I love American landscapes. Their uniqueness and diversity offer fun, adventure and plenty of photo opportunities. And the American West is a photographer’s paradise, full stop. I live in Vancouver, super natural British Columbia, Canada and although she is well equipped with amazing landscapes too, I could not wait to go back to the United States and photograph something a little bit different.

There are 58 national parks in the United States, and most of them are full of majestic beauty. This was my second trip to Yellowstone but I had never been to the Grand Teton National Park.

The first time I went to Yellowstone was more than 20 years ago and I had not done any research into locations. Due to the unfortunate flooding event happened in Yellowstone National Park in late June, I have to reschedule my trip from July to September. The good thing is that I can now have the newly released Fujifilm X-H2S camera and Fujinon XF150-600mm lens in my gear list.

I love doing road trip instead of lining up for the security check and waiting for connections in the airports. It is 1400km from Vancouver Canada to the west entrance of the Yellowstone National Park and will take me two days driving to get there. So I planned a side trip to photograph Palouse in Washington state and as a rest stop between the two days driving.

Palouse is the top wheat producing county and second highest barley producer in the entire United States. The farmers responsible for this mass production have the fertile hills of the Palouse to thank, whose unique beauty bring the olive gardens and vineyards of Tuscany to mind.

Sunset Steptoe Butte State Park

Fujifilm X-T4 + XF50-140mm

Seen from the summit of 3,612 foot high Steptoe Butte, they look like giant sand dunes because they were formed in much the same way. In the spring they are lush shades of green when the wheat and barley are young, and in the summer they are dry shades of brown when the crops are ready for harvest.


Photography in Yellowstone and Grand Teton, or any National Park, can be a very rewarding experience. It can also be a disappointing exercise in frustration. Even the most detailed planning is not a guarantee of success. It all depends on what your goals are, and how much time you have available.

I hope my experience and suggestions that can help increase your chances of success during my visit to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Whether the results are better vacation photos or portfolio-quality images, they will also help you obtain a more enjoyable and memorable experience.

I would suggest at least three to four days to concentrate in one park. A better time frame would be a week. For a comprehensive trip to include all of the park’s highlights, at least two to three weeks would be ideal.

Make sure you have as much time available to meet your goals, especially you have your shot list. And make those goals realistic, don’t expect to create portfolio-grade images every morning and evening during your stay. It is incredibly unlikely that you will have excellent light to work with during every golden hour photo session. In this trip, I spent a week in the Grand Teton National Park and have not had one decent sunset light.

Of course, it is also a silly notion to think that planning on just one trip to Grand Teton you’ll come away with award-winning images from every corner of the park. Just like you cannot go to Costco and expect to get all you needs in your lifetime. You’ll need to return again and again. Sadly, that is what I do every week lining up at Costco cashier.

Relax, relax and relax, go with the flow, get to know and interact with mother nature. If you only come away with one or two good photos that’s great, you can always return another time. I shot the sunset at the same location in Grand Teton National Park for three consecutive days and come back with empty hands. Good photography is about much more than grabbing trophy images, it is a lifetime learning journey that should be savoured, not rushed.

Stopping for Bisons

Fujifilm X-H2S + XF150-600mm

Maybe this is just me, but whatever my mode of travel, I love travelling light. I am tired of carrying a suitcase and much prefer a duffel bag. It seems like a “quick getaway” type of solution. The ThinkTank Retrospective Duffle 75 bag is my pick for this 20 days road trip. It is big enough for all my clothing and gadgets for the entire trip and is nice to be able to “squish” (gently!) my stuff down in my trunk. All my camera gears and 13" Macbook Pro are packed inside the MindShift Backlight 26 litre backpack. It took me 10 minutes to pack or unpack my stuff between the B & B.

Yellowstone National Park

My first time I travelled to the Yellowstone National Park was more than 20 years ago. It was a family reunion trip with three generations. I did not have enough time for my personal interest. But I have always wanted to go to this national park. Yellowstone is very well known for its wildlife, its many geothermal features and ecosystems. It was established in 1872 and so it was the first National Park in the world.

When you look at the map, it seems to be quite far away from everywhere and it took us one full day driving from Palouse, WA to my reserved B&B that just outside of the west entrance. I planned to stay in Yellowstone for a week and spend the second week in the Grand Teton National park.

For me the most interesting areas to photograph in Yellowstone were the geothermal features around Old Faithful and Mid Geyser Basin where the Grand Prismatic Spring is located. The Canyon area and its waterfalls was also another highlight of my visit. I was strolling around a very popular area called Old Faithful when the Grand Geyser erupted. I was really lucky to see this because Grand erupts every 7 to 15 hours. It is the tallest predictable geyser known but still, you can be waiting for a long time to see an eruption that lasts for around 10 minutes. Yellowstone is home to some 10,000 thermal features and over 500 hundred of them are geysers. In fact, Yellowstone contains the majority of the geysers in the world!

Yellowstone is probably the most interesting National Park I have ever visited due to its size and number of geothermal and landscape features as well as its wildlife. One of the reward of rescheduled this trip the park was not crowded as summer school break was over.

I also owe Yellowstone another visit, perhaps in winter to photograph its wildlife and landscapes from a different perspective.

  • Elk

    Fujifilm X-H2S + XF150-600mm

  • Elk

    Fujifilm X-H2S + XF150-600mm

  • Bison

    Fujifilm X-H2S + XF150-600mm

Grand Teton National Park

A photography trip to the Grand Teton National Park can be a once in a lifetime experience. It can also be one in a series of return trips to photograph the park in-depth, and in all seasons. Whichever it is for you, photographing this gem in the national park system can be a daunting challenge. This is especially true if it is your first visit to Grand Teton.

As I mentioned from planning, a visit to photograph this or any other national park can be a very rewarding experience. It can also be a very disappointing trip. Good planning and having enough time available to meet your photography goals increase your chances of success.

Let us start talking about locations. Grand Teton is a big park with dozens of great areas to photograph in. However, for this post, I’m going to focus only on some of the more popular front-country road accessed locations.

T. A. Moulton Barn Grand Teton National Park

The barn is all that remains of the homestead built by Thomas Alma Moulton and his sons between about 1912 and 1945. It sits west off the road known as Mormon Row, in an area called Antelope Flats, between the towns of Kelly and Moose. This is is one of the closest locations to the town of Jackson and offers a variety of photographic opportunities. Historic Mormon Row has several noteworthy structures, but the two iconic Moulton Barns are the biggest attractions here. Often photographed, the barn with the Teton Range in the background has become a symbol of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Moulton Barn Grand Teton National Park

Fujifilm X-H2S + XF50-140mm

Blacktail Ponds Overlook – Lucky Spot for Wildlife

There is no guarantee that you will see wildlife in the park and that is a bummer. We all like guarantees. There are places in the Grand Teton National Park that can increase your chances of seeing wildlife, Blacktail Ponds Overlook is one of them.

The sign lists each of the five communities, and shows you where to look from exactly where you are standing. This just gets better and easier all the time…

Alpine – Look to the Tetons, above the tree line. Pikas and Marmots frequent here. And while you probably can’t see them from this far away, you can see what is meant by the Alpine Community.

Forest – Look to the groups of tall trees. These are good places for elk, deer and black bears.

Meadows – The grasslands found in front of the forests here. Good for elk and bison.

Wetlands – Aquatic plants and shrubs, look for the ponds and streams. Good for beaver and moose.

Sagebrush – Those rough looking shrubs and grasses that look like they’d scratch you to pieces if you walked through them (they would). You see a lot of it by the side of the road and trails. Good for sage grouse and antelope.

Animals are a little more active in the cooler parts of the day, which are early morning and evening. I went to the Blacktail Pond Outlook around 6:15am for my sunrise shoot and spotted this moose just 10 minutes later.

  • Moose

    Fujifilm X-H2S + XF150-600mm

Snake River overlook

It is the most popular since it was here that Ansel Adams made his famous 1942 photo of the Tetons. Be forewarned that over the years trees in the scene have grown considerably. Today, because of this, the Snake River is partially obscured. The view is still wonderful though.

Snake River overlook

Fujifilm X-H2S + XF10-24mm

Schwabacher’s Landing

This is one of the prime locations in the Grand Teton for photography, and one of the few accessible to the Snake River. Be this location 45 minutes before sunrise as expected to see lots of other photographers here.

Schwabacher’s Landing

Fujifilm X-H2S + XF10-24mm

Cunningham Ranch

This is one of popular areas in the park for photography. It has excellent photographic potential but many photographers pass it over for Schwabacher’s Landing or Oxbow Bend. The views of the Teton Range here are outstanding. The western pole fencing makes a great composition element. It’s also possible to access views along the Snake River, via a long walk through pastures. Occasionally you’ll see herds of elk, or horses from the nearby Triangle X Ranch grazing here, another great aid for compositions.

Teton Range from Cunningham Ranch

Fujifilm X-H2S + XF10-24mm

Oxbow Bend

This is arguably the granddaddy of all photo locations in Grand Teton National Park. The views of Mount Moran and the Teton Range reflected in the still waters of the Snake River are recognizable throughout the world. In addition, this is a prime wildlife viewing area. You can often see Trumpeter Swans floating lazily on the water, along with moose grazing in the willows across the river. I once saw an enormous herd of elk fording the river here, a scene reminiscent of Serengeti migrations. You can also observe mobs of photographers, every morning and evening, every day. Don’t even think of finding a prime spot unless you get here well over an hour in advance of golden hour. Most photographers try for a spot at the parking lot edge, however, there are plenty of excellent options among the willows along the river.

Oxbow Bend Sunrise

Fujifilm X-H2S + XF10-24mm

Mountain View

Turnout This is one of the easiest access locations. It is near Jenny Lake Lodge and you can pull out from Teton Park Road (Note: will be closed from November to May). You will enjoy mountains of the imagination view especially after a storm. One of the prominent peaks to be seen at the Mountain View Turnout is Mount Moran.

Mountain View Turnout

Fujifilm X-H2S + XF10-24mm

Viewing wildlife in Grand Teton can easily be the highlight of your Wyoming adventure! Moose are amazing creatures that are bigger than you expect them to be. They are also highly adaptable and can be seen not only in rivers and lakes but in the forest too! The most common places to see Moose is moose browse is along the beaver ponds along the Moose-Wilson Road and along the Gros Ventre River. However, I was lucky enough to have a mother moose, a young moose and deer hanging around my B & B that is next to the Jackson Hole Golf Course.

For myself, photography is about capturing a moment in time and space. It is about choosing a life of curiosity, exploration, and wonder. A place where the clouds will never again be the same. An area between inhaling and exhaling, whether you travel to exotic locations or find the exotic close to home, immersing yourself in the story unfolding around you. It is very much a personal and intimate reflection of something meaningful which is shared and communicated through images.

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