Friday, September 12, 2014

Kayaks Visiting Fishing Cone Geyser

A. F. Litt: Yellowstone National Park &emdash; Kayaks Visiting Fishing Cone Geyser

Kayaks Visiting Fishing Cone Geyser
West Thumb Geyser Basin. Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone National Park. August 4, 2014
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt: September 12, 2014

A late post, a busy day…  This geyser, as seen in the photo below, is usually above water by this time of the year.  However, it’s been a wet one, so the water tables are high all over the west.

This is a pretty interesting location.  According to the National Park Service trail guide for the West Thumb Geyser Basin:

Mountain men told of a geyser along an alpine lake where one could catch a trout, swing the pole around, dip it into the boiling pool, and cook the fish without taking it off the line.

This cooking-on-the-hook feat at Fishing Cone became famous after being described by the 1870 Washburn Expedition.  Visitors often dressed in a cook’s hat and apron to have their pictures at the “Chowder Pot” or the “Fish Pot.”  Anglers often injured themselves while straddling the boiling water, and their feet damaged the geyser cone.  Fishing is no longer allowed at Fishing Cone.

Visitors are sometimes surprised to find Fishing Cone underwater.  During the spring and early summer, lake levels rise from melting snow and cover the vent.  When exposed, the temperature of the cone’s water averages just above boiling (199°F / 93° C).

As for the lake and West Thumb itself, this bay is actually a smaller caldera within the greater Yellowstone Caldera, and dates from a “powerful volcanic explosion approximately 174,000 years ago.”  The size of Yellowstone Lake is hard to comprehend, even when standing on its shore.  At this geyser basin, looking out over West Thumb, the lake is huge, but then you realize this is just a relatively “small” bay off the side of the much larger lake beyond the small gap visible in the image below, framing the “chef’s” fishing pole.

Hot Spring Cone – Yellowstone National Park
Frank J. Haynes
Yellowstone’s Photo Collection.  Official Site of Yellowstone National Park.  National Park Service

On 500px:

Related Posts

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bison on Mormon Row

A. F. Litt: Wyoming &emdash; Bison on Mormon Row

Bison on Mormon Row
Grand Teton National Park. Wyoming. August 3, 2014
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt: September 11, 2014

Afternoon is the worst time to shoot in Grand Teton National Park.  The western sun blows the mountains down to dark silhouettes and moments like this can be very difficult to capture.  However, when that is the time you are there, and the bison have wandered into their proper locations, one doesn’t complain, one just does the best one can.

This was my first visit to this park.  Most of the places we visited on this trip were places I’ve been to before, be it many decades before, but this park was new to all of us.  In many ways, it has more charms than Yellowstone.  The mountains scream for exploration, and while the main loop drive is full of day trippers venturing south from the craziness of the park to the north, the Tetons are more about getting out of the car, hitting some trails, and getting some elevation under one’s feet.

Unfortunately, on this trip, we were one of the day trippers from the north, and not one of the hikers or climbers this park seems so designed for…  We drove the loop, threw in a couple of side treks, and headed back north to our camp.

From the future, though, I can hear the Tetons calling.  On a return trip to this part of the country, I could see flip-flopping the itinerary to spend more time in the southern park than the northern park.  Where I feel we covered Yellowstone well from the car, and where that park can be covered well from the car, the Teton experience really requires getting far away from the roads and away for a night or two out on the trails and up on the peaks above.


On 500px:

Related Posts

Monday, September 08, 2014

A Short July Visit to Lost Lake

Paddle Boats on Lost Lake

Paddle Boats on Lost Lake
Mt. Hood National Forest.  Oregon.  July 7, 2014
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt:  September 8, 2014

Today is a hectic day, so I am diverting from Yellowstone since I can use a photo I edited earlier today for use as a background for a new watermark I was working on for another one of my endeavors,  Illuminated Imaging (

It’s not my usual watermark, but it is my photo!

This was taken in July on a short outing to Lost Lake with the boys and my Dad.  We took the long way in up over Lolo Pass to get a little NW dirt on his Arizona Jeep.

A nice afternoon, but unfortunately we didn’t get to spend much time at the lake.  On the list for a weekend stay next summer, those boats look pretty fun!

Back to Yellowstone tomorrow, hopefully...

Related Posts

Friday, September 05, 2014

A Steamy Evening on Hell’s Half Acre

A. F. Litt: Yellowstone National Park &emdash; Steamy Evening at Grand Prismatic Spring

Steamy Evening at Grand Prismatic Spring
Midway Geyser Basin.  Yellowstone National Park. August 2, 2014
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt: September 5, 2014

This is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone National Park.  It is 370 feet in diameter and 121 feet deep, which doesn’t sound like much, but when you are standing next to it, it feels much more like a large pond or small lake than a hot spring…  Well, except for the heat and steam pouring off of it! 

The features of the Midway Geyser Basin, all huge, probably felt even bigger after spending the day wandering through the Lower Geyser Basin, which is spectacular and beautiful, but a little more life-sized, so to speak.  The features at Midway feel unworldly…  Like we’ve suddenly been transported, via wooden walkway, from Earth to Io or someplace.

The Grand Prismatic Spring is the third largest in the world.  The only two hot springs larger than it are in New Zealand.  According to the National Park Service, “a description of this spring by fur trapper Osborne Russell in 1839 also makes it the earliest described thermal feature in Yellowstone that is definitely identifiable.”

In 1889, Rudyard Kipling dubbed the Midway Basin “Hell’s Half Acre,” which is certainly a more descriptive name of this place than Midway, which “despite its small size … possesses two of the largest hot springs in the world.”

We hit there at a great time of the day for pictures, but not so great for actually seeing much of the Grand Prismatic Spring or the Excelsior Geyser Crater…  The air was cooling and the steam was thick, adding much to the other worldly feel of the location.

But it was a spectacular place to spend the sunset. 

So spectacular, in fact, that we accidently killed the van’s battery while wandering around up there.  I thought we’d spend a few minutes here; we spent over an hour…  Unfortunately, we were charging up a bunch of gear in the car and I accidently left the headlights on while the boy’s mom and Bella (our dog) were holding down the fort.

Thanks to the kind fellows from Illinois who gave us a jump and got us back on the road!

Related Posts

Thursday, September 04, 2014

On the Second Day, Rain… (And Tower Fall!)

A. F. Litt: Yellowstone National Park &emdash; Tower Falls Showing Its Rainbow

Tower Fall Showing Its Rainbow
Yellowstone National Park. August 1, 2014
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt:  September 4, 2014

On our second full day in Yellowstone, our afternoon was rained out, but not before we headed north from the campground to check out Tower Fall.  I am used to waterfalls being named in the plural, “falls,” but the official name here, designated by the U. S. Geological Survey in 1928, is Tower Fall.  It is the second most popular waterfall in the park, after Lower Falls, but I am not really sure what that means.

Wikipedia has some nice art of the falls:

Now, honestly, since I pretty much live in the Columbia River Gorge, my family and I are getting almost obnoxiously jaded about waterfalls.  Lower Falls, arguably, is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world, and yes, that one impressed us, but this one is, well…  It is a very nice waterfall with some interesting pinnacles, old fossilized fumaroles, thrusting up above it.

But let’s face it- we didn’t go to Yellowstone to look at waterfalls!

Due to getting our reservations rather late, we needed to relocate for the third night, so we jammed down to Lewis Lake to grab a spot.  Unfortunately, the afternoon thunderstorms we dealt with for most of the trip decided to camp down there as well. 

Being good Oregonians, we busted out the tarps and books and settled in for a restful afternoon, though it did set our schedule back a bit later on, leading to a long catch up run late into the evening a couple days later, racing across the country trying to keep caught up with our reservations.

But a little rest was a good thing…

A. F. Litt: Yellowstone National Park &emdash; Reflections of Rain

Reflections of Rain
Yellowstone National Park. August 1, 2014
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

A. F. Litt: Yellowstone National Park &emdash; Gray Sunset at Lewis Lake

Gray Sunset at Lewis Lake
Yellowstone National Park. August 1, 2014
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Related Posts

from tag waterfall

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

A. F. Litt: Yellowstone National Park &emdash; Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone 

Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Lookout Point. Yellowstone National Park. July 31, 2014.
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the day by A. F. Litt:  September 9, 2014

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was our first stop in the park since we were camping at the Canyon Campground.  It was morning and not too crazy busy yet, but still 17 people got this same shot from the same location in the 10 minutes we were there…

This brings up an issue I’ve struggled with on these types of shots, in these types of locations… 

The scene is magnificent, the locations from which to shoot are limited, everyone there is taking the same picture, and even a quick look at Google Earth reveals that hundreds and thousands of people are taking essentially the same picture every year, every day even! 

So, as a photographer, do you try to go for some crazy, unique angle or just stick with the basic, classic shot?  Every day the weather and conditions are different, every few minutes the light changes the scene in subtle ways…  We’re really not taking the same pictures over and over and over again, there are minute variations in style, technique and subject, sure, but how many untrained eyes are ever really going to be able to tell the difference?

Another complication in these locations is an issue of basic courtesy.  In tourist mode, I am not comfortable setting up in the prime spot for even five minutes, planning out my shot, setting up my stabilization, taking test shots, taking real shots…  all the while a line of people is forming up behind me until they are beating me over the head with their dSLRs, point-and-shoots, and smart phone cameras until I cede the position and let them in.   I am trying to get in and out, showing A. F. Litt: Favorites &emdash; Icy Mulltnomah Fallsbasic courtesy to my fellow humans, and trying to be out of the spot in less than a minute.  Sure, if I was coordinating with the NPS on the shoot, if I was on location in some sort of official capacity, I could take all the time I needed, but that is a different story entirely…  Then I’d have access to different locations, which is my usual solution to these dilemmas, so the whole issue would resolve itself.

Living next to the Columbia River Gorge, I have to deal with this issue all most every week.  Do I go for the classic shots, or do I go for the “creative” shots?  For now, more often then not, I am choosing the classic shots.  These are spectacular places and I like to let them speak for themselves. 

Later, on my 20th visit to the same locations, by then I am branching out more and reaching for the more creative compositions, positions, and angles, but this is after I’ve got my sharp shot of Multnomah Falls, my slow shot, my icy shot, my summer shot, my fall shot, my long classic shot, my close classic shot, a great landscape orientation on each, a great portrait orientation on each…  Then, if I am working for different clients on different projects, then I need to go get a new classic shot like this, a new classic shot like that…  Suddenly, all those classic shots are adding up to a lot of work over many different seasons, over several different years.  And these are the “classic shot” variations of just one subject in just one location…  So how standard and redundant, really, is this basic, classic shot in the first place?

When I was younger, I was more focused on getting the “fancy” shots in these sorts of locations, the unique shots, but quite often I spent so much time trying to force my own small portion of creativity upon some amazing work of God and Nature that, just in its own existence, so far transcends the greatest artistic notions of even the most talented of men, that I ended up not getting the basic shots at all, the ones that succeeded in getting me out of the way and allowing the story of the place to tell itself. 

And when dealing with some of the most photographed locations in the world, up to thousands of pictures a day for well over a hundred years, am I really going to come up with that one in a million shot that has never been taken before, one that brings a whole new perspective on the location or am I going to get something that feels a little forced, like I A. F. Litt: Favorites &emdash; Frozen Pool, Multnomaham trying a little too hard to be unique, and walking away with something that ends up not telling the story of the place at all?

There is a balance to all of this, of course.  Sometimes those more unique shots just scream out to be taken, and I shoot them.  Still, this summer, in tourist mode, not pro photo mode, for the most part I stuck to the basics.  Because if I want to hang a great classic shot of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone on my wall, I’d rather it be one I took, not one someone else took, and to me, that pretty much resolves the debate.  At least, it does for myself.  I am not going to be back in these locations for quite some time, if ever, and I want to make sure that I am capturing the spectacular beauty of these places and not just trying to prove to myself that I am a unique, out of the box, creative talent. 

Sometimes art happens only when you are pushing the envelope, but at other times, it requires us pulling back a bit and letting the scene speak for itself.  With some of these places, nature is trying to tell us a story, to show us something, and the reason we see the same shots over and over again is because this is what nature wants us to see over and over again, and I personally do not have a problem with that.

Related Posts

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The End Of Summer and New Year’s Day, All At Once…

A. F. Litt: Wyoming &emdash; Jason, Horse and Moose

Jason, Horse and Moose
Wyoming High Country Lodge. Bighorn Mountains. Wyoming. August 5, 2014.
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

After a sort of a trial run a couple weeks back, today is really the re-launch of my photo of the day as a regular, Monday through Friday sort of deal…  I am not promising to post absolutely every day.  There, of course, will be days when schedules and deadlines prevent this, but I am working this into my daily routine and workflow.

Today’s photo may be my sentimental favorite from the summer, despite its flaws…  It was a quick moment shot with Instagram on my iPhone.  Yeah, I wish it was a higher resolution shot and that the horse’s head wasn’t cut off, but there’s so much going on here, especially with my son- a very indoor kid getting a little nature on him in a wonderful moment.

Jason had just run over to see the moose, the horse was running from Jason and the moose, and the bull moose was running away from everything!

You can’t stage a moment like this!  Unfortunately, you can bring a better camera to the show.

It was late afternoon in the Bighorns…  We’d just come down from the Medicine Wheel and we had not worked out our lunch routine on travel days yet, so we’d pulled into the Wyoming High Country Lodge, grumbling bellies following signs promising food.  Everyone was hungry and we still had a long haul across the state left in order to reach our reserved campsite near Devil’s Tower National Monument that night.

This was the show taking place when we reached the lodge.  Unfortunately, seeking a snack, not photos, my cameras were left behind in the van.

I would have liked to have stayed for dinner at this place, but it was still a little bit before they would be serving and we didn’t have time to wait, so we bought a couple granola bars and hit the road.  The folks running the place were great and it looks like an amazing place not only to catch a meal but to stay for a few days.  Some of the most beautiful country in America up in those mountains, too.

So what does this post’s title have to do with anything? 

Well, today is the first day of school, for the little one, at least.   Not so little anymore, though, since he’s starting middle school today!

I chose this photo for today because it is one of my favorite moments from a pretty great summer.  Sure, technically, we’ve got a couple weeks left, but really, all parents know and all kids know, summer ends with the last day of the summer vacation from school.  From today on it is all about routines and school days and weekends… 

And, for me, both when I was in school and now, once again, as a parent, this day always feels a bit more like the start of a new year than January 1 does.  Today is the start of the next nine months of routines that will then lead into and define the final few months of our annual cycle with next year’s summer break…

Especially this year.  This will be a big year for all of us.  I’m trying a new partnership with Illuminated Imaging Digital Media Services on for size, one that will probably require a significant investment in time, but one that should also prove to be pretty lucrative on down the road a bit.  I’ve got to write the book on the Historic Columbia River Highway this year so I can publish it in time for the highway’s centennial in 2016.  One son is starting middle school, the other will be learning to drive this year… 

It is going to be a busy year, a challenging year, but I am look forward to it.  The results should be amazing!

It was an amazing summer, and I chose today to start my new year with one of my favorite memories of the season now past, but I am also very much looking forward to the hard work and amazing rewards awaiting all of us over the weeks and months that lie ahead.

Related Posts

Friday, August 22, 2014

Yellowstone: Palette Spring

A. F. Litt: Yellowstone National Park &emdash; Palette Spring

Palette Spring
Mammoth Hot Springs. Yellowstone National Park. July 31, 2014
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

I’ll start with the spring… The last time I was at Yellowstone was in the very early 1980s, the summer between 1st and 2nd Grade, I think.  Mammoth Hot Springs was one of the last places we went, I if I remember right, and I was suffering from a little geothermal feature burnout and wanted to do something else that day, but my parents hauled me up from the Bridge Bay campground (I think) under duress, and I was glad they did.  I was blown away. 

So I was really looking forward to this stop, our first major geothermal site in the park on this trip. 

But the springs have settled down a bit since then.  While this is still a spectacular place, it does not feel as active as it was 30 years ago.  Spring after spring had notes about being more active in the 1970s and then quieting down in the early to mid 80s.  

At first, I started worrying that, well, maybe Yellowstone wasn’t going to live up to my memories, but no, things are just a little more quiet at Mammoth then they were the last time I was there.  It’s the nature of these features to change and shift, to ebb and flow…

Still, the Mammoth Hot Springs Trail Guide assures us that, while these springs “change constantly, and sometimes overnight” that the “overall activity of the entire area and the volume of water discharge remain[s] relatively constant.”

Because of this, it might not be so much that the Mammoth springs have settled down, but that the water flowing from the springs I remember has moved on to other springs.  I suspect that things were more spread out back then, maybe the volume was being discharged by a number of smaller features and now it is being more concentrated in fewer but larger springs.

So, while I remember a lot of water coming down on both sides of the boardwalk between Mound & Jupiter Terraces and Minerva Terrace, Minerva was pretty dry this year making this stretch of trail a lot less dramatic than my memories (one of my favorite spots back when I was a kid).  But in exchange, we were greeted with a much more active and spectacular site at Palette, which is much more active since I was there last, in fact overrunning and closing one of the trails looping through the area.

As for the photos… This was a long trip for our family, and these photos was taken at the end of the third day…  We’d jammed out to the park in a day and a half and arrived late, after dark on the 30th, so this was our first day out and really sightseeing. 

Palette Spring MistTaking photos while on a family vacation can be a touchy endeavor.  Seeing this spring, at this time of the day, with this light, I could have lingered for an hour (or, at least, until we lost the light…  Thank God for the endless summer golden hours!), but the kids were getting tired and hungry (dinner at Outlaw Pizza in Gardiner was our next stop), and I had to rush things a bit. 

So these are the sacrifices for art I have to make…  Instead of running back to the car for a tripod, I made due with my monopod and some hand held shots…  So I don’t feel like I got the photos I really wanted in the end, and relied on repetition to get some of the ones I did capture (take 20, one might be still enough to use!)…

Too often, rushing through locations is my downfall, and has been for most of my photographic life.  With the Recreating the Historic Columbia Highway project, most of my photography is rushed, trying to get to as many sites as possible during the day, and often I am shooting not for art but to document sites and conditions of old road and building traces.  On family trips, I feel like I am holding up everyone else, so I rush with gear, settings, and even with being absolutely sure that I got the shots I think I got, relying on a quick chimp, at the most, instead of really zooming in on the frame to make sure that the photo is a clear as it seems with a quick glance at the back of the camera. 

But on this trip, I did try to slow down and to take some time to be a little more still, a little more sure, and a little better equipped.  These are not locations that I expect to be returning to any time soon, and I didn’t want to return home with cards filled with almost but not quite shots.

However, on the first non-travel day of the trip, these practices were not entirely in place yet, and I will admit that it is a life long struggle that won’t fix itself overnight!

On 500px:
On Panoramio / Google Earth:

Palette Spring and SkyPalette Spring TerracePalette Spring Palette Spring CascadePalette Spring, New and Old FormationsPalette Spring and Clouds

Related Posts