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Karen E. Gold
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/21/2006
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Best Spots in Yellowstone Park for Photography


I am hoping to make it to Yellowstone Park the last week in Sept. for 2 full days, 3 nights, I realize it is a huge park and want to make the best of my short time there. Wanting to find the best spots to check out and also any knowledge on when to photograph a spot. I have 3 early morning and 3 evenings to shoot. Any good spots to camp would also be appreciated. Anyone who is in the area and would like to get together, that would also be great.
Thanks for any information Karen


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8/22/2017 3:40:52 PM

 
Karen E. Gold
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/21/2006
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  I should add that I will be coming down from Calgary, so will be entering the park at the north end.


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8/22/2017 4:11:43 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Hi Karen - I haven't visited BP for months, so I just saw your post. I spent much of my later childhood and early 20's living just outside of Yellowstone. I've spent a lot of time there and feel I have good knowledge of the park. As you correctly point out, the park is massive and there is so much to see it can easily be overwhelming. Here are some ideas

When people say "north" they usually mean the Gardiner Montana entrance. If you come in this way, you will be near Mammoth Springs and the Hot Pots. As you enter, you will drive up along Gardiner River past the sand cliffs. In the right light and time of day, the ops for photography are great here. Do keep your eyes open for Mountain Sheep and Goats in this area. As you approach Mammoth, keep an eye open for elk as they may be beginning to gather for the Fall rut. Certainly Mammoth itself is well worth spending time to capture some great images. Time of day and available light will determine what you capture. Be aware: protect your lenses when you are near the features because the steam is filled with chemicals that can harm the lens if exposed.

My personal favorite drive from Mammoth is to head south toward Norris on the loop road. This will take you through Geyser Basin and around many of the thermal features.

At Norris you will have a choice: go south toward Old Faithful and Grant Village or head west toward Canyon Village and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Either drive will show you some spectacular scenery, it all depends upon what you enjoy: the canyon is spectacular, but a lot of people want to witness Old Faithful and photograph both the geysers and the Old Faithful Inn.

Meanwhile, if you head toward Canyon Village, you can visit the Canyon and probably see more wildlife. There are numerous spots along the road where you can easily and safely pull of to easily access some spectacular points of view for great image making. If you pass Canyon Village, you will head northeast to visit the Canyon and Artist Point. There are many iconic photo ops along this way, including some amazing views of Yellowstone Falls.

Once you visit the falls, you can head back southwest toward Lake Village, Yellowstone Lake and eventually, to Old Faithful again. If you go this route, keep your eyes open for all sorts of wildlife, including the occasional bear at this time of year. There are multiple view points along the lake where you may capture some great images when light is good.

Some things to know: the earlier in the day you can get going, the better. Early morning light can be amazing, in fact, it's some of the best I've ever experienced. If you are searching for wildlife, many species are the most active just after sunrise or before sunset. Watching sunrise near Mammoth is something worth the early hour. The same for sunrise over Yellowstone Lake from Fishing Bridge. You will probably see Bison around the lake in early morning and also around the Geysers around dusk -- both times are good for capturing images. I'm sure you know to keep your distance from the Bison -- they move incredibly fast for such huge animals!

Anyway, these are some of my ideas. I'm happy to answer any specific questions if you have them. Just let me know!


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9/14/2017 2:10:28 PM

 
Karen E. Gold
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/21/2006
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  Thank you so much Irene, I appreciate the time you have taken to pass on this information which I will be putting to use. Thanks also for the information about protecting my lens, I had not thought of that.
I will be driving down on Saturday from Calgary and I am hoping to stay at Mammoth Springs campground that night, though some forecast are calling for snow that day, so it could be a slow drive......I hope not.....the snow tires are going on tomorrow. Sunday morning the weather will be improving so I will be heading out early with my camera to the springs, if all goes well.
I was then planning on heading down to Norris but will not be able to take this route since they closed that part of the road for upgrading today, till early Oct., so instead I will head for Tower Falls and over Dunraven Pass to Canyon Village, though the pass was closed for part of today due to snow. Depending on where I end my day will decide how my next day goes. Would you recommend morning or evening light for photographing the upper and lower Yellowstone falls. Wish I could make time for Lamar valley but I think that would be unrealistic on my part since I only have Sunday and Monday before leaving Tuesday, what do you think? I could stay Tuesday and leave Wednesday morning and I just may do that.
I am coming from Vancouver Island so we are driving to Banff spending the night there so I can hike Johnson Canyon, then Moraine Lake before heading to Calgary where I am dropping off my hubby and heading off on my own to Yellowstone, it should be a adventure. I have printed out your suggestions to take with me, if you think of anything else please let me know.
Thanks again Karen


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9/19/2017 8:26:27 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Hi Karen -
Yes, I know it snowed and is supposed to snow again this coming weekend. Snow can make navigating the park a challenge, but you can get up-to-date road info at the gate where you enter.

This time of year the light at the falls will probably be good almost any time of day. The early morning light on a clear morning can cast interesting shadows, but late afternoon light is the most golden and my favorite. You will probably want to use a polarizer on the falls if you shoot when the sky is bright regardless of time of day. But be aware, the blue of the sky there can be very deep and the polarizer only makes it deeper. Sometimes you just have to fool around until you get the effect you want. BTW: Early morning light around Mammoth can be spectacular.

If you have the opportunity to visit Lamar, I would grab it! Even on a bad day, the photo ops there are amazing and well worth the effort. If you want wildlife, think early morning or just before/after dusk. There are some short dirt loops off the main road that -- if open -- are worth driving. Do go slow and keep you eyes and ears open and you may even see signs of wolves. Fun story: a few years ago I was in the park in mid-October and took one of these small dirt loop roads just around dark. I had my German Shepherd in the car with me and decided to stop and watch the sky as the stars popped out. My dog is well mannered and used to being on trips with me in wild areas. So we're sitting outside as darkness fell and my dog is asleep by my feet. Suddenly the silence was broken by the howls of wolves. My dog jumped to her feet and joined in the howling! Shivers ran down my spine. The next moment, she was back being her usual gentle self, but it reminded me dogs are still wild in some ways. I've seen all sorts of wildlife in Lamar from elk to bison, coyote, fox, martin and even the elusive, rarely seen lynx. If you go, take your patience and try to find places where not so many people are gathered.

Since you are coming in through Gardiner, you will come through Paradise Valley from Livingston. Keep your eyes open as your drive down and look west toward the hills for possible signs of mountain sheep and goats. Also, if you have time, try driving the Old Yellowstone Trail road from Gardiner up the valley. You are likely to see large herds of Pronghorn, bison and possibly fox and coyote as well. The road hooks back up to Highway 89 leading into Livingston, so it won't take you out of the way. There are some homes along the route, so it should be maintained.

I hope you have a wonderful and safe trip!


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9/20/2017 8:45:20 AM

 
Karen E. Gold
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/21/2006
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  Thanks again Irene. We are leaving on the first ferry tomorrow morning so let the adventure begin.
Karen


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9/20/2017 7:25:04 PM

 
Karen E. Gold
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/21/2006
Contact Karen
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karengoldphotography.com
  Thanks so much for taking the time to help out with some pointers Irene, it was much appreciated. I just got home last night, had a wonderful trip. Spending time with the grand kids in Calgary was great but as great was getting to visit Yellowstone even if it was overcast most of the time I was there. Taking photos of the geysers was difficult, with it being cold out there was just so much steam to contend with. At Old Faithful I got a bit of spray on my lens which thanks to your info, I cleaned off immediately, besides going and washing my hands and face. Now I get to have the fun of going through all the photos. Have a great day.
Karen.


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9/30/2017 1:13:37 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Welcome back! I'm so glad you had a good trip. I know the weather out there has been colder than normal. Here in New England it's been much warmer than normal - figures, doesn't it? But I really am happy your trip went well. If you post here, please let me know.


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9/30/2017 2:56:33 PM

 
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