Year End Countdown # 4 — Snake River Valley At Sunrise
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The lesson I learned from today’s image is that when everyone is looking in one direction it sometimes pays to turn around and look the other way.
Louisa and I were driving through Grand Teton National Park one early October morning, just after sunrise. We were on a road that roughly follows the course of the Snake River as it winds through the park. The previous night had been rainy with snow at the higher elevations and more rain and snow was in the forecast. But, there were breaks in the clouds here and there allowing bright early morning sunlight to filter through. We came to a bend in the river and saw a crowd of photographers, dozens of them, taking photos of the Tetons, the river, and the foliage. There must have been 50 photographers there. All of them were facing northwest, towards the mountains and shooting away as the morning sun rose from behind. The scenery was spectacular and I joined the mob and began making my own images.
After a minute of that, I had a thought: what did the scenery look like facing in the opposite direction? I turned to face southeast and was startled by what I saw. Facing that way I saw a broad, sagebrush covered plain that marked the valley cut by the Snake River. In the distance there were trees in fall foliage on the river’s banks, lit by the early morning sun. And in the background there was a spectacular display of clouds and fog, and mountains tinted purple by the refracted sunlight. For a moment I forgot about the scene that everyone else was photographing and I made this and several other images.
Perhaps not a spectacular scene but a beautiful one, nonetheless, and certainly one of my favorites.
Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 16-35 mm f4 IS L zoom lens at 35 mm, polarizing filter, M setting, ISO 160, f11 @ 1/40.