Our Last Day at Old Faithful and Back to Mammoth and Gardiner
Firehole River -- Old Faithful Geyser Basin
I awoke early again after what seemed like a very brief sleep. This time I was resolved to go out with the group that joined Dave at 6:45 am. I left the group just we crossed the footbridge over the Firehole River and made the climb up to Observation Point. The way was guided by the footprints of a coyote. He did not continue all the way up to the point, but continued on the trail toward Solitary Geyser.
I turned away from his trail and continued my climb to the point. The view from the last switchback seemed quite expansive, but I kept on going to the end of the trail. The view from Observation Point was partial obscured by two small Lodgepole pines. I think I took one or two record shots and quickly left the point to re-check the switchback.
I found the switchback to be a much better spot for a panorama despite the flat light.
There also laid a snag with interesting patterns. I struggled to get a composition and exposure of the snag that interested me.
Snag -- Trail to Observation Point
I descended back to the point where the coyote’s tracks and mine parted. I resumed following his tracks to Solitary Geyser. The light was still fairly flat and the geyser was not active. I took a few pictures and the started back down to the Geyser Hill Trail to find the rest of the group, again, following my newfound friend’s tracks.
The light was rapidly improving as I climbed down the trail and arrived at the main trail. Our group was scattered about the basin, so I started looking for places to shoot.
Photographing Geyser Hill
There were so many interesting things, but time would not permit a thorough recording of all the marvelous thermal features.
Hot Spring and Photographer -- Geyser Hill
One last crossing of the footbridge on our way back to the Snow Lodge for a very quick breakfast and then to our meeting with Dave and George.
George gave a more complete lecture on form and composition using many of his photographs of places around the world. It was captivating and inspirational. Then, it was off to complete, at least in part, my critique assignment.
I explored the environs around the Snow Lodge shooting several different scenes around the exterior. I obviously overlooked the interior features as would be evident when my classmates showed their work that evening.
Ski Rack -- Snow Lodge
Leading Lines -- Snow Lodge
Lanterns -- Snow Lodge
I completed my packing and headed back to the Lodge for some relaxation and camaraderie. I was enlisted as a human “Go-Bo” (short for Go Between) to block some extraneous light interfering with one of my classmate’s attempt to photograph a subject in the lodge’s lobby. It was actually quite humorous watching the antics of Fred and me as we both tried in vain to create a single light source for the photographer. He eventually found the same subject in a different part of the lobby with much more even lighting.
Our noon lecture with Dave was an introduction to Lightroom. It was fairly basic for me, but I did learn some good tactics and techniques in its use.
Then, it was time to gather our gear and head for our snowcoaches that would take us back to Mammoth. For some reason, we weren’t put together as a group and were spread across three different coaches.
Bill and I were the only ones from the group on our coach. We made the best of it and met three sisters vacationing in the park. They were very nice and quite entertaining as they had been to the park many times since their childhood. They even had Trivial Pursuit cards to help past the time.
Bill -- Inside the Snowcoach
We did stop at Fountain Paint Pots for what was to be a 30 minute tour of the thermal features found there. I rushed off as soon as I got out of the coach to try to see how many different subjects I could photograph well in those 30 minutes. You can be the judge on how I did.
We piled back into the coach and proceeded down the road and finally made it back to the snowmobile base at Mammoth just as the most beautiful sunset colors dimmed to grey. There had been no opportunity to stop and try to capture the colors. Bummer. I was quite disappointed.
We boarded the motorcoach for a short trip to the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and our cars. Brian and I collected our baggage and returned to the Best Western and Absaroka Lodge, respectively. A quick shower while my memory cards were ingested by Lightroom and then to sorting, ranking, and editing images for the evening’s critique.
We were surprised to find out that the conference room was reserved by another group and we were to meet in Room 301. A room!!! For sixteen students, two instructors, and a couple of spouses? Well, it turned out to be a suite with a HD TV that we used in place of the projector and bed sheet we had been using for a screen. It was cozy, but by then our group had really bonded and it was very fun.
Again, the images created by this group was outstanding. I just can’t describe how impressed and inspired I am by these men and women. Here are my images.
After the critique, I told Brian I was planning on heading back up the road to Jardine to take some starscapes. He wanted to accompany me and so did Doug. So I sped off to my motel to change into some warmer clothes and footware and went to meet them outside the Best Western.
We found a small bench overlooking Gardiner with multiple glacial erratics and started to figure out what we were trying to do. I had attempted a few star trails before, but never thought of how to create a starscape, i.e., using the night sky to complement a landscape/foreground.
Well, after multiple trials and a lot of error with extended ISOs, long shutter openings, light painting with our LED headlamps, and exposure blending, I came up with a couple of photographs that I’m quite proud of.
We headed back to Gardiner at 12:20 am to go to bed, but, of course, I was curious about my images so I had to get them into Lightroom and check them out. It was 2 am before I finally hit the pillow. Great, we’re off at 6:45 am for a morning twilight shoot. Ouch!!! It was the end of a very, very long day.