It arrives late and doesn't last long - but spring is a magical time of year at Grand Teton National Park.
Even in this high-desert climate (the valley floor averages 6,800 feet), everything is lush and green this time of year. Aspens and cottonwoods, newly leafed out, create a canopy of lime - while the wild grasses, well watered from both runoff and frequent May rains, paint great swaths of the ground in emerald.
Soon enough, as we inch closer to summer, the rain will stop falling as frequently and that lovely carpet below will transition to gold. For now, though, the various hues of green are something to behold.
During much of this May, the weather pattern has been quite active. Frequent afternoon storms, scattered over both the Snake River Plain in Idaho and the highlands of western Wyoming, have created very nice skies on a regular basis. I was in the Park the other day hoping the storms which had been forecast would materialize. While rain did move through, it was widely scattered. Based on wind direction and the behavior of clouds over the mountains, I chased the skies from one end of the park to the other, to no avail.
Since that appeared to be an exercise in futility, I decided to stay put on the north side near the Oxbow Bend of the Snake River and hope for the best. That was my desired location anyway, and storm clouds were clearly trying to form there; it was just a matter of whether they'd be successful. After a few hours, it looked like I might get a chance for some weather.
Once the threatening clouds finally blotted out the sun, things moved quickly. (This is often the irony of landscape photography: wait, wait, wait - sometimes for many hours - but if and when the conditions do shape up, suddenly it's hurry, hurry, hurry.) The composition I envisioned presented itself, and I made a few variations of that shot. Then I noticed sunlight trying to poke through the clouds in a completely different spot. I switched lenses, repositioned, and found an alternate composition just in time to catch the rays peeking through and lighting the line of aspens - in all their springtime glory - below. The shafts of light were only briefly visible. Though I continued to shoot the quickly-changing storm until it moved on, it was that one fleeting scene that ended up being my favorite from the afternoon.