One of the things I love about a wildflower is its common names which often changes from location to location. There is a wonderful image of a wildflower my mom took, dad printed and framed, at my parents’ home in Schenectady, New York. It is a local plant called the Yellowbell or Yello Violet. I haven’t seen this flower in a long time and was pleased to walk among them under the Douglas Fir, Englemann Spruce and Lodgepole Pine trees in Yellowstone. There it is referred to as the Glacier Lily.
The Glacier Lily, like many of the Yellowstone flowers that I encountered, were very low to the ground so joining them there was an imperative. By using my ring light flash I was able to isolate them from a distracting background that was only inches away from each bloom. Although they are a considerable size, one inch or so in diameter, I used a 100mm macro lens. I found my favorite patch at the parking lot to the brink of the Upper Falls in the Canyon area.
Because the hydrothermal areas are so unique and attractive one might pass by all the wildflowers. I scheduled a day to seek them out. But the day I scheduled was extremely windy and cold. Regardless, you can always photograph another pool, mudpot or geyser. That is exactly what I did when I drove from my planned photographing area in Mammoth Hot Springs (especially for the Larkspur) to West Thumb Basin where there are geysers and pools along Yellowstone Lake. The $.50 trail guides for each area are really informative and pinpoint each feature.
After the 100 miles with some stops for “bison crossing the road” I arrived at the edge of the lake greeted by beautiful puffy clouds. The sunny 16 rule and puffy clouds, postcard making weather, is still a proven asset to photography. My favorite spot here was Lakeshore Geyser which is under water in Spring and early Summer. It has two vents and gives the water above it a little ripple effect. The last eruption was seen in 2003 and it was only a couple of feet high. Earthquake activity often changes the arrangement of the geyser “plumbing” so the activity of the geysers is subject to change.
If you don’t need to rush to the next site, waiting for the movement of the clouds can dramatically change your image impact. My mantra: “Good sky use it, bad sky leave it out.” And by the time I walked around the boardwalk area a second time the sky was all filled in with clouds so I knew it was time to return to the wildflowers.
Being in the same location for more than a few days allows you to return to interesting sights when the light is better situated for capturing a pleasing or emotive image. Photography for me is not about recording what you see but visually sharing what soul/heart, mind and body are experiencing. To do this I try to mesh my best aesthetic and technological skills together. From my soul to yours! (Old Faithful Geyser, above).