Moments of Magic

June 10, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

The wildflower situation so far this spring in Teton Country has been superlative. As far as Arrowleaf Balsam Root are concerned, it's been a bumper crop with thousands of bunches of sunny yellow optimism showing off in a big, bold way. Unfortunately, the timing of the bloom has coincided with a period of persistently heavy winds which has made photographing them quite challenging. Late last week I was in the park for a few days hoping to find a window of relative calm in which to work. My wind speed app told me it was going to happen - and I really wanted to believe it! 

Long story short: the forecast wasn't exactly accurate. The elusive calm conditions never materialized. It became painfully clear I probably wouldn't be capturing many images of flowers during these sessions. This being "green season," though, I was also on the lookout for subject matter that would enable me to tell that story. Perhaps all would not be lost.

The second day, I worked from sunrise until mid-morning at which point the wind became a real nuisance. Thunderstorms had been forecast but weren't supposed to arrive until evening. While weighing my options, an alert rang in on my phone: heavy weather would be arriving imminently with 40-50mph downdrafts, lightning, and heavy rain. Once much for the forecast. Within 15 minutes I could see it coming; it was moving quickly. Never one to pass up a storm in the Tetons, I hurried to find a suitable spot from which I could watch (safely) - and possibly capture it with the camera. 

The storm was absolutely stunning - and unusual in that the falling rain rendered not as dark blue streaks, but white. It descended all the way from the sky to the valley floor, creating a translucent "curtain." This monochromatic backdrop accentuated the lush, signature springtime greens. Snow still clinging to the mountains added depth to the scene. 

At its heaviest, the rain nearly obscured everything. Occasionally, though, the line of trees nearest to me was clearly visible. The mountains would disappear, re-emerge, and then disappear again. Scanning the peaks, I noticed a spot where there was a break in the solid wall of rock. The dramatic "V" was a perfect backdrop - while the gauzy white accentuated the space between the first two lines of trees. I ended up with four distinct horizontal stripes at the bottom of the frame.

High winds, heavy rain, thunder, lightning - and these fantastic scenes sweeping over the landscape. Quite the spectacle!

It didn't last long, but it was pure magic. 

ThunderstruckThunderstruckAs a powerful thunderstorm moves through, a translucent curtain created by heavy rain lowers over both the mountains and valley. (Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming)






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