Jackson Hole

Went over to Jackson Hole, Wyoming the other day with Dr. Chuck Peterson (emeritus professor of zoology). Wildlife was out in full force: bison, deer, moose, big horn sheep, golden eagles, bald eagles, ravens, trumpeter swans, and geese. The wind was fairly wicked while we were in the open ranges. But all in all, had a very good time photographing in Grant Teton National Park. Stopped in Jackson that evening for some great Tex-Mex food at the Merry Piglets, just off the square.

Black Rock and Golden Water

I decided to explore a nearby area of Idaho that I had not ventured into before. The Gem Valley, located in Caribou County, is about 20 miles wide by roughly 70 miles long. Near the center is a small town called Grace (pop. ~900). The Bear River runs along the north edge of town, through a long canyon of black rock…volcanic basalt. A number of dams have been built to provide irrigation for the local farmers and ranchers. Additionally, there’s an aqueduct that was spectacularly leaking large volumes of water. I don’t understand is this was intentional or if it’s just the resulting byproduct of no maintenance to the structure. Regardless, it provided some interesting photo opportunities.

Boneyard and Distant Views

Yesterday I went up in the Century Height Preserve (part of Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust) to do some hiking and a little photography. Specifically, I wanted to test an old (40 years) Tameron 2x tele-converter with my old (40 years) Nikor 200mm lens. For grins I also put it on my Nikor 70 – 300mm lens. Surprisingly, the images turned out fairly sharp….better than I expected.

But, while I was up in the foothills, I ventured into a nearby cove to discover a boneyard! There were at least 6 sets of animal bones. Interestingly there were no skulls. The vertebrae and ribs were large enough to probably be deer. We do have mountain lions in the area so maybe that’s its dining area! Anyway, it was good to get out in the fresh air for a bit, hike, and photograph!

Behind the Doors of the Museum

This afternoon while one of my graduate students was conducting an institutional analysis of the Idaho State Museum of Natural History, I was busy behind the closed doors of the Herbarium. I love going behind the scenes in scientific institutions and wandering around the inner workings. So fascinating! Anyway, here’s a few snapshots I made during those wanderings. Planning to go back and do an in-depth photographic survey.

Pandemic Break in the Forest

More than a year and a half of pandemic fatigue takes its toll on the creative process. So to help get back into the groove, so to speak, I gave myself a photo break in the forest! This past Friday I got up at o’dark-thirty and headed north just below the Montana state line and west of Yellowstone NP. The area is in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and includes the Mesa Falls scenic area. The air was cold and crisp. On the back fire roads there were plenty of ice shards where water ponded over night and other trucks had broken when passing through. It is firearm season for big game, so when the sun crested over the Teton Mountain Range, the Warm River valley erupted in gunfire and sounded like a war zone! And yes, when I’m out photographing or filming this time of year I do wear my blaze orange vest!

So my day took me to both the lower and upper Mesa Falls and then off on small fire roads better suited for ATVs as opposed to my small truck. Anyway, I always like the challenge of driving off-road when I get the chance. Four wheel all the way! After spending the morning working my way up through the forest, photographing lichen and moss covered pines and spruce, I made my way up to Island Park, ID and had lunch at Phillips Lodge at The Pines. One of my favorite grills. Afterwards, I headed back down the road towards Harriman State Park and cut off on the scenic byway. From there I went back down into the Warm River canyon and ended up in Grizzly Gulch and had a fine chat with a local man about the preponderance of Black and Grizzly bears in that area. I’m not sure why folks wish to live among bears! As I came out of Grizzly Gulch, I found myself in beautiful farmland. I was really surprised to see fields of green alfalfa juxtaposed with the Grand Tetons!

Here’s a collection of some of my favorites from the day’s image making. Enjoy!

Autumn Highlights in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest

We’re having a very short autumn this year. No sooner had trees reached their colors and they started dropping their leaves. Even as I write this, just 2.5 weeks since the equinox, we had heavy snow most of the day. Anyway, here’s a few shots from last week’s drive out past Scout Mountain up to Crystal Summit, in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

Pocatello Lights

Tuesday evening I headed up Scout Mountain, which is just south of town. Trying to find a new location for my students to experiment with astro-landscape photography. Here’s a few views taken over a four-hour period. The city lights of Pocatello in the valley are easy to see, but also causes a fair amount of light pollution. Another shot looks northeast at the thinest edge of the Milky Way. If one looks close the Andromeda Galaxy is visible. Kind of cool I think! And lastly, there’s a shot of the Milky Way directly over head. Cameras used were a Nikon D800 w/14mm Rokinon lens and a Nikon z6 mirrorless with 24mm-70mm Nikkor lens.

Swan Valley-Palisades

The other day I headed up north after our faculty meeting. Needed some “alone” time in the mountains. Working with my Nikon Z6 to hone the cinematography skills. I did snap a few photos along the way. Autumn colors were really intense up around Palisade Reservoir. Lots of trout fishing going on down in Swan Valley, near Fall Creek waterfalls. Of course when the fisherpersons saw my big camera rig they started waving. In one clip I even saw the fishing guide pull out his cell phone to either video or photograph me!

Time-Lapse on Kinport Peak

Not quite a month since my knee surgery, I decided to head up the mountain to work on some time-lapse of the great summer clouds. Bear in mind, this is mid-June and lovely spring mountain flowers on the way up and they kept getting better the higher I drove (4-wheel). I was almost to the summit when I passed the 7,000 foot mark when I came around a bend on the north side of the mountain….snow! My last 100 yards were impassable! Needless to say, with my knee still hurting I wasn’t about to hike the rest of the way with all my gear.

Turning my truck around on an un-maintained single-track rocky fire road was certainly a challenge! Very much a white-knuckle affair and very slow going. At one point when the truck was perpendicular to the road with its ass-end just over the edge and the front end up against the mountain, I started having some doubts!!! Anyway, made it back down without too much damage, just ripped off the front license plate and holder from the bumper.

Once I was part-way down, I found a nice little pull out and parked to begin the time-lapse series and had lunch. This was my first official attempt at time-lapse outside my home. So, it was interesting. Also recorded some natural sound of the wind and birds. While the Nikon was doing its thing with the time-lapse, I took my Fuji x20 and placed it in macro mode. This allowed me to get the camera almost on the ground to shoot the wild flowers below.

Even though I didn’t reach the summit, it still turned out to be a productive afternoon a bit lower on the mountain at 6,400′ elevation.