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!
May 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment
After a very dry winter, May has done it's share to make up for the lack of moisture. Rain and snow has been the story for the month of May, but wildlife is the true star. Baby bison are everywhere now. This mother and calf paused near the road before crossing. As they looked at each it other, it almost appeared that the cow was giving the calf a few words of advice before crossing. It must have worked because the little one stuck close to mom and crossed safely.
May 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment
With Memorial Day weekend up us, and huge amounts of traffic pouring in and out of Yellowstone, I opted to hit the trails with one of my favorite hiking buddies, our dog Hayden. I decided to hike one of my favorite trails for late spring/early summer wildflowers. Because there are abundant wild orchids on this trail, I won't reveal the location, since orchid poaching is problem. These orchids, called Calypso orchids, or fairy slippers, are tiny but beautiful. Last year, I photographed them in June, but since everything is early this year, I thought I'd check things out.
The itself is not long. I think we only did about 2 miles total, though it can be made into a much longer loop. After 2 months of pneumonia this winter, I didn't want to push it however. Early into the hike, prairie smoke could be seen all over, along with various other wildflowers. Small patches of larkspur could also be found. I've never had much luck photographing larkspur. Their vibrant deep purple color often doesn't look right when I photograph them.
As we left the first meadow, I noticed a familiar calling card on a lodgepole pine. A bear had left it's claw marks! Based on the height of the marks and the shortness of the scratches, I guessed it to be a black bear. I know that when hiking in bear country, it's important to make noise, but I often find myself becoming extremely quiet after finding bear sign. After taking about ten steps, I realized how quiet I had became, so decided to have a conversation with the dog in order to make noise!
But it wasn't long before another sign that a bear had been in the area was evident. A huge pile of bear scat lay right in the middle of the trail! Hayden just sniffed it, like she does with all poop. She's never encountered a bear, so I'm not sure if the scent would register with her yet. As we looked around, making sure the bear wasn't still in the area, I found a second, smaller pile of scat in the woods, about five feet from the first. I guessed that perhaps a mating pair had moved through here during the night. They left no tracks in the mud on the trail, so they must have just crossed it on their way elsewhere. But Hayden would need to play lookout while I photographed the flowers we were hunting.
As I searched for fairy slippers, I was surprised at the number and variety of other flowers that were blooming already. I was about two weeks earlier than last year, but already many species of flowers were already showing their colors, and in the next week or two the show should really pop. I remember hiking this trail last year and seeing a pasque flower. Just as I pointed it out to my hiking companion, Hayden, then only about 3 months old, walked up to it and ate it! She didn't do that this time. The pasque flowers were just starting to bloom and many weren't opened fully yet.
Of course, shooting stars were blooming everywhere! One of the early season wildflowers in the region, shooting stars are pretty common. Regardless of their frequency, it's another flower that I've never had much success photographing. But I liked this image, with the varying degrees of "out of focusness" surrounding the main flower.
And of course, the main reason for my choosing this hike was the fairy slippers. They were only just starting to bloom, with just a few plants blossoming. In another week or two, this area will be covered by these delicate little blooms. As I lay on the trail, in the mud, to photograph this flower, I noticed Hayden laying next to me chewing a stick. I said to her, "if you're chewing a stick, who's watching for bears?" We just looked at each other dumfounded.
May 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment
It's been a crazy week in Yellowstone, especially as park visitation picks up with the holiday weekend. Earlier in the week, I was fortunate enough to see nine bears, including cubs, though all too far to photograph. Bears in photograph range have been much harder to find this year. This four year old bear emerged from the shadows of the forest as it neared the road. Roads this weekend are packed. On Saturday, I saw two long traffic jams, one over a mile long and the other over 4 miles long. Summer season is upon us!
May 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment
Cubs of the year refer to bear cubs that are born earlier in same year, usually in February while the bear sow is hibernating. I think everyone wants to see cubs of the year, also referred to as coy, because they are so small, cute, and playful. Several sows, both black bears and grizzlies, have coy this year but the lack of snow this winter has allowed much more open and green land for them to find food. So while there might be an abundance of mothers and cubs out this spring, finding them in viewing range is a rare treat!
May 13, 2015 • Leave a Comment
So I suppose it's not really a surprise, we were all expecting this sow to have cubs this year and it certainly was no surprise to her. But it is always a nice surprise to see cubs of the year, which are cubs that were born in the same year. This sow has two cubs this year but only one is visible in this photo. This is the sow referred to as Blaze. With bears that are commonly seen, they are often "named" in order identify them. I don't know what her actual name is because I don't speak bear and wouldn't want to get close enough to ask her! She is referred to as Blaze due to the light marking under her front shoulder. These are common markings for Yellowstone grizzlies, but on this bear, they are bigger and lighter than most.
While identifiers are great ways to refer to commonly seen bears, I don't use derogatory identifiers as they can reinforce negative stereotypes of grizzlies (and for wolves too). No one would use "Killer" to identify a wolf, and for the same reason I try not to use "circus bear" or "hobo" to identify those bears. While many would disagree with me, it's just a personal opinion and preference. More photos to follow soon!
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