Even though there is less than a week to go in Defenders’ photo contest you’ve still got plenty of time to submit your photos! You may have already seen my previous post featuring some of last year’s wild lands photo finalists and winners so for this post I wanted to show you some of the amazing wildlife photos from last year. They are all the way at the bottom so make sure to scroll all the way down. Enjoy!
However, to tantalize you even more I’ve spoken to Jess Lee, who will be the grand prize winner’s expedition leader on the Yellowstone and Grand Tetons photo tour, in order to give our contestants a sneak peek at what they can expect to see and experience while there.
We will be photographing, elk, pronghorn, moose, deer, coyotes for sure. No guarantees, but we will have a good chance of seeing black bears, grizzlies and wolves.
2) You offer tours year round, what is your favorite thing about each tour based on season? What will you have our grand prize winner and other tour members on the fall tour especially looking for?
Each tour or workshop gives a unique perspective to the location and its inhabitants. The trips are chosen to be during a prime time for that location. Good examples would be our Alaska grizzly workshops. We go to Lake Clark AK just at the end of the breeding season. This is when the flowers are just starting to bloom and the sow brown bears feel comfortable enough to bring their new cubs into places we can photograph them safely. Later in the year we go to a different location for the bears feeding on spawning salmon. On this trip we charter a boat so we can go where the salmon run is the best because this is where larger concentrations of bears will most likely be. We stay flexible and are not locked into one location. Same with the wild horse workshop; we time the trip when the foaling season and the breeding season is at a peak. This provides a great deal of action and variety of subjects. It also doesn’t hurt that this is the time with the arid lands of the west are greening up and flowering.
During our fall Yellowstone Tetons trip one of the big attractions is the autumn colors and dramatic landscape. But of course that is a given in this unsurpassed ecosystem. The subject that we will key on will be the elusive animals than live in the Yellowstone and Grand Tetons Parks. The wolf in autumn is always difficult. Their prey is in its best condition of the year and the wolves have near adult sized pups to feed. Pups that still need to be taught the skill to be efficient hunters. This keeps the wolves on the move and very mobile. With plenty of preliminary scouting and my knowledge of the patterns of the packs we will have a good chance of photographing wolves. Much the same can be said with grizzlies. With the decline of the white bark pines an important late summer/autumn food source is being diminished. That means the bears will be searching for different food sources that could force them to lower elevations during the fall. Again scouting will be the key.
3) What are the things you try to get your photographers to come away with as you mentor them on these trips – could be either a mentality or a learned skill as you guide and work with them. What is the number one thing you try to impart on them or the number one thing you hope people will take away with them from all your trips?
I always want my students to come away with great images they would not have captured if they were on their own; but in addition, I want them to learn the “why” of what we are doing; not only the mechanics of exposure, depth of field, composition, and special techniques which are taught in the field but the more important aspects of how to approach each subject without causing stress. I want my students to begin to understand the behavior of each animal we are capturing in our photos and how to recognize what the animal may do next so we can be prepared for those fleeting moments that make truly great images. My goal is to give my students a good understanding of how significant the animals relationship and survival is tied to what we as humans do to it’s habitat.
Wolves for both!
But that’s just me. During a workshop its all about the clients interests. I really enjoy the variety of interest each new group of clients brings. For some it will be the elk bugling in the misty soft morning light along the Madison River or the prize of locating a good bull moose. For others it will be capturing the speedy pronghorn chasing off rivals during the mating season or those often short times spent following a river otter along the banks of the Yellowstone.
5) Can you give our contestants a brief overview of the grand prize tour?
Autumn is a great time to be in the Yellowstone/Grand Tetons country. It is a time of change from the easy lazy days of summer to the frenzy of mating seasons for most of the prey animals opposed the need for the predators to put on reserves to make it though the coming lean time . This along with the changing of the autumn foliage, crisp mornings with warm days and a chance of fresh snow make autumn a exhilarating time to be in this unique land.
And now for your viewing pleasure here are some of the top wildlife photos from last year’s contest. Enjoy!