I had a Dream…

Do you dream of pictures? Most passionate photographers do. Some dream of a beautiful location with the right lighting, while others dream of perhaps a perfect subject in a perfect environment. Whatever the dream is, the goal is to create a unique, beautiful image that will trigger the emotions of the viewer, touching their deepest senses and ultimately creating a very positive experience – a picture worth a thousand words…

I had a dream like that for a while, perhaps after seeing Yellowstone for the first time. The raw nature, strangely beautiful and colorful pools of hot spring water and geysers left some unforgettable memories in my head and I have been dreaming of some images of Yellowstone ever since. While there are plenty of pictures of Yellowstone out there, most of them show the famous Yellowstone Falls or some other waterfalls, geysers and hot springs. Most other photographs are of bison, wolves, bears, moose, elk, deer and other animals – the wildlife part of Yellowstone. Landscape photographers certainly give a lot more attention to Grand Tetons, largely because of Ansel Adams’ classic photographs and also because the Tetons are very “contrasty” and beautiful, especially in fall.

Lola and I took a short trip to Wyoming this past weekend and decided to check out Yellowstone and drive through Grand Teton National Park on the way back. Obviously, I already knew that I would not be able to capture anything good from the Tetons, since we were planning to leave Yellowstone at around noon time – the worst time of the day for Tetons, especially when it is hot. On top of that, the wildfires of Yellowstone and the surrounding areas contributed to the thick haze, making it extremely difficult to capture images during the day. Here is the picture of Grant Tetons with fall colors that I captured right before we took off home:

Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons

The colors were stunningly beautiful, with the aspen leaves glowing in dark yellow and red colors. I was surprised to see the leaves still on the trees, since most of the aspen leaves in Colorado have already fallen due to winds. As you can see, the thick haze is very visible in the above photo, despite the fact that I used a polarizing filter to reduce the effect of haze. An early morning shot would have certainly been better, but the warm weather above 80 degrees Fahrenheit has been leaving the haze throughout the day…

So, what does my photography dream have to do with any of this? Let’s get back to Yellowstone for a second.

When you drive through Yellowstone from the east or south entrances of the park, you get to see the beautiful Yellowstone lake. Parts of the lake shore have some active springs and geysers, the vapors of which fill up the area with fog in cold mornings. I saw this scene about a year ago and I have been thinking about it ever since. I wanted to capture one of the hot pools in the glimpse of the morning light, when the sun rays hit the vapor, giving it a beautiful yellowish color. What I was not sure about, was where the sun rises and sets, because it would determine where I would need to stand, etc.

On the first day in Yellowstone, I drove around the area and noted the orientation of the sun and where it rises. I used an app on my iPhone called “Focalware” to find out the exact timing of the sunrise and to make sure that the sun does rise from where I thought it would. I found a few good spots, but did not do a detailed inspection of the area since we were so short on time.

Next morning, Lola and I arrived to the lake at around 6:45 AM. It was very cold and below 30F, so I quickly scouted the area to find a good spot. I found a hot spring close to the road and set up my tripod and camera equipment, getting ready for the sunrise. I set my Nikon D700, along with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G lens and Lee Filter System with 0.9 Grad ND Filter and patiently waited for the sun to come up.

As the first rays of sun penetrated the sky, I took a few images, but wasn’t happy with the result – the sun rays did not reach the vapor in the frame. I then waited for a few more minutes and took the following shot:

Sunrise

Sunrise

Just the way I dreamed of it…


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Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Peng

    In one word “beautiful”.

  2. Да, супер. И небо с облаками прорисовались с правильными цветами.

  3. 3
    ) Eduardo Siqueira

    Nasin, beautiful text and amazing pics, as always. I have no words to say how much I am grateful to have a blog like yours to teach me so many special tips. I wonder how can you manage all your other jobs (including family, of course :D). It is very unselfishness of you, thank you. I wish you would never stop doing this beautiful work where we can learn so much from. You have just got a new fan from Brazil :D. Keep up good work… Best wishes, Eduardo.

    • Thank you for your kind words Eduardo! It is a little hard to balance my life with the blog and photography, which is why I cannot post new stuff every day…I wish I had more time to do it though!

      Photography is my passion and I love sharing my knowledge with our readers.

      Have a wonderful day and thank you for your feedback once again!

  4. 8
    ) skydream

    Beautiful shot Nasim! I like the colors and overall composition. The only thing, I would probably stepped 4-6 steps back to decrease a size of vapor column. Hopefullly, next time you will get even better shot from Yellowstone!

    • Thank you Skydream!

      I tried stepping back and forward to change the composition a little, but there were objects that I did not want to include in the frame from both sides! The right side had an ugly tree that just did not fit right and on the left side, I had another hot spring with more vapor…

      I do wish the vapor was a little to the left of the frame, but I could not manage to move it or move around it. Plus, I wasn’t really supposed to stand where I stood, since some parts of the ground were very thin, with another hot spring underneath. I had a couple of people stop and ask me if I saw the “danger” sign :)

  5. 9
    ) Andre Roussakoff

    A very nice romantic story! It made me start thinking of my own dream photograph…
    And congratulations on the becoming #1 !

    • Thank you Andre, good luck with your photography!

  6. 10
    ) steven ross

    Hi Nasim,

    Welcome back and congrats on winning #1. I lived in the Denver area years ago and miss it very much. I hope to return someday though. You are very lucky to live there :)

    I also dream to someday visit Yellowstone as well. It is absolutely beautiful up there and your pictures sure capture that.

    I have a quick question for you too. If you were going to the Grand Canyon and could take any two nikon lenses in the $500-$1500 each range, which lenses would you recommend for the DX D5000?

    I am hoping to visit soon and have read many sites about what are the best lenses to take and they all seem to be different of course. Some say go super wide and others super zoom. Having seen your pics online, I figured you might have some good recommendations for what I have heard is a tricky subject being so vast. Would you recommend pairing the 10-24mm with the new 24-120mm or would something with more reach be necessary? Or maybe just a standard 35mm prime for $200???

    Thanks,
    Steven

    • Thank you Steven!

      You moved from Denver??? :) Yes, I am very lucky to be living here, I love Colorado! Where do you live now?

      In terms of two lenses, is your $500-1500 range for both of them, or just for one? I would rather take one good lens, then two average ones. For grand Canyon, you might find yourself needing an ultra-wide angle and a telephoto for more isolated areas. Your choice of 10-24mm + 24-120mm sounds pretty good for the task. Another thing you can do, if you have the 18-55mm kit lens, is to take something like the new Nikon 55-300mm or Nikon 70-300mm for reach.

      Let me know if you have any questions.

  7. Wonderful image Nasim! Feels real good to capture a dream moment.

    • Thank you Aaron! I’m glad you liked it :)

  8. 12
    ) Rahul

    hi Nasim,

    Are those Tetons really that bright as seen by the human eye ? The photos show them as very bright , and camera settings could tend to raise contrast or highlight colors, I’ve seen bright flowers but never such bright leaves.

    And congratulations on winning Denver’s #1 photographer vote !

    • Rahul, yes, the colors in Tetons were stunning – something I would certainly recommend seeing in the fall.

      I did use a polarizing filter to remove some haze and add some color to the leaves though.

  9. 17
    ) Qihong Wang

    Hi Nasim,

    I’m a software engineer. I’m working now, but I can’t stop reading your blogs. Please help me : )
    I can’t find a website about photography better than this one, beautiful text, stunning pictures and very helpful knowledge and tips. I’m a nikon fan, fortunately most gears you are talking about are Nikon. I just started using my D90 half year ago, I felt I have learned much knowledge about photography, mostly through Internet. But after reading your blogs, I feel your blogs have something that other websites don’t have. I can learn even more knowledge and tips from you articles and expect to improve myself to a higher level. I had a dream too!
    I went to Yellowstone and Tetons this summer. I don’t feel very good about my pictures. After I read your couple logs, I figured out one of the reason is I didn’t use polarized filter as necessary as I can. I just used it when my composition had more sky and cloud. For landscape photography, I should use it under more situations, even when I just shooting leaves if necessary. So I just ordered another polarized filter for my prime lens. I also learned a bit the importance of ND filter for landscape pictures. I haven’t read your article about ND filter, will do soon, I’m in the order from latest to earlier. Maybe at that time I will order a ND filter as well.
    I will read your blogs every day and tell my friend about this link.
    Thank you so much to share your knowledge and experience unselfishly with us. Best wishes to you and Lola!

    Qihong

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