It’s been a busy year. Looking back through my images I see lots of work that I haven’t had a chance to post yet, including some favorites from our September trip to Yellowstone.
Yellowstone doesn’t have many iconic views, or the kind of dramatic mountain vistas that photographers are often attracted to. But there are endless photographic opportunities – if you look. And I think it can sometimes be easier to find scenes and images that express your own vision in a place like Yellowstone, where there’s lots to photograph, but nothing is laid out for you. You have to explore and find your own path, which tends to naturally lead you in different directions than others might take.
And in Yellowstone things are constantly changing. Compelling scenes are often created by fleeting moments of light and weather combined with erupting geysers, or shifting patterns of steam and mist. That dynamic nature creates endless variety, and more room for personal interpretation.
The photograph at the top of this post was one of those fleeting moments. Firehole Lake Drive was closed this year, apparently due to deteriorating road conditions. So reaching Great Fountain Geyser, White Dome Geyser, and all the other interesting thermal features along this road required a bit of walking.
On this evening I thought Great Fountain Geyser could erupt near sunset, which would be fantastic timing. But the only sure way to find out what was happening was to make the mile-long walk out there.
When Claudia and I arrived in the late afternoon it looked like Great Fountain had already started erupting. We found another couple there, and they confirmed that it had already erupted. But Great Fountain can erupt for a long time, in a series of bursts that gradually diminish in height. So we decided to hang around for a bit.
Soon after we arrived it started raining. There were showers and thunderstorms in the area, and one of the showers had caught us – a mile from our car. We huddled under a tree for awhile. Then as the rain eased I tried to photograph a series of bursts from the geyser, but it was difficult because the wind was blowing raindrops onto the front of my lens. And it was still overcast, so the light wasn’t great anyway.
The other couple decided to leave. Claudia and I opted to hang around for a bit, even though more rain seemed likely.
After awhile the clouds started to break up a little. Then eventually the whole sky lit up as the orange ball of the sun appeared through the clouds behind the geyser. It wasn’t erupting at that point, but the beautiful, terraced pool around it was full, steam still rose from the crater, and that was enough.
You’ll find a few more images from Yellowstone below, including other geysers, and some wildlife.
— Michael Frye
Related Posts: Yellowstone Aurora; Morning Mist in Yellowstone: Part 1; Morning Mist in Yellowstone: Part 2
Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.
What an amazing and stunning first shot! Your story about waiting through the rain for this moment, which you didn’t know would come or not, is a difference between a good photographer and a great one! The next two images are also unique and gorgeous for their light and composition. Just Wow!
Thanks so much Kathy! So glad you like those photos.
Wonderful Yellowstone images, Michael, and the previous comment is absolutely right, the Great Fountain photo is just stunning! I love Yellowstone, but haven’t been there for a long time—maybe next year. I hope you and Claudia had a lovely Thanksgiving.
Thanks very much Bob! We did have a good Thanksgiving, thanks – hope you did too.
Lovely series Michael! I completely agree with your sentiments about Yellowstone‘s dynamic landscape – so much variety and opportunity.
Thanks very much Ron! It’s such a wonderful place.
I will never forget the the time we spent in Yellowstones during your photo courses. You gave us the chances to understand some of the background to locate views we normally would not see. I am 88 and still carry my cameras for landscaping.
Glad to hear you’re doing well Erik! Hope we get to see you sometime.
I really like the point you made about not having scenes laid out for you in Yellowstone and this series certainly proves it. Stormy Sunset’ is perfect as it is. I wouldn’t want a geyser in that image – but then the backlit geyser shows how unique they can look – nothing like the standard idea of a geyser. Much more interesting. The bison silhouette is great and I love the way you gently picked out the highlights in fur, antlers, and forest in the elk photo. Beautiful work, and yours alone.
That first scene is stunning. It’s quite possible that if the geyser had been erupting, those beautiful reflections wouldn’t have been as prominent. I think Yellowstone is fantastic for a sorts of images.
Worth waiting out in the rain! Seeing your lovely images of Yellowstone reminds of our trip of a lifetime in Yellowstone and I hope to come back.