Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is located mainly in Wyoming but also invades parts of Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone was established in 1872 and is Americas first National Park. Known for it's geological features which include geysers, springs, and basins, the main reason photogs swarm the region is because of it's wildlife. It's the home of thousands of animals which include but not limited to, wolves, bear, bison, and elk. Although I didn't spot any, there are supposedly some moose in the area as well, but your best chance to spot a moose will come when visiting Grand Teton National Park which is just south in Wyoming.

There is an abundant amount of wildlife throughout the park. To spot a critter just look for the usual signs, a traffic jam, people running through the woods with a camera, bison acting as a toll gate, and park rangers yelling at people to stay with their vehicle. Kidding aside, the park rangers at Yellowstone are very busy keeping people safe. I know the excitement, and the adrenaline rush of seeing a grizzly, or a big bull elk for the first time, but we have to remember that we aren't at a zoo, these animals are wild. Stay with your vehicle or better yet inside your vehicle. I saw several people in the park not making the best decisions. Standing in the path of a moving grizzly trying to fill the frame with a point and shoot, in my book is considered a bad decision.

The park is big and it takes a couple hours to get from one end to the other with the park speed limit being 45 mph. I stayed at the lodge by Old Faithful. It was nice and somewhat rustic, but my next visit I will be staying in the northern part of the park for easier access to wildlife. I would recommend Mammoth Hot Springs area. Most of the wildlife is located in the north and north east areas of the park. I will cover my favorite spots in a later post.

Things aren't cheap, I'm sure you already knew that, but there are plenty accommodations. They even have a auto repair shop open during the summer months. Fall in Yellowstone is a great time to visit. The wildlife is in the rutting season and small crowds made this trip a joy. Yellowstone closes down in October early November so check the park website to see what's available  when you do your planning.

This weeks post picture was taken while driving from Grand Teton to Yellowstone. There where a group of about eight elk on the side of the road with the male elk bugling. If you haven't heard an elk bugle you should check it out. The photo was taken handheld with my 70-200 with a 1.4 extender attached at f8.

Yellowstone is a great park with lots of wildlife and many other things to see and do. Highly Recommended!

Point Betsie Lighthouse

Point Betsie Lighthouse is located near Frankfort Michigan and just south of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. According to PointBetsie.org, Point Betsie Lighthouse was built in 1858 and cost a whopping five thousand dollars. For more information on Point Betsie Lighthouse click on the link above.

Ken and Lori Snyder of Unified Photography had contacted me to see if I wanted to go out and shoot. They were in town for the Worldwide Photo Walk and wanted to get out and make some pictures. Obviously I said yes but where should we go? Well it just so happened a massive cold front was moving in and the winds were picking up. When the winds pick up lighthouses, piers, break-walls are always good subjects to photograph. The crashing waves make compelling and interesting images. So my goal was to get an image of Point Betsie Lighthouse with a big crashing wave in the foreground. That turned out to be harder than it sounds.

The waves were big but caused lots of spray that kept getting the lens front element wet. I had to repeatedly wipe off my lens in order to get a photograph of good quality. It was a difficult task. I never did get a crashing wave photograph to my liking.

Near the end of the night I wanted to try to get a long exposure image to see if I could capture the moving clouds. That turned out to be one of my best images of the night.

The weeks post picture was taken at 20mm on my 16-35mm lens. I had my camera mounted on a tripod, and to achieve the cloud blur my exposure was 30 seconds.

The cold, wet, and wind made this photograph a tough one to make. 4 hours of waiting for the "right" image was my payoff and I am glad I toughed it out.

Point Betsie Lighthouse is a great photographic subject in any condition, but watch the weather for those cold fronts that bring the clouds, winds and waves, and Point Betsie Lighthouse turns into a magical shooting location.

Worldwide Photo Walk 2011

The Worldwide Photo Walk 2011 was held this past weekend October 1 & 2. It was this first time the event was held in the fall and also the first time the photo walk offered two days to participate. This is the 4th annual Worlwide Photo Walk and the third time that I have participated.

This year our Worldwide Photo Walk 2011 group was led by Ken Snyder. We all met at the cannery in Glen Haven Michigan. This stretch of beach and historic building are part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

It was a cold overcast day but we had about 30 troopers show up. This was the biggest group of photo walkers I have been apart of for this annual event. It was great meeting new people and getting out and sharing what we all have in common. Its always a good fun time even if it's in the 40's and windy.

Being that the conditions weren't ideal my strategy was to to isolate subjects with my 70-200. This weeks post picture was taken near some of the historic buildings in Glen Haven. The twisted shapes of the branches caught my eye and I instantly knew I wanted to make this image a black and white. I cropped the image to fill the frame and bring emphasis to the branches.

I always enjoy the photo walk and I am already looking forward to next year.

Best Time To Photograph Bugs

This time of year is the best time to photograph bugs. Fall is upon us and Northern Michigan cold nights are becoming a regular occurrence. The colors are just starting to show, but while waiting for the colors to peak get out and photographs some bugs.

Early morning and late evening are always great times to photograph your bug of choice. The lower temps causes a level of inactivity.  Same thing happens in the fall. With cooler temps, bugs are a little less active, which in turn makes it easier to photograph them.

I caught this bee in late afternoon, just hanging out, absorbing the sun on a cool Michigan day. He wasn't really doing much probably just enjoying the little heat he was getting. I used a 70-200 2.8 II with a 25mm  extension tube. I used a remotely fired 580 EX II for fill flash.

For more tips check out my post on macro photography.

Sleeping Bear Point

Sleeping Bear Point is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Recently Sleeping Bear Dunes was voted the most beautiful place in America, "hidden gems" by Good Morning America viewers. Sleeping Bear Point is part of this hidden gem beauty.

For information on Sleeping Bear Point, click on the link here.

Sleeping Bear Point is a wonderful place to catch a sunset or you can take the loop for a hike through the sand and dune grasses. I would recommended wearing sturdy footwear if you are to do the Sleeping Bear Point loop. There's a lot of sand and although you may be tempted to do the barefoot thing I would use caution, you may find yourself developing a few blisters after a while. I speak from experience.(that was not a fun hike back to the car)

Sleeping bear point is a quiet serene place and will be less crowded than the more popular dune climb or Pierce Stocking scenic drive.  Just as a waring to visitors, there are cougars in the area. Research is underway studying the cougar population in the Sleeping Bear Dunes , however I have never seen a cougar while at Sleeping Bear Point or Sleeping Bear Dunes for that matter.

This weeks post photograph, was taken on the short hike to the beach during a sunset. I used a 16-35mm tripod mounted at aprox 18mm F16. I used a polarizer, and due to the intensity of the sun, I used 2 ND graduated filters to get the exposure I was looking for.

Sleeping Bears Dunes is indeed beautiful and to see that beauty I highly recommend visiting Sleeping Bear Point.