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- "The Soldier's Chapel"

January 25, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I wasn't able to get out much this week to photograph, one day to be exact. But I wanted to go to Big Sky and photograph the scene you see here. The Soldier's Chapel is a small church that sits along US 191. Behind it is Lone Mountain, where the Big Sky ski resort can be found. I planned on arriving here before sunrise as I hoped to catch this beautiful alpenglow on Lone Mountain. When I left the house, some clouds were on the eastern horizon and I was afraid the alpenglow wouldn't occur. There's always the possibility that, even if it's clear, there's clouds on the mountains, since they tend to create their own weather. But as I arrived, the mountain was clear and the glow was present. The lights on the chapel were just an added bonus.


Photo of the Week- "Majesty"

January 18, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

The Grand Teton reaches 13,770 feet above sea level, which is a near vertical elevation change over Jackson Hole of about 7,000 feet. This view, from the Snake River Overlook, was made famous by Ansel Adams with his 1942 photo from this location. The classic 'S' curve in the Snake River is no longer visible as the trees have grown up, obscuring that part of the river, but the dramatic rise of the Teton range is no better seen than from this location. I took this image shortly before sunrise, zooming in on the Cathedral Group, which includes Grand Teton as the highest point. A light fog hung over the river and while I included a portion of the Snake River, I opted not to include the 'S' curve since it's mostly blocked by trees. All the same, this is still an iconic view in Grand Teton National Park and is one not to be missed.

 


Photo of the Week- "Sly or Shy?"

January 12, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Yep, it's another fox! But fox are one of my favorite animals to photograph. Regardless of what they're doing, they just seem to exude so much personality. We're al...l familiar with the saying "sly as a fox" and the look this fox gave me seemed to indicate just that, a sly fox. But, as with all photos, this is just an instant in time and the fox was actually scratching and what appears to be a sly look was probably just the satisfying feeling of a good scratch. Either way, nice late afternoon winter light along with a great subject always makes a photographer smile.


Photo of the Week- "The Oxbow in Winter"

January 04, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Here's the first Photo of the Week of the new year, though it was taken a couple of weeks ago since we're currently visiting my wife's family! Have you ever wondered what Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park looks like in the winter? The water freezes over, the aspens are bare, and Mount Moran is snow covered. I had to wait over an hour before the fog lifted enough to reveal Mount Moran and I was just about to give up when it peeked out. I didn't get the great early morning light I had hoped for, but even an hour after sunrise, the light is still really nice in the winter.


14 from '14

January 01, 2015  •  2 Comments

With 2014 complete, I thought I'd share my favorite 14 photos from 2014.  These are in order by month, so we'll start things off in April!  After a slow winter for photography for me personally, I was eager for bears to come out of hibernation and hopefully some photo opportunities to open up.  Usually a bear or two can be seen along the Madison or Firehole rivers in April, but I didn't have any luck.  Finally, at the end of April, I checked one of the steamy locations where I always hope to find an animal backlit by steam and rising sun.  Can you imagine my elation to see a grizzly walking along the meadow with the backlit steam behind it!  I pulled into a pullout and was able to take all of three photos, this being the first.  As the bear neared the road, which is just out of frame to the left, it began to run and didn't stop running until it hit the tree line across the far meadow.  But I was thrilled to have captured this image, "In the Mist".

Up until the bear sighting in the first photo, April had been a slow month for me too, much like the winter, but May really turned things up quite a lot.  Unfortunately, none of the bears who I hoped would have cubs had any in 2014.  Hopefully they will in 2015!  But there were still plenty of bears around for about two weeks before the snow started to melt and they could move up the mountains.  This photo was one of my favorites.  The challenge here was that there were only a couple of spots where the bears were visible without tree branches blocking them.  Fortunately the wind helped and the branch that was near their heads was blown up and mostly out of frame when this interaction took place.  This image, "Sweet Nothings", was the only one I was able to take without the branch covering at least one of their heads.

This is the same sow as the one photographed above, but on a different day.  Her home range goes north to Hayden Valley down to the Fishing Bridge area.  I don't know if she's ever seen east of Fishing Bridge, where so many other bears venture, or north of Hayden Valley.  She has a yellowish face and a red tag in each ear, which help us to recognize her.  On this day, near Fishing Bridge, she must have been listening to me as I said to a friend, "wouldn't it be great if she started digging and playing in the snow".  Sure enough she did just that.  I like this photo, "Laugh Until You Cry", because it looks like she's rolling around laughing.  While bears don't laugh in the way humans do, I'm sure she enjoyed rolling in the snow!

While May was mostly about bears, at the end of May, I had a couple of great wildlife viewing experiences, included this one of a grey wolf.  I don't spend a lot of time watching wolves or trying to photograph them because they spend most of the time far from the roads and people watch them through scopes and binoculars.  I feel my time is better spent finding something that I can actually photograph.  So at the end of May when this wolf walked along the road at sunrise, it was one of those photo opportunities that was way too good!  I pulled into a pullout and watched as the wolf crossed the road and moved through the meadow.  I had a hard time choosing a favorite from the photos I was able to take, but this one, "The Gaze", stands out to me.

With May being one of my best months of photography for the whole year, I wasn't sure what to expect for June, and honestly, as happy as I was with the photos I had taken in May, I wasn't too worried!  Plus, we had just adopted our puppy, Hayden, and she was requiring a lot of attention, so the wife and I split up puppy duties so we could work out our schedules.  Another location in Yellowstone that I like to check in the morning is the place above.  Again backlit mist rises off this channel of the Madison River and if wildlife are present, then it can make for some great photos.  Two of my photos from last year's entry,  "Ten from '13", were taken from this location.  This image, "A New Day", was taken just before sunrise.  Typically when I photograph here, I'm shooting tight on the channel with the subject and mist being the main part of the photo, but on this morning, the greater scene was what drew me to it and I wanted to capture that in it's entirety.  I wasn't sure if the yellow in the sky would hold up without being overexposed, but the scene actually came together nicely.

With summer finally in full effect along the Rockies of Wyoming and Montana, I spent more time hiking and taking our puppy on short walks.  One trail we enjoyed was in the Gallatin National Forest not far from our home.  We hiked up a small hill when my wife and noticed Hayden getting scared.  She was still a young puppy at this time and everything scared her, but we were cautious since grizzlies are common in this area.  As we moved towards an opening in the forest, we saw what had spooked Hayden.  Two horses were resting in the sun on a cool summer morning.  "Mystical" has since become my favorite horse image of the ones I've taken.

Moving along, July was time spent hiking, and while I was able to take some nice photos, none made it to this list.  August is usually a slow month for me photographically speaking, but a trip to Glacier National Park can change that trend.  One of the reasons I enjoy Glacier National Park, aside from the breathtaking scenery, is that is one of the best places to photograph mountain goats.  But goats, which tend to be photogenic anyway, in mountain scenery become a photographer's paradise.  When in Glacier, my photo strategy is much different than in Yellowstone, and I'm out hiking often before sunrise in order to be at a location to photograph in the best light.  The end of the day is great too, as the last soft light touches the background cliffs in this image, "King of the Mountain".  Finding mountain goats is only half the challenge to a photo like this one.  Once you've find the goats, then the light was to become what you want it to be, and then finally you need a goat in a nice pose in that light!  That's why this is one of my favorites for this year as all of those came together in this moment.

Another Glacier National Park photo, Lunch Creek has eluded me as a successful photo destination for as long as I've been going to Glacier.  This location, right on the side of the Going to the Sun Road, was one of the first I had seen in a magazine of Glacier National Park, when I first became interested in photography.  After failing to capture anything here I liked in my first couple of visits to Glacier, I had given up on it.  But this past summer, I was determined to come away with something interesting.  The challenge is that the creek flows north to south, so the valley is in shadow during early or late light.  I photographed here three or four different times in August, with my final attempt, at sunset, resulting in the best images.  With no clouds in the sky, this still wouldn't work well, but the colorful clouds at sunset added enough interest in the sky to balance it with the great cascade in the foreground.  So finally, after so many years and failed efforts, "Cascade on Lunch Creek" was added to my portfolio.  But I'll probably go back and try again one day...

I most likely could have filled with entire article with photos from August in Glacier National Park, but I'll limit it to three!  This one was taken on the trail to Hidden Lake Overlook.  I placed my tripod low to the small creek and lay on the bridge crossing it in order to get this angle.  This photo was taken at sunrise and required an early start from Logan Pass.  I don't mind hiking along here before dawn, since it's open meadow and I can stop and scan for bears, even before sunrise.  The view at sunrise from this area is beyond breathtaking, especially if there are some light clouds in the sky to add color.  This image, "Mountain Sunrise" wasn't the shot I had hiked up for, but it ended up being my favorite!

While August is usually a slow month for me and ended up being quite successful, September is usually a busy month, especially towards the end when the autumn color hits peak.  After the government shutdown last year, which occurred just as peak color was hitting Grand Teton National Park, I was determined to get out this year and make the most of it.  But my plans changed quickly when I heard from several photographer friends that the aspens were peaking a week or more early in Jackson Hole.  What originally would have been a scouting trip to determine where I wanted to photograph when colors were peak ended up being a prolonged trip with colors already peak!  I had seen a friend post a photo of a bear cub in an aspen tree and she showed me where this bear family was hanging out.  We enjoyed some photography despite the cold rain but when the cub went up an aspen to get to the top of a berry bush, I was thrilled.  Two of my favorite photo subjects, aspens and bears, in one photo!  One of my clients ordered "Determination" as a large metal print shortly after and ever since I saw it on metal, I've been harassing my wife to let us add it to our collection too!

If you've spent any time reading my other articles on this blog or my entries on facebook, then you've heard me say that this or that animal species is one of my favorites.  Well I'm about to say it again.  Moose are one of my favorite animals!  Bears and fox are one and two, but after that, any number of critters could take the third spot, including moose.  Big bull moose are the epitome of wild.  They can be dangerous, especially during the rut.  They are huge.  And they have massive antlers.  We watched this bull for a long time waiting to see when he would awaken and what he would do when he did wake.  Some of us speculated, and hoped, that he would move towards the river, which is exactly what he did.  When he was in the river, it wasn't the great photo op I had thought it would be, but when he moved into these short willows on the other side and waited for a cow moose, it became priceless.  The last light of day lit up the scene which was already colored with autumn willows and cottonwoods.  This shot, "Colors of Autumn", was one of those photos that left me smiling afterwards.

I don't spend a lot time photographing deer, though I'm not sure why.  But when a big mule deer buck decided to pose with colorful cottonwoods as a back drop, I had to stop and take advantage of it.  This was one of those situations were if I waited another five minutes before deciding to photograph, I wouldn't have had the nice background, since he moved down the hill where it was no longer possible to get the trees behind him.  As it was, when I took this shot, he had already started to move.  But the color and the great pose, made "Perfect Pose" one of my year end favorites!

My wife and I have made a yearly trip to Zion National Park now for the past couple of years.  Typically I try to time it with peak color in the cottonwoods along the Virgin River.  But we end up spending most of our time in slot canyons any anyway, so I don't photograph the typical places with the crowds.  Last year we had permits to hike to the Subway but my wife hurt her leg, so this year we wanted to try for it again.  We met up with some friends who happened to be in Zion at the same time and the four of us made the hike.  I wanted to time our arrival to the slot canyon at the time when the reflected light from the canyon walls would illuminate the "tunnel".  I studied previous photos I had taken from here and determined when I thought the best light would be, and we arrived exactly at that time!  As we stood here, I noticed the color above the Subway and decided to use less foreground and include the "above ground" as well.  My tripod head broke prior to this so I had to try to hold my camera stable on what was left of the tripod head for the three second exposure!  Fortunately it worked and this photo, "Subterranean" now adorns our living room wall as a metal print.  It was a wonderful Christmas gift from my wife.

The final photo in my fourteen favorites from 2014 may be my favorite photo of the entire year.  And since my wife loves fox so much, this one may end up on our wall soon too!  I would have to say it is probably my favorite fox image from all the ones I've taken over the years.  Why do I like "Focused" so much?  Well it does have the advantage of being a fox photo, which if you read above, fox are my second favorite animal species!  but also, the pose of the cautious fox checking me out works for me along with the eye contact as the fox watches.  The out of focus foreground and background both draw my attention to the fox but still show the wintry surroundings.  All of that add up to providing an intimate moment shared between the fox and the viewer.  Plus I really like fox!  After a slow start, with not many photo moments in January, February, and March, 2014 ended up being a really great year for photos.  I hope you enjoy viewing this article as much as I enjoyed putting it together and remembering these moments.  I hope 2015 is a great year for all of you!