Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring is located in Yellowstone National Park. Measuring somewhere at 370 feet in diameter and just over 120 feet deep, it's the largest spring in the United States. The Color of the spring comes from microorganisms. The microorganisms present in the spring produce color ranging from green to red depending on the temperature and other contributing factors. The temperature of the spring range from 150 degrees to a high of around 190 degrees.  The deep blue color in the middle of the spring comes from the purity and depth of the water. Much like you would see in a much larger body of water.

Grand Prismatic is a difficult subject to photograph. The boardwalk at the spring will get you up close but it will be hard to capture the full spectrum of color the spring displays. Also there is an abundance of steam and being close to the spring makes this photographic subject difficult.

Your best bet is to climb a hill to get a better view. There is a small parking lot just south and west of the official lookout. Park here and hike north for about a 1/4 mile then climb the biggest hill you can find. You will see multiple trails heading up the various foothills. I started taking this route but there was bear sign and also park warnings of bear in the area, although I did have my bear spray I didn't want a risk it. So I decided to head back and drive north to a pullout and climb the hill on the east side of Grand Prismatic. After reaching the top of the hill I captured an 8 image panorama and this weeks post picture.

Your best view may come from a helicopter, but the surrounding hillsides do provide good photographic opportunities. Be patient and wait for the steam to dissipate. Work quickly, you may only have several seconds to capture the image you are looking for.

The color alone makes this spring a must see and is highly recommended.

Schwabacher Landing

Schwabacher Landing is a scenic place on the snake river in Grand Teton National Park. The river winds through the fields and forests at a slow pace providing some mirror like images of the Grand Teton Mountains. It's been said that photographs taken from here are the most famous of mountain-scape images.

Schwabacher Landing is why Teton National Park is famous for its scenery. Click on this link for a map on how to get to the parking area. When you arrive at the parking area you will see a good view of the Grand Tetons, but in my opinion this is not the best spot. Head down to the snake river and you will see a trail heading north. Take this trail that follows the river for about a 1/4 mile to an opening and a calm area in the river. Most likely there will be a group of photogs already in place. The mountain range runs north and south, and Schwabacher is on the east side of the mountains, it's almost exclusively a sunrise spot. You could get some cool silhouettes in the evening with an orange sky, but mainly your best bet will be right when the sun strikes the peaks of The Grand Tetons.

When I was photographing at Schwabacher Landing I could hear an elk bugling. It's a beautiful scene for all your senses, but one must be aware that this is a wild area and it's wise to take caution, especially at dawn or dusk when the animals are out and about. Beware that this is also bear country, it's always wise to carry bear spray.

When in Grand Teton and the Yellowstone area Schwabacher Landing is a must see. This weeks post picture was taken at sunrise with a 16-35mm at f16. I used a 2 stop split grad ND filter to help balance the light in the scene.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is located on the outskirts of Moab Utah and is very close to Canyonlands National Park which is just over 30 miles down the road. I assume that most everyone that visits Arches National Park will also visit Canyonlands but I will have to say that I much more enjoyed Arches than Canyonlands. Arches was more accommodating and in my opinion had more photographic subjects. The only downside to Arches was the amount of people, I will get to that a little later.

The hike up to Delicate Arch, which is this weeks post picture, is strenuous and the heat just made the hike even worse. It was 100 plus degrees. It was one of those heats where you just step outside and start sweating, not to mention the sun was just cooking you. While driving to the trail head we followed an emergency vehicle to the parking lot. The rumor was that a fellow hiker had became sick and dizzy from the heat. We followed the rescue personnel with their unicycle gurney up the trail to the downed hiker. When we reached him he was already being attended to by EMS. Dehydrated and dizzy was what we were hearing and he had to be taken to the hospitable by the rescue team.

Words of Cation: The National Parks do everything they can to keep people safe but it also takes a wee bit of common sense from the visitors. People have been attacked by wildlife, fallen off waterfalls, suffered from heat stroke, been stranded, and many other occurrences just by not listening to the parks warnings and advisories. I can't tell you how many signs I seen for water, proper footwear, wildlife, etc... If it says to carry water, you should probably do that. If it says do not cross this barrier, maybe you should listen, if it says to wear hiking boots, maybe it's not a good time to be wearing your flip flops, if they say to carry bear spray, by golly carry some bear spray. Rant over.

The hike to Delicate Arch was just over 3 miles round trip and had a pretty significant elevation gain. We arrived at Delicate Arch for sunset along with everyone else in Moab. It was busy and the thing to do was to stand in the middle of the arch while other people took pictures. There seriously was a line of people that wanted their photo taken, I felt like I was at an attraction at Disneyland. That was probably the worst part. I try to get out and enjoy nature and in this instance that was hard to do. It was also hard to get a photograph of the arch with out someone in my photograph. I think it may have been because it was 4th of July weekend so maybe it's better at different times of the year or even a sunrise.

For Arches National Park it is wise to carry your tripod and a wide angle lens. A telephoto will come in handy to isolate subjects, but I found myself not using it very often. This weeks picture was taken at f16 at 16mm near sunset.

Enjoy Arches and other National Parks but do take cation and use common sense. Following some simple guidelines will make your trip much more enjoyable.