By Gary Moore
The Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming lies just south of the more famous Yellowstone Park. It contains the Teton mountains, a spectacular range with snow covered Peaks that dramatically rise above the Jackson Hole Valley. There is a chain of natural, clear water lakes along the east flank of the peaks and beyond the lakes the Snake River flows through grassy plains that host herds of bison and antelope. Any vacation to Yellowstone definitely should include some time in the Tetons. This combination of a majestic
mountain range, beautiful lakes, wildlife and in the spring, an abundance of wildflowers make the Tetons a photographer’s paradise.
The newer cell phones and small “point and shoot” camera are capable of some amazing photographs and may be all you need to capture the beauty of the Park, but remember whether you are using a cell phone or a professional quality camera and lens, it is the person behind the lens holding the camera that creates the really good photos.
Regardless of your equipment think about composition and lighting before you take that picture. There are classes, lectures and You Tube videos on the subject of composition. Basically, the idea is to strive for an image that is pleasing to look at. Consider, for example, if the composition would be better if you moved to one side or another, pointed your camera more to the right or left,or if you moved closer to an object in the foreground. Let your eye be your judge.
For lighting it is best to photograph landscapes in the early morning or evening when the sun is low. Generally these photos tend to be more dramatic, or as photographers say, they tend to “pop”. Clear skies are just OK for landscapes; scattered clouds are much better adding interest to the sky. Hazy and overcast skies are not so good for landscapes, but this is “soft” light that does not produce harsh shadows and is good for close ups of your family and friends as well as wildlife and wildflowers. Unfortunately we can not control the weather, so adjust to what nature gives you.
I spent three full days in the Grand Teton National Park in mid-June last year. This was long enough to drive all the roads and photograph the highlights. My old legs won’t let me hike much, but for avid hikers there are miles of trails around the lakes and into the mountains. If you are really adventurous, guides will take you to the top of many of the peaks in the range.
For my first two days in the park the weather was gorgeous and I shot hundreds of landscapes. The third day was overcast with scattered showers and I concentrated on wildlife, mainly bison, and wildflowers. You will definitely see bison in the park and they are often close to the roads. Small herds of antelope are out there too, but usually not very close to the roads. Moose, elk, and bears are in the park, but by mid-June most of them have moved into the foothills. To see them is a matter of having a sharp eye, being in the right place at the right time, and for photography,having a big telephoto lens.
The biggest surprise for me in visiting the park in June was the abundance of wildflowers. There were dozens of varieties in a wide range of colors. Entire slopes were covered in yellow balsam root and stream valleys were filled with blue lupine. In short, The Grand Teton National Park is an awesome park to visit. Even if you are not a photographer go and take in the breathtaking scenery and try your hand at photographing the beauty. There are not many places on this earth that are more photogenic.