Photo workshop in Grand Teton National Park, October 2012

I came back from a Nikonian wildlife photography workshop with Jim Stamates with over 2,000 pics. Wow, going through and separating the wheat from the chaff has taken some time.

I’m new to Aperture on my iMac, so I have had a real learning curve. I am still figuring out how to”paint” specific areas of the photos by dodging, burning, and adjusting the saturation, vibrancy, contrast, sharpness, etc., as well as bulk processing of the entire image for various colors individually. And as a beginner to Aperture, I got really creative. Consequently, some of my images got over-processed in my attempts to turn a scene into a work of art that pleased me. I love messing with my histograms!

I now need to pare down the 170 images that I processed to a mere few for this post. I know you don’t want to waste your entire day looking at my pics. Suffice it to say that I had a great time, learned a lot, and highly recommend any Nikonian photo workshop with Jim Stamates. Visit his site at http://www.Stamates.com/.

DAY 1

Dawn on the sagebrush flats by Gros Ventre campground with two bison and a buckrail fence in the foreground.

Cow moose

Cow moose on the left and her boyfriend lying down on the right. Look closely for his antlers.

Bull moose, fall foliage near Gros Ventre campground.

Iconic barn along Mormon Row. Was this the Olmstead barn? It is one of my favorite shots from the trip.

One member of the 800 bison herd in the Tetons.

This bison looks cold. Or maybe it was me that was cold, what with that strong breeze blowing off the mountains.

The Tetons in autumn are spectacular.

I believe that this was String Lake.

I like to mix in closeups with long shots, and intermix shots of scenery with wildlife. This is lichen on a granite boulder.

Autumn leaf floating on String Lake.

Bull elk way off in the distance after the sun had gone down, a near impossible shot, especially since this was handheld. This is what I got with my Nikon P510, which has a telephoto capacity of about 625 mm. Amazingly versatile camera.

The sun drops behind the mountains on our first day, but we still weren’t done. We set off in pursuit of beaver, which come out as dusk.

We were not disappointed. The pair of beavers in this pond had seven youngsters this year. Even though there was precious little light, my trusty Nikon P510 captured this shot.

This shot captured an adult, a juvenile, and their lodge in the background.

Bull moose next to the beaver pond.

DAY 2

We started our day at the Snake River in time to see fog rising over the water. The river was really low, a consequence of this summer’s drought. This is an example of an over-processed photo but I had fun altering specific sections of the picture.

The fall foliage probably peaked on this day. Leaves were falling rapidly all around us. The group went off hiking in search of moose, but I stayed near the parking lot since my knees and lungs are too bad for me to hike much.

There must be moose around here somewhere. Look at this track in the frozen mud of the Snake River.

Yep, there is a bull moose. I hope the group that went hiking got to see it too. 🙂

Frost covered all of the plants.

Trumpeter swans and this bald eagle soared overhead.

Oxbow Bend in the Snake River is a “must stop” for photographers. You could stay here all day and not get the same picture twice due to the changing light.

Jim Stamates told us that the best time to take a vertical shot is right after we take a horizontal one.

We saw Dusky Grouse atop Signal Mountain. This one really posed for me. Dusky Grouse were formerly known as Blue Grouse, but became duskies when the Sooty Grouse of the Sierras in California was split from the Dusky Grouse of the Rockies.

A storm moved in late that afternoon, but we managed to stay fairly dry. I don’t remember rain on anything other than the car. We lucked out with weather.

Here is another view of those amazing clouds, and a different treatment of the image to make the foreground show up.

Sunset that night was spectacular.

DAY 3

The low the next morning was 9 degrees. Mark bundled up in seven layers of clothing. The group went for a pre-dawn hike to catch elk crossing the Snake River at dawn in the fog. I stayed in the car with the heater on. What a wuss I am.

Dawn at Schwabacher Road by some beaver ponds along the Snake River. This is my other most favorite shot from the trip.

The best time to take a vertical shot is right after a horizontal one. These were taken with my Canon 30D.

An early morning shot of the beaver dam at Schwabacher Road.

I really had fun playing with the colors in this shot of the Tetons reflected in the Snake River.

Our next stop was this abandoned homestead on Mormon Row. I thought about a large family living in this small house a hundred years ago, probably with ten kids, and all of them traipsing to the outhouse in the back no matter how cold the weather or how dark the night.

Don’t forget to isolate elements of the larger scene for more abstract compositions.

Wildlife comes in all sizes. This Least Chipmunk was busily eating seeds from sage.

Even common birds like this Black-billed Magpie can make good subjects.

Look for unusual angles. Jim said to “See the obvious, photograph the unique.”

Mark is looking for his own unique angle from which to photograph the barn.

I was shooting with my Nikon P510 and Canon 30D on this day. This is the barn and homestead as photographed with the Canon.

Look for opportunities to frame your images with elements of the photo. Can’t you just see the cattle being loaded from this ramp into a truck to go to market?

We saw bison everywhere.

This shot was taken with my Nikon P510 from where we had lunch, either Dornan’s or Jenny Lake Lodge.

This is pretty much the same scene, photographed with the Canon 30D and processed differently.

Chapel of the Transfiguration

Chapel of the Transfiguration with the church bell.

Chapel window. Who says a photo has to be straight? Tip it if it pleases you.

Chapel interior

Chapel interior

View out the front window of the chapel.

General store at Meanor’s Ferry on the Snake River.

Front door of the general store at Meanor’s Ferry. I love to photograph doorknobs and latches. Don’t know why, I just do.

The ferry at Meanor’s Ferry.

The best way to see a bear is to look for a bear jam like this one.

This two-year-old black bear cub is now on his own, preparing for his first winter hibernation without his/her mother. I don’t know what he was finding to eat atop this tree.

I caught a quick glimpse of the bear as he came down to the creek to get a drink. The picture wasn’t all that good to start with, and then I over-processed the greens. Oh well.

Mark and I had dinner at the Wort Hotel, beautiful historic building with great food.

I took this photo of the interior of the Wort Hotel with my iPad.

DAY 4

By the last day, I was pretty worn out from those early mornings. We all were getting up at 4:30 in order to meet Jim before dawn. I confess to sleeping in the car until nearly 10 am this last morning while Mark went hiking with the group.

When the sunlight hit that fall foliage, it just brought tears to my eyes it was so beautiful.

If you run out of other things to photograph, take a picture of your own foot. These are my new Merrell hiking boots that I bought for the trip. I am really pleased with them.

More great scenery, but the fall foliage was fading fast.

I loved the sight of this palomino grazing in the field with the Tetons in the background. When I zoomed in on it and then cropped to the horse, the scene turned into an oil-painting-like image. I liked the effect.

Snake River overlook

Bull bison sniffing a cow to see if she is ready to breed.

Another bull got too close, and the first bull mounted the second one in an act of dominance.

The second bull didn’t seem to mind too much.

Two young male bison staged a mock battle in a wallow, stirring up dust.

I liked this mother and calf bison photo.

Another “mother and child” bison photo.

Newborn bison are red for a short time before turning brown. These little guys born late in the season may have trouble making it through winter because they aren’t very big by the time winter sets in.

Water drips from this bison’s muzzle after she’s had a drink.

We knocked off early on the last day to get cleaned up for dinner together at a nice restaurant in Jackson, WY. This was my last shot of the trip.

What a fabulous trip and workshop this was. I am hoping to go with Jim Stamates again someday on another workshop.

On our last day, Mark and I drove to Salt Lake City to fly home. Unfortunately, I had packed my cameras and thus missed some great shots of elk, moose, and pronghorns. But my iPad is always with me, ready for emergencies.

In retrospect, I should have taken out my good camera at the first sign of a decent photograph. All I have is this subpar shot taken with my iPad. Oh well, live and learn.

Hope you enjoyed this vicarious journey to Grand Teton National Park in October.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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3 Responses to Photo workshop in Grand Teton National Park, October 2012

  1. Beautiful————thank you for another wonderful *journey*.

  2. Mary Joseph says:

    You have some stunning photos here! I love the plein air look of some of them. I don’t know how you could pick just a few favorites.Thank you!

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