Summer Vacation Part VII – Yellow Bus Tour Day 2…

We checked out of the Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge, parked the PhotoFun50, and loaded our bags into the Yellow Bus.

Our first stop was the Yellowstone Heritage Center in Gardiner MT, where we got a private tour of the collections there. Pictures were not allowed, but it’s a wonderful facility. We returned to Yellowstone National Park through the Roosevelt Arch. We took a few minutes to record our visit.

These cow Elk were on the hillside near the Roosevelt Arch.

Our group picture under the Arch. I set the timer on the shutter release and ran to get into the picture. This is the back of the Arch. The morning sun had the front of the Arch in shadow.

We were headed for Old Faithful, traveling south on the west side of the Park. Our first stop was the Golden Gate.

A gorgeous view. The engineer in me was interested in the bridge.

I usually read the information signs and then move on, but the engineer in me had to save this information.

Turning around from the gorgeous view, I found Rustic Falls.

Our route took us past Roaring Mountain and Obsidian Cliff. We were approaching our lunch stop when we ran into a Bear Jam, caused by this happy camper.

This Black Bear was not bothered by the onlookers at all, and enjoyed its dandelion snack before disappearing into the trees.

We ate our lunch at a quiet spot along the Gibbon River.

We found this herd of Bison as we continued our journey.

Our next stop was the Madison Information Station, a short hike from the parking lot.

Nancy shared the story of National Park Mountain (behind her). Legend has it that the Washburn party camped nearby around 1870 and discussed the creation of a national park system. Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872.

With National Park Mountain on the left, this is the view down the Madison Valley towards Mount Haynes – spectacular!

For our next stop, Matt dropped us at a trailhead and we hiked about a mile and a half to see this!

Grand Prismatic Spring as viewed from an overlook.

Nancy took a few pictures for us.

Headed back to the Yellow Bus, we saw Rabbit Creek meeting the Firehole River.

Tired from our busy day, we arrived at Old Faithful. We had time to check into our room in the Old Faithful Snow Lodge before watching Old Faithful put on a show.

The Yellow Bus at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge.

I shot a video and will figure out how to pull a frame from the video.

After the geyser show, we headed to the Old Faithful Lodge for a wonderful dinner.

This is the fireplace in the dining room. The painting is gorgeous and resembles the spark screen on the hearth.

What a fantastic day! Gorgeous scenery, Bison, a Bear, Old Faithful, and great friends.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Summer Vacation Part VI – Yellow Bus Tour Day 1…

WAHOO! Our Old Times on the Grand Tour (aka Yellow Bus Tour) is finally here! We woke up in our little cabin full of excitement for the day. As we walked to the dining room for breakfast, we saw our only bear for the day – on the hillside above the cabin. But that’s okay, we had an incredible day.

Matt had the bus at the front door of the hotel, ready to hit the road.

Our route today took us back to the Lamar Valley.

First stop at a small lake to see the wildlife. The Yellow-headed Blackbirds were in fine voice.

A quick panorama with my camera that also makes phone calls. Beautiful skies all day!

The Lamar River, with some Pronghorn in the distance.

Our new friends were from Maryland, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Thailand. Most had never seen a Pronghorn before.

We stopped by the Osprey nest again. Two birds on the nest today.

Our morning in the Lamar Valley was wonderful. Our tour guide, Nancy, has worked in Yellowstone Park for several years, including a winter doing seminars in the Lamar Valley. At one stop, we saw a Golden Eagle but, sadly, the light doomed my photographic efforts. After a box lunch at a picnic area, we hit the trail for some hiking. Our route took us along the Yellowstone River.

The views were, of course, stunning. This one looking east towards the Bear Tooth Mountains.

And the wildlife did not disappoint. This Pronghorn passed by at about 50 yards. Note that even on June 4, there’s still a winter coat.

As we hiked, we started seeing holes about a foot in diameter just off the trail. Matt grabbed my arm and pointed to dirt flying about 20 yards from the trail. The dirt stopped flying and this guy backed out of the hole.

We continued our hike and reached our destination. Nancy told us something about the geology of the area – I was keeping my eye out for wildlife. We started back to the Yellow Bus. I saw the biggest Marmot I’ve ever seen standing on a rock. He had to be 3 feet tall standing. By the time I got glass on him, he had sat down.

As we approached the area where we had seen the Badger, Nancy suddenly stopped because on the trial just a few yards away – there he was. He ran away, but then returned. I was kneeling down shooting when he started our way. About 20 feet away and closing, he disappeared from view. Note the fresh dirt in the foreground. We gave him a wide berth.

All the while, we heard the Prairie Dogs chirping loudly. Warning each other of the danger nearby.

At one of our stops, a modern bus parked by our Yellow Bus. I like our bus much better!

Still basking in the glow of the wonderful day, we headed to the dining room for dinner. Our dinner was delayed, however, as one of the locals was enjoying their evening meal. A Ranger was nearby, ensuring that the locals were not disturbed the the visitors.

What a glorious day! One more night at Mammoth Hot Springs and then off to other areas of the Park.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

My Summer Vacation Part V – Yellowstone!

We chose to enter Yellowstone through the northeast entrance, from Silver Gate MT. We drove over the Chief Joseph and Bear Tooth Highways (see Part IV) again. Boy, was that tough to do.

The road from the northeast entrance into the Park parallels Soda Butte Creek, past the Yellowstone Association Institute to the Lamar Valley. The Lamar Valley is famous for the Bison herds and other wildlife. The Lamar Valley is wider than the Madison Valley near the west entrance, with grander vistas. And the Bison were very photogenic!

My Bison wildlife panorama.

Obviously, these Bison were crossing the Lamar River. There were several babies (more appropriately called calves, I’m sure) with this herd.

Watching the calves was very entertaining. They run and play just like happy children should.

As we continued our drive across the northeast portion of the Park, we encountered lots of wildlife. We saw a Wolf, but from too great a distance for pictures.

The Pronghorn were still shedding their winter coats.

This Osprey was nesting on Lava Creek, I think.

We saw some Bear in the distance in the Lamar Valley, but this one was napping in the trees within camera range.

A final Bison shot with my ‘camera that also makes phone calls’ just a few minutes away from Mammoth Hot Springs.

We arrived in Mammoth Hot Springs shortly after noon. We scouted the area, visited the Visitor’s Center, and found the hotel and some lunch.

The Elk are plentiful in and around Mammoth Hot Springs. As it was calving season, the Cows were very sensitive to people.

Happy to be out of the car but too early to check into the hotel, we explored Mammoth Hot Springs. The mineral springs are a marvel.

A shot of the Lower Terrace with my trusty Canon PowerShot G9X Mk II, a compact point and shoot camera that I always carry.

I walked the path to this spot above the Lower Terrace, looking back towards historic Fort Yellowstone.

Of course, my lovely bride and sometimes model also enjoyed the walk to the Terrace. Even though we arrived on June 3, temperatures were cool for most of the week.

After our walk up the hill to the springs, we were able to check into the hotel. We met our tour guide and the other members of the Old Times on the Grand Tour (aka the Yellow Bus Tour) that evening. Nancy, our tour guide, reviewed the itinerary and provided other information. Our group included visitors from Illinois, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Thailand. We became good friends with them over the next week. Our accommodations in Mammoth Hot Springs were a ‘cabin’ – half of a duplex a nice walk away from the main hotel. Clean and comfortable, but no TV or internet. Pretty good shower, tho’. In the other side of the duplex were Stephanie and Carol, new friends also on the tour.

This is Cabin A26 with my favorite model relaxing on the porch.

The end of a very exciting day, but the beginning of a marvelous adventure! Stay tuned and enjoy – PHOTOROGR

My Summer Vacation Part IV – On Top of the World!

After a very successful wildlife picture day, we headed into the high country for some gorgeous scenery. Traveling northwest from Cody on the Chief Joseph Highway, we were headed for Bear Tooth Pass. The views were stunning and the light cooperated nicely.

This area is known as the Sunlight Basin, for obvious reasons.

The view from Bear Tooth Pass, elevation 10,947 feet. The road had just opened the day before we were there (June 1), and then closed again a week later (June 8) by a late spring snow.

Sometimes, one must let the images speak for themselves. Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

My Summer Vacation Part II…

After our wonderful experience in Twin Falls, we ventured north to Yellowstone National Park. As we traveled, we saw in the distance the west side of the Grand Tetons. We entered Yellowstone through the west entrance and experienced our first ‘Bison Jam’ a couple miles in. A herd was crossing the Madison River and we were at the head of the line. I was unprepared, but was able to grab a couple shots. Here’s one of a youngster just out of the river.

As we continued into the Park, we were awed by the beautiful scenery and by the shear number of Bison. We stopped several times to marvel at where we were. At one stop, I watched a Bison in a river in the distance. I grabbed a few shots from far away and, as I was shooting, he came out of the water and started walking across the meadow. I moved down the slope to the meadow and continued shooting. He crossed a second stream and started walking in our direction. I grabbed a few more shots and hustled up the slope.

By the time I got back in the truck, my lovely bride was taking pictures of him where I had been standing just a few moments before. He walked parallel to us for a bit and we moved on. We were due at Susan’s brother’s house for dinner, so the rest of the drive through the Park was uneventful.

The next day, we headed into Cody and a trip to the Buffalo Bill Museum.

It’s been 40 years since I was in Cody and it did not disappoint. The portion of the Museum formerly known as the Winchester Collection was being remodeled, so we weren’t able to see much of those displays. The rest of the Museum, however, was incredible. We really enjoyed the several hours we spent there.

We had a bite of lunch in the Museum and then caught the Raptor Show. They had a Red Tailed Hawk and a Screech Owl on display. Neither was allowed to fly, but I had brought the big camera in and I got a few pictures. Here’s the Screech Owl – a real cutie!

We encourage you to visit Cody and see the Buffalo Bill Museum. The gun collection is opening this month.

Until next time – enjoy! PHOTOROGR

Things to come…part 1!

Or, how I spent my summer vacation…part 1! The drive there!

In my last post, I showed images of the Yellow Bus we rode in around Yellowstone National Park and introduced our trip. In this post, I start sharing our trip with you. Enjoy!

We spent our first night in Twin Falls ID. We went to Jaker’s for dinner – great place, by the way – and our server asked if we had ever seen Shoshone Falls. Since this was our first time in Twin Falls, we obviously said no. He happily gave us directions and sent us on our way.

Simply put – FABULOUS! And we hit it at a perfect time for photography. If you’re going through Twin Falls, make time to go! You will not be disappointed.

This is an iPhone shot, specifically, a panorama. Then processed in Photoshop with a Nik filter. It’s amazing what that little camera (that makes phone calls, too) can do!

 

I let the pictures speak for themselves. Lots of fun in the digital darkroom with these.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Preview of things to come…

Last January, I discussed my photo goals for the coming year. My goals are simple – shoot more, share more! It’s been a while since I posted, so I haven’t been meeting my second goal. In my defense, however, I have been exceeding my first goal. My lovely bride and I took a vacation to visit family in Wyoming and then we spent a week in Yellowstone National Park on a yellow bus tour, more formally known as Old Times on the Grand Tour.

I spent a day and a half downloading files from my cameras when we got home, and have been slowly working my way through them, turning the RAW files into images. Emphasis on the SLOWLY!

As a preview, here’s a few images of our Yellow Bus – a 1937 White body with upgraded drive line and brake systems for dependability and safety. They chose a Ford drive line. Smart people!

Stay tuned. We had a wonderful adventure! Yellow Bus is a great way to see the Park!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

We started our 5 day adventure at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Matt, our driver, is at the back of the bus.

Our first stop was a pond with some waterfowl and Yellow Headed Blackbirds. I experimented with the panorama feature on my mobile phone.

In the distance, one can make out some Pronghorn in the distance. Day 1 was touring the Lamar Valley.

Silhouettes!

A couple weeks ago, I participated in the Winter Wings Festival in Klamath Falls OR. I took several classes to improve my photography skills and got to see a presentation by George Lepp. George has been taking pictures for over 50 years, and was recently presented with  Lifetime Achievement Award by the North American Nature Photograhy Association. He is a regular contributor to Outdoor Photographer magazine. I was able to visit with him for a few minutes before his presentation – a true gentleman, wonderful photographer, and a great presenter.

One of my classes was silhouette photography. The timing wasn’t great for the field portion of the class, but we did the best we could and I learned a lot about the technique. The key to a successful silhouette image is the background. For those fine art shots that people like to hang in their homes and offices, black outlines with a brightly colored background works great. Think sunsets and sunrises. Another key element is to be as low as possible to ensure that there’s a clear connection with the ground. Get low to ensure that feet aren’t lost in the foreground, for example.

For the images from class, I relied on pretty skies and the details in the trees to make the composition work.

Here’s a few images from the class.

I made this image with my trusty Canon PowerShot G9X Mk II. The instructor, Lisa Langell, told me I passed the class when I showed her this image in camera.

Not a perfect silhouette but still a fun image. Everyone was making images of the Eagle in the tree.

There were several Eagles in the area while we were there, and this one was circling before landing in the nest.

The sun was still in the sky, so I took advantage and made it a part of the composition.

This wasn’t my first attempt at silhouettes. In 2015, I made this image of my neighbor’s house and yard.

I was intrigued by the moonlight and the warm colors in the yard lights, but the tree silhouette on the right became a critical element of the composition.

And this from the Siskiyou River in Florence, OR.

I chose to not make the pilings and birds totally black, but it still counts as a silhouette.

My best silhouette to date was shot in 2016 in the Pinenut Range just east of my home.

A moonrise always makes a good picture – even better with a creative foreground.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Double D and PSC…interpretations on the Sierra Nevada Range!

In my last post, I talked about the Digital Darkroom (or Double D) and the fun I was having while exploring the application of creative filters. For today’s post, I used an image made with my PowerShot G9X Mk II point and shoot camera (hence the PS Challenge piece of the title).

I don’t remember where I was going last week, but I remember that the light on the Sierra Nevadas was gorgeous. I pulled over and got out of the truck, grabbing my trusty PowerShot, and began clicking. I always bracket exposures for my landscape shots to decide during post processing what I am going to do. I bracket up and down one stop with this camera. I used all 3 exposures to merge them into an HDR in Adobe Camera Raw, then applied filters using Topaz Studio.

Just for fun, I processed this using three different filters.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

 

The Digital Darkroom – How Much is Too Much?

“Owing to an inherently mechanical nature, a camera (be it film or digital) essentially produces raw images that, on their own, are rarely able to adequately communicate the enigmatic complexities and expressive nuances of a subsequently crafted fine art photograph. Post-camera image manipulation has always been a basic tenant of the photography process.”

That’s how Huntington Witherill started his article ‘Beyond the Camera’ in the November 2018 issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine. It caught my attention immediately! I enjoy reading Outdoor Photographer and have used information from its wonderful articles in previous posts. In the article, Witherill describes the time he got to visually inspect an original 8 x 10 inch negative produced by Edward Weston circa 1930. The negative had “…what appeared to be a considerable amount of pencil scrawling on the emulsion side …” Kim Weston, Edward’s grandson, explained that “…Edward had often used very soft pencils (and a small light-table…) in order to build density in chosen areas of his negatives…” After this experience, Witherill realized that what he refers to as ‘post-camera image management techniques’ “…comprise not only a significant part of the overall photographic process but also, in many respects, the very essence of photography technique.” He continued, “…post-camera image management techniques are a necessary and integral part of the overall photography process.”

Witherill talks about having a strong foundation in “…photography technique and craft…” to take what one sees, combined with knowledge of what a camera can record, and create a finished visual record. His process begins with knowing your equipment so you can start with a strong foundation (what I would call the best exposure) to build on using post-camera tools and techniques. The article talks about artistic expression and making the image say what the photographer wants it to say.

In the several years since I’ve been pursuing photography seriously, I’ve had similar discussions with my friends and mentors. Many of my friends have backgrounds in photojournalism which doesn’t allow for manipulation, save for minor dodging and burning (darkening or lightening) areas of an image. Other friends document events for clients, where the volume of images made does not allow time for post processing.

I consider myself an artist. I am not documenting, rather I am recording for artistic purposes. I have always favored manipulating my images, and have worked to make the subjects closely resemble the moment as I remembered it. After reading this article, however, I decided to pursue more artistic interpretations, depending on the subject.

I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun! And so, how much is too much? Only time – and future images – will tell.

With this new creative process, I have been playing with some images. The images below show a ‘straight’ version compared to  what I call a ‘more radical’ interpretation. As always, feedback is appreciated.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

This is an American Kestrel, processed to highlight the details of the raptor.

Same image, a little softer.

The beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. I used a Topaz filter to make the composition a little bit abstract. I think this filter minimizes the foreground, accentuates the sky, and maintains the integrity of the beauty of the mountains.

The same image with a Nik filter to maintain the details but give more depth to the colors.