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Photography - Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton wildlife and landscape - Images by Daryl Hunter

Where to look for photos

Autumn color, buckrail fence, grand tetons, Jackson Hole, wyoming
Autumn colors, Grand Teton Park

Grand Teton National is one of the most photographed parks in the National Parks System, and for good reason, Grand Tetons’ embarrassment of riches of beautiful mountain peaks, surrounded by pristine lakes and wide-open spaces makes it an excellent choice to take some award-winning images. Grand Teton is also considered the best national park to photograph wildlife as well.

The park is nestled along the Teton Range, a sub range of the Rocky Mountains and Jackson Hole; the valley that the Snake River meanders through. There are numerous turnouts throughout the park for scenic and wildlife viewing. Most are built to handle everything from bicycles to large busses. The Teton Range is often called America’s most spectacular. It is a very young range (10 million years old) and therefore still has very sharp features. Incredible landscapes abound, as does wildlife.

Keep in mind that you're going to get the best pictures during the two "magic hours," from a few minutes before sunrise until about two hours after sunrise, and from an hour before sunset until about a half an hour after sunset.

Some key landscape photo opportunities include however barely scratch the surface of opportunities.

Gross Ventre Road: A surefire spot to find wildlife is on the Gros Ventre Road about 10 miles north of Jackson. It travels next to the Gros Ventre River for a while wish presents moose opportunities and the elevated bench south of Blacktail Butte presents many opportunities to catch wildlife on the ridge with the Grand Tetons in the Background. The sagebrush plains of the Gros Ventre Road are surprisingly full of wildlife including Bison, Antelope, and moose all summer and elk, wolves and mule deer seasonally.

Moulton barn, daybreak, grand tetons, grand teton national park, jackson hole, wyoming
One of several picturesque barns to be found around Mormon Row.

Mormon Row: Go north out of Jackson into the park. After passing Moose Junction start watching the right hand side of the road, you will see a sign for Antelope Flats Road. Turn right, you will pass some roads going into residences; you are looking for a wide spot on the left where the road going north is chained off. Park here. Walk north on the dirt road for some good barn and mountain photos. There is another picturesque barn to the south of antelope flats road as well.

Schwabacher Landing: Go back to the main road and turn right, heading north again. Schwabacher Landing is not marked as you drive north (it is coming south though). The road is a small dirt road on the left side of the highway. This is a gravel road. There are two areas down here; it is the second one that will give you the best shots. There is a nice parking area here, and you will probably have plenty of photographers as company. Snake River Overlook: This overlook, on highway 89 near the Moran park entrance, made famous by Ansel Adams, who shot from here on assignment for the National Parks Service in the 1940’s. It is crowded each evening by photographers, who watch the sun go down. Try getting here before sunrise for a better shot when the sun comes over the eastern mountains, it illuminates the range with almost perfectly light.

Black wolf, Grand Teton National Park
This wolf was found chasing elk on Pilgrim Creek Road

Pilgrim Creek Road: The Pilgrim Creek Road is a good place to look for bears and wolves because it is good elk territory. It often turns up nothing, but I often start my mornings there just in case.

Willow Flats: Willow Flats just north of Jackson Lake Dam is like a takeout stand for grizzlies and wolves. If you are lucky enough, you may find wolves or bears chasing the resident elk that spend their summers raising their calves there.

Oxbow Bend: Another famous spot to take pictures on the Snake River, just inside the Moran entrance, you'll see photographers milling around here...and for good reason. It's spectacular. Again, early morning or late afternoon/evening is best.

Jackson Lake Dam: Nice place to photograph at daybreak when the wind cooperates you get great reflections of the Grand Tetons in the water. Go to the south of the dam and park your car. Walk out onto the dam to photograph the lake and mountains in the background. Watch out for the birds.

Signal Mountain: Signal Mountain is a butte that is due east or Jackson Lake. A good road winds you to the top that provides some of the best views in the park, Jackson Lake and Mt Moran to the west and The Grand Teton to the southwest. Watch for the road just south of the dam.

Jenny Lake: The Jenny lake turnout provides some of the best Grand Teton photos; it is often possible if you start early or end late to find still water for fantastic reflections of the mountains in the water.

Cottonwood creek, boulders, jagged peaks, Grand Tetons, reflection, jackson hole, wyoming
There are many different apporaches for nuanced landscapes.  Here the focus is split between the underwater boulders of Cottonwood creek and the Grand Tetons beyond.

Wildlife is abundant throughout the park. You will likely see American Bison, Moose, and Elk during all seasons. During the warmer months, waterfowl and White Pelicans are abundant. Osprey, Owls, Eagles, Wolves, and Pronghorn may also may be spotted. Bears are a real treat when they show up and that has been happening more often in the last several years. You will find the mountains snow covered from October through June with some traces still visible in July and August. This can lead to some amazing photographs. Peak fall color is late September and early October. The most significant tourist crowds are in July and August, especially around holiday weekends. Northern Wyoming can be bitterly cold during the winter months; Wyoming has the coldest average temperature in the lower 48 states. It can get below freezing at night during any season, but the winter is extremely cold with daytime highs often not exceeding zero degrees, so be prepared. Light
the most spectacular photographs in Grand Teton National Park are often taken from a half hour before sunrise to two hours after sunrise. In wintertime, the sweet light lasts significantly longer due to the low angle of the sun. Afternoons can bring dramatic clouds, and some excellent backlit mountain scapes are possible in the evening.

Grand Teton National Park can be accessed from the south via US 89, and Jackson, Wyoming, the east via US 26 and Dubois, Wyoming, and the north via Yellowstone National Park and US 89. The main roads are paved and maintained during winter. Grand Teton National Park is accessible twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. There is an entrance fee of $20 per car for a one-week pass that includes Yellowstone National Park. If you are a holding a National Park Pass or a Golden Eagle Pass, entrance is free.


Mountains Goats, Beartooth Pass
Mountains Goats, Beartooth Pass
(click on image to purchase)
Photography ~ how to
Daryl L. Hunter, photography basics

Early in my photographic education the late, great Galen Rowell was my inspiration and this is a quote from Galen: "I almost never set out to photograph a landscape, nor do I think of my camera as a means of recording a mountain or an animal unless I absolutely need a 'record shot'. My first thought is always of light". In the mid 80s he published a photography book called "Mountain Light that is still selling well today, every nature phtographer ought to read it. .................................. rest of article

Quickstart presentation for Lightroom • Watch this Powerpoint presentation.  Lightroom by Adobe is one of the most powerful tools available.  This presentation can get you up and running  with its powerful color correction and database management tools.  It is good to be organized.

Photographic Composition

Photographic composition example rule of thirds
Photographic composition example rule of thirds

"To take photographs means to recognize — simultaneously and within a fraction of a second — both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one's head, one's eye and one's heart on the same axis." – Henri Cartier-Bresson.

One of the things that differentiate a great photograph from an ordinary one is composition. You don't take a great photograph you make it. Composition is how objects or subjects are placed in the shot. Good pictures result from careful attention the basic elements of composition, there are always two people in every photograph: the photographer and the viewer. Even in front of the awesome beauty of the Greater Yellowstone Landscape one must compose carefully. The sheer ease today with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster even in places of stunning beauty. Point and shoot equals apathy, a recipe for mediocrity. Landscape photography is a tool to express our positive assessment of the world so we want to do it well. Wildlife photography is hunting and our goal is to produce trophies. of article

Photography ~ The Nature Of Light

"Amateurs worry about equipment, professionals worry about money, masters worry about light" - Vernon Trent

Most photographers create random acts of beauty; enlightened nature photographers deliver consistent encapsulations of light and time. Galen Rowell once said: "The landscape is like being there with a powerful personality and I'm searching for just the right angles to make that portrait come across as meaningfully as possible." Galen did so because of his mastery of of article

Crop-Factor Myth – misconstrued misnomers and disseminated confusion.

Are we confused yet? Many of us with a foundation from the photography of yesterday seeking an understanding of a new paradigm of digital photography have been unintentionally misled. With the switch from film to the original camera sensors we had to get a new understanding of our equipment both new and old. The first digital camera sensors as well as most sensors today recorded an image on a smaller recording surface than the 35mm film image of yesterday. Our images shot with wide-angle lenses of our film days no longer appeared to be wide-angle images. Our telephoto lens images appear to have more magnification. Yes, this was disconcerting so we attempted to understand. Well meaning camera techno geeks explained in terms intended to simplify concepts but only confused. To make matters worse, in the quest to explain, misleading explanations have misinformed those who have never put a film camera to their eye so incorrect construal of Crop-Factor conception is universal as old hands shared bogus information to those who had never known film.

Fall Photography in Grand Teton National Park

Grand Tetons in Autumn from Bridger Teton National Forest, golden aspen, red aspen
Autumn colors of Jackson Hole, the Grand Tetons from Bridger Teton National Forest

October 1st, at dark-thirty shortly before the first hint of dawn, with a crisp nip of fall in the air, I usually find myself at Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park with my ten new best friends. At the Oxbow at this early hour, we are hoping for the first hint of light to reveal an expanse of cirrus clouds above Mt. Moran to stop the warm rays of morning light from spilling over the edge of the world to an un-captureable point beyond the Grand Tetons. Oh, the Oxbow is still a stunning spot, even devoid of clouds, as the first rays of dawn sneak over the eastern horizon, a rose colored blanket of light hovers over the mountains as it shares its wealth of alpenglow with the peaks below, but none the less, we photogaphers are all hoping for natures reflector and diffuser to magnify the of story

Photography Stories

Mad Dash For Yellowstone • By Daryl L. Hunter
Santa Clause was good to me this year, and a Canon 400mm 5/6L telephoto lens dropped down the chimney and this little boy couldn’t wait to put that hunk of glass to work. I had a long weekend for the New Year’s holiday, and the kids were out of school so a trip to Yellowstone was nearly possible if Murphy’s Law didn’t rear his ugly head.......................................Winter in Yellowstone is truly a wonderful thing to experience. Its deep snows, bitter cold, abundant wildlife and stark beauty can imprint memories that can last a lifetime, and I have been anxious to share it with my boys. Access to Yellowstone in winter has become problematic since it has become illegal to take a private snowmobile into Yellowstone. So instead of accessing Yellowstone from the south entrance, outside Jackson Hole close to my home, the trip mandated a mad dash for north Yellowstone’s winter road, an eight-hour drive away. I had a hunch that this might be a good time for serendipity to dish me up some wolves for my photo portfolio. --------------------------------------> More

Two Wolves, Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, wildlife, greater yellowstone
Two Wolves Grand Teton National National Park

The Search For Serrendipity By Daryl L. Hunter
Luck favors the prepared mind, as does serendipity. Webster's definition-Serendipity - an apparent aptitude for making fortunate discoveries accidentally. Audacious, is the photographer who chooses to make his living stalking serendipity from one location to another then back again hoping to capture light as it has never been captured before or tougher yet as they may have captured it in the past. But that is what we do, and that is what we live for.

Armed with our acquired knowledge of the magic hour, cloud diffused lighting, outdoorsmenship, storm lighting, instinct for peak action, wildlife behavior, camera mechanics, changes in seasons, composition, astronomy, etc., we set out to bring the natural world to armchair adventures, outdoor enthusiasts, publishers, and advertisers, and to do so we have to rely on serendipity. Accomplished photographers are serendipiters, a serendipiters are those with an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident--------------------------> More

Living A Richer Life Without Any Money • by Daryl L. Hunter
Since purchasing my first camera, I have been living a visual feast that has cost me a real estate career in a lucrative Southern California market. My scenery seemed to always be just over the next hill somewhere, cityscapes just were not my kind of inspiration, and I soon tired of local beach sunsets.

Black wolf, elk carcass, lamar valley, Yellowstone National Park
Magpies and ravens tormenting a wolf during dinner

So it wasn't long before I was traveling farther a field, weekend trips to Big Sur, Lake Arrowhead, Yosemite, and yes, a three-day driving marathon to the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. I decided that my weekends just were not long enough. I would just have to take more time off work, and then I could make it to Tahoe, the costal redwoods, and the Oregon coast.

All that driving wore out my car; it must be time to move to a prettier place-----------------> More

Yellowstone In Winter • Yellowstone National Park is one of the world’s most popular natural areas. Every year, millions of visitors from around the globe flock to the park to view its scenic grandeur and abundant wildlife. And every summer, the park’s hotels, trails, campgrounds, and roads get clogged with gawking tourists. For the serious nature photographer, it is often difficult to get even a little elbowroom, let alone to find a spot to set up one’s tripod.--------------------------------------> more


Where I Find Photos
Bison, buffalo, old faithful eruption, yellowstone national park, wyoming
Bison impervious to the erupting Old Faithful Geyser beyond.

Photographing Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park has been a photography destination ever since Henry Jackson took the first photos of Yellowstone in 1872, Yellowstone's plethora of nature demands documentation from all who visit this world treasure. Yellowstone National Park welcomes photographers from across the country and from around the world to photograph its embarrassment of riches of natural wonders. Photographers come to document its pristine beauty and seasons of breathtaking contrasts: Scenic photographic opportunities abound, the wide-open grassy valleys, the perpendicular peaks of the Gallatin, Beartooth and Absaroka mountains. Yellowstone has hundreds of waterfalls, rivers that both gently meander through big valleys and writhing thorough whitewater canyons. This high mountain plateau attracts violent weather which makes wonderful accents too our earthly objects. More geysers than anywhere else on earth are here in Yellowstone waiting for the creative photographer capture eruptions of water at sunset. Colorful red and ocher mud pots, hot springs the deepest of blue outlined in orange and odd fumaroles dot the landscape of Yellowstone beaconing photographers from the other side of the world to take their story of article

North Yellowstone’s Winter Road • By Daryl L. Hunter
Winter in Yellowstone is truly a wonderful thing to experience, its deep snows, bitter cold, abundant wildlife and stark beauty can imprint memories that can last a lifetime.......................Access to Yellowstone in winter is the problem, it has become illegal to take a private snowmobile into Yellowstone and very few of us have snow coaches of our own or are capable of marathon ski expeditions too access Yellowstone’s winter wonders, but it is not as inaccessible as many think..................................The snowmobiling destination resort of Cooke City and Silver Gate Montana need groceries regularly to keep its citizens alive so Yellowstone Park maintains winter access to these communities. US-212 can be accessed through Yellowstone’s north entrance in Gardiner Montana, so Yellowstone visitors can access a smidgen of Yellowstone’s treasures in winter by car. --------------------------> More


The Hole Picture • (Swan Valley Idaho) Daryl L. Hunter's photography can be seen throughout, this publication "the Greater Yellowstone Resource Guide" as he is the publisher, at his online gallery you can buy framed or unframed photo art of his Greater Yellowstone scenics and wildlife. Daryl L. Hunter has been photographing the Yellowstone Region since 1987, when he packed up his 4X5 view camera, Pentex 6X7, and his 35mm’s and headed to Jackson Hole Wyoming to join hundreds of other wanna be photographers, where he learned the real meaning of poverty with a view. Perseverance has paid off though, bringing his photographers eye to web publishing has brought many new eyes to Daryl’s work.


Portfolio - Images by Daryl Hunter


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