Photographing Nature in The Grand Tetons

Observations from a newbie

One in a Series on Traveling with our Family to the National Parks

Knapweed

The Grand Tetons portion of our trip challenged my photography skills. On these long hikes, I didn’t want to carry multiple lenses. Strapping the camera body & lens across my body added pounds and awkwardness. Plus there was always the challenge of which lens to bring, a macro or zoom lens. Sometimes I went ultra light and hiked only with my iPhone. It seemed I always brought the wrong lens or I didn’t hike with the camera and then wished I had. Ultimately, I didn’t let my camera angst get in the way of have a wonderful time with my family. But, I did learn some valuable lessons.

1. Hike with a light weight lens.

2. Use your iPhone too. The phone fit right into my side pocket and I was able to whip it out in a split second. In some instances, I captured better photos with the phone because it took both close ups and wide angle shots. The phone performed well with the hazy background.

3. Don’t be concerned about bringing up the rear as long as you have bear spray. I told my family that I was out here to see and enjoy as well as hike. Often, they were speeding along the trails with my hubby leading the pack. So, once I let go of the pressure to always keep up, I felt free to take photos of all the natural treasures along the trail.

4. Get the Seek app on your phone. Being a southern girl, one of my favorite activities out here was identifying all the western flora. Using the Seek app enabled me to id each unusual flower and plant. All you have to do is open the app and point your camera toward the flower or plant and it will tell you the species and its range. The Seek app opened a whole new world of flower identification.

Parsnipflower Buckwheat
Great Mullein
Beaver Dam near Coulter Bay

The other challenge was the haze caused by the summer fires burning further west. During our early August visit, the mountains were obscured most of the time by haze, smoke or fog. Still, I endeavored to capture a few images of the Grand mountains against the lake at Coulter Bay. The silhouetted mountains against the colorful twilight skies compensated for the haze and indistinctness.

Gros Ventre River

The natural beauty of The Tetons is striking. Every view, plant, rock stream, mountain… its all incredible. Even shrouded in haze the mountains have an exalted mysterious quality that keeps your gaze fixed upon them. I loved the rocky bed and clear waters of the Gros Ventre River. This lovely scene above was near our camp site at the Gros Ventre campground.

I’m planning a return trip to this region some day soon. I’ll be going in with a different pack for my camera and lens and praying for clear skies.


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