Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, USA by Michael Thomas

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Yellowstone National Park is a premier destination for observing wildlife and is often called the Serengeti of North America. For reasons I can’t fathom, it is not as popular a destination for landscape photographers. In my experience, the thermal features greatly eclipse those of other places around the world not only in number but in diversity of types, size and color.

Not far from Old Faithful Geyser is Crested Pool, one of a number of pools and geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin. When visiting Yellowstone, my wife and I usually divide our stay between two or three locations, both to minimize driving to sunrise shoots and to enjoy the different lodges. So while staying at Old Faithful Lodge, I took a predawn stroll around the various hot springs and geysers there and was greeted by a spectacular sunrise.

Normally I use a 24mm tilt-shift lens for landscapes such as this, but I switched to my 17-40 lens at 17 mm for this shot to both capture the sky and emphasize the pool in the foreground. Because of the wide dynamic range in the scene, this image is a manual blend of three exposures.

I’ve visited in both summer and fall. The latter is a great time if you plan on photographing aspens in nearby Grand Teton National Park. Despite the photos of throngs of tourists and bison traffic jams, I almost never felt crowded in summer. I chalk that up to landscape photographer hours and the vast size of the park.


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