I’m sat here looking out the window at the wet falling snow aching to be back in the beauty of Yellowstone in all its cold proper snow glory.
I never thought id struggle to write this post Yellowstone Trip bog but it is the most amazing spell binding place that I’ve ever visited, even possibly on the planet.
As a first trip I chose to go with a photographer I had a great weekend trip with last year; Chris Weston. I always feel myself grow as a photographer after spending even half an hour or so talking to him and discussing where I am now and where I want to go with my photography. So not only did I get to spend a fantastic week, I got to spend it with some of the most amazing people and people who I hope will now be good friends. A special mention must go to Ross for his mutual aversion to landscapes and chat, Ron for his amazing entertainment and life stories, Tracey for being crazy and so full of life and Julia for being great conversation and being my fellow bus friend when long walks were involved and my knee/hip just said nooo! Also a HUGE thank you to both Tracey and Julia for finding a few amazing Gems to visit in the area on our down time. Cant wait to have the opportunity to tour with you guys again.
Equipment and Clothing
So not really knowing what I was getting myself into having never experienced the extreme cold I did find that I had gone a tad overboard with camera batteries which survived incredibly well even in the most extreme conditions of around -34 c. Id estimate that a battery on average would last a day and a half. The key trick seems that when it is extremely cold and large times spent out side that by swapping between two batteries to allow them to warm up seems to make them last much longer and hold charge much better.
Camera Lenses – Well this is where it getsinterestingreally. I took one DSLR body, I’d havepreferredtwo (I certainly had enough batteries for 2!) and in future will most likely take two allowing a long lens and a shorter zoom lens which would have been much better in the situation where the wolf ran right past us almost within touching distance!! ((amazing once in a lifetime experience!) Most Lenses used for wildlife were the 24 – 70 and the 300mm with occasional use of the 70 – 200. Having hired a 500mm lens for the trip It was more hassle than it was worth trying to navigate in and out of the snow coach was frankly just annoying after day one! so that lens was in factabandonedback at the hotel by day three!
A much more useful lens I believe was the 100 – 400 that a few others had with them giving them the ability to capture a range of images with just one lens. The only experience I’ve had with this lens was at Badminton Horse Trials as a rental lens and im notentirelyconvinced that it is a lens I’d choose to buy. However If I ever win the lottery or am lucky enough in work when canon finally bring out the 200 – 400mm itwillbe at the top of my list. The 300mm is my current favorite and I treated like its my baby. It is simply the best lens I’ve ever used and soversatile, my favourite landscapelensand amazing results forbeautyportrait shots. I just missed the flexibility of not having a zoom in some situations – it is incredibly difficult to navigate through thick snow and take a few lenses when your running on adrenaline!
Clothing – Generally there are a few key points here!
You can never have enough gloves – you quickly get used to shooting with gloves on even if youdon’tthink you will, you simply have no choice! Id recommend silk or thermal base layers that you will generally only take off in the hotel room! I took lots of thin wool gloves – just the cheap kids type ones. These worked perfectly fine and kept me warm most of the time. Only on day one when the temperature was so cold wecouldn’tactually work out how to convert it did I actuallyhave numb fingers. A pair of thick down gloves is also ideal for those moments you feel the cold. I got a good pair for only £35.
Socks – This is where is slipped up a little. Id suggest investing in some good quality thermal thin layers so you can wear 2/3 at a time and then put another thick pair over the top! I found the Hotties socks are more than enough when over the other layers. You can also get foot warmers but be aware that when they start to cool they go rather solid which can be quite sore to walk on. If in the park by 7am, (leaving about 5pm) they can be solid by about 2pm and needing changed which can be difficult unless you stop at a hot hut.
Boots – be prepared with good boots that say they are good down to minus 30. BUT!! they oftendon’tactuallykeep you warm at this temperature unless you pay an absolute fortune for boots. so best to be prepared with extra sock layers and always have extra socks out in your bag. The key thing for me was although my feet onthemosttimesweren’tquite comfortably warm the boots werecomfortableto wear and walk in.
Sothat’sthe boring equipment stuff out the way and now onto Yellowstone its self. Words cannot describe how amazing it is to be stood watching a cyotte mousing blissfully not bothered by you and the other 20 people watching. Perhapson one hand this is a shame as it means that for all the vast size of Yellowstone the wildlife has becomeaccustomedto the huge amount of visitors to the park every year on the other hand this is actually a benefit in this climate andenvironment. There are strict parkguidelinesin place to prevent damage to the landscape and give space to the wildlife this allows most of the park totrulyremain Wild. Sightings are few and far between and the adrenaline really does kick in when someone shouts “Bald Eagle”
The rarity of sightings does allow for time spent taking in the views and a spot of landscape photography – not my favourite type of photography! Therefore while attempting to take some landscape photos I also got a chance to reallyreflectand take in the surroundings. It is quite life changing moment when you realise just how small a thing you are in such a largeenvironment It really does give you a sense of being and motivates you to make the most of what you have.
Since returning I’ve really only had a chance to edit a few images so I hope you have enjoyed what you have seen so far and I hope to get more to you soon! Undoubtedly I’d love to go back to Yellowstone and hopefully this will be the start of many moreadventures!