2013—Grand Tetons Day 3 — Wide Angle

This morning as we watched the sun rise and the clouds envelop the Tetons, Moose said to me, “I thought you had an 18-35mm lens.” He said this to me because I was photographing the expanse of the Teton range using my 70-200mm lens, set to crop mode so it became a 300mm lens. When I told him I didn’t have that lens (everyone else on the shoot has one) but that I did have a 14-24mm lens which I’d left in my room back at the lodge, he sighed in exasperation. He said photographing the Tetons using a 200mm lens in the particular setting we were in, would not distinguish the mountains from any other mountains. Why not feature what makes the Tetons so breathtaking? Their distinct profile and the flat, sage brush and pine and aspen tree foreground from which they rise abruptly and majestically, identify them as the Grand Tetons. After taking a number of shots (which shots I actually really liked) I switched to my 24-70mm lens, prompting Moose to declare that he didn’t feel too sorry for me anymore because I DID have a wide angle lens.

At our digital darkroom session midday, I found that my favorite shot from the morning was one I took with the long lens set at 200mm. And what about it appealed to me was that crannied (!) peak emerging from the clouds. It reminded me of Shangri-La which was exactly Moose’s point; without the distinct identifiers that make the Tetons the Tetons, the photo could be a mountain anywhere. But it remains my favorite shot of the morning. I used Perfect B&W to enhance the photo.

Later that afternoon, when we took more photos of the Grand Tetons from a much different viewpoint, I still had my 70-200mm lens attached and Moose this time looked over my shoulder and again wondered why I wasn’t using a wide angle lens. I told him I actually preferred the shots I was getting, showed him my results, and he nodded, smiled, and said I had a valid point. But, I decided to switch to the 14-24mm lens which I took with me for the afternoon session, took a few shots, and told Moose he was absolutely correct. This place needed a wide angle lens to capture the look and feel. He directed me to stand in a specific spot, where the shadow of his head marked the perfect vantage point. From that point on, I started really liking the photos I took. I kept that lens on for the rest of the day and also in the evening sunset shoot, although the sunset shoot was a bit disappointing as the color came and went within a few minutes and the vivid colors we hoped for never materialized.

The second shot is the one Moose suggested I take and I really like it for both the colors and the composition. The trees leaning in, the water, even the clouds help lead the eye to the mountains in the background. I love the colors and the composition in third shot as well, a row of aspens across the road from the second shot. The black spot above one of the trees is not a speck of sensor dust which I thought it was at first glance, but rather a black billed magpie approaching the trees. I took the final shot earlier in the day before I switched to the wide angle lens. I liked the backlit leaves and the shallow depth of field with lots of bokeh. Not everything here in Wyoming has to be a landscape.

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