Preserving the Dark Skies of Jackson Hole

Reclaiming the Night - Preserving the Dark Skies of Jackson Hole
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I recently completed work on my first film, Reclaiming the Night: Preserving the Dark Skies of Jackson Hole. The short film, at just over 12 minutes, discusses the issue of light pollution, how it negatively affects Jackson Hole and beyond, the vast amount of wasted energy spent on it, and how Jackson Hole can benefit exponentially from embracing the night skies, something they have thus far failed to do as demonstrated in the film, despite it being a high priority in the Comprehensive Plan.

The reduction of light pollution is a movement gaining enormous momentum around the world and Jackson has the potential to receive tremendous economic gain by encouraging both residential and commercial areas to begin turning out the lights.
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Categorized: Video
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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.
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Categorized: Hikes and Backpacks, Travel Logs, Wyoming
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Night Photography Explored: Part 7 – Reclaiming the Night


A trailer for Reclaiming the Night, following Wyoming Stargazing’s mission to build an observatory and planetarium in Jackson, Wyoming

One of western culture’s greatest collective fear is the fear of the dark. This fear has been with humanity longer than any written records, and countless stories and myths were created to ignorantly perpetuate that fear. Well into today, that irrational perpetuation is continued through the news outlets, repeatedly reporting of violent crimes taking place from people lurking in the shadows, or psychotic individuals in extremely remote places waiting for someone to park in just the wrong spot. A fear of the big, bad wolf or of the ever-menacing grizzly bear insure that we keep away from nature at night as well, and yet, if we’re to have truly successful night shots, these are the places we need to be to do so.
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Categorized: Article, How To
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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.
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Categorized: How To
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12 Favorite Photos from 2013

January
Mountain lion kittens sit cautiously behind their mother in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
Mountain lion kittens sit cautiously behind their mother in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Certainly one of the most exciting moments of the year was when I found myself sharing a trail with cougars. This was not just the first time I had ever seen wild cougars, it was the first time I had ever seen wild cats at all. The excitement I felt in the moment was overwhelming, and equally was the disappointment when they began to run away. Taking ample time to fully immerse myself in the scene, and not just grab a few shots, it became a defining moment that I will not soon forget.

February
A coyote quietly sneaks through snow and sagebrush in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. (Mike Cavaroc)
A coyote quietly sneaks through snow and sagebrush in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Yellowstone always provides a great getaway during the winter. Plenty of wildlife scours the blanket of snow for traces of food during the harsh winters, much of it unconcerned if a road crosses its path.
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Warm Spell of Winter Video Compilation


A video compilation featuring winter footage from Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and beyond.

Winter appears to winding down here in Jackson Hole, Wyoming significantly early. I suppose Mother Nature felt bad for giving us such a short summer last year, so if weather stays consistent, we’ll have an extra month this year!

For the most part, winter wasn’t incredibly eventful. The title comes from winter being unusually warm much of the time. There were certainly plenty of cold days as well as a pretty respectable amount of snow, but it never really "felt" like a Jackson Hole winter. As a result, much of the wildlife didn’t follow their usual rounds and so sightings weren’t quite as frequent or predictable. Luckily though, there’s still always wildlife to be found and sometimes even gives you a little surprise.

One such occasion was when a black wolf and a mule deer buck had a two-day standoff just off the highway, captivating the town.
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Categorized: Landscape, Video, Wildlife
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