Last week I blogged about my surprise & delight in photographing Yellowstone wildlife in the winter. But initially I thought I’d be photographing Yellowstone landscapes! Silly me to not be thinking of the animals, but I was surely not disappointed in the landscape department either. Yellowstone landscapes lend themselves to the concept of composition minimalism just by virtue of the snow swept vistas.


A photographer named George Lepp made this tree famous with his version of  Yellowstone landscapes in winter. This is my version:

Famous Yellowstone Tree

One major discovery I made on this trip was that I probably couldn’t afford to be a wildlife photographer, with the required lenses costing upwards of $10,000. Yikes!! Yet I also discovered that I actually prefer photographing wild animals within the context of their larger environment, allowing the image to tell more of a story of their lives. Sooo, yes I CAN be a wildlife photographer, sort of.

Buffalo Roaming Range

A spectacular feature of  Yellowstone landscapes in winter is water. Yes, Water! Frozen, right? Well, yes:

Frozen Falls

But speaking of falls, check this out: Yellowstone Falls is too big to completely freeze, so it’s formations are quite fantastic and huge in scale.

Yellowstone Falls in Winter

Then there’s the water that never freezes. Geothermal activity is a huge part of  Yellowstone landscapes. I saw this same slope in the fall and it was not nearly as interesting since the heat in the soil had created a mostly dead, gray scene. Here in winter it was lovely:

Steaming Landscape

And speaking of steam, photographing Old Faithful in winter was a blast (pun intended!). Only way to get there in winter is by snow coach (a heated cab on rolling tracks for snow travel), so I was surprised to see quite a few people there. We lucked out with blue skies; usually a photographer’s bane, but perfect background for shooting geysers and rainbows:

Old Faithful Struttin’ it’s Stuff

So I had my fill of beautiful landscapes as well. Photographing Yellowstone in winter would be a tough place to just show up without prior knowledge. Hiring a guide who knew the ropes was key to our success, and worth every penny. If I remember right it was about $1200 for 4 days, not including lodging or meals.

What I’m leading up to here is an invitation. For the last three Octobers I’ve been traveling a spectacular loop starting from the sparkling shores of Payette Lake in McCall Idaho, traversing through hidden gems along the way to Teton National Park, then up through Yellowstone, and finally back along the Main Salmon River home to McCall. I realize what I’ve discovered could be considered the “Grand Slam” of a photographer’s adventure dreams. If you’re a budding photographer, or an experienced one who’s always wanted to see these parts of the world with ease and guidance, this trip is built for you. You can check out more details here. Then you too could have images like these for memories that will last a lifetime. Check it out!

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