Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Last Great Wilderness

Yellowstone National Park  is one of the last remaining pieces of large untouched temperate wildernesses. Windswept moors, steep broken cliffs, vast stands of dark conifers and swift frothing rivers, all make up Yellowstone.
The park has been blessed with a rich variety of wild life, including elk,bison,brown bear,grizzlies, wolves and coyotes. This magnificent bull elk in the photo had settled down to chewing the cud right next to the road, and refused to move inspite of us photographers. His unmoving countenance allowed me to shoot him at a low shutter speed in the fading light of the twilight. I could even avoid the flash and prevent a red-eye.

Yellowstone however has some unique geological features thanks to its location on a hotbed of volcanic activity. The core of the park sits on a 28-47 mile caldera or basin, that had collapsed during the last volcanic eruption here about 600,000 years ago. The boiling hot magma under the earthś crust is unusually close to the surface here, and is responsible for the unique geothermal features of this region.
Yellowstone has geysers (pronounced ´guy-sers´ in American English), hot water springs and pools, often with brilliantly coloured deposits around their rims, steam vents and mud volcanoes. In addition to Old Faithful, the most famous geyser in the world, Yellowstone has many more.Hereś an image of a geyser about to erupt, taken at high speed in the blazing afternoon sun.

We had the perfect spring weather on our trip to the Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Parks. Unpredicatable though the weather was, the spring air was refreshingly clear and crisp when the sun did come out. The Nissan Altima we drove was a driving pleasure, and the magnificent vistas meant that my camera was spoilt for choice. This picture of the Idaho river with the montains of Yellowstone as the backdrop was taken enroute the park.

Yellowstone has a huge lake, made up of a portion of the caldera which is now submerged. The lake too has many underground vents releasing hot water close to the shore. This prevents patches along the coast of the lake from freezing over, while the rest is covered by thick ice for most of the winter. In this photo you see one such volcanic vent, seen against the calm and brilliant blue waters of the lake.

A surreal feel envelopes this photograph taken from some distance along the shore of the lake. The picture was clicked from a high point, and you can clearly see the unfrozen coastline of the lake, followed by miles of frozen ice stretching to the mountains in the horizon. It was a brilliant sunny day and the blues of the sky and the water were incredible.

Winter lingers much longer here than the rest of the country, and while the east coast was well into summer, parts of Yellowstone still looked as if in the dead of winter. This black-and-white picture taken at the Lewis river enroute Grand Teton might well pass off as a winter scape.

The highways in Yellowstone are often the best places to watch wildlife. As we were travelling along an open moor, we spotted a pair of grizzlies in the distance. Unfortunately, they were too far away for me to get them on the camera, but I did capture this father and son duo watching the bears.

Yellowstone is a photographer's paradise, just as it is a nature lover's eden. It keeps you on your toes all the time, you never know what surprises might turn up round the next bend in the road. The greatest moment for us on this trip was when we locked eyes with a wolf. This was a little after we photographed that elk in the brush at twilight. As I was driving, my friend practically jumped out of his seat (and the car) and made me come to a screeching halt a few hundred metres up ahead. We walked back the road, four guys unarmed guys, alone on a huge grassland, with the night closing in fast, knowing that there were wolves out there, and we weren't at our bravest. We neared the spot where we thought we had seen it, and were stopped in our tracks by a huge head appearing out of the bushes.
To look straight into the yellow eyes of a wolf in the wild does make your blood curdle.Especially when your are on his terrain, his kingdom, where he is in his element. That moment is pretty much frozen in our memories.
I guess he was pretty averse to our company as well, because the huge head slowly retracted back into the bushes, and we saw him cross the road a few yards futher down, scattering a herd of elk on the other side as he went through the brush.


  1. nice pics dude...i havent had the pleasure of visiting yellowstone yet...

  2. thanks..yes, Yellowstone is beautiful..perhaps at its best at the change of seasons...go when you get a chance..

  3. terrific Mihir..excellent post..