Living most of the year in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, much of my landscape photography practice sees my lenses pointed toward the Tetons, perhaps the USA's most beautiful mountain range. Theodore Roosevelt said that the Tetons "look like mountains are supposed to look," and I have taken thousands of pictures of them over the years.
Yet, on the other side of the long valley, there's another iconic rock. The formal name is Sheep Mountain, yet everyone calls the formation The Sleeping Indian. Looking at it from a distance, the Sleeping Indian delineates a Native American warrior on his back, his chest and aquiline nose in the air, war bonnet resting.
To get close to the Sleeping Indian, you have to drive several miles into the National Elk Refuge, a large expanse of hilly rangeland which sees pronghorn antelope cross it in the spring and summer, and as many as 5000 elk herd here in the winter, where they're fed no matter how deep the snowdrifts.
In mid-October, the first snowfall settled on The Sleeping Indian, and I drove deep into the National Elk Refuge near dusk, which in Northwest Wyoming in October arrives around 5:00 PM. Because of its position in the east portion of the valley, the Sleeping Indian gets the most beautiful light around sunset. I planned on driving much closer to it and trying to capture it with my SL2 and 24-90 lens. Still, as I approached, I realized the combination of snow, clouds and late afternoon autumn light made for a beautiful image that might be captured with a telephoto lens. I pulled over, set up my tripod and put a 10-stop ND filter on my lens for the 36-second exposure.
Autumn captures don't have to show colorful leaves to depict this special season. October light is beguiling in and of itself, and with new snow dusting the top of a mountain and the dun-colored hills beginning to glow, one can capture a glorious moment.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor