Looking Up The Throat

Mt. St. Helens – North Face

This is the devastated north face of Mt. St. Helens, 37 years after it exploded on May 18, 1980.  The beautiful white symmetric Mountain cone is gone.  The evolution of our earth continues.  The last time I was up to see the mountain was five years after it erupted.  At that time, we saw the start of life returning.  How much it has changed in the 32 subsequent years.  In my next several posts, I will try to convey the changing life that has transpired.

Iconic Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons – Oxbow Bend

This is one of those “Iconic Views” of the Grand Tetons taken from Oxbow Bend of the Snake River.  I think every photographer who has visited the Tetons has taken an image from here.

In the early morning when I drove by this spot, the mountains were covered with clouds.  I came back in the early afternoon when the landscape was covered with mid day sun,  Even though the lighting was not the best, I saw tonality differences between the trees, river, mountains, and sky.  I thought B&W would work.

How Fragile Basalt Can Be

Columnar Basalt Remains – Yellowstone National Park

I think of basalt as a hard, stable volcanic rock created from lava flows.  Columnar basalt is formed when lava cools slowly.  It forms multi-sided vertical columns as it cools.  These columns are characterized by horizontal fractures.  When the columns are exposed to rushing water, the water carves out these fractures and the columns collapse. This image illustrates the vertical basalt columns as well as the collapsed column residuals.

Ansel Adams’ Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons and Snake River

Ansel Adams shot one of his great photographs from this spot.  His image showed much more of the Snake River.  The trees have grown significantly to block part of the view that Ansel witnessed.

I shot this in mid-afternoon in hard sunlight.  The colors in the scene were all washed out. Bus loads of people were wandering all about taking snapshots.  I had to wait until the busses loaded up to get to a good vantage point. I was in no hurry   I knew that I could still get a good black and white image, so I took my time.  I shot multiple exposures focusing on the sky, mountains, and foreground trees.  I blended the different exposures together to get this image. I am no Ansel, but I bet he did similar dodging and burning to create his image.

For reference, below is Ansel’s original print.

ANSEL ADAMS (1902-1984)
Grand Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 1942
gelatin silver print, printed 1960s, flush-mounted on wood
30 5/8 x 45 1/8in. (77.8 x 114.5cm.)

According to current research, this is one of nine mural prints of this image in existence and one of only six in this size, with print dates ranging from 1952 to 1973. This magnificent, extraordinarily rare example was probably printed in the early 1960s.  In 2010, this photograph realized $338,500 in a Christie’s auction.

Grand Tetons: Mormon Barn, the Next Day

Grand Tetons –  Mormon Barn (60mm)

I told you, the Tetons were behind the barn.  The next day the clouds lifted revealing the brilliant mountains.  I shot multiple images with different focal lengths and lenses. I did not care for the results with a wide angle because it subjugated the Tetons behind the barn.  I did like the perspective of a larger telephoto which brought the mountains up for a dramatic perspective.

Mormon Barn (100mm)

It is amazing what a different feeling this perspective gives. The barn is now dwarfed by the grandeur of the Tetons.

I enjoy working a subject from different perspectives without being rushed to get to the next scene.  Sometimes it pays of, sometimes it doesn’t.

Yellowstone: Mammoth Hot Springs from Below

Mammoth Hot Springs – View from Below

This image was taken with a 900mm equivalent telephoto lens shooting up at the cascading edge of the upper Mammoth Hot Spring Basin.  What caught my eye were the lines and patterns of the water and mineral deposits.

This image does not capture the grandeur of the basin edge cascading off the cliff.  I went thorough my photos to find an overall image.  I did not find one.  Big Lesson Learned:  Make sure I do not become fixated only with details, I need to capture the overall perspective as well.

Yellowstone: Mammoth Hot Spring Cascades

Upper Mammoth Hot Springs Cascades

This image was taken from an observation point just below that of my previous post.  I liked the contrast of the orange-brown deposits against the white alkaline deposits.  The puffiness of the clouds balanced that of the deposits.

Next post, a view from below …

Yellowstone: The Edge

Upper Mammoth Hot Springs

Mist steamed from the hot spring water even though the ambient temperature was around 90 degrees,  The water flowed over a series of small cascades over the edges of the basin down to the valley below.  The cascades stood out from the mountains across the valley.

I converted this image to black and white to emphasize the water and the edge of the bluff.  It represents the feeling that I had when gazing over the edge.

Yellowstone: Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs – Upper Basin

Yellowstone’s Mammoth Hot Springs area is also an area of unbelievable stark beauty.  How can life exist in such a harsh environment of boiling hot mineral springs.  I wonder how long these trees made it.

The day was hot around 90 degrees, we were tired and on our way back to photograph wildlife. We only took a few moments to walk around and take a couple of shots.  My creativity was at a low level, so I feel that I missed some wonderful opportunities to explore.  Well, next time …