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Louisa and I spent last week visiting Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. If you’ve never been there these parks are an absolute must-see experience. They offer extraordinary opportunities to view spectacular scenery and and to observe and photograph a big array of wildlife.
The two parks are adjacent to each other, but they are quite different. Grand Teton National Park is relatively small, comprising a narrow strip of mountains and river valley that is bounded on one side by a highway, U.S. Route 89, and on the other by the massive Teton mountain range. One can easily drive the entire length of the park in about an hour. The park is a bit hemmed in by the town of Jackson to the south and by residential and commercial development on its east side. But, that said, it is stunningly beautiful. The Teton mountain range — featured in innumerable commercials for everything from beer to automobiles — is surely among the most beautiful mountain ranges in in the world. The mountains rise almost vertically from the valley of the Snake River, which runs along their eastern base.
By contrast, Yellowstone is immense. A day’s drive doesn’t begin to do justice to the place. I’ll talk more about the park’s natural features in coming days.
I had the opportunity to photograph the Teton Range just at daybreak on a day when clouds, rain showers, and snow flurries were interrupted by brief periods of brilliant sunshine. It made for a setting that landscape photographers dream about, about as dramatic as anyone could hope for.
This first image depicts most of the Teton range just as dawn was breaking. In the foreground is the Snake River Valley, with the river bounded by cottonwood and willow trees. A layer of fog sits above the river. The mountains — still in deep shadow and rendered purple by the early morning twilight — are at the rear. They are anchored by the Grand Teton, the highest mountain in the range, which attains a height of nearly 14,000 feet (more than 4000 meters).
Here’s a second view, principally of the Grand Teton. In this view, sunlight has penetrated to the mountains’ base.
This third view is of Mt. Moran, at the northern end of the park. The mountains are partially obscured by mist rising from Jackson Lake.
Tomorrow I’ll feature some photos of the Snake River and its surrounding floodplain near the river’s outlet from Jackson Lake at the Tetons’ northern end. Then it will be on to Yellowstone and many photographs of wildlife along with more landscapes.
The first and second images were made with a Canon 5DS-R, 16-35 mm f4 IS L lens @ 35mm, aperture priority setting, ISO 160. The first image was shot at f11 @ 1/60 and the second at f11 @ 1/100. The third image was made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400 mm f4-5.6 ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, @ 156 mm, aperture priority setting, ISO 1000, f11 @ 1/250. In both images I used a polarizing filter to increase contrast and to cut through haze.