Beginning Scenics

One of my goals on my latest road trip was to try to add scenic photography to my repertoire. Of course, I have taken scenic pictures as long as I can remember and have used them in my blog many times. However, I wanted to push myself a little harder and try to produce better shots. Professional photographers often use HDR to produce better quality in highlights and shadows. Both of my cameras will do automatic bracketing if you remember to set it in advance, and Photoshop will “automatically” combine these three bracketed shots into a HDR photo, though, as I found out today, it’s not exactly automatic if you want the best possible shot.

Of course, the weather, at least during the first part of the trip, didn’t exactly cooperate in producing beautiful scenics. It was cloudy and a good part of the time I seemed to be driving through the clouds, not to mention a near whiteout at one point. If I were going to feature scenics on my blog I would have to use a template that would allow for photographs twice as wide as those I can now fit in.

But enough excuses, at the very least, these four photos accurately convey the weather I had on the first two days of my trip. This first shot portrays a river that runs along the highway in Eastern Montana:

River shots

The biggest disappointment of my trip was that the Western entrance to Yellowstone closed for the season the morning of the evening I arrived there. Although I considered stopping and taking pictures of the snow, I decided against it because I didn’t want to get trapped there, and, more importantly, I was worried about trying to stop as locals driving SUV’s bore down on me at 60+ mph.

In fact, I really didn’t slow down and pull over until I reached this small town in Idaho where it was relatively flat and the roads were bare:

Island Park Idaho

Considering how cold it was and how hard the wind was blowing, I wouldn’t have stopped if I hadn’t spotted a large flock of swans, Trumpeter Swans, not the Tundra Swans that seemed most appropriate, swimming in the river that ran beside the road.

Trumpeter Swans and friends

Considering how seldom I get to see swans, I considered the two hundred miles I’d driven out of my way to get to Yellowstone well spent.

Though I didn’t really get sunny until I was nearly half way across Wyoming, I did shake the snow and the heaviest clouds as soon as I entered Jackson Hole Wyoming, though I’d love to see this shot when the Grand Tetons were entirely visible instead of just the foothills being visible:

Looking Toward Tetons in the Clouds

Most of central Wyoming is awfully flat, and the most obvious landmarks are oil/gas wells that are far more numerous than the cattle I expected to see. In that environment, ridge lines like this took on an added beauty that is even more clear when seen full size. It’s actually six different photos stitched together in Photoshop.

Wyoming Ridge line

I’ll post a better set of shots from The Garden of the Gods in the next few days.

What do you think?