Landscape and Wildlife Photography Workshop at Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks In USA In The August Of 2018

The 11th of August 2018, five photographers experience for 13 days an exceptional photographic adventure by going to photograph the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks in the United States of America’s State of Wyoming. On the menu, fabulous landscapes immortalized by Ansel Adams and a grand diversity of animals and wildlife, the famous bison naturally included.

Participants in the photo workshop in Yellowstone in August 2018: Patrick, Pascale, Philippe, Josiane and Daniel.
Participants in the photo workshop in Yellowstone in August 2018: Patrick, Pascale, Philippe, Josiane and Daniel.

Yellowstone – A Myth to Nature’s Photographers

Yellowstone, with its herds of bison and its geysers, is certainly one of those places most known about in the United States. This natural park can only be invoked by superlatives. Its surface area is greater than the entire French island of Corsica. It is the second largest National Park within the United States. It possesses more than two thirds of the planet’s geysers, including the infamous “Old Faithful”, the second most important in the world following Island’s Strokkur. Inhabiting its lands are herds of bison, black bears, grizzlies, coyotes, wolves, moose, deer and elks. It’s also one of the last intact ecosystems among the temperate climate zones.

Yellowstone is crisscrossed by rivers, possesses numerous waterfalls, rapids and lakes. The alternating landscapes of immense prairies and forest are among the most beautiful that we know of.

Every participant in the workshop had previously had the occasion to watch numerous television documentaries which had Yellowstone as their primary subject. One of our photographers had been dreaming of visiting this area for some more than 15 years. His wish was granted above and beyond his expectation.

Imaging Yellowstone is difficult as the park is simply immense. The roads and hiking footpaths are numerous. When you’re unfamiliar with the park, you’re not exactly certain as to how to approach it. For years, we’ve been capturing on camera its most isolated corners. During this excursion, we guided the photographers towards the best places to realize interesting snapshots.

The first photographs of the morning have always been made very early on Yellowstone’s lake. It offers photographers extraordinary spectacles. The very early morning wakeup call while difficult was rewarded in a beautiful manner. The lingering fatigue is quickly forgotten for all those whom accepted to get up so terribly early. The early morn’s fog which hovers just above the lake due to the former night’s very low temperatures produce unreal and magical effects. Once the sun begins to pierce the veil of night and said cottonseed blanket, the lighting becomes extraordinary. No dawn was identical to the last. Each day was a veritable surprise.

Once the photos of the sunrise upon the lake were concluded, we would rapidly direct ourselves towards the volcanic fumaroles in order to seize in time the kaleidoscope of lights playing across Yellowstone River and through the jets of smoke and steam. These are photos whom are difficult to make into reality, yet the early morning hours are ideal for creating unreal and interesting snapshots.

From thereon, each day, we would fetch ourselves a large breakfast in the first of our hotels which sheltered us whilst in Yellowstone.

As the park is immense, we choose to explore it in two steps. The first permitted for the discovery and exploration of the Eastern portion. It is constituted by immense prairies where large herds of bison pass by. The geysers and fumaroles are many in number but less so that in the park’s Western portion which acted as the second piece of the trip within the region.

During this stay at Yellowstone, the workshop’s interns observed and photographed bison by the thousands. We must recognize that this has been the first year where we’ve personally seen so many. In the preceding years we’d always seen them number in the hundreds, which was already a lot yet here the herds were simply remarkable in their quantity.

For us, it was enchanting to discover the photographers observe them for the first time. The bison are legendary animals as they have been immortalized by numerous cowboy films. Everybody knows who and what they are. Everyone can recognize them. Yet precious few people have seen them in real life. Seeing their eyes sparkle as the first large males raunchily cry out made for a multitude of small magical moments. The males are searching for females in order to mate. It’s the time of combat and rolling in the dust so as to showcase their power. The photos realized are magnificent.

Yellowstone had fulfilled each one of its promises whether it be in the Eastern portion or the Western portion. Every participant within the workshop realized some extraordinary photographs. As some have already confided in us, these were better than they every hoped to accomplish. They’d never imagined that such works turn out as beautiful as they did.

Grand Teton – Retracing Ansel Adam’s Footsteps

Grand Teton is an immense National Park situated to the south of Yellowstone. It is known worldwide due to the photographs of Ansel Adams who immortalized the mountain in question along with the Snake River.

The park owes its name to a very tall mountain which is covered in glaciers. Our goal for this portion of the voyage was to photograph the highest peaks of the mountain chain which bifurcates the park.

The first big surprise was the blue hour. The Grand Teton offers mornings where the blue hour is of a rare intensity. Also, it is crisscrossed with rivers which allow for the realization of artistic photos containing magnificent water-based reflections. The price to pay is the requirement of getting up very early yet the effects upon the photographers is guaranteed. This photography workshop did not change this rule. The images realized were each one more beautiful and profound than the last.

As one of the participants underlined quite profoundly: Photographing the Grand Teton is no easy task. It is true that one must know the good staging points by heart and memories those hours were taken landscape shots will be at their best. But it is our job to bring along our extensive knowledge and knowhow to the field. Once the photographers understood how exactly to photograph this great and jagged mountain chain, everything turned out perfect.

In Grand Teton, everything revolves around the mountains. Yet the staging points are so numerous and diverse that it takes at least 4 days to do everything. The interns also had the opportunity to photograph a herd of bison whom accepted to play along for the game called photography.

The interns also traversed a lake by boat in order to photograph the lone waterfall within the park. It is immense, and the spectacle is truly worth the trip to get there. The reward for this intense moment is a hike amongst the forests on sinuous paths on the edge of the Grand Teton itself. We could not dream or hope for better to approach it so closely.

The Icing on The Cake and The Cherry On Top: An Island on The Great Salt Lake

To conclude this workshop dedicated to the State of Wyoming, we decided to offer the participants yet another discovery of Antelope Island. It is an island situated on the Great Salt Lake some several kilometers away from the immense agglomeration of Salt Lake City, Utah.

This island holds the particularity of housing thousands of birds as the salty waters withhold a treasure: Insect larvae of which said aerial fauna is quite fond of. In addition, the island serves as home to a herd of some 700 bison. It is a strange twist of nature as they are prisoners of this place, yet such a case also serves as a great boon towards the creative potential of photographers. Furthermore, we had the right to experience a terrible thunderstorm with many deep black colored clouds who worked to wonderous effects on the captured snapshots.

A Voyage Out of Time for A Group Passionate for Nature

This out of season trip permitted a group of nature passionate photographers to realize several dreams: Photographing Yellowstone and the Grand Teton. The ambiance was particularly welcoming and always placed under the banner of exchange and friendship.

We have done all that we can to communicate our passion for not only these magnificent landscapes but also our adoptive country. Once again, the gathered impression holds that we succeeded in this bet that we hold onto so close to our hearts.

It is a certainty that 13 days is insufficient to apprehend and discover these wide-open spaces of nature where we uncovered to meaning of the words liberty and freedom. Yet we hope that we will once more see Josiane, Pascale, Philippe, Patrick and Daniel for a following voyage to the land where their dreams came true.

Testimonies of the Participants

Pascale Pascale.

My general impression about this trip throughout the State of Wyoming between the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks was breathtaking. This voyage showed me nature in all its wilderness, all its purity. All these vast open spaces are protected. I adored it.

By participating in this outing, I wanted to photograph the landscapes and the wildlife. I wanted to discover.

To me personally, now Yellowstone represents the wide-open space, an untouched nature, bordering on virgin. It’s been adapted to human visitation but in an ecological manner.

Grand Teton is from now on the blue hour in my mind. It’s the first discovery on this grand voyage. Nature there is less uncut.

When I first witnessed the bison in Yellowstone’s Haydn Valley, it was just like being a kid all over again. I was deeply moved to observe these wild and prehistoric animals in their natural habitat. To gain access to them in the way you took us was an incredible opportunity.

Within the volcanic portion of Yellowstone, my photography was greatly inspired. I discovered graphics. Up until now I’d little envisioned photography which such theme. Yet I was inspired by the forms, the colors, the motifs. They geysers, the fumaroles were magnificent. We were right at the center of the jets. It was beautiful.

Yesterday, the day spent on that paradisiac island was astonishing. We were close to Salt Lake City. It’s practically impossible to imagine this island with all its wilderness and wide-open spaces to close to such a heavily populated area. The number of birds was impressive.

This trip was awesome as we made only three stops. We were able to get to know our surroundings. We were less tired. Ending with this island was a great idea. I’d unplugged so profoundly that this day allowed me to reconnect with the outside world.

If I had to preserve into memory a strong moment from this voyage, it would be the bison. I would’ve never imagined getting so close to them and taking such beautiful images.

Josiane Josiane.

I’m not exactly certain as to whether I’ll be able to find the correct moments to express what I fell. It was all just so woah!

I didn’t see the days go by. It was a fantastic trip. The landscapes I bore witness to left me breathless. We’re right in front of them. We’re not sure as to how to capture them on camera. It was magnificent.

Now that I’ve seen the Yellowstone’s and Grand Teton’s landscapes in the flesh with my own two eyes, I’d like to say that they’re grandiose. I’d already felt this sort of impression back when you’d brought us to the Grand Canyon out west. Yet here I’m even more surprised just by the sheer enormity of the landscapes here.

In coming on this voyage, I await the colors present within mountainous regions. It’s within Yellowstone’s second portion that I saw them. The documentary I’d seen on the television doesn’t correspond to at all the reality of what I witnessed.

What surprised me the most was at Grand Teton was still the simply scope of its immensity. We had some exceptional lighting conditions; the reflections present across the various bodies of water were amazing. The sunrises were breathtaking. Everything was superb.

For me Yellowstone, it’s the colors. It’s the only appropriate word I can find to describe it. There were bison everywhere. It was superb. We stood at the center of their lives. It was incredible.

The organization was excellent. Spending several nights at the same place was less tiring. This year once again I learned several things on how to use my camera, my filters and my lenses.

The last day on the island not far from Salt Lake City was very nice. We went from the calm of nature back to the city. It was a beautiful transition.

If I had to hold onto a grand moment from this trip it would be Grand Prismatic Spring back in Yellowstone. I adored the colors, the landscapes. Yet more importantly I cherished all of the moments we’d shared between ourselves. It was amazing.

Daniel Daniel.

This photography workshop at Grand Teton and Yellowstone was exceptional. I’d even go so far as to say, ‘like usual’. I’ve discovered something new.

Yet the most important aspect was that I’ve rediscovered myself as a photographer. I’ve past through many countries globetrotting across the world due to my employment as a photographer but this time things were completely different. The feeling of emotion of very powerful from the beginning all the way to the end.

Sometimes it was difficult to get up at 4 or 5 in the morning, but the photos were so exceptional that our fatigue made itself scarce. The intensity and the beauty of the landscapes along with the blueish or reddish lighting schemes were incredible. Even though I worked only in greyscale I adored these ambiances.

It’s perhaps one of my most beautiful trips. I’m sincere as I say this. When I look at my images and I develop some of them, I felt like I was farther off than usual. I discovered something else.

I’d enjoyed the voyage you’d organized for us in the States of Nevada, Arizona and Utah. Yet this one is on an altogether different level and dimension. I was more sensible place in front of the power of these landscapes. It’s a bit and difficult to explain. It’s more emotional. It’s unique in the world. For example, Grand Teton, you must own it. It doesn’t give itself away as easily as Yellowstone does. Yet we understood how, it’s defined by carefulness, sensibility. It’s all great poetry.

Yellowstone, on the other hand that’s whouah! It’s huge. I saw bison by the thousands. We were next to them. The volcanic potholes and geysers, that was woah! There I made an extraordinary snapshot. It’s the most memorable and incredible image I made. I’ve lived through many such experiences.

The organization was very nice with multiple nights spent at the same place. It wasn’t tiresome. It was comfortable. I was able to make up for those early morning outings, catch up on some lost sleep. But I understand why you made us get up a 4 in the morning as 15 minutes before dawn, it’s exceptional. If we hadn’t done as such, we would have missed it all. It’s fabulous.

Now, I’ve got a totally different impression about Americans. They are charming, agreeable, open. They were always trying to satisfy us. Me, I’m a fan of the United States. I await your next trip to this country, but the bar is already set so high I wonder how you’ll be able to do that and beat it.

Patrick Patrick.

We’d already traveled with you to the Grand Canyon in the western portion of the United States of America. Already it’d been magnificent as well as gigantic. This time, it’s even more impressive and quite different. We saw colors, magnificent landscapes. It’s a moment with weight.

Yellowstone is the continuity of our childhood with its large American landscapes, wide-open spaces and bison. Now that I’ve photographed this region, I find myself yet further confronted by my desire to protect the environment and its resident animals and wildlife in general. I find myself deeply attached to wildlife and humans have done so much damage to Earth that I think that they must be even further protected as we’ve seen throughout this trip.

What surprised me was how the Americans protect nature by establishing structures catering to visitors and protecting the landscape all the whilst touring within. It’s incredible.

To me, Yellowstone represents enormous landscapes, liberty, sunlight, silence, homesickness and colors.

When I witnessed my first herd of bison, I was a bit scared. We realize that when we don’t bother them, they graze and sleep tranquilly. You can observe it from up close and capture some fine images.

Grand Teton, in my eyes, is the blue hour I’d never known. There were some grand moments. I burned into memory the little 45-minute outing which was quite fun. It’s again quite different. It’s another facet of wide-open spaces. I’d live within them quite happily.

This voyage in three unique steps was very good. This allows one to rest, to integrate themselves within the landscapes.

The last day on the island no far from Salt Lake City was fabulous. We were a bit tired. Yet we discovered an untouched and savage island, protected. It was a paradise.

If I had to preserve an important moment from this workshop, it would be the bison. Life amongst the herd across the Great Plains. We get the impression that they’ve always been there. It was beautiful.

Philippe Philippe.

My general impressions about this photography workshop are positive. The ambiance was excellent. The trip was agreeable. The landscapes were a thing of beauty. We had excellent weather.

I participated within this workshop to discover two of Earth’s most major landmarks: Grand Teton and Yellowstone. This had been some fifteen years since I’d first planned on coming. I wanted to take some interesting photos. I’d already seen several shows about Yellowstone. I had a general idea of what I wanted to do but I didn’t know exactly how as I was unfamiliar with the terrain. I was already aware that there was wildlife.

My expectations were met. I found anew the landscapes that I’d seen on television. In addition, I was well aware of the island. I rediscovered the volcanic cityscape that I’d previously seen back in Northern Europe.

For me, Grand Teton is part of the highlands. They are mountainous landscapes. Yellowstone, it’s more volcanic, apocalyptic and its geography marks the end of the world.

Within Yellowstone, I uncovered landscapes, most notably further up north, to which I was not ready for at all. Within these regions, the landscapes we more peaceful. It was tranquil.

The ambiance throughout the trip was very good. Our getting along was excellent. The cohesion went very well.

The organization was without issue. I’d heard of you before. I knew what expectations to hold myself to. Everything occurred as was planned. There were some out of left fields tied to nature’s and the weather’s unpredictability. There’s nothing to be done. Everything happened as I expected it to.

If I had to conserve a nice moment, it’s difficult as there were many. That which comes to mind is the one at the base of the Grand Teton. Were at the edge of Snake River at sunrise. It was a peaceful moment, bathed with emotion. It was nice, restful. I had this impression of serenity and plentitude.

I enjoyed spending several nights in the same places. We can immerse ourselves within these areas. We can dive as deep as we desire into the photography.

Some Pictures Taken by the Participants

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