My Yellowstone Manifesto Pt1 (Image Heavy)

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This is the story of my second week of vacation. After a week with a dear friend attempting to hike into the back country of the Sawtooths which was thwarted by deep snow, fresh snow, and still frozen lakes I set off on my own for a week in Yellowstone with the intent of spending most of it in the Lamar Valley. After the disappointment (though we still had a marvelous time) of the previous week, I was rewarded with the most incredible week of wildlife photography in 20 years. It began with my first daylight trip through the Island Park, Idaho area, then entering the park at West Yellowstone.

All wildlife shots with a D3, 400 f2.8 AFS-I and 1.7 or 2.0 TC. Landscape shots with Leica M9 with 21mm or 50 f1.4 Summilux.

Swan Lake, Idaho. The only Trumpeter Swan nesting lake within sight of a HWY in the U.S. (well that's what the sign says...:biggrin:) A nice bull moose slogged through the lilly pads as I arrived, though no pics...
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Arriving tired to the Island Park area as I left Boise around noon, I decided to drive the dirt road to Island Park Reservoir...I'm glad I did!

Sunset, Island Park Reservoir
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Morning comes and I hit a few dirt roads, get my bearings and am immensely impressed with the beauty of this area. I visit Swan Lake one more time for a daylight view and then make tracks for the Yellowstone.
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I always enjoy the drive from the west gate to Madison and it was a joy to see the bison herds, elk, and sandhill crane. I love going this time of year because of the babies.

Crane Pair and Chick
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Things would get very interesting very fast however as I turned north at Madison and headed towards Mammoth. Along the Gibbon River I encountered my first traffic jam and was greeted to my first Wolves in the wild (though I've seen tracks countless times hunting elk in Idaho). These two are members of the Gibbon Meadows Pack.

Watching While Her Mate Sleeps
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As these two were only a hundred or so yards off the road, I stayed for three hours and watched their lazy day antics...

Wolf Shake
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The black wolf was more active than the grey and stood for us several times.
The Stare
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Finally after about an hour and a half...
The Gray Awakens
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Beautiful and uncollared, he took the watch while the black settle in for a nap
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Driving further on, I made Mammoth and heard of a sow grizzly with four cubs (very rare) that was showing up regularly at Swan Lake just south of the village, but nothing was stirring so I pressed on for Tower Junction and into Lamar for a late evening drive. After passing the Slough Creek turnoff and ascending the whitewater lined small climb into Lamar, immediately things got interesting again. Two, either Agate or Silver Pack members had a small kill on a hillside. Though the kill was out of sight, and the light was quickly slipping away I did snag a shot.
Wolf Pair
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I didn't have a campsite for the night so I headed for a spot to sleep in the SUV for the night. Up early I made for the hotspot of the Lamar Valley, where the Silver Pack dens, hiked up the hillside and spent the next three hours watching a most amazing scene. I could have went home completely satisfied with my trip just with this one morning. I guess it could have been closer to the road, but at right at a mile, it was still incredible to view and shoot...and it was safe. A grizzly had killed a 70 year old man just days before outside the east entrance.

Grizzly Defends Bison Kill from Silver Pack
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The Silver Pack constantly harassed the grizzly and he was pretty reasonable for a while, but then he had enough!

Charge!
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Of course, this is exactly what the Silvers want as the others sneak in with the grizzly distracted to steal some viddles...

Face Off
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I found it just amazing that the buffalo would approach the kill site and watch as their brethren was torn to shreds. At this point the grizzly had loped off to get a drink.

Just Curious
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Finally the Grizzly left and I headed to Canyon Village for some lunch and a view of the Lower Falls...
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There is good fun at Canyon as well as the ospreys nest in the rocks below one of the overlooks...

While Mother Waits
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They were tending a couple nice eggs.

Anxious Parents
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I ran in to Cody that afternoon...I had to get a spotting scope! With that now in my arsenal and a campsite secured at Tower I headed up the Dunraven Pass road and got a nice black bear just at dusk to finish the day!

Cutie Pie
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What an amazing first day in the American Serengeti!:biggrin:
 
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Beautiful set of pictures! You definitely looked having a lot of fun there! I'm digging pics #2, #3, and the water fall. For picture #3, is there any special PP used in the picture? Thanks!
 
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Very nice set ...
makes me even more anxious for my trip in late Sept ...

When we visited last July we unfortunately saw no bears , moose or wolves so I'm hoping to improve on that this year .....

What was you're focal lengths for the wolves and grizzly ?

ron
 
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Beautiful set of pictures! You definitely looked having a lot of fun there! I'm digging pics #2, #3, and the water fall. For picture #3, is there any special PP used in the picture? Thanks!

Thanks very much, the Leica does what it does very well. All the M shots are strait out of the camera with no pp at all, except #1 where I did pull the sky in a bit.

Great exposure on the waterfall shot. Clouds look great

Thanks. I still shoot a lot of film and digital drives me crazy blowing out clouds, there isn't a lot of latitude at times. We had fantastic clouds the first four days...I really need to develop my B&W films...:rolleyes:

Very nice set ...
makes me even more anxious for my trip in late Sept ...

When we visited last July we unfortunately saw no bears , moose or wolves so I'm hoping to improve on that this year .....

What was you're focal lengths for the wolves and grizzly ?

ron

Last year (2nd week of June, I didn't see bear or wolves either in Yellowstone, though plenty of bear in Grand Teton. It was my first trip into the Lamar (and I've been to YNP many times :rolleyes:)

All the wolf and grizzly shots in this thread were shot at 650mm or 800mm with the bison kill series at > 1 mile. f8, manual focus, live view, delayed shutter, cable release, heavy tripod, damping weight on lens (in this case a bean bag and HD camcorder) all combined can't overcome heat shimmers, clouds, and the slightest breezes. I talked to a guy shooting a pro-HD cam at 6800mm focal length equivalent (500mm+1.7X+8X). It was blowing and raining so I never did look, but I can't imagine the problems at that length...though his Gitzo head alone looked like it weighed 20 lbs!
 
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Great stuff Tim! We were there early May - wolves were a lot more rare then, or you just have the magic touch. :)

Does the Leica have a circular polarizer?

Are the ospreys at the Picnic Area hike? Those are cool! (never mind I see it's near the waterfall)
 
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Wow, a sandhill colt and wolves in one trip? You're like a Yellowstone talisman - let me know when you're back so I can drive into the park!

Sean

I did very well in Grand Teton last year, arriving just after Memorial Day, but this year was just my year, I've never seen so much wildlife outside of Tsavo.

What a exciting trip, great shots of sights I've never seen when visiting Yellowstone.

Me either! Until now, I still can't believe how lucky I was, it's hit me hard as I've finished this set.

Beautiful! I really love the waterfall photo.

Thanks, when I downloaded it I smiled.:smile:

Awesome series, Tim. Gotta love that Leica. Anxious to see your B&W shots.

I said this on another forum. In my head I think the blads and LF cameras are for landscapes, the Leica shots look ok on the LCD, then you download them and go whoa! I'm trying to figure out how to shoot the M9 through a spotting scope. The lack of an AA filter really, really makes a difference...just don't expect anything special above ISO 800, but then again for us film guys, that's no different.

Great stuff Tim! We were there early May - wolves were a lot more rare then, or you just have the magic touch. :)

Does the Leica have a circular polarizer?

Are the ospreys at the Picnic Area hike? Those are cool! (never mind I see it's near the waterfall)

You can shoot circular polarizers, but none are employed here. I think what you are seeing here is the clear air of high elevation eastern Idaho combined with no AA filter, which really makes for stunning shots. When I lived in Idaho Falls many years ago, it was not uncommon to be able to see the Tetons from 120 miles away. If you go in late summer, forest fires, even very distant ones really affect the air quality.
 
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What in the World is Better than what you experienced! Not Much! Tim, Phenomenal set! Glad you had a Great Time! You'll be lining the walls of your house with plenty of those Stellar shot's!
 
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Tim, you should be able to get a T-ring adapter for your scope to the M. I have one for my Celestron to my Nikon, have used it with both the D80 and D200. I found one at Scope City made by Leica for the R cameras, another vendor has one for the M cameras. Not sure if you would need a Visoflex to be able to focus, or if you could just focus onto your LCD screen. Good luck in your hunt.
 
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