Although it’s true you can develop your photography skills in any location and with any subject matter, it’s only on a grand stage like the Grand Teton environment where you will you be pushed to create landscape, nature and wildlife images of the greatest quality. The 40-mile range of the Grand Teton Mountains, soaring to almost 14,000 feet, dominates this landscape and serves as both a spectacular backdrop to any photo and a subject with infinite faces, personalities and mysterious messages that you must work hard to capture.
At approximately 310,000 acres, Grand Teton National Park occupies much of northwestern Wyoming. Eons of geological upheavals, dramatic climatological events and the north-south meandering of the Snake River have shaped this environment into one of nature’s most beautiful and abundant showplaces. The valley floor, dotted with sagebrush, is already 6,320 feet in elevation, and is the first of five amazing ecosystems, the others being natural watercourses and lakes, wetlands, forests and the alpine heights. Each is an ecologically balanced habitat for a great variety of plants and animals that are able to thrive within the mix of the specific soil, moisture, sunlight and other elements.
Although every season in the Grand Tetons presents a unique photographic environment, it’s the colors, crisp air and activities of the wildlife that makes autumn the time you and your camera must be strategically positioned to capture it all. The bright and subtle hues of the changing leaves are counterpoints to the gray, craggy and snow-topped mountains and thus providing you with endless compositions combining both elements to create the greatest images in your portfolio.
With 61 species of mammals inhabiting the Grand Teton’s diverse ecosystems and the fall being when they are most active, you will likely see many of them within your viewfinder wherever you turn. The true “trophies” are the big four of the Tetons – elk, moose, bison and bear. The first three will be in the season of rut, providing exciting jousts between the bull males to determine who will be first to mate with the most fertile females. Not only are they fighting for the privilege to pass on their genes, but also mammals of all sizes and types are adding fat to their bodies for hibernation and to survive the extremely harsh winters. Some will be exposed to the elements and others will hide in warm burrows surrounded by the food they’ve gathered.
While the elk, moose, bison and bear may be easier to spot and photograph, the ultimate challenge of wildlife photography is to search for the creatures that are more elusive. Among the Grand Tetons, other ungulates wander the valley, such as mule deer and pronghorn. It will take special diligence to photograph wolves and mountain lions, but they are there. Smaller mammals scamper and scurry through the vegetation – Uinta ground squirrels, red squirrels, badgers, pine martens, long-tailed weasels, wolverines, pikas and yellow-bellied marmots – while those with watery habitats – beaver, muskrat and river otter – are found within the riverine environments.
The bird life in the Grant Tetons is equally abundant, diverse and astonishing. The area is home both to the smallest North American bird, the calliope hummingbird, weighing less than a tenth of ounce, and the largest waterfowl on the continent, the trumpeter swan, weighing 20–30 pounds. Predators, such as the osprey and bald eagle, nest near waterways and wetlands, so they can easily grab fish.
A Grand Teton photography adventure is truly like no other and the award winning nature photographer to guide you through this wilderness wonderland is Frank Comisar, founder of Scenic Aperture. He has planned an extraordinary learning experience for just 8 photographers, October 3–8, 2015, at his Grand Teton Photography Workshop. Not only will you spend many hours at the special shooting locations that Frank has discovered during his many journeys into the area, but also he will help train your landscape and wildlife photographic eye, teach you the advanced lighting and compositional skills to take home winning images, instruct the group in post-processing techniques during digital darkroom sessions and spend time with each photographer to review and discuss his or her work and determine areas of improvement.
Don’t hesitate for a moment, however, as the 8 spots for Scenic Aperture’s Grand Teton Photography Workshop October 3–8, 2015 will be grabbed as quickly as a swooping osprey hungry for a trout dinner. For complete details, please Click Here.
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