Almost one hundred forty-five years ago, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the creation of the first National Park, Yellowstone. Forty-five years later, one of the greatest pieces of legislation ever written was approved, creating the National Park Service. This institution celebrates its centennial this coming August.
I have photographed Yellowstone for four years in a row. Needless to say, every time it surprises me, bringing forward new adventures and images galore. To start this adventure, Grand Teton National Park, with its awe-inspiring peaks and majestic reflections on countless glacier lakes, has been my gateway.
Many times I have said that very few people really experience the parks, or should I say “feel” the parks. I love the sensation of having this universe to ourselves, no humans, no souls and miles and miles of loneliness. The cold morning wind blowing on our faces, the faint starlight and the distant roar of steam vents, provide the perfect sensory harmony only disturbed by the release of my shutter and the light painting extravaganza.
I only take five students to accompany me on this adventure. As the world sleeps and the hoards rest, we start our 3:00 am ritual. We witness the breathtaking sight of the Milky Way over the erupting Castle Geyser, the advent of dawn in the Midway Basin and the morning fog peaking through forests of dead trees – white warriors risen from earth. We begin the last day with a pink sunrise bathing the color-laden terraces of Mammoth Springs. Mornings reward us with the awakening of forest creatures, bears, coyotes and bison lending their playground for our creative needs. I feel blessed and honored to be able to witness these instants of wonder.
As I travel home, the complexities of image making, the countless pre-dawn drives and the miles of travel, including our famous 2:00 am drive to Jackson Hole, fade away. The “cliché” of “back to reality” takes a new meaning and the hope for future adventures and new horizons will soon become a beacon of hope and inspiration. Another Park, another and another dawn await, to be missed by many and witnessed by few.
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