When I was a Freshman in College back in the mid 80's, I had an opportunity to travel with my family out West. That trip sparked a passion in me for the West that has never subsided. There is just something about the vast landscape of the West. Compared to the Eastern U.S. where I grew up and reside today, the mountains are so much bigger and the views around every corner just seem to go on forever. One thing the West does not have that we have back East, is the variety of trees. Besides the evergreens in Colorado, the two most prominent trees I can think of are the Aspens and the Cottonwoods. It is just rare to get the variety of Fall colors that we get in the Appalachian Mountains. But the Golden leaves set against the white trunks of the Aspens is a site to behold.
You can still find variety here as the tundra tends to take on different colors of reds, yellows, and purple making for a nice contrast to the Aspens. Some places like this are along the roads while others are long drives down rutted out dirt roads that sometimes involve off trail hiking to get to the spot I want.
The one thing about the Tetons is the fact that most of the Sunrise locations are typically right along the roadside. That is both a blessing and a curse. It is easier to get to for people that may not be in the best physical shape. But it also affords a multitude of people to pull in and witness the sunrise, whether they are photographers or not.
This area is known as "the Oxbow" on the Snake River and is absolutely beautiful during the Fall Season, especially if the colors are right and the winds are calm. This image was taken before the official Sunrise and even though it was a cloudless morning, the pink and magenta skies made for a beautiful morning. But because of the easy accessibility of the area, we arrived almost two hours before sunrise to get down to the water's edge so we could avoid other photographers from being in our shot.
The Tetons are nowhere near the size of Yellowstone, but there is plenty of exploring to be done in this smaller park. I found this spot for the first time that required a good bit of walking from a more popular spot that was further up the dirt road. It is by no means a secret, but it was a nice surprise when I found it and was able to get there for the sunrise and have the place all to ourselves.
In contrast to the previous image, this image was a mere 30 yards from the gravel parking lot. And there were more spectators than photographers. People simply wanting to come out and see the sunrise while possibly snapping a few shots with their phones. In instances like this, you just have to arrive well before sunrise as most of the non-photographers arrive 15 minutes before official sunrise. And in my opinion, miss some of the best colors of the morning. I am typically packing my gear up shortly after the sun kisses the top of the peaks, as I feel the scene becomes too bright and washed out once the sun is fully up.
Shot this panoramic image before heading to Yellowstone for the day. Hit Moose Falls at just the right time and the fog in the trees really added to the scene as the God Beams were shining on the Falls.
My advice for coming away with some beautiful images, is to do your research and find what types of images you want to take and find the best locations to create these images. Just make sure to give yourself enough space and freedom to come away with some original stuff as well. Of course there are iconic shots that most people will be drawn to, but those locations and shots are iconic for a reason. The most important thing is bringing back work that you are Both pleased with and proud of.
I will have new work in the Gallery from my Yellowstone/Teton Fall trip in the coming weeks. Be sure to check back or feel free to contact me for more information or any questions I can answer for you.