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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Clouds

March 04, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I recently had a project and needed to put together some images of Yellowstone Lake.  Unfortunately, the project, as so often is the case, didn't lead to anything, but I thought I'd share some of those photos.  At first, I thought I'd just post a random selection of those images but then I realized that many of them had one thing in common, dramatic clouds.  What can go better than a huge lake and dramatic clouds?  So here goes... The first image was taken from a pullout in Mary Bay.  I had been looking for wildlife in this area when a storm blew in.  As the storm approached, the wind picked up dramatically and then the clouds came.  It was quite impressive.  Shortly after this image, the rain started and it did ever come down hard.

This image shows a more typical sunrise shot.  This low cloud was lit up nicely as the sun rose above the horizon.  While I would have preferred the cloud to have been out over the lake a bit more, the light was too nice to pass up.  This image was taken near Bridge Bay.

My two favorite places for sunrise/sunset photos of Yellowstone Lake are Lake Butte and Mary Bay.  Both are easily accessible and offer wonderful views.  I think a couple of the best, most colorful sunsets I've photographed have been from Lake Butte.  The burn here occurred in 2003 and many of the dead snags still stand.  Another fire in 2007 burned near this area as well.

Here's another image from Lake Butte.  This is a different sunset, but from near the same location as the previous image.  These clouds were amazing.  Seeing clouds like this almost ruins every other sunset I've seen since, as nothing can look quite so incredible.  Below, I was trying to capture another sunset, this time from near Gull Point.  But these storm clouds, which brought some rain, were pretty impressive.  I remember not caring too much for this photo originally, as it didn't show as much of the lake as I had wanted, but now that time has moved on, I see if for what it is, a cool photo of some impressive clouds!


Old Faithful in Winter

March 02, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Yesterday, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge closed for the winter season and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel closes today.  Park roads remain open until March 15th and then all park roads, except the road from Mammoth Hot Springs to Cooke City, will close for the end of the winter season.    Roads begin reopening on April 17th to start off the 2015 summer season.  I thought I'd take a moment and share some photos of the most iconic geyser in Yellowstone, Old Faithful.  The opening photo was taken shortly before sunrise on a chilly morning.  Unfortunately, I don't recall the temperature for every one of these early morning shots, but I do remember it was cold!

I do remember the temperature on the morning this photo was taken since it was right around minus 30 farenheit.  The power of the water and steam was incredible, which is different from how Old Faithful typically appears.  Castle Geyser is erupting in the lower right corner.  It was impossible to capture the steam column in a horizontal image as it rose high into the sky. 

I've heard park visitors say that they weren't very impressed with Old Faithful.  When I've stood on the boardwalk in the summer amidst the huge crowd, I can understand why.  When I've talked to those same guests, the ones who have visited a backcountry location such as Lone Star Geyser, have been in awe of the much smaller feature.  The setting at Old Faithful, along with the crowds, definitely detract from the experience.  On those occasions when I've been the only one watching, I've never felt anything but awe at the beauty, grace, and power of Old Faithful and how nature can all come together to create such an amazing sight.

Native Americans had undoubtedly seen Old Faithful erupt long before any of the recorded sightings were documented.  But in September, 1870, one and a half years before Yellowstone would become the world's first national park, the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition entered what is now called the Upper Geyser Basin.  Old Faithful was the first geyser they saw erupt.  It erupted with such regularity during their tme there that they named it "Old Faithful".  Today's visitors have much easier access to the Upper Geyser Basin.  Winter tours are planned by staying at Old Faithful long enough to see an eruption.  Most summer visitors also stay in the area long enough to see at least one eruption.  Having seen hundreds of Old Faithful eruptions, I can say I don't think it's possible to see it too many times.  It truly is one of the natural wonders of the world and hopefully will remain so for many, many generations to come.


Happy Birthday Yellowstone!

March 01, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

On March 1, 1872, Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States, signed into being, the world's first national park, creating Yellowstone National Park.  Long touted as "America's best idea", millions of visitors from around the world visit US national parks every year.  Yellowstone alone had record visitation over 3.5 million visitors in 2014.  Not every park has huge visitation numbers or "in your face" scenery, but each is an important part of our American heritage and we should be thankful that 143 years ago, our elected representatives had the foresight and ability to work together to launch such a grand idea.  I don't know that such a monumental project would happen today.  So happy birthday Yellowstone!


Photo of the Week- "Relax"

March 01, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Even a fox needs to take a few moments and relax! This fox decided to lay in the snow, perhaps to enjoy the warm sun and chewed on a few ice chunks. It was odd to watch him chew on the ice because my dog does that all the time. In fact, watching my dog's behavior and then watching a wild canine, whether it be a fox, coyote, or wolf, is pretty interesting. The similarities never seem to end. I guess it shouldn't surprise me since they're all canines, but it's still interesting to observe.


Grand Prismatic- Largest Hot Spring in the World?

February 27, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Last autumn, I began writing an entry for this blog about Grand Prismatic Hot Spring and how it is the third largest hot spring in the world.  As I wrote the article, I became interested in what hot springs in the world were larger, so I began a research project that left me spinning my wheels and ultimately left me dumping the article until I could find some real answers.  So I sat on the article until now, waiting to see if anything would turn up to justify Grand Prismatic's listing as the world's third largest, but nothing did.  So here are the facts as I was able to find them, if anyone has any more information, please contact me.

The largest hot spring in the world in all the documentation I could find, is listed as Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand.  A quick internet search will result in Frying Pan Lake shown and listed as the world's largest "hot spring".  It is listed as being about 660 feet (200 meters)(source), twice the size of Grand Prismatic, and is fed "numerous deep vents"(source).  Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, by comparison is listed as 250 ft by 300 ft (80 meters by 90 meters)(source)The only listing I could find referencing the second largest hot spring in the world was for Boiling Lake in Dominica which is listed as 200 feet by 250 feet (61 meters by 76 meters)(source).  This immediately caught my attention which is what led to my further research.  How can Boiling Lake in Dominica be considered larger than Grand Prismatic when it is 200 feet by 250 feet and Grand Prismatic is 250 feet by 300 feet?  A footnote here for a moment in that while I list my source in many instances as Wikipedia, I also verified the size dimensions and descriptions with other sources as well and those listed here are all consistent within a few feet of any other recorded size listings.  What further prompted additional research was that Boiling Lake is officially listed as a flooded fumarole, not a hot spring and it's listing is as the world's second largest hot "lake".  The terminology is important as a fumarole "is a place where steam and gasses are emitted from the ground"(source), while a hot spring is "a spring that is produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the Earth's crust"(source).  I think it's important to note that there is no clear definition of what the water temperature needs to be in order to be considered a hot spring but all definitions use the singular "spring", not "numerous deep vents" as used in describing Frying Pan Lake.  But quite simply, purely by definition Boiling Lake is not the second largest hot spring in the world, since it is not a hot spring, but a fumarole.  The water source for Boiling Lake are numerous streams that flood the fumarole.  And based on the dimensions, it is not even the second largest hot lake, since it's dimensions are smaller than Grand Prismatic's. 

That leaves Frying Pan Lake.  As I mentioned previously, as we go back to definitions, Frying Pan Lake, as described by the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley Scenic Preserve's own literature(source), is described as a volcanic crater (Echo Crater) flooded by numerous deep vents.  At best, Frying Pan Lake isn't a single hot spring, but a flooded crater, fed by numerous springs, created the world's largest hot spring.  Since Frying Pan Lake isn't a single hot spring, that would logically leave Grand Prismatic Hot Spring as the world's largest hot spring.  Why is this important?  It's not really.  I think it all comes down to marketing and people have accepted as factual over the years.  But I do think it's important to recognize each feature for what it is and I think there's a big difference between a lake and a spring.  I contacted Yellowstone National Park's head geologist and asked him about what I was researching and he agreed, stating that it all came down to interpretation of the definitions.  That said, all three are undoubtedly impressive geothermal areas and they all deserve attention.  But I think, when it comes down to it, it's quite simple to make the claim with the facts that Grand Prismatic Hot Spring is indeed the world's largest hot spring!