“Light is the key element in photography.”
That’s the first line in Chapter 4 of Joel Sartore’s wonderful book, Photo Basics The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Great Photography. In my last blog, I referenced a different chapter. Light is an appropriate introduction to this blog, as great light was key to getting the images you will see.
Sartore quotes Jim Stanfield who said, “It’s not the light, but where you are in it.” As a wildlife and landscape photographer, I am very cognizant of where I am in relation to the available light. For landscape and scenery, I can somewhat control the light and where I am in it by showing up at dawn or dusk (to take advantage of the Golden Hour and Blue Hour), or when the light is optimal for the subject. Sartore also says, “The good news is that there are few completely unacceptable light conditions. Some light is more challenging to work with than others. Regardless, light can make or break a photograph, and how we face the challenge of mastering it is what shapes us as photographers.”
Wildlife is not always so forgiving. Critters don’t have a schedule or follow directions, and they don’t really care that they’re not in the best light for my camera. (Just try getting a model release!)
I’ve discussed the challenges of light in past blogs, and will likely do so in the future. But you may be asking, why is this critical to today’s blog? It’s simple. One afternoon, our workshop facilitators drove us to the National Elk Refuge, just north of the City of Jackson WY. Vehicles and pedestrians are not allowed on the Refuge, but one can buy tickets to ride in a horse-drawn sleigh. As we boarded the sleigh, our facilitator’s wife gave the driver’s direction – ‘These are photographers! They want the sun behind them and the Tetons in the background! Make it happen!’ Well, words to that effect anyway.
It worked, the drivers gave us great scenes and positioned us nicely for great shots. The sky also cooperated and gave us some of the best light on the Tetons for the week we were there. And the Elk – the Elk were very accommodating and magnificent!
Well, I have more images from the last position than I could possible show here. The light worked for us on this afternoon, as we were able to position ourselves for best advantage. Having the Elk cooperate was a huge bonus. When you visit Grand Teton National Park during the winter months, the National Elk Refuge is a must see!
I hope you enjoyed our afternoon on the National Elk Refuge. We were only in the sleigh for 2 hours, but it was a fantastic couple hours.
Enjoy – PHOTOROGR