Spring is around the corner and these sixty degrees March days are really starting to get addictive but if you’ve lived in the Rocky Mountains for any period of time then you know not to get hooked on them. The weather can change awfully fast going into April and become very unpredictable so it’s important to get and enjoy while you can. I think that advice is good for anyone. After a long week of work, it’s good to get out for a drive with the camera and enjoy the scenery.
I’m certainly not the first to try drive-by photography but when you’re not actually driving and just looking out the window, it’s kind of a fun thing to play around with. With the Z50 it was a no-brainer rolling down the window and freezing the other passengers. Fresh snow disappears real fast in the lower elevations, so after a storm rolls through it’s a good time for a road trip.
There are a lot of interesting geothermal spots within the Yellowstone caldera and each one is usually worth the visit. I went a visited one that I had neither heard of before nor been to, a place called Big Spring. Located just minutes outside of Island Park, ID, the four-mile driving loop goes along Henry’s Fork of the Snake River and Big Springs. The Springs itself is a natural spring that is the primary source for Henry’s Fork which travels down several miles to Henry’s Lake and the Island Park Reservoir. Because it is attached to a geothermal vent it always stays above 52 degrees year-round. This not only makes it a very beautiful spot to visit in the wintertime but also a great fish spawning habitat that is closed to fishing.
Built-in 1929, the Jason Sacks cabin is among one the attractions at the Spring. Along with the cabin are the water turbine and shed. Of course, if that’s not enough, the area is filled with large rainbow trout which tourists often feed under the bridge. Since there is no fishing the trout tend to get quite large. Fun little trips like these were what kept me in Montana.
Well, I did say some, unfortunately, I was too slow to get to a good spot in time before the light was completely gone. I have always liked going out to shoot in between storms because that’s usually when the most dramatic skies appear. The other was no different. I got the camera as quickly as I could, drove out to a local spot, and photographed what was left of the light. the results, a nice evening, and a couple of quick clicks.
I do love winter in Montana. The Bridger Mountains really come to life with a good snowfall and you get to see this entirely different side to the slopes. Even better when you get on a pair of skies and go back into some remote place and see the peaks that otherwise you just don’t get to. As always I had my Z50 with me and I couldn’t help but stop at this clearing and take a quick click of the peaks as the sun came out from the clouds. Naturally, the scenario screamed for a black and white conversion because all that contrast just made the scene pop.
It is not atypical in the winter months for large chunks of ice to come floating down the river. Dams need to regulate the flow of water that is coming out of that dam. As a result of this the rising and lowering of the water height, combined with the changing of the temperature, will cause large chunks of ice to break off and float downstream. It’s a lot of fun to watch the icebergs float away and occasionally others partake too. While I was out the other day I enjoyed watching a Dipper perch on an iceberg and float away downstream before eventually flying off.
While out skiing I came across this scene and it stumped me. The mountains looked amazing and the clouds rolled back enough that it created a lot of drama but the light was so bright that I couldn’t see the great photo opp. While obviously I still tried to make the photo happen it still feels lacking. If this happens to you then you have to ask yourself, is the photo worth it or is it better to just soak in the moment?
The Rocky Mountains have a lot of great places to go take pictures and one of those areas is the dense forests that surround Gallatin Valley. Hyalite Canyon and Reservoir is a wonderful place to go for a walk or this time of year a ski. Being in a dense forest can lead to some amazing photos but the light options inside the forest can make it a challenge. Forests are a conglomerate of highlights and shadows which create a high dynamic range to work with. It can be easy to miss the photo by taking in too much so going small and focusing on a small area can lead to a more powerful image.
Photographers all know to take their cameras with them where ever they go because the moment when you don’t have one is the moment when you need one. Well, I don’t normally take my camera with me when I go skiing because let’s face it, I fall down at times which can be scary when you have a camera, but this time around Hyalite I made sure I had mine. Beautiful powder and some great light made for a fun afternoon outing.
I’ve talked about this multiple times in the past but the fact remains the same, wintertime is one of the best times to shoot in black and white. Now I say that but I always do my conversions in post-processing just to be clear. Snow has lots of natural gradients to it and when combined with light the drama can really pop within the landscape to make for some great images. This is one of the few times I like finding an anchor to put in the landscape like a dark object to add some contrast to the overall picture.