Yellowstone National Park, June 2003

On June 12-15, 2003 I traveled with seven other photographers to Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Parks in Montana and Wyoming to do landscape and wildlife photography. Among those in the group were Art Wolfe, the celebrated nature and wildlife photographer, Kevin Gilbert, an excellent photojournalist and co-founder of Blue Pixel, and Microsoft Chief Technology Officer David Vaskevitch, a serious photographer who is also a colleague and friend, and who generously provided the inspiration and air transportation for this trip. Although the trip was short, we made the most of our shooting opportunities each day thanks in large part to the guidance and expertise of of Art Wolfe, who has been to Yellowstone many times in his distinguished career. Although not conducting one of his workshops, Art was happy to take the lead in suggesting each day's shooting schedule (thanks Art!).

An eagle returns to the nest with a meal for its young. Canon EOS-10D, EF 300mm f/2.8L.

Of the group, three were shooting film and five chose digital cameras. The digital guys had the gratification of being able to see their pictures right away. The film guys had the advantage of faster shooting speeds and more sleep, as they didn't stay up late each night downloading and editing images on their laptops!

If you have never been to Yellowstone, you are not prepared for how vast the park is. It covers portions of three states, and there are only a few roads providing access to key attractions such as Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs. The second week of June is still early enough to find patches of snow on the ground at higher elevations, and the massive influx of seasonal vacationers has not yet reached its peak. This is fortunate, as one does a lot of driving. 

At Yellowstone one can view large native North American mammals in their natural habitat. Herd animals include the American bison, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, elk and moose. Some of these, particularly bison, can graze right up to the roadside, and opportunities for viewing abound. Predators at the park include cougar, bald eagles, black bears, grizzly bears, gray wolves and coyotes. Wolves, once common in the lower 48 states but persecuted to near extinction, were reintroduced to the park some years ago, and have since made an excellent recovery. Although we drove several times through the Lamar Valley, an area were the wolves are known to hunt, we regrettably did not spot a wolf pack on this trip.

But we did have some luck. On one occasion when photographing the bald eagle shown in the sequence above, we stopped the vans and set up our tripods in position to photograph the nest just minutes before the mother eagle arrived with prey for her young. A photographer standing next to me with a 500mm lens said, "You guys just drive up and shoot; I've been standing here 3 hours waiting for this to happen!" Karma.

South of Yellowstone near Jackson Wyoming is the Grand Teton National Park. The view of this mountain range with the serpentine Snake River in the foreground is an amazing vista which has been the subject of many famous photographs, not least among them several by Ansel Adams. We got up at 4:00 am on Sunday morning to be in position for sunrise, and were rewarded with a spectacular display of natural beauty:

Sunrise over the Snake River and the Grand Teton mountains, Wyoming. Canon EOS-10D, 16-35mm f/2.8L.

The images on this page are some of the many pictures I captured on this trip. As I am primarily a people photographer, I couldn't resist including a few pictures of the group. I hope you enjoy viewing them almost as much as I enjoyed making them.

Surreal cloudscape. Canon EOS-10D, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS.

Grand prismatic spring, YNP.  Canon EOS-10D, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS.

Wild ladyslipper orchid, YNP. Canon EOS-10D, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS.

Mammoth Hot Springs, YNP. Canon EOS-10D, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS.

High mountain wildflowers. Canon EOS-10D, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS.

Art Wolfe. Canon EOS-10D, EF 16-35mm f/2.8L.

Tundra country. Canon EOS-10D, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS.

Bald eagle, YNP. Canon EOS-10D, EF 300mm f/2.8L IS.

Wild elk, YNP. Canon EOS-10D, EF 300mm f/2.8L IS.

Pronghorn antelope, YNP. Canon EOS-10D, EF 300mm f/2.8L IS.

Coyote, YNP. Canon EOS-10D, EF 300mm f/2.8L IS.