AstilesPhotography: Blog https://astilesphotography.com/blog en-us (C) AstilesPhotography astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) Tue, 06 Sep 2016 17:59:00 GMT Tue, 06 Sep 2016 17:59:00 GMT https://astilesphotography.com/img/s/v-5/u594410579-o499303885-50.jpg AstilesPhotography: Blog https://astilesphotography.com/blog 120 94 The building of a spider web https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/9/the-building-of-a-spider-web On the night of September 5, 2016, I tried to capture the construction of a web by Madame Arachne, an Neoscona crucifera spider.  If you have never watched an orb-web spider build its web, you have missed an absolutely amazing event.  The precision and speed with which they construct their web is unbelievable, and the technical data would require an engineer to explain as far as strength, angles of tension, and so on.  Absolutely amazing.  There are a total of 13 photos in this gallery, showing the beginning to end construction.  I hope you enjoy.

http://astilesphotography.com/p522010304#h283cff0

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/9/the-building-of-a-spider-web Tue, 06 Sep 2016 16:16:40 GMT
Day 20, 21, and 22 Photo Safari Yellowstone and Grand Tetons https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-20-21-and-22-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons May 20, Day 20:  You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks!  We got up and had breakfast at the hotel, then go onto the Interstate (I-70) and headed towards St. Louis.  After we got through St. Louis, we got off the Interstate and drove backroads.  Ended up on the Great River Road that paralleled the Mississippi River and took us through some beautiful farmlands.  Found an old prairie church, some old houses, some huge tractors and some beautiful little towns that time seemed to have passed by.  Stopped in Paducah, KY for the night.  295 miles, 22 MPG

May 21, Day 21:  This would be our last day of sightseeing, so we had breakfast at the hotel, checked out, and immediately go onto the backroads headed towards Chattanooga, TN.  We passed hundreds of beautiful places; however, there were very few places to pull off the road and take photos.  We were able to find one place to pull off and photograph an old barn that was being taken over by honeysuckle vines, and some wildflowers.  Coming through Nashville, we passed some gorgeous houses.  They were more like estates really.  These were huge, modern houses set on several acres of land; and if you enjoy photographing those type things, then this is the route (Highway 41 and Alt 41) you want to drive.  We stopped in Chattanooga for the night so that we could get up and get through Atlanta on Sunday morning and be home by 10:00 or 11:00 AM.  330 miles  21 MPG

May 22, Day 22:  We had breakfast and checked out of the hotel, and headed for home.  It was an uneventful drive, which is what we had hoped for.  Arrived home by 10:30, unpacked the truck, fed and petted the cats, and just enjoyed being home.  140 miles,  18 MPG

Total cost of the trip, including lodging, meals, and fuel was about $4,700.00.  You could probably get a nice cruise package for that; but you would not get the photo opportunities.  You could fly and then rent an automobile after shipping some gear ahead for about the same; but you would not see as much.  You may be able to drive a RV or pull a camper for a little less, IF and only if, you do not account for the cost of the RV/Camper and extra insurance.  The choice, of course, is yours.  My goal has been to convince you to get out and see and photograph the USA.  As Roy Rogers used to say:  Happy Tails to you!

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-20-21-and-22-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons Sun, 26 Jun 2016 02:08:03 GMT
Day 18 and 19 Photo Safari Yellowstone and Grand Tetons https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-18-and-19-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons May 18, Day 18  You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks!  We checked out and left Sidney at 6:45 AM and drove backroads.  We drove east on Route 30, then south on Route 64, and east again on Route 6/34.  We found and California Hill, another Oregon Trail landmark. We also found some markers where Pony Express stations had once stood.  Saw lots of old barns, abandoned houses and windmills, and even an old car sitting atop some old oil tanks .  Stopped briefly at the Prairie Pioneer Museum near Holdrege, NE and discovered that there had been a German POW camp in the little town of Atlanta which we had just passed through. We headed back up to the Interstate on Highway 183, and then drove east, stopping in York, NE for the night.  368 miles  23 MPG

May 19, Day 19:  WE had breakfast at the hotel, checked out, and departed at 8:00 AM.  Drove to an old 1920’s restored farm, but it was not open.  Took a few photos from the road, drove back to the Interstate and headed to Columbia, Missouri.  Stopped at the visitors center near St. Joseph, MO and asked about scenic routes.  The friendly little old lady told us to take Route 36.  She talked about birthplace sites of famous people and quilting museums, and that should have been my warning; but I missed it.  We drove route 36, and it was not much different from the Interstate, as it is a four-lane divided highway.  We did find an old barn and farm house.  We tried to find a covered bridge, and ended up finding the boyhood  home of General J.J. (Blackjack) Pershing.  A disappointment as far a scenic routes when you are looking for old abandoned barns and homesteads.  Finally arrived at Columbia, Mo, found our hotel and stopped for the night.  350 miles, 20 MPG

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-18-and-19-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons Sun, 26 Jun 2016 02:06:14 GMT
Day 17 Photo Safari Yellowstone and Grand Tetons https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-17-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons May 17, Day 17:  You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks!  We checked out and left Jackson at 7:00 AM, driving back to Moran Junction in order to pick up highway 26 south.  WE drove through beautiful farmland and ranch country as we wound our way up through Togwotee Pass in the Absaroaka Mountains, and the Shoshone National Forest.  (Absaroka is a Native American word, pronounced ab-SOR-ka, meaning "Children of the big-beaked bird," or the Crow Indians.)  The highway paralleled the Wind River, and offered some beautiful scenery.  Encountered light snow and ice fog in a few different places but the road surface was clear and had been recently sanded in some spots.  We dropped down out of the mountains near Dubois and saw many little farms and ranches along the river.  We stopped in Fort Washakie to look for the monument to Sacajawea, and found it without too much trouble.  While we were there, a gentleman came up in his pickup truck and told us with a smile that he had defaced the monument. He then explained that whoever had put up the monument had gotten something wrong.  The monument states that Sacajawea’s tombstone is to the west of the monument.  He had scratched out the word “west” and written in “east” which is correct.  He then pointed it out to us, wished us a good day, and left. 

I may have been my imagination; but as I stood on that windy hill overlooking Fort Washakie and watched a raven flying overhead looking down, it sounded like the wind was carrying whispers of the spirits, and I could not make out what they were saying.  After taking photos, we left and continued south and east through Lander, Rawlins, where we got onto I-80, then on Cheyenne, and Pine Bluff, Nebraska.  We got off the Interstate near Kimball, NE to visit Scotts Bluff.  However, while there was a large sign indicating the direction to Scotts Bluff, we failed to find one directing us to the actual bluffs.  We finally gave up and drove east on Highway 92 along the North Platte River.  We found several old farmsteads, passed through Ogallala, and found Chimney Rock, Courthouse Rock, and Jailhouse Rock, all landmarks used by the pioneers traversing the Oregon Trail.  We stopped in Sidney, Nebraska for the night and went to a nearby I-Hop that looked like it was just opening. As it turned out, they were holding their first run through after training the staff, and the manager invited us to become the first customers, even though it was supposed to only be friends and family of the new staff.  632 miles  18 MPG

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-17-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons Sun, 26 Jun 2016 00:37:23 GMT
Day 15 and 16 Photo Safari Yellowstone and Grand Tetons https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-15-and-16-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons May 15, Day 15:  You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks!  We left the motel at 5:00 AM and drove to Oxbow Bend for sunrise.  Too cloudy for any sunrise shots; but while there we heard a wolf pack howling in the hills just southeast of where we were.   We drove slowly back to Pacific Creek Road and then on Pilgrim Creek Road with no luck for wolves, bears, or moose.  I have to make a comment here on another experience in this area.  My method of looking for wildlife is to drive these roads very slowly, stopping often to use telephotos or binoculars to scan the surrounding areas.  However, one idiot with Colorado plates had a different method.  He roared up and down these dirt and gravel roads at about 40 mph, looking for groups of photographers.  He flew around me about four different times, and was too fast for me to get a license number to report him.  Someone like him is probably responsible for the death of the little cub a few weeks later in this area.  Anyway, we checked the area around Colter Bay, ate lunch from the cooler, and then returned to Pacific Creek Road and drove all the way to Two Ocean Lake.  No wildlife at all.  On our return, we found some old dead trees and discovered a Marmot who decided he would show off for us.  Got some good shots of him.  Headed back to the motel.  198 miles  24 MPG

 

May 16, Day 16:  I went out alone at 5:00 AM to try and find the grizzly sow and cubs.  Spotted a young grizzly, maybe 2 years old; but it was walking away from where I was.  I couldn’t get any decent shots.  Returned to the motel at 8:15 to pick up everyone else and get breakfast at The Bunnery.  We drove down Gros Ventre Road looking for moose without luck, then over to Mormon Row for a few more shots around there.  We then drove through Moose Junction and cruised along Teton Park Road to Jenny Lake with the intentions of photographing some wildflowers along one of the trails. Found the trail closed for maintenance, so we drove along the shores of the lake without finding anything interesting.  On the way back, we finally found one old mangy looking moose and got some photos of it.  WE started to go out to the Chapel of the Transfiguration; but a bus load of selfie sticks pulled in ahead of us.  We decided to  head back to the motel and pack up for our trip home tomorrow morning.

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-15-and-16-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons Sun, 26 Jun 2016 00:23:54 GMT
Day 13 and 14 Photo Safari Yellowstone and Grand Tetons https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-13-and-14-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons May 13, Day 13:  You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks!  The South Entrance was opened this morning, so we got up and departed West Yellowstone around 7:00 AM. Had breakfast at McDonalds, then cruised the Madison and Firehole Rivers without finding any animal activity.  Drove on to West Thumb, and through Bridger-Teton Forest towards Moran Junction.  Stopped at Colter Bay to have lunch from the cooler and got several landscape photos of the Tetons across the bay.  On leaving there and heading for Jackson, we discovered we had just missed a Grizzly sow and her two cubs.  Drove on to Moran Junction and took Highway 26 south towards Jackson. Stopped at Oxbow Bend for some shots, and again at Cunningham Cabin.   Hoped to find some horses around Triangle X Ranch, but none were in sight.  We checked into our rooms at the Motel 6 in Jackson.  Bare essentials in these rooms; but we only needed a place to sleep that was dry and had a bathroom.  This place fitted our needs just fine, and at about half the price of anywhere else.  Discovered The Bunnery was no longer open for dinner, so we at a Mexican place next door.  If you are ever there, make sure you allow some time to visit Thomas Mangelsen’s gallery in this same block. He is the best wildlife and nature photographer in my opinion.  Stunning photos, all for sale.  144 miles  21 MPG

 

May 14, Day 14: We left the motel at 5:00 AM to catch the sunrise from Mormon Row.  I had to promise everyone we would stop early and return to the motel for them to catch a nap.  We drove north on Highway 26, turned off on Antelope Flats Road and were excited to not see many other people at the John Moulton barn.  Before we could get out and set up, however, a bus load of tourists pulled up and began disgorging about 50 people at the northernmost barn, the John Moulton Barn.  All were Asian, and unlike most Asian tourist we had seen, none had selfie sticks. They all had DSLRs on tripods, and proceeded to follow their guide out to where we had intended to set up.  We moved south and set up to shoot the T.A. Moulton barn instead.  One from the tour bus followed us; however, he never interfered in any way, was careful to stay out of our shots, and did his own shooting.  What a welcome difference from the infuriating selfie-stick crowds!  After sunrise, we drove down to Swabacher Landing for reflections in the morning light.  From there, I drove back to Jackson to allow everyone to get breakfast at The Bunnery, as a reward for their early morning departure.  We then drove back north on Highway 26 and discovered we had just missed another grizzly sow and her two cubs on Pacific Creek Road.  Myself and several others thought she might reappear further down the road, but after a couple of hours waiting, we all gave up.  We got back to the motel around 3:00 PM and everyone rested up some.  142 miles  25 MPG

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-13-and-14-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons Sun, 26 Jun 2016 00:22:27 GMT
Day 11 and 12 Photo Safari Yellowstone and Grand Tetons https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-11-and-12-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons May 11, Day 11:  You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks!  We left the cabins at 6:00 AM and headed into the park.  We only found a few elk as we drove along the Madison and Firehole Rivers.  Drove back to Old Faithful to allow everyone to reshoot it, then north to Norris Junction and east to Canyon Junction.  From there we drove slowly through Hayden Valley, still finding very little animal activity. Decided to head over to the East Entrance since they had just opened the highway. We stopped and had lunch at the Fishing Bridge center, then up into the Absoroka Range, through Sylvan Pass, and down to the East Entrance.  Saw a lot of beautiful scenery but no animal activity.  Returning through Hayden Valley, we found a grizzly feeding on a winterkill about a mile from Canyon Junction.  Stopped and took some photos, then headed back towards the cabins.  Had dinner at the Outpost, which is a great place to eat.  It is nothing fancy, but great service, very reasonable prices, and good food.  I was happy to find that we had been moved to a single, unattached cabin, and looked forward to a good night of sleep.  198 miles  18 MPG

 

May 12, Day 12:  We left the cabins at 6:30 AM.  I had promised the others to take them to Mammoth Hot Springs to allow them to do some landscape shooting.  While waiting for them, I found a Magpie and woodpecker to photograph.  After a few shots, the others decided they were ready to go, so we drove back to Norris, over to Canyon and down to Fishing Bridge.  Did not see any animal activity, so we drove back and stopped at Artist Point to shoot the Lower Falls.  Then we drove back by the North Rim overlooks to allow some more shots, and headed back to the cabins to get packed up and move to Jackson tomorrow.  144 miles  22 MPG

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-11-and-12-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons Sun, 26 Jun 2016 00:20:54 GMT
Day 9 and 10 Photo Safari Yellowstone and Grand Tetons https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-9-and-10-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons May 9, Day 9: You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks!  I mentioned an avalanche on Day 6, and about meeting the cinematographer.  His name is Jeff Hogan, and you can see some sample clips at http://www.hoganfilms.com/STOCK%20FOOTAGE.html  Today we got up and checked out of the Pine Edge Cabins and departed Silver Gate around 7:00 AM, since we were moving to West Yellowstone today.  Stopped at the location of the abandoned bison calf and there was no evidence of it anywhere.  Found the Grizzly boar on the winterkill again and stopped for some more photos of him. We also spotted another grizzly in the far distance, with a black wolf sitting on a hillside watching it.  Both were too far away for decent photos.  Drove through Mammoth and then south to Norris.  From there we drove east to Canyon and then south to Fishing Bridge.  On the return trip we found another grizzly feeding on another winterkill and took a few photos, then continued on to West Yellowstone.  As we got checked into our cabins, the winds were getting stronger and the temperature dropping.  Again, the Explorer Cabins in West Yellowstone are a great place to stay.  I would recommend reserving a cabin that is unattached to any other cabins to ensure you do not have noisy neighbors.  160 miles  25 MPG

May 10, Day 10:  We got up and left the cabins around 6:00 AM. We drove the Madison River, where we found a Bald Eagle and an Osprey.  We took some photos.  Drove down to Old Faithful and got a few shots, then back north to Gibbon Falls.  It was very cold and windy today, and no animal activity at all.  Had a family of Chinese move into the attached cabin, and they were very polite; however, they were extremely loud too. I spoke with the management staff and they told me that 10:00 PM was when their “quiet time” began.  At 10:30 PM, I politely asked the Chinese to be quiet. They were very apologetic, but I went back to management and explained that I was a nature/wildlife photographer which required me to get up and out very early, and back to the cabin late.  I told them I wanted a different cabin for tomorrow evening.  They agreed to get me into another one and advised me to take everything with me in the morning, and that they would have the new cabin ready when I returned from shooting.  110 miles  22 MPG

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-9-and-10-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons Sun, 26 Jun 2016 00:19:39 GMT
Day 8 Photo Safari Yellowstone and Grand Tetons https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-8-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons May 8, Day 8:  You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks!  We photographed the Bison calves through Lamar Valley.  As we left Tower Junction and headed towards Mammoth, we found a Grizzly feeding off another winter kill next to Blacktail Pond.  A Coyote was wanting desperately to get down to the kill and feed; but he was not about to confront the Grizzly boar.  The coyote trotted around near where we were set up, and eventually disappeared in one of the draws, leaving the grizzly to eat his fill.  Did a few scenery shots and drove down to Old Faithful where we had lunch at the Old Faithful Lodge before heading back to Mammoth, and then on back to Silver Gate. 

People often attribute human qualities to wildlife, and I am guilty of it myself at times like this encounter that made me think of a mother’s love.  However, there is a limit to how far that should go, as we have seen time and again in incidents where tourists endanger themselves and the wildlife by not respecting the animals.  About a mile past the Lamar Ranger Station, we found a Bison calf all alone in the sage brush on a small bluff beside the Lamar River.  We pulled off the road with the intentions of photographing it; but it soon became apparent that something was wrong with it.  After observing it, I determined that it was blind, and was panicking as it sought its mother. She had abandoned it and moved on across the river. Now I know that nature will run its course; and I am not opposed to that at all, believing it is the best way to let things play out in a situation like this.   However, automobiles and misguided humans do not fit into that equation as I see it.  We stayed at the location, and a couple of times I asked other visitors to not go out to the bison calf when they started out in that direction.  Another person there drove to the ranger station to ask if they could send a ranger down there.  His intent and mine were to prevent the calf from straying onto the highway and sustaining a non-lethal injury, thereby causing it more pain and suffering.  We waited there for about 3 hours and finally had to leave and head back to our cabin to get packed up to check out the following morning.  As I left, I could only hope that a ranger would come and euthanize the calf after everyone had left the area; or, that a wolf or bear would find it during the night.  All that I could deal with, but not seeing it get hit by a car.  Nature is not kind, nor is it cruel.  It is simply balanced as long as we keep out of it. We insist on preserving human life at any cost, and to try and apply that to wild animals is going against the rules under which they have lived for thousands upon thousands of years. 

After the little blind bison calf, I had to stop about a mile down the road because an idiot had parked his vehicle half on and half off the road.  It was late evening, and he was outside the vehicle, squatting in the middle of the road, taking photos as two bison approached.  His three passengers were standing at the front of the vehicle admiring him.  The first bison moved off to the side of the road and went around him; but the second bison was becoming very agitated.  I did not want to do anything to further agitate the bison, so I stayed back and sat quietly in my truck.  Finally, the bison snorted, tossed his head up and down, and then wheeled and trotted back the way it had come.  The idiot then noticed that I was waiting to get by and moved over to join his admirers.  I slowly pulled up even with the people, lowered my window and told him he was asking to get killed.  He sheepishly agreed, and my wife added that he was breaking the law being that close to the animals.  His admirers looked astonished, as well as clueless.  We had seen enough for this day, and left the park.  165 miles, 25 MPG

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-8-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons Sun, 26 Jun 2016 00:18:22 GMT
Day 6 and 7 Photo Safari Yellowstone and Grand Tetons https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-5-and-6-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons May 6, Day 6:  You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks!  We were out at 6:30 AM this morning looking for wildlife.  It turned out to be a very productive day.  We entered Yellowstone from the Northeast Gate and headed down into Lamar Valley.  We found a grizzly boar foraging among the willows along Soda Butte Creek between Pebble Creek Campground and the junction of Lamar River.  He was a long ways off; but was able to get a photo.  We continued through Lamar Valley taking photos of the adorable little Bison calves, Elk, and Antelope.  At Tower Junction, we headed towards Mammoth Hot Springs, and just beyond Floating Island Lake, we found two second year Black Bear foraging on the tender shoots of grass.  Not much of a crowd had gathered and we were all able to get some decent shots .  As we returned from Mammoth to Tower, we turned onto the road to the Petrified Tree and found some wild flowers and photographed them.  Talked to a ranger that stopped and he gave us the names of them.  A lady pulled up in a vehicle that had me drooling and in talking I found that she was from Red Lodge, MT and had come into the park in her Global X camper for wildlife photography as well.  This evening there was an avalanche across the valley and river from our cabin. We had gone to Cooke City to get something for dinner; but talking with a man that produces documentaries for BBC and the parks, I guess it shook the whole valley and really produced a loud roar that lasted quite a while.  200 miles  26 MPG

May 7, Day 7:  We left the cabins at 6:00 AM this morning and headed back into Lamar Valley.  At the first clearing on the left, we spotted a couple of Moose and were able to get a few shots of them.  A bison winter kill had been drug off into the flats near Soda Butte and there were two Bald Eagles among a flock of Ravens feeding on it.  Spotted a pair of Marmots in the rocks beside the road and was able to get a few shot of them.  Did a walking tour of the old Army post at Mammoth Hot Springs, then drove out of the North Entrance and into the town of Gardiner to purchase another case of water.  On the way back to Tower Junction we stopped and did a short hike to Wraith Waterfall and had lunch beside a beautiful little stream before heading back through Lamar.  At the bridge over Yellowstone River, we found a large crowd and stopped to find out what they were seeing.  A Grizzly sow and two cubs had just left the area, so we drove on and were rewarded with a couple of Bighorn rams at a salt lick about a mile down the road. 150 miles  25 MPG

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-5-and-6-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons Sun, 26 Jun 2016 00:16:14 GMT
Day 4 and 5 Photo Safari Yellowstone and Grand Tetons https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-4-and-5-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons May 4, Day 4: - You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks!  We had breakfast at the hotel and a 6:30 departure after which we crossed into Wyoming on I-90.  We stopped at the Wyoming Visitor Center and picked up maps and checked highway conditions, then headed for Devil’s Tower via US highway 14 near Sundance and Wyoming highway 24.  Driving along route 24, we encountered a small herd of antelope and one seemed to want to race us.  I had slowed down to a crawl, and it darted into the road ahead of us and would race down the middle of the road, veer off the road, and if I attempted to slowly move by, it would dart back onto the road and race down the middle again.  We arrived in time for some photos of Devil’s Tower with the sun just peeping out from behind it.  Backtracked out the same way until we intersected with US 14, where we drove US 14 to Moorcroft and picked up I-90 again.  About halfway between Gillette and Buffalo, we stopped at a rest area along the Powder River.  Discovered the reason for its name was due to the sediment it carried.  An old saying about the water was that it was too thick to drink and too thin to plow.  Not far from this location was the famous outlaw hideout of Butch Cassidy, the Logan brothers, and Jesse James.  About 30 miles east of Buffalo, Wyoming, near Crazy Woman Creek, we stopped to photograph the Big Horn Mountains in the distance.  Drove on to Story, Wyoming for the night, were we stayed in a relative’s cabin.  285 miles 20 MPG

May 5, Day 5:  Spent a very peaceful, quiet night in the wonderful little community of Story, WY and left around 7:00 AM this morning enroute to Silver Gate, Montana.  After getting onto I-90 we drove north to Sheridan where we turned onto US highway 14 south.  If you have never driven this route, I highly recommend it.  We drove through Big Horn National Forest, and climbed the mountains to Granite Pass. Along the route through the mountains, geologist had determined the age of the rock and placed signs along the way showing the rock that was 300 to 500 million years old.  There was not much traffic and the views were spectacular.  I had been disappointed that Beartooth Highway was not yet opened; but this route proved to be just as spectacular in its own ways.  Saw and photographed moose and snow scenes along the way.  Once out of the mountains, we headed for Cody, WY.  Between Greybull and Cody, we detoured off the highway and drove through McCullough Peaks looking for the wild horse band that lives there.   No luck finding them; but enjoyed a beautiful but dusty drive.  Had lunch from the cooler along the way, and picked up the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway in Cody.  Again, another spectacular highway if you have never driven it before.  So many beautiful vistas, and just before the end we were treated to a view of Pilot Peak through the trees.  Arrived in Silver Gate, Montana and checked into our cabins that would be home for the next 5 days.  The Pine Edge Cabins of Silver Gate are the best kept secret for Yellowstone visitors wanting to photograph the Lamar Valley.  Henry, the owner loaned us his own personal spotting scopes and binoculars for the entire time we were there.  A huge bison was waiting to welcome us, and two moose and an owl came around at night.  285 miles  18 MPG

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-4-and-5-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons Sun, 26 Jun 2016 00:14:32 GMT
Day 2 and 3: Photo Safari Yellowstone and Grand Tetons https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-2-and-3-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons May 2, Day 2:  You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks!  We got up early with a target departure time of 7:00 AM.  Got packed and had breakfast at the hotel, and were on the road again by 6:45 AM.  About 10 miles west of Columbia, we left I-70 in favor of Missouri Highway EE and drove north through the farmland on two-lane roads.  Found a pretty little cemetery along the road and stopped for photos, giving everyone a chance to check camera settings and practice some exposure bracketing.  We continued north and west on backroads, crossing the Missouri River as we drove past huge farms, ethanol plants, and the fertile river bottom land.  Stopped for coffee in Carrollton, Missouri and was asked by a couple of old gentlemen where I was from. I told them, and they said they were trying to figure out my license plate, which is retired military. We talked while everyone else got their drinks, and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with them.  I explained where we were headed, and they seemed to appreciate the fact that we had gotten off the Interstate in order to see the “real” Missouri.  On US highway 65 we found a beautiful old church in Van Horn Township.  Pleasant Hill Christian Church had been built in 1880 and was now abandoned.  I talked to a young man who was cleaning up the cemetery who told me his parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were all buried there.   We enjoyed watching the Amish farmers along the way and one agreed to us taking a photo of his horse and buggy.  Continued west and picked up I-29 and drove north.  North of St. Joseph, near Rock Port we crossed the Missouri River and entered Nebraska, picked up US Highway 75 and headed north through vast farm lands and the Omaha Indian Reservation.  Near Blair, NE we found an old barn sitting all alone on a hill to take a few photos of. We then continued north, crossing the Missouri again and into Sioux City for the night.  453 miles  26 MPG

May 3, Day 3:  After breakfast in the hotel, we headed north on I-29 and turned west onto I-90 at Sioux Falls.  Found an old abandoned farmstead in Plankinton, SD and took some photos.  We wanted to make Rapid City, SD for the night, so we drove mostly on I-90 this day.  We took a detour through Badlands National Park, and while the light was not good at midday, we enjoyed the rugged beauty of the park; and found a town of white prairie dogs at the little homestead museum prior to entering the park.   Leaving the park, we had to make the obligatory stop at Wall Drug Store in Wall, SD for ice cream and coffee.  We stopped in Rapid City, SD for the night after 441 miles because we wanted to drive to Devil’s Tower the following morning.  17 MPG – climbing uphill all day

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/day-2-and-3-photo-safari-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons Sun, 26 Jun 2016 00:12:15 GMT
Photo Safari Road Trip 2016 https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/photo-safari-road-trip-2016 I am guessing there are many out there, like myself, who have wanted to travel across and photograph the United States.  Also like me, they may be a little hesitant about doing a long road trip due to expenses, time required, and uncertain opportunities for photography.  This blog recounts a trip that my wife, 2 sisters, and I just completed, and hopefully, it will answer some questions and allay some trepidation, and encourage others to take similar trips.  The best way to see the USA is slowly.

Our goals were to spend a total of 15 days in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks at a time when young animals were available for photographing; and to explore the Plains some for photographic sites, and perhaps some spring storms.  We allowed a total of 22 days which we hoped would allow us to avoid the summer traffic jams that plague Yellowstone after Memorial Day.  I will write about 1 or 2 days at a time, and try to post at least one new segment each week.

May 1, Day 1:  6:00 AM – we packed up our Chevy Silverado Crew Cab, putting suitcases and cold weather gear packed separately into the bed with a cover on it.  We also included a small cooler with snacks, a case of water, and a box with non-perishable food items, coffee and filters, and some wine.  Plenty of room, as we all packed as light as possible, planning on doing laundry once during the trip. I had to pack my camera, lenses, and tripods in the back as well because I was driving.  The other three kept their camera bags and tripods in the cab with them, and there was sufficient room for everything. Unless noted differently, we ate lunch each day from our cooler filled with summer sausage, grapes, cheeses, crackers, and other fruits and goodies.

6:30 AM we pulled out of the driveway in Stockbridge, Georgia and headed north on I-75.  Our goal was to make as many miles as possible the first day, and then venture off the Interstates as we entered and crossed the Great Plains.  At Chattanooga, TN we picked up I-24 and followed it north through Paducah, KY to where it intersected with I-57, then north to I-64 west to pick up I-70 and crossed the Mississippi River into Missouri at St. Louis. From there, we followed I 70 west to Columbia, MO where we stopped for the night around 5:00 PM.  700 miles total.  I had planned on a possible gas mileage of 18-19 MPG and was pleased to find our average had been 22 MPG for the day.

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) Yellowstone road trip https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2016/6/photo-safari-road-trip-2016 Sat, 25 Jun 2016 22:30:19 GMT
Cruise or Photography Trip? https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/2/cruise-or-photography-trip Should you spend your money of a cruise, or on a photography trip you plan yourself?

An excellent photographer, and my first photography instructor, Jim Henderson, once posed the question: “What do you want to do, go on a cruise, or go take photos?”  I think that is a perfectly valid question everyone should ask themselves.

I love a good cruise.  The food is great! I do not have to worry about anything, other than sleeping and eating, and going wherever I am told to go.  If I want to dress up for dinner, I can. Or, if I want to eat a burger or pizza I can do that too.  I can schedule and pay for shore excursions, be where I am supposed to be, and get driven around with a guide and delivered back to the ship on time.  The itinerary is all planned out before I even begin.  I can attend lectures, musical or humorous skits, gamble my money away in a casino, and meet a lot of people I might never meet otherwise.  But I cannot go somewhere, set up and wait for the light, and take photos.  In fact, on some shore excursions I have been on I could not take photos at all, except for those taken through a moving bus window!  One thing I will say about cruises is that the offer a means of scouting areas where you want to come back on your own and do some photography.

If I want to go and take photos, I will arrange my own transportation and lodging, plan the trip myself, and ensure I have all the time available for taking photos.  I may not eat as well as I would on a cruise.  I may not have room in my luggage for a suit or a tuxedo; and there may not even be a restaurant available above one or two stars on the travel guides.  I will not have someone telling me I have to be on Deck 4 at 7:18 AM with excursion tickets; but I can be up and on location before sunrise to take photos. If I want to come back that afternoon or the next day, I can do that too.  Or, I can go to my next location. The itinerary is totally up to me.  For me, these two activities are diametrically opposed.

If you want to chill out, let someone else do the planning and driving, while eating and relaxing, then by all means schedule yourself a cruise.  However, do not expect to get a lot of snapshots of anything other than people doing the same thing you are doing.  To me, there is a huge difference between a snapshot and a photograph.

If, on the other hand, you want to go take photographs, then sit down and plan a trip to whatever location you are interested in.  Put some time into the pre-planning and planning phases.  Research the location for where the best locations are for sunrises, sunsets, wildlife, or whatever your interests are.

In the end, you will probably spend about the same amount on either trip, so if your goal is to do photography, skip the cruise and do your own trip planning.

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/2/cruise-or-photography-trip Thu, 19 Feb 2015 00:58:11 GMT
Landscape Photography https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/2/landscape-photography How does one create landscapes that capture the feeling of place?

I sometimes do photos for friends, and enjoy trying to capture their character in the shot; and I have had quite a bit of success at this, especially with young children.  However, when it comes to landscapes, I find it much more difficult to capture the feeling of a place.  I want the viewer to be able to feel the same emotions I felt when taking the photo. I want the viewer to be led to the same thoughts I had as I gazed upon the scene.  Anything short of that leaves me feeling as if I have failed.  While the scene may be beautiful in lighting and color, awesome in its panoramic view, and in razor sharp focus, if the viewer does not feel what I felt when taking the photo, then I consider myself to have failed.  And fail I do. Frequently!  This causes me to give a lot of thought as to how I can portray the feelings of a view to the viewer who is not there.  Unfortunately, this usually happens AFTER I have taken the shot and left the location!  How does one accomplish this?  Does anyone else out there share in this frustration or experience???  In the accompanying photo, I wanted to capture the feeling of isolation, solitude, or loneliness I felt while looking at the lone bison foraging through the snow down in the valley.  Not sure if I did or not.

My goal for 2015 is to learn how to transmit my feelings, thoughts, and emotions of a place to my viewers.  All comments, suggestions, commiseration on this subject are welcomed.

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/2/landscape-photography Thu, 12 Feb 2015 19:59:50 GMT
Shooting Yellowstone and Grand Tetons: Part V https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/2/shooting-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons-part-v Part V: Lessons learned – For my next trip. . .

Well . . .I have enjoyed sharing my experiences, and sincerely hope that someone might benefit from them in a way that will make their future trip easier, more enjoyable, and more productive.  Just some last thoughts here on what I will do different next time.

Vehicle: 

There were many places I opted to not try and get to in the rented vehicle.  It was a Chevy Traverse; and while it held all our gear, a Suburban or Expedition would have been better.  Also, it did not have 4WD.  On my next trip, and there WILL be a next trip, I will probably have my own 4WD Suburban or 5 passenger pickup with a weatherproof bed cover.  With a rugged 4WD, there are many more back roads available for exploring. 

Travel: 

I will also drive cross country to get there. While flying is quicker, there is also the limitation of luggage and carry-on. I was carrying my camera bag with my two cameras and wide angle lenses, plus a 600mm, f4 lens. I sweated every airplane boarding call.  I was afraid that due to the cattle-car packing of the airplanes now-a-days, I would be told that I had to check one of my carry-ons, which almost happened on the flight home.  Shipping the 600 mm lens was an option, and even though I had insurance on it, getting a replacement in time was not very practical. By driving, I can carry everything with me and know it is going to be there in good shape when I get there.

Packing: 

I will include at least one pair of thermal underwear and gloves, along with a good waterproof coat. My wife and I always use the rolling method to pack, and can get everything we need into one medium sized suitcase. However, that does not include parkas and similar cold weather gear.  By driving, I will be able to bring everything with me and not have to worry about shipping it ahead of time and hoping it will arrive within the 5-day window that FedEx will hold it.

Physical Preparation:

Although I was in pretty good physical condition, I will do more to prepare for the next trip.  Being in shape for 300 feet altitude is not the same as being in shape for five thousand feet and higher.  Walking and jogging are about the only ways I know of to prepare for this.  Oxygen intake is crucial when hiking at higher altitudes, and our bodies here in Georgia are just not acclimated to the thinner air.  At least six months prior, I will ensure I have done everything physically to prepare for the higher altitudes and traversing the steeper grades.  That will include more jogging as well as weight training for legs and upper body.

Selected Locations:

I think I will focus more on the wildlife, except for the time shooting the Grand Tetons.  The geysers are fantastic, and make for some great photos; however, my personal preference would be to spend more time on wildlife. That means more off-road shooting, more hiking, and perhaps more driving on secondary, lesser maintained roads.

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/2/shooting-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons-part-v Thu, 05 Feb 2015 16:46:55 GMT
Shooting Yellowstone and Grand Tetons: Part IV https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/1/shooting-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons-part-iv Part IV: Shooting Idaho and West Yellowstone - September 16 - 23

The road closure turned out to be blessing in disguise. The scenery through Idaho was fantastic, and Upper Mesa Falls along Idaho Route 47 were absolutely gorgeous.  After stopping numerous times to take photo along the way, we arrived in West Yellowstone near dark and checked into our motel (Best Western).  Most of the businesses in West Yellowstone were getting ready to close for the winter; however, they were still open for the few days we would be there. We had dinner at a different place each night and were not disappointed with any of them.  We had originally planned for this part of our trip to be devoted primarily to photographing scenery; however, it turned out to be the best for wildlife too.

First day we drove along the Madison River to Madison, and then turned south towards Old Faithful.  We followed the Firehole River, stopping to photograph along Fountain Flat Drive, Lower Geyser Basin, and finally Old Faithful. After lunch we returned the same route and continued north past Madison towards Norris as far as Gibbon Falls.  We returned to the motel early that day because some wanted to get some laundry done; but I went back into the park about an hour before sunset.  I got some great shots of elk and bison along the Madison River, and decided we should concentrate on that and Fountain Flat Drive the following morning.

Next morning we cruised very slowly along the Madison, taking the drive that edges the Madison River and stopping at other pullouts.  Our rewards were some great shots of the bison and elk in a light fog that had developed overnight.  From there we proceeded to the Flats and again got some great shots of bison in the fog. My wife, Mary, got one that everyone is envious of.  One bison rolling in the dirt, while two others looked on, and a third coming through the fog to see what all the excitement was. The rest of the day was spent walking around the Upper Geyser Basin, photographing the geysers.

Third morning we again headed south towards Old Faithful, and were fortunate to catch a coyote along the road for some great photos.  We then turned around and headed north towards Norris and photographed they geysers in Norris Geyser Basin.  After lunch we drove from Norris to Canyon stopping to shoot the Virginia Cascades.  From there we drove down to Yellowstone Lake for some great eagle shots and more scenery then slowly back to the motel, getting some great shots of elk at the junction of the Madison, Firehole, and Gibbon Rivers.

Fourth morning we drove to Madison getting great shots of Elk along the way, then up to Norris and over to Canyon.  From Canyon we turned north and drove back up to Mammoth Hot Springs to photograph the terraces, retracing our route back towards the hotel after lunch.  Again, along the Madison we found a huge, frustrated bull elk attempting to control his harem. We got some of the best shots of the trip there.  Finally back to the hotel to prepare for our departure the next morning.  A drive back through Lamar Valley, Beartooth Highway, and back to Billings. We allowed for two nights in Billings to get our gear shipped back to our homes, and caught our flight out the next day.

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/1/shooting-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons-part-iv Thu, 29 Jan 2015 19:00:51 GMT
Shooting Yellowstone and Grand Tetons: Part III https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/1/shooting-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons-part-iii Part III:  Shooting the Grand Tetons September 13 - 16

We only allowed three nights in Jackson, and that was a mistake. It only gave us two full days to shoot, and we could have used more.  I knew that sunrises at Oxbow Bend, Schwabacher Landing, and Mormon Row were top priority shots.  Any wildlife here would be a bonus.  We stopped on the way into Grand Teton NP to get maps and any advice the rangers might have.  The first thing we discovered was that there was highway construction on the main route I had planned to use, causing lengthy delays both ways.  We stopped at Oxbow Bend to take a few insurance shots, just in case.  I drove towards Jackson on Highway 26/89/191 until we got to the construction.  We sat there for about a half hour and decided it was going to take too long.  I talked to one of the construction workers and asked him if it was this bad early in the morning.  He confided to me that they would not set up the barricades until around 7:30 AM.  I knew we would be through long before that, so I then turned around and drove through Teton NP on the Teton Park Road to get to Jackson.  We had to go through downtown Jackson to get to our motel, which was a Motel 6. Now honestly, I would not stay in a Motel 6 in the Atlanta area for fear of my life.  However, this was a very nice place. It was clean and, quiet, had a courteous staff, and there was easy access to everything.  Our favorite place to eat there was The Bunnery. Don’t miss it if you go.

The following morning we were up well before sunrise and on our way to Oxbow Bend, about 35 miles away from the motel. We arrived about 20 minutes before sunrise, staked out our spots and got set up.  The water was completely calm without a ripple on the surface, reflecting the Tetons in the distance and the trees along the river.  As the sun began to break over the horizon, the tops of the peaks began to glow and soon the entire scene was bathed in soft morning light.  We shot for about 30 minutes, by which time a breeze had developed ripples on the water, and we called it a wrap.  We drove back to Jackson along Teton Park Road, checking out other potential places to shoot along Jenny Lake.  After lunch, we drove back north on Highway 26/89/191 and checked out Blacktail Ponds, Schwabacher Landing, and Mormon Row.  We identified specific shooting locations at each place for the next day.  After talking to a fly fisherman at Blacktail Ponds, we found that there would probably be moose at the Gros Ventre campgounds.  We then spent some time shooting scenery at Blacktail Ponds, Mormon Row, and exploring along Gros Ventre road, which produced some photos of a bull moose.  The rest of the day we explored along Teton Park Road, driving up to top of Signal Mountain, and shooting along Jenny Lake. We returned to the motel, and that night one of my sisters and I went back to Mormon Row to try our hand at photographing the Milky Way.  We could only shoot until about 10:00 PM due to a near full moon rising; however, we did get some satisfactory shots.

Again, with a personal 4WD vehicle, I would have driven the Grow Ventre Road up into the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and the Moose-Wilson Road that runs from Moose Junction to Teton Village that was closed to all but 4WD vehicles.

Our last morning in Jackson we headed for Schwabacher Landing for sunrise.  Again, an early morning departure from the motel put us in position well before sunrise the next morning, and the efforts paid off fantastically.  We were able to get some fantastic shots of the Tetons reflected in the perfectly still waters of the beaver ponds, with the breaking sun providing beautiful color to the mountains and sky. We returned to the motel to prepare for our drive to West Yellowstone the next day.  Due to road closures in Yellowstone, we would have to traverse Teton Pass and travel through Idaho to get there.

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/1/shooting-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons-part-iii Thu, 22 Jan 2015 23:09:04 GMT
Shooting Yellowstone and Grand Tetons: Part II https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/1/shooting-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons Part II:  Shooting Yellowstone East September 10 - 13

The first morning saw us delayed about thirty minutes from our desired departure time; however, after that everyone got organized the night before and we were out on time from then on.  Entering at the northeast entrance allowed us to slowly cruise the Lamar Valley to Tower-Roosevelt Junction, looking for wildlife, then either travel north to Mammoth Hot Springs area, or south over Dun Raven Pass and into the Hayden Valley.  We chose the southern route the first three days, then the northern route the fourth day.

The first day out it was 18 degrees F, and snowing.  After that it warmed up during the day, but the mornings remained quite chilly.  Each day as we cruised the Lamar Valley, we had the sun to our backs which allowed us to capture the bison and pronghorn antelope, as well as some spectacular sunrises.  While the entire Lamar Valley is great for wildlife, some of the hotspots we always visited were the Pebble Creek Campground area, Soda Butte, and the Slough Creek Road.  The wolves however were staying up in the higher elevations for the most part, along with the bears that were around nine thousand feet.  As we crept along the Lamar Valley, I kept a lookout for the wolf trackers, and always stopped to talk with them. They are the ones with the antennas on their vehicles, and the portable tracking devices. They will tell you where the activity, if any, is at.  We did see one of the wolf packs and heard them howling; but they were too far away to render decent photos.  The sun was still in the east as we traversed south to Dun Raven Pass and Hayden Valley too.  With a good vehicle, we would have driven up to the summit of Mt. Washburn; but dit not want to risk it in a rental.  Along this route, we were able to photograph the Upper and Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River from Artist Point near Canyon, and capture some great scenery all along the way.  Going through Hayden Valley to Lake Village we were able to photograph Sulphur Caldron and Mud Volcanoes.  Both the Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley are prime areas for wildlife, however, Dunraven Pass proved to be an excellent area as well for both elk and bison.  After eating lunch with a cup of coffee purchased at one of the establishments in the park, we would retrace our route with the sun in the west, or at our backs again in Lamar Valley.  This again provided excellent lighting most of the time because we were able to always have the sun at our backs either going out or coming back. 

On the third day, we drove through Lamar Valley and turned north towards Mammoth Hot Springs.  Again, the lighting was excellent as was the wildlife.  A short way from the entrance to the Petrified Tree road, we spotted a cow and calf moose pair and got some great shots.  In fact, upon arrival at Mammoth Hot Springs, there was a traffic jam due to an elk herd that had come down from the mountains to enjoy the relative safety of the humans. Again, with a personal vehicle we would have driven the Blacktail Plateau Drive; but not in a rental. This, like the road to Mt. Washburn summit is a dirt road and with any precipitation it can become difficult.

On the fourth day, we traveled the southern route again as we moved our base to Jackson in order to photograph the Grand Tetons and area. Note:  The road from Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris and Madison was closed, as was the road from Old Faithful to West Thumb.

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/1/shooting-yellowstone-and-grand-tetons Fri, 16 Jan 2015 20:00:00 GMT
Shooting Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons: Part I https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/1/shooting-yellowstone-and-the-grand-tetons This will take up more time than some want to spend reading; so I will break it up into five parts.  Some will be longer than others.

Part I:  Preparations and Travel

Like many, I am on a limited budget, so when my wife and I, along with my two sisters decided we wanted to do a photo trip to Yellowstone, money was one of our main considerations.  With no large camper or motor-home, we were dependent on rented lodging. Even with a camper or motor-home, the rest of the trip described here would apply just as well. We all knew the purpose of going there was to do photography and nothing else, so we began to plan the trip.  Lodging would need to be a clean place to sleep and take showers and nothing more.  A coffee pot and tea water would get us out the door before sunrise in the mornings, and we would take healthy snacks to allow us to eat breakfast and lunch on the move.  We would end the day with a sit-down meal that did not need to be elaborate in any way.  Fifteen days of this would give us time to cover most of Yellowstone as well as the Grand Tetons as long as we were on the road before daylight and back to our sleeping place after dark.  I had done extensive research on the most likely locations to see wildlife and the best times, as well as best times and locations for scenic shots. 

We coordinated with Fed Ex on transit times from our different homes and shipped our tripods and heavy clothing to ourselves in care of the FedEx office nearest the Billings, MT airport.  We coordinated airline reservations, then my sisters drove to my house and we all flew together from Atlanta to Billings.  At Billings, we rented a mid-sized SUV, loaded our suitcases and camera bags, then swung by the FedEx office and retrieved our shipments.  A quick stop at the Walmart on the way out of Billings for a small cooler and food supplies and we were on our way. The forecast was for snow over the Beartooth Highway, and I wanted to get through there before they closed the roads.  GPS worked fine in Billings; but once we entered the Beartooth we were on our own for the rest of the trip.  It snowed the whole way; but the roads remained clear and we arrived in Silver Gate, MT around 6:00 PM.  We secured our two tiny little cabins (Whispering Pines) in Silver Gate, which is about one mile from the northeast entrance to Yellowstone, and prepared to head out on our first day come morning.  I laughed when I first saw the winter clothes my sister from Florida had shipped; however, before the trip was done, I was wishing I had done the same.

We had dinner at the Log Cabin Café, which turned out to be one of our favorite places, then went back to our cabins to get organized for the first day of our photo adventure. One night we drove into Cooke City to eat, and were disappointed we had not gone back to the Log Cabin Café.  We were happy to find a coffee pot in one cabin and a microwave and small stove in the other.  We got our gear organized and got ready for the fist day of our photography expedition.

 

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astilesphotography@gmail.com (AstilesPhotography) https://astilesphotography.com/blog/2015/1/shooting-yellowstone-and-the-grand-tetons Fri, 09 Jan 2015 23:41:24 GMT