Crisp mountain air, chilly morning temperatures evolving into stunning days with sun, interesting cloud formations and the occasional storm rolling around. Couple that with an amazing colour display put on by the aspens, cottonwoods, maples and all sorts of other trees and you have Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the fall.
I am here for photography and what a place it is for that. For the landscape photographer, it has mountains, it has flowing white-water rivers, it has expansive valleys, moody morning mists, wonderful cloud formations illuminated by the rising or setting sun and a host of other photo opportunities limited only by the imagination of the photographer.
Then there are the animals. It is the end of September and the Elk rut is in full swing. Statuesque bull Elks parade, attempt to corral their harem and bugle (a distinctive call sounding something like a cross between a cow’s bellow and a high pitched scream) to attract other females and warn off rival males.
Moose are around as well, although far fewer in number than Elk, an encounter with a large male with his massive antlers is not to be missed. Herds of Bison and Pronghorn roam the plains providing wonderful picture opportunities with the Teton range as a backdrop.
Mule deer browse the fringes of the wooded areas and Sagebrush and then, in a forest of pines, there was a flash of grey. I had just seen my first Chipmunk. When my eyes adjusted to them (small enough to fit inside an empty Starbucks cup and cute as anything) I realised they were everywhere, darting around busily selecting food and other materials and returning to their nests. Their winter survival depends on the food they gather and store prior to the arrival of freezing temperatures and snow. Their bird like chirps which I had mistakenly believed to be a Kingfisher or some other forest bird, were presumably a warning that I had encroached on their territory.
The downside of the accessibility and abundance of wildlife in this area is that their mere presence attracts crowds of people. I must admit I find it slightly disturbing watching hundreds of people swarming like a massive paparartzi, following the antics of a wild animal just trying to live its life. I am normally a very solitary nature photographer and my philosophy is to always minimise my impact on the life of whatever animal I am approaching.
As well as photographing in the field, I have been in Jackson Hole to attend the Summit Nature Photography Workshop put together by the team from Clarkson Creative who assembled an impressive faculty of world-renowned photographers, editors and marketers who willingly shared their substantial knowledge with the workshop participants.
So for the next two weeks I will continue my quest to photograph nature in this spectacular place. Black and brown bears, wolves and a variety of impressive birds will all be on my radar.
So here’s to the beauty of nature and keeping wild places wild.