Ok, so I know that this blog entry is skipping a day. Lets just say that while in Jackson, I stay pretty busy! As a disclaimer to this series of Wyoming posts I should note that I was working around the schedule of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival as well as other business related necessities. Snow had fallen in the valley for nearly 24 hours straight. I was told that this was an early season dusting. To me however, I was looking at between 3 and 8 inches of snow depending upon which end of the valley (north or south) that I was at. Along the coast of North Carolina, this sort of snow accumulation closes schools and businesses. They have probably considered air lifting in food for less than that on the Outer Banks!
Moving up in elevation however, the snow fall continued to pile up over the course of two days. The clouds stayed low, and completely enveloped the Grand Tetons. Photography over this course of time fluctuated back and forth between wildlife and intimate landscapes in the valley while I patiently waited for the storm to break over the mountains.
Waking up to a pre-dawn alarm I looked out the window and say one single solitary star shining in the west – the direction of the Tetons range. This was all I needed. Dashing out the door with equipment in hand I hopped into the rental and headed north to Oxbow Bend on the Snake river. In doing so, I knew very well that I would be passing up grizzly 399 and her two cubs feeding on an elk carcass behind Signal Mountain. I knew that I would passing up some incredible images of bull moose in the snow covered sage brush down along the Gross Ventre river. I also knew that this was a complete gamble. One star in the sky over the southern end of the valley does not by any means guarantee anything up north!
For me though, I knew there was a possibility to photograph the often photographed oxbow reflections with a slightly different twist than is typically seen from that location. The potential for fresh snow, aspens on fire, and a parting storm, though a complete gamble, was too much for me to pass up. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling on where to be in the morning. Like any gamble though you will find mixed results. For me though, I am a firm believer that chance favors the prepared mind!
You have to remember, the Tetons are very photogenic! This means that they receive a whole lot of attention from photographers nearly everyday of the year. Luckily though, the vast majority of these photographers shoot from the same spots and typically try to imitate what has already been done a ten million times before. With this in mind, you just need to approach locations like these with a different vision, and be willing to explore the landscape.