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.

Yellowstone Falls

Yellowstone Falls is located in... wait for it... Yellowstone National Park. I bet you knew that but I just wanted to make sure. The falls consist of the upper falls and the lower falls. The more popular is the lower falls and is this weeks post picture. The lower falls is approximately 308 feet high and is best viewed, in my opinion, from Lookout Point. Yellowstone Falls is twice the height of Niagara falls although Niagara falls does have a higher volume of water flowing over it.  According to the National Park Service,  "The volume of water flowing over the falls can vary from 63,500 gal/sec at peak runoff to 5,000 gal/sec in the fall."

I visited the falls in early October and it was pretty amazing. I am not sure the flow rate but nonetheless by my calculations it is was a lot. There is a lookout in the park off of the north rim trail that will take you down directly over the falls. The trail is a series of switchbacks leading down to the lookout so keep that in mind. It's a strenuous but short hike and well worth it. The view you get is staring directly down a 308 foot waterfall drop. It's pretty gnarly and Highly recommended!

This weeks post image was taken with a tripod mounted 70-200. I shot an 9 image panorama. It was an overcast day which helped but I also used an 8 stop ND filter to blur the water of the falls. I shot at f8 to get the sharpest shot I could and the ND filter gave me something like a 6 second exposure. I will cover how I shoot panoramas in a future post as it's too lengthy for this one.

Yellowstone Falls is one of the most popular sights in the park and is a must see. Now only if you can keep from saying Yellowstone when you mean Yosemite or vise versa, you're better than I.