SOMETIMES IT CAN TAKE A LIFETIME TO GET THE IMAGE YOU IMAGINED.

Updated: 5 days ago

I've tried for 50 years to make a unique photo of Yellowstone Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Artist's Point is one of my favorite stops in Yellowstone. This photo was made after dozens, perhaps more than 75 attempts. We were staying at the cabins at Lake Village. It was fall and it rained all night. It was even raining a bit when we got up before dawn and headed out. Driving through Hayden Valley is was so foggy that we crept along afraid of hitting an elk or worse yet a bison. When we arrived at Artist's Point we could hear the falls but we couldn't see more than 50 feet. At the overlook it was a wall of grey. So we do what we always do, we waited.

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.
This photo is the result of more than 50 years of trying..

We waited more than an hour. Quite a few photographers came and went. We were close to giving up when the sky above started to turn pink. I knew the first light was probably just hitting the top of the fog bank above and around us. I quickly set up my camera, knowing I'd have to make last minute compositional adjustments once I could see the scene. Then the fog began to dissipate. It all happened very quickly. One minute there was a total fog bank and five minutes later there was no fog. I took probably five shots. From previous trips I knew exactly the composition I was looking for. This shot shows the directly light barely breaking through at the top of the scene. You can seen the sun on the pines through the fog at the very top of the image. Another thirty seconds and it was all over. Direct sun in the canyon is deadly because of the contrast.

That same day we came back in late afternoon. Amazingly enough the light was again magical. This time the sun was backlighting the scene. I had to wait until a cloud shaded my overlook, but the sun on the scene was hitting the backside of all the rocks ribs and golden light was bouncing back into the scene. Two shots in one day, after 50 years of trying. That's the magic.

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River
Same spot, same day, totally different light.