About MeI live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where I explore the deeper reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem while also trying to raise awareness about light pollution and the importance of dark skies through photography and video.
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The Grand Teton towers above nearby peaks and the turquoise waters of Delta Lake in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
Distance (one way): 4 miles
Best time of year: Summer
Be forewarned: Delta Lake is a very challenging trail that requires route-finding skills and a very steep ascent up a large boulder field. This trail is not at all for casual hikers.
I had always been hesitant to make a blog post about Delta Lake because I didn’t want the secret to get out. It was my "happy place" where I knew I’d have the whole lake to myself any time I went. Judging from my last hike up there, however, it’s safe to say the secret’s out. After encountering a number of parties along the trail, as well as doing a Google search discovering many other trail descriptions for access, I decided there wasn’t much of a secret left to protect.
A trail leads into the Red Hills of the Gros Ventre Mountains, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming
Distance (one way): 2.1 miles
Best time of year: Spring, Summer, Fall
Tucked away east of Jackson Hole is local treasure very few take the time to see. The Red Hills of the Gros Ventre Mountains are an exposed sandstone deposit that are leftover from when the region was under a shallow sea, roughly 50 million years ago. The road to the hills is engineered in such a way that immediately after coming around a small bend in the road, a dramatic view of the hills overwhelms you with a sense of natural beauty and wonder. A pullout is conveniently located at that exact location so that you can fully appreciate the view.
While the view from the road is amazing, the hike up through the hills is even more rewarding.
Together with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris, I’m offering a spring wildlife photography workshop that focuses on finding the apex predators of the region, along with all the other spring offspring flourishing throughout the ecosystem.
We’ll spend the first few days exploring Grand Teton National Park in search of the grizzly bears that have begun to leave their mark on the park while also capturing and taking advantage of all the other wildlife we find along the way. Most of the time will be spent where we encounter grizzlies most often, so much of the attention will go to them, but we will certainly take advantage of other opportunities and sights in between the grizzly bear opportunities.
After a few days in Teton Park, we’ll head up north in search of the famous Yellowstone wolves as well as other grizzlies and abundant wildlife.
A Geminid Meteor streaks through the sky above the Gros Ventre River in Grand Teton National Park.
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III, Lens: Canon 17-40mm f/4, Aperture: f/4, ISO: 4,000, Shutter Speed: 10sec., Focal Length: 17mm
By contrast to photographing the northern lights, meteor showers are much more predictable for their peak and thus help to be easily planned out to photograph. Predicting exactly when a meteor is going to streak across the sky though is a lot like trying to predict when lightning will strike. This section will help you get the most out of every meteor shower so that you’ll be able to come away with some great shots of shooting stars!Setting Up
This is where you’ll definitely want to be capturing more sky than land, even if there is moonlight. Your composition can certainly have some distinct silhouettes, or even features if there’s moonlight, but you want the majority of your image to be of the night sky.
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.
The Gros Ventre River, frozen from freezing temperatures, flows through Grand Teton National Park.
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III, Lens: Canon 17-40mm f/4, Aperture: f/11, ISO: 3,200, Shutter Speed: 10sec., Focal Length: 17mm
For many night photographers, the moon can be more of a deterrent from proceeding with night shots. Moonlight drowns out many faint stars, as well as the Milky Way. That means that you won’t be capturing bright Milky Way shots filled with an unfathomable amount of stars flooding a night sky. Where it hampers dark sky photography, however, it opens up new landscape possibilities, bringing new life to familiar scenes.
With moonlight, the focus isn’t just on the stars as it was with new moon photography. Instead, you now have the option to compose full landscapes and any sky that’s included will likewise include the brightest stars from the night sky, making it much easier to isolate many constellations.