Welcome to the blog for Steve Hinch Photography.
On this page you'll find photographic information on the places I've photographed recently as well as some technical information on the photographs themselves. I'll also post updates on what I've seen and experienced in Yellowstone and abroad, current wildlife sightings, and anything else of interest. Check back often for updates!
March 26, 2017 • Leave a Comment
This week, I've been working on a project that's taking me to a few new places in Montana. With the weather forecast looking good for my intended images, I work up early and headed out the door. The morning was colder than it had been, but that's probably because it was clear. The sky was still quite dark and the stars bright. With no clouds in the sky, I knew I wouldn't be distracted with wanting to be somewhere in time to catch the morning light show but instead my goal was just to catch some pretty morning light across the landscape.
After a few hours of driving, I arrived at my destination, parked my car, and grabbed my gear. This shoot would require some hiking and exploration and I could already tell a late afternoon or early evening shoot might have worked better. But as the sun crested a nearby ridge, it's warming rays melted the frost on the brown grass. I worked slowly, capturing a few images here and there as I went along. One of the beauties of nature is the lack of human made noises. There was no engines revving, no radios, just the sound of my boots as they hit the trail. Even though the likelihood of seeing a bear in this area was slim, I had my bear spray anyway and was alert for any big brown shapes. I was, after all, in Montana.
Finally, I crested the ridge and the sky opened above me. A slight sweat was on my brow after the short but steep climb, so I took off my jacket and fleece hat before continuing on towards the bluffs where I started photographing again. And then I saw it flying low from a nearby bluff. The dark face markings immediately made it recognizable as a falcon. For the first time on this hike I was glad I carried my larger telephoto zoom lens and quickly fired off a few shots. Prairie falcons occupy a different habitat than the very similar peregrine falcon though both utilize cliffs for nesting and both can fly at extreme speeds to hunt their prey. Prairie falcons have been known to fly well over 100 miles per hour in pursuit of prey and commonly fly at 45 miles per hour or more. And I thought it was hard to track and photograph other birds! After a few minutes of flying around, the falcon landed on the cliff opposite where I first saw it and I saw that a second falcon was there. Most likely a mated pair, I watch for a few minutes and then decided to move on, leaving them on to the important task of creating the next generation. The downhill hike was pleasantly more easy than the ascent and several early arriving sandhill cranes serenaded me as I made my way back to my car. Mission complete but I also came away with an unexpected but wonderful encounter. I purposely left the location out of this story to protect the potentially nesting falcons.
March 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment
March is a crucial month for Yellowstone's bison. They are weak after a long winter of meager graze buried under deep snow and now they begin the journey to their calving grounds. It's not unusual to see large herds of cow bison moving towards their traditional calving grounds and in a few weeks the first calves will begin appearing. While this image isn't current it does show what I've seen lately as bison have been moving out of Yellowstone and towards Horse Butte on Hebgen Lake. Warm temperatures and rain have melted a lot of the snow pack in the low elevations and eventually, the white landscape will give way to the new green grass of summer. But for now, the struggle for the nomads continues.
March 12, 2017 • Leave a Comment
I woke up early on Saturday, as usual, and saw the conditions in the sky looked as though the sunrise might be interesting, so I geared up and headed out. Friday’s high temperatures were in the 40’s with rain but it was 24°F as I headed out, making everything very slick. In the pre-dawn darkness, I put on my crosscountry skis and headed out towards my destination. The packed snow was covered with an icy crust but under that it was very weak and, even on skis, I broke through a few times. Since it’s mid-March, I was also aware that an early rising grizzly could be out, so I was more aware of my surroundings than I had been while skiing the same areas the past couple of months. I found the spot where I wanted to photograph and waited for the sky to change. As I sat there, I noticed tracks from the bison as they migrated away from Yellowstone.
As I sat there, I thought about compositions for how I wanted to photograph the scene. My thoughts drifted to two of the greats of color photography; David Muench and Galen Rowell. These two landscape photographers changed the way we photograph landscapes in the modern era more than any other photographers. Muench popularized the wide angle technique of placing a prominent foreground subject in the photo. It’s a technique most still use and no one has improved upon. At the same time, I don’t think anyone has ever been able to emulate the work done by the late Galen Rowell. I don’t think anyone will change photography as much as these did since they did what they did with the camera, not with a computer.
The clouds started to light up and I quickly changed my focus to the subject at hand and trying my meager best capture this beautiful moment in nature. For all our modern technology, I don’t think there’s any experience that can touch the human soul as there is when out in nature. The light changed by the minute. The snow told the story of the recent past with bison tracks near the river and fox tracks through the willows. A raven’s constant caw was the only sound besides the flowing river. I skied along the river a little longer just to enjoy the moment for as long as could. The warm temperatures had melted some areas considerably already, so I removed my skis and walked on the frozen ground. Now the noisy sound of my skis scraping the ice was gone. The clouds, minutes before were so colorful, moved in, blocking the sun, and now I was in a landscape of grey and white. It was time to ski back to the car and head home. An my thoughts shifted to the pot of coffee waiting for me and hoping it was still warm.
March 05, 2017 • Leave a Comment
It's March but winter still has a grip on the Yellowstone area as snow continues to fall. This image from Yellowstone's Lamar Valley shows a cottonwood tree covered in early morning frost. I used a telephoto lens to capture this image, isolating the single tree from the several in the area and allowing it to stand out against the snow-covered background.
February 26, 2017 • Leave a Comment
There is nothing more American than our national parks. Thanks to our past presidents who had the ability to plan for the future and preserve our natural heritage, the United States was the first country to establish a national park. Grand Teton National Park would be established as a national park in 1929. While I would have greatly preferred to have some clouds in the sky for this image, the foreground was pretty interesting and the light on the mountains was beautiful. December and January were really cold and snowy, but February has been a mixed basket with snow, wind, rain. Days have been warm and nights cold. The snow here actually has a thick icy crust and I walked on it with just boots. The lines in the snow are the rest of the warm weather with high winds and rain and then it eventually froze again. But oh for some clouds on this particular morning.
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