A Short Backpacking Trip to Coyote Rock

Illuminated tent under a night sky with the Teton Mountains, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming (Mike Cavaroc)
Illuminated tent under a night sky with the Teton Mountains, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Distance (one way): 2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate-Strenuous
Best time of year: Spring, Summer, Fall

All that work and I still don’t have even one photo of Coyote Rock.

Located just east of Grand Teton National Park, high above the valley of Jackson Hole, lies a lone boulder secluded in its recession on a hill that delivers tremendous views of the region. This is Coyote Rock. Though the trail only brings you two miles from the road, the feeling of isolation and disconnection from the valley below is easily attainable.

I made a short, overnight backpacking trip to this rock late in June with the purpose of acquiring some new night photography imagery while also catching a quick escape into nature. Due to my timing, the mosquitoes were aggressively anxious for attention, but are typically only in the area from mid-June to early July, so don’t expect them if you’re visiting outside of that time. - Continue reading

Categorized: Hikes and Backpacks, Travel Logs, Wyoming
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Future Plans for Free Roaming Photography

Milky Way arching across the night sky with airglow above a tent, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming (Mike Cavaroc)
Milky Way arching across the night sky with airglow above a tent, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

I haven’t been updating this blog much, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I’m currently wrapping up a video on light pollution in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming area, plotting a large road trip around the southwest for a follow-up video covering the region’s dark skies, and finally, making plans with my girlfriend to hike the Hayduke Trail, an 800-mile trail stretching from Arches National Park to Zion National Park with a detour through the Grand Canyon.

What Is Light Pollution?

The upcoming video, which I’m hoping to have ready by the end of the summer, will cover the basics of light pollution, how it affects Jackson Hole, some potential solutions, and the importance of the night sky to the area. It’s a personal project that I began upon teaming up with Wyoming Stargazing, whose ultimate goal at the moment is to construct an observatory and planetarium right here in Jackson, Wyoming. - Continue reading

Categorized: Hayduke Trail, Travel Logs, Video
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Night Photography Explored: Part 6 – Post-Processing

Stars swirl around Polaris, the North Star, as northern lights dance on the northern horizon over Jackson Hole, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
Stars swirl around Polaris, the North Star, as northern lights dance on the northern horizon over Jackson Hole.

Post-processing can be a very tricky, and often subjective, part of the photo creating process. It opens the door to a number of different formulas, styles, and personal tastes. As a result, I’m only going to explain what I would do in the situations I’ll discuss, primarily using Adobe Lightroom. I take advantage of Adobe Photoshop for some more unusual edits, which we’ll discuss. Regardless, this doesn’t make my edits right or wrong, and they’re certainly not a definitive guide on how to process an image, but it’s how I like my night sky images to look, and therefore, it’s what I know. There are a number of other techniques and styles to look into as well though, so the important factor is finding a style that you like and enjoy and incorporating your own personal tastes into that. - Continue reading

Categorized: How To
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Night Photography Explored – Part 4: Northern Lights

Multiple meteors falls toward the northern horizon of Jackson Hole, Wyoming as northern lights illuminate the night sky above. (Mike Cavaroc)
Multiple meteors falls toward the northern horizon of Jackson Hole, Wyoming as northern lights illuminate the night sky above.
Northern lights above Teton Mountains
Camera: Canon 7D, Lens: Sigma 20mm f/1.8 Aperture: f/2.8, ISO: 3,200, Shutter Speed: 20sec. Focal Length: 20mm

The northern lights (aurora borealis; also southern lights for the southern hemisphere, aka, the aurora australis) are one of the most sought-after phenomena in the night sky. Casting bright, colorful lights from above, they have entranced civilizations for countless years. Thanks to digital photography, photographing them has recently become one of the most exciting objects to capture. Unfortunately, few people really know how to take advantage of the opportunity, so hopefully this will help you capture them next time you’re out. The term ‘northern lights’ can be replaced at any point with ‘southern lights’. I’ll use the terms interchangeably. Likewise, I’ll also use auroras where either southern or northern lights could be used. - Continue reading

Categorized: How To
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12 Favorite Photos from 2012

As always, clicking on an image will bring you to a higher quality version.

January

Hoar frost clings to trees along the Snake River on a chilly January morning in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
Hoar frost clings to trees along the Snake River on a chilly January morning in Grand Teton National Park.

Despite a lack of wildlife to be found around the area, I was still able to make great opportunities as they arose. The winter had turned into an unusually warm one for Jackson Hole and while normally it’s too cold to even snow, rain was becoming common throughout January. Yet winter still persisted off and on. On one such morning, I woke up to -17F and made an opportunity to make the most of it. One of my favorite series of shots came from a bridge crossing the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. Small pieces of ice were carried down the water from farther upstream as an earlier fog coated the trees that lined the river in hoarfrost. - Continue reading

Categorized: Article, Landscape, Panorama, Wildlife
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Night Photography Basics Part 2 – Full Moon, Star Trails, and Auroras

Moonlight illuminates Glen Canyon and the Colorado River near Page, Arizona. (Mike Cavaroc, 2008)
Moonlight illuminates Glen Canyon and the Colorado River near Page, Arizona.

In Part 1, I discussed the ideal settings for shooting a dark night sky under a new moon, as well as what all those settings mean. If you’re not comfortable working in Manual Mode (M) on your camera, you should go back and read it to make sure you’re up to speed. This section will assume that you’ve got the basic understanding of M Mode and how it works.

This time around, I’ll be discussing how to alter those settings to account for a full moon, how to capture star trails, and also how to photograph the northern or southern lights, aka the Aurora Borealis or Australis, respectively.

Understanding The Histogram

Before moving further, it’s important to understand the histogram as displayed within the camera. Put simply, the histogram shows you the light that was captured in a given scene. - Continue reading

Categorized: Article
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