Photographically speaking, the last 12 months have been busy indeed.
Still a relative "newbie" to the Intermountain West, I worked diligently to acclimate to a new region, while continuing to shoot back east of the Mississippi as much as the schedule allowed.
I was fortunate in February to explore frigid Yellowstone National Park. Probably the highlight of the year, this opportunity to see the park in the dead of winter when it's relatively empty - and when the brutally cold temperatures magnify the magnificent thermal features - was fantastic. Yes, stepping out in minus 24 degree weather first thing in the morning does deliver a bit of a jolt to the system! That said, I wouldn't have traded it. The hoar frost, the steam, the ghost trees....it was all that much more spectacular due to the extreme cold.
Ghost Trees IIWhen it's extremely cold, steam from thermal features coats nearby trees with ice. Combined with snowfall, the result is "ghost trees" caked in thick layers of white. (Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park) Arches National Park was on April's schedule. The weather was erratic the entire time, as a strong system which remained parked over Colorado tossed all sorts of wildly changeable conditions back into Utah. Patience and persistence were key. One afternoon, I spent nearly four hours at Balanced Rock watching storm after storm march through the area. It was worth the wait. While I didn't make the photograph I had anticipated, I ended up with some pretty special skies - and probably an even better image than the one I originally had in mind.
Early June took me to the Palouse in eastern Washington and north-central Idaho. This region is challenging to photograph due to its immense size. It's not as realistic/possible here to quickly chase the light from one location to another as it might be in a more compact area. The conditions during this week were also challenging in that it was quite hazy - a little bit of a surprise so early in the season. Still, the rolling loess hills did not disappoint.
Loess Hills of the PalouseLate day light accentuates the lovely rolling hills of the Palouse in southeastern Washington. Summer in the Tetons - what I now consider my "home turf" - is short but quite beautiful. This year, the season was truncated further as wildfires began burning in mid-July, filling the skies with heavy smoke. On the Idaho side, the fields are beautifully lush in early June while the mountains remain snow covered. Exquisite!
The Valley AwakensWith the arrival of spring and its rains, the Teton Valley comes alive and is painted in hues of green - while the mountains provide a lovely snow-covered contrast. On this early evening, the sky quickly changed as rain approached the area. This formation was the most interesting, as a single vertically oriented cloud drifted into position above Grand Teton, mimicking its peak. (Near Tetonia, Idaho) Over on the Wyoming side, wildflowers bloom as everything comes back to life.
Mountain WildflowersArrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) decorates the fields of Grand Teton National Park in the spring. Meantime, I snuck back East to Virginia to do some work in Shenandoah National Park and the surrounding area in mid-summer.
Misty Summer MorningAfter rainfall during the night, morning dawns with fog hovering over the valley floor. (Shenandoah Valley - Crimora, Virginia) I was also able to get one aerial shoot under my belt in July before the skies filled with way too much smoke from the many forest fires. Thanks to the folks at Fly Jackson Hole for the assist! One of the best ways to appreciate Yellowstone's Grand Prismatic Spring is from the air. Grand Prismatic SpringThe only way to really appreciate Grand Prismatic Spring is from the air. From this perspective, not only is its otherworldy appearance apparent, but also its size (note the man on the walkway...though only a speck from the sky, he casts a long shadow). Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming The one thing we needed to dampen all the fires was rain - but it was in very short supply. That said, I happened to be in the Teton Valley one afternoon just as rain was getting ready to move into the area. Though the fast-moving storm delivered very little precipitation, it created some dramatic conditions. I enjoy shooting from the western side of the Tetons since it's a view much less often photographed.
And the Rain CameSheets of rain darken the sky above this old homestead standing in a field of wheat nearly ready for harvest. The Tetons create an imposing backdrop. (Alta, Wyoming) Autumn came early this year to Grand Teton National Park; my foliage shoot was well underway by the middle of September. I find the colors to be the most vibrant (and varied) in the north end of the park, where some of the trees try to mimic their cousins back in New England. One morning at the Oxbow Bend of the Snake River, some surprise showers moved quickly through the area at daybreak - marching north from the Cathedral Peaks to Mount Moran just as the sun was clearing the opposite horizon. Both the mountain and the rain clouds were briefly painted in lovely pinks: an unexpected bit of added good fortune on a morning that delivered changeable and very special conditions for nearly 90 minutes.
Showers at SunriseJust as the sun is clearing the opposite horizon, a band of showers moves almost directly in front of Mount Moran - briefly painting both the mountains and the falling rain pink. (Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming) On the heels of my shoot at Grand Teton, I ventured back to my adoptive state of New Hampshire. For me, there is NOTHING like autumn in New England, so I was thrilled to be back on my home turf. There, I was treated to spectacular foliage in spite of very dry conditions. I shot both in the White Mountains and at Acadia National Park.
Birches INew Hampshire's state tree, the paper birch (Betula papyrifera) graces the landscape with beautiful white trunks. (Near Gorham, New Hampshire) In early December I continued work on The Christmas Project, which has now spanned seven holiday seasons. The highlight this time was Chicago's Morton Arboretum and its captivating Illuminations light show. I visited twice and could easily have gone back a third time had my schedule not been limited. I also did some work in Barrington, Long Grove, McHenry (all in suburban Chicago), and in the city itself. Ornament HillMorton Arboretum Illumination - Lisle, Illinois Finally, I'm ending the year working locally in eastern Idaho and western Wyoming. This abandoned house in Swan Valley seemed especially lonely over the holiday season.
The Ghost of Christmas PastContemplating this abandoned house on a frigid afternoon just before Christmas, one wonders how different it might have looked when it was occupied and decorated for the holidays. (Swan Valley, Idaho) I look forward to the photographic adventures which the new year will bring. Thank you for visiting the website!
Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy new year,