Grand Teton: Another National Park!

That’s right, folks. This is our third national park in as many weeks! After being parked near the north entrance to Yellowstone for over a week, we moved south to Grand Teton National Park, which is actually very close to Yellowstone. We stayed at an RV park right outside the east entrance and went exploring from there.

As far as photographing Grand Teton goes, this is a sunrise locale. Period. The mountain range runs north to south with the whole park (valley) on the east side of it, so if you want to photograph nice, soft light on those pointy peaks, you’ve got to be up before the sun. Karen and I are night owls, so waking up for those sunrise shoots can be rough, but we do it anyway, and it’s always worth it.

Our first morning shoot was at Oxbow Bend, which features a still body of water winding toward the mountain range. There is a parking lot there but we climbed down to get vantage points along the water. What’s funny is that there was a group of photographers already there, and when we saw the cars, we thought we might be jockeying for tripod positions. We were wrong, though. These guys were all lined up along the edge of the parking lot, all shooting from one place. And as the sun rose, they didn’t move around one bit. Karen and I chuckled at this, but in reality, we were glad that we had complete access to the entire bank, and we moved around quite a bit. At one point, one of the parking lot warriors yelled out for me to move so he wouldn’t have to Photoshop me. 🙂  (If you happen to be one of those shooters, check out the “Workshops” page of this site and I’ll teach you how to Photoshop me out of your frame.)

BenTetonPanpA DSLR panorama from Oxbow bend.

During the daytime, we basically scouted out places to shoot at sunrise or at night for a lightpainting shoot. We visited a grouping of old barns and buildings called Mormon Row, where there is a beautiful old barn I wanted to shoot. We actually visited that barn twice after dark so that I could lightpaint it. We also went there for our second sunrise shoot. As soon as the sun starts to come over the mountains, it kisses the barn and the light is just beautiful. There was also a group of shooters there, and they were a fun bunch. We enjoyed chatting while waiting for the light.

GrandTetonNP-211It looks like I posed for this but I really didn’t. I was trying to figure out how to best frame the barn for my late-night lightpainting.

1146849_10153547656620355_1640868024_oThis was my first lightpaint of the barn. Unfortunately, the camera moved a tiny amount on this one so it’s not as crisp as it should be. That’s why I went back to lightpaint it for a second time. 

BeniPhonePano-BarnAn iPhone pano of the sunrise shoot at the barn.

Another sunrise shoot was at Schwabacher Landing, which is a beautiful view with still water and wildflowers in the foreground with the mountain range in the background. Because Schwabacher Road was closed, we had to park on the main road and hike it down to the trail. While this forced us to get up earlier, we were glad that no other photographers decided to do the pre-sunrise hike, as we had the whole area to ourselves.

As far as sunsets go here, we found that the best way to make a successful image is to shoot when there’s a dramatic sky, with interesting clouds. There are several overlooks that can be good sunset locations when the conditions are good, and we stopped at Teton Point one night that there were actually clouds. (We had clear skies for most of our stay.)

1084964_10153548770530355_1765059929_oSunset at Teton Point

As you can probably tell from the images here, I’ve been doing a lot of iPhoneography lately, and posting at least an image a day on Facebook. I love the app-based editing process and how easy it is to create nice effects. There aren’t more DSLR shots on here because I haven’t been able to process many this week. Since we’ve been up for sunrise and out lightpainting until late at night, I just haven’t had the energy yet!

This week, we will be heading east through Wyoming and into South Dakota. Our next major stop will be Badlands National Park, with a visit to Mount Rushmore as well. It’s also a complete coincidence that we’ll be passing through Sturgis, South Dakota during the annual motorcycle rally, so that should be pretty crazy! More to come!

561480_10153550082465355_2134094084_nAn iPhone shot from Schwabacher Landing at sunrise.