks were fenced off from grazing cattle.

Little Hot Creek