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!

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Photo of the Week- "Summer Solstice"

June 28, 2015  •  Leave a Comment


 

There's nothing like viewing an aurora in person, though the camera does see the colors differently than our human eyes. While the greens can be seen, often the shades of red cannot, since a different part of our eye interprets light at night. In order to see any color, it's crucial to be somewhere that is completely dark. Any light source can ruin your opportunity to see an aurora, including the moon. When I took this image, I could vaguely see the greens but the magenta color was closer to a white light to my eye, though I could see the beams and columns. I used a flashlight to "paint" Clepsydra Geyser at the start of each 30 second exposure. In this image, I was fortunate enough to even catch a shooting star near the middle of the frame. As the name suggests, this image was taken on the evening of the summer solstice. While many think auroras only occur in the winter, this is not true. An aurora can happen at any time of year, but they are more closely associated with northern places light Alaska, Iceland, or Norway. Those places don't have much night time during the summer and are very dark in the winter. So auroras are more visible in those places in the winter and not at all in the summer. But if it's really dark, clear, and there's strong solar storms, an aurora can happen. All of my aurora photos were taken during the summer months.
 


New Cubs

June 26, 2015  •  Leave a Comment


 

Last May, the bear watchers of Yellowstone were disappointed when three grizzly sows that should have emerged with cubs of the year didn't.  So after seeing all three of them mate last spring, it was hoped they would each show up with new cubs this year.  The sow referred to as Blaze, a common fixture on the north side of Yellowstone Lake for many years, didn't disappoint, as she was out early with two tiny cubs.  Being the good mother that she always has been, she kept her little ones safely away, providing long distance viewing at best.  While her secrecy, uncommon compared to her previous behavior, may have frustrated a few bear watchers, as long as she kept her little ones safe, it was a welcome change.  But two sows remained unseen.
 


 

Raspberry is an eight year old grizzly sow and is a daughter of Blaze.  She roams similar territory to her mother and she has been expected to emerge with cubs for the past few years, though she didn't, despite her being seen mating with different male grizzlies.  Well, about a week ago, she finally emerged with her first set of cubs, as seen in the two photos above.  It's uncertain why she didn't show up until so late in the summer but what is certain is that she and her two cubs look very healthy.
 


 

And finally, the third grizzly sow that is regularly seen by bear watchers and visitors to Yellowstone National Park is simply referred to as the Hayden Sow.  She also finally showed up this week with two tiny cubs in tow in, where else, Hayden Valley.  While it might seem like it's a lot of grizzly cubs being born this year, remember that none of these sows had cubs last year.  Additionally, grizzlies keep their cubs for two years before mating again, so at most, a sow grizzly will only have one set of cubs every  three years.  Of those cubs born, they only have about a 50 percent change of survival.  Grizzlies have one of the lowest reproductive rates among mammals which means when their populations drop, it can take a very long time for their numbers to recover.  Bear populations also fluctuate with natural food sources.  When food sources are abundant, bear populations do well, but when food sources fail, bear numbers drop, making their populations self regulated.  And as always, these bears were photographed with long telephoto lenses, 500mm or more, on crop sensor cameras, and the final images were slightly cropped.  All images were taken from the side of the road.  No bears were approached or disturbed for the sake of a photograph.
 


"The Firehole and the Northern Lights" and "Midnight on the Firehole"

June 23, 2015  •  Leave a Comment


 

Several huge solar storms hit the earth yesterday, resulting in some really nice aurora displays that were visible in Yellowstone National Park last night.  This image was taken along the Firehole River.  In order to capture the northern lights, I used an ISO of 3200 and set the shutterspeed and aperture manually, at 30 seconds at f4.0.  A small sliver of moon illuminated the landscape across the river.  After getting up yesterday morning at 5:00 am in hopes of seeing the grizzly and her cubs, and then being up until after 2 am last made for a long day, but well worth it!
 


 


Photo of the Week- "Kissing Kits"

June 21, 2015  •  Leave a Comment


 

Here's one final fox kit Photo of the Week, though I'm sure I'll post more as the year goes on.  Most fox dens are now inactive as the kits are big enough to explore the world on their own.  These two youngsters had the odd circumstance of having their mother choose a den site adjacent to one of the busiest sections on road in Yellowstone.  The Park Service made it a no stopping zone, though I'm not sure that benefited the foxes, since traffic ignores the slow down signs and speeds along this stretch of road.  Fortunately, I haven't seen any dead foxes there so far.  I actually haven't seen any foxes there at all as I pass by often, so I wonder of they moved their den.  I hope so, and that the entire family is safe and sound, another generation of foxes to call Yellowstone home.
 


In Yellowstone You Just Never Know...

June 16, 2015  •  Leave a Comment


 

Some times, when you least expect it, Yellowstone likes to throw a surprise at you.  Today, I headed over to Hayden Valley, planning on photographing some bison.  Last night's thunderstorms dropped a lot of rain so Hayden Valley was pretty foggy.  I actually like the opportunities fog produces but some times it can be too thick to work with successfully.  That was the case early on this morning.  I tried photographing the bison in the fog but wasn't real happy with the results.  So I drove around for a little while, found some lupine blooming and spent some time photographing landscapes with the lupine in it.  Not an overly successful morning, but for mid-June, I'll take what I can.  So I decided to head home at about 8:30 am.
 


 

Earlier, I had hoped the trumpeter swans would be in Alum Creek, where they've been for over a week now.  I hoped for some interesting white on white opportunities in the fog, but they weren't there.  As I left Hayden Valley and headed north, before arriving at the Otter Creek picnic area, a few miles north of Hayden Valley, I saw the swans flying south just above the surface of the Yellowstone River.  I turned around and followed them, hoping to get some photos.  They flew all the way to Alum Creek, so I parked the car and hoped out, grabbing my tripod and long lens to photograph the swans.  What I didn't realize at the time is that the swans weren't bringing me to Alum Creek to photograph them, they brought me there so I would see something else.  Within five minutes of the swans landing, they all began honking loudly and became very alert.  I looked to my right and saw a wolf walking towards the creek.
 


 

I believe this is 755M of what is now being called the Wapiti Lake Pack.  He looks darker than what I've heard he looks like this year, but he's in his summer coat now and he's also soaking wet.  He trotted along and proceeded to cross the creek, so I hoped in my car and drove to the next pullout down the road.  Only two other cars had seen him at this point.  But at the pullout there were already about twenty cars stopped with the occupants out in the meadow watching a bear that was a long distance out.  None of them new the wolf was approaching.  I'm sure I looked like the oddball since I was looking the opposite direction from everyone else.  But here came 755M, over the hill and towards the road.  he slowed to cross, then continued on towards the Yellowstone River.  Finally the large crowd saw him as he moved down to and then swam across, undoubtedly heading to his puppies and their mother.  All in all, it was a pretty exciting encounter for a day that didn't really promise anything too exciting at the start.  And I have the swans to thank for it.