Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Our trip out to Yellowstone was remarkable; it was also one half of the photographic odyssea that changed in many ways my way of shooting and my view of photography in general (the other being the Grand Tetons). Not such a bad place for an epiphany, if you ask me.

This is but a small slice of the work we did and the things we saw while in Yellowstone. I won’t make any excuses but I will tell you that after shooting from sunrise to sundown for a week in Jackson Hole, I was a little exhausted by the time we hit Yellowstone; I didn’t quite manage to get myself out of bed for a sunrise but I did chance across one very beautiful sunset. I did, however, miss out on shooting a hellacious lightning storm over the mountains (see the first image below with all the elk? Now picture thunder clouds and giant bolts of lightning).

Of course, one of the main reasons people go to Yellowstone is to get up close and personal with the wildlife. In the course of one day we saw elk, porcupine, black bears, marmots, bald eagles, wolves, coyotes and a grizzly. I didn’t see a moose until we made it back to the Big Horn Mountains, but I won’t hold that against Yellowstone.

I’ll get more of our Yellowstone adventure online in the coming months!

 

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Images.

1. Elk grazing in the shadow of a mountain as a violent storm rolls in.

2. Smokey the Bear alarm.

3. From the pinnacle of the sweeping Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.

4. Tourists often get too close to the animals. Tourists often become animal food.

5. Exploring the bubbling mud pits and hot springs near Old Faithful.

6. One of the endless bubbling hot springs in Yellowstone’s central caldera.

7. Duck rides!

8. Old Faithful, right on cue.

9. Exploring the prismatic masterpieces as a family.

10. Fly fishing in Yellowstone. Pretty cool.

11. We found this elk rack and skullcap on a hiking trail. We took turns wearing it.

12. Lower Falls. Artist’s Point.

13. More waterfall action.

14. This is by far the best way to get around Yellowstone.

15. No more room in our Wolf Pack.

Tongue River Canyon, Wyoming

Not a whole lot to say today – I am off to Canada tomorrow to shoot a wedding this weekend so I’m busy prepping for that and getting a few other things cleared off my plate. August is going to be a busy one ‘round these parts; I have a few assignments to wrap up, a few thousand images to edit and a 4-month Asian Expedition to plan.

Today, a simple look at the Tongue River Canyon in Sheridan County, Wyoming.

 

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Toronto, eh!

I’m a little behind the times here, of course. Toronto is where this road trip began – nearly two months ago – but I didn’t have the idea for these mini travel profiles until we touched down in Cleveland. Therefore, I’m playing catch-up.

I don’t have a whole lot of new or exciting things to say today, though I do have a regular blog post ready to go for tomorrow morning. For now it’s a little look back at a day spent shooting Toronto – a very, very early day. A 4 AM wakeup call is no joke.

I regret not shooting more of Toronto. Granted, we were in town during the five coldest months of the year, but this is little more than an excuse (excuses – this is a good blog topic for next week!). I could have bundled up and trekked out into the snow, of course. Would have made for great photographic fodder. I could have fought the traffic at any point, too. Not like I have to be at work at 9 AM or something. Excuses, excuses, excuses. Not something I’m generally prone to; I get my work done, I get out and I shoot. Somehow, though, it seems like we all do this – we neglect what’s going on in our own backyard. I’ve seen this happen to many of the friends I met in Korea. Prolific shooters while on foreign soil, but the minute they’re back home they forget they even own a camera. I think I will delve a little further into this next week…

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From top to bottom:

1. Toronto skyline at sunrise.

2. Legendary Massey Hall.

3. The most interesting thing I found to shoot at City Hall.

4. Spring flowers in a back alley.

5. The ubiquitous Toronto pay duty.

6. Sporting Life 10k. My favorite race!

7. Kensington Market bikes.

8. The flower girl in Kensington Market.

9. Chinatown fruit stand.

10. Streetcar bokeh madness in Chinatown.

11. Peking duck in Toronto!

12. The Beer Bistro; pierogi and a $35 glass of beer!

Now Entering The West

We made a few on the fly adjustments to our Great American Road Trip while exiting Nebraska through the west. First, we decided we would visit Cheyenne for a night rather than drive to Fort Collins and then Denver, Colorado and rush a leg of the trip we intend to spend a few days (weeks?!) doing right. I’ve always wanted to visit Colorado and we plan on hitting a few out of the way spots in the Rockies when we venture south from northern Wyoming in late July.

Our second adjustment involved skipping a part of north western Nebraska for now. Again, there are a few places we want to visit in that part of the state and we don’t want to rush the experience, so we’ve decided to add a second round of Nebraska to a trip that will include a bit of Montana and a whole lot of South Dakota. We’re going Bison hunting, basically.

This left us with a single night in Cheyenne after a long drive from Lincoln. I’ve discussed many times the importance of looking at a town – especially one you’ve never visited before – with fresh eyes and taking a new perspective on oft-photographed aspects of said town. This can be tough to do when you’re tired and run down, but I’ve been conscious of that maxim while on this road trip and I like to think it has served me well. Instead of looking at the surface of a place – say the State Capitol Building in Cheyenne from the main entryway, for example – I look at what makes up a space close to it and surrounding it. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking the typical tourist shot or framing in your viewfinder what you’ve seen on postcards countless times before. You can and should do this, if only to remind yourself you’re ever bit as capable of capturing this moments as the photographer down the block. What is important to remember is that there is that which is worth shooting below the surface of a place – or down a back alley, as it were.

Don’t forget that the most important aspect of place is people. I work hard to create evocative environmental portraits of people from a given place whenever I can. Sadly, I didn’t run into any cowboys downtown on this visit – Cheyenne is a sleepy place on a Sunday night – but I’ll be keeping my eye out when we visit during Frontier Days in July.

 

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Welcome to Husker Country

Lincoln, Nebraska.

The heart of Cornhusker territory. The heartland of America. The middle of the Midwest.

We followed the open road into Nebraska after our brief affair with lady Des Moines and settled in for a week long Midwestern barnstorming of epic proportions – or epic portions, depending on where you go to eat.

Megan grew up in Lincoln and showed me a fantastic time while we here. This leg of the trip was all about Megan catching up with old friends, yet we still managed to get in some solid shooting time. We put in a few hours at some very fine breweries, rocked one of the world’s greatest zoos for a day and an age, expanded our waistlines at Midwestern eateries and finally escaped into the country for a look at how the peaceful folk live. It really was a blast and I have plenty to look forward to on our next visit. I haven’t yet found the perfect Cornhusker photo, though. That is my Sunday morning mission!

We also spent a bit of time in Omaha. We dined on fabled Omaha steaks, tour the zoo, explored the waterfront and generally gorged ourselves on Omaha food and drink. Fun city.

We have a whole lot of Nebraska left in front of us before we cross the border into Wyoming. We plan on crossing back on Monday to shoot the Sand Planes and a few other key destinations, though I dedicate this entry to Lincoln (and Omaha) as we bid Big Red farewell. My only hope is that the next time we’re in town we actually catch a football game!

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From Top to Bottom:

1. Lincoln Station in the Haymarket District.

2. An old steam engine docked at Lincoln Station.

3. Lincoln’s iconic State Capitol Building at night.

4. Omaha Zoo Railroad; moving big people slowly since 1975.

5. A tropical frog at the fantastic Omaha zoo.

6. An Upstream Brewery Hefe on the patio in Omaha.

7. Legendary Omaha Steak – in burger form! Upstream Brewery, Omaha.

8. A Canadian folk singer plays Omaha’s Old Market streets.

9. Fried alligator served up at the Omaha Food Festival.

10. Corn. This is ‘husker territory.

11. My favorite Lincoln souvenir, the sensational Jahrensy!

What do you do in Des Moines?

Truth be told, I still don’t know. We rolled into town to break up a long drive between Chicago and Lincoln – and to work on a top-secret brewery project.

Yet I’m glad we rolled into Des Moines. The city boasts a beautiful downtown core, a stunning state capitol building and a number of fantastic cafes and restaurants – not to mention the excellent CabCo. Brewery – none of them far from the Des Moines River. Apparently Taylor Swift was in town during our visit; Megan may or may not have been a little excited about this one. Same thing happened when she made me visit Harpo Studios in Chicago… Le Sigh.

Anyway, we stopped in Des Moines for a short time. Our visit was marred by an unfortunate exhaust/muffler incident that had our car sounding like a outlaw biker brigade for more than 500 miles, but we made the most of it. This is my brief snapshot of The DM.

I hope you enjoy.

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Top to Bottom:

1. Brew Club mugs hanging from the pub ceiling at the Court Avenue Brewing Co.

2. Fresh pizza and fresh beer. It doesn’t get any better!

3. CabCo.’s building has housed tenants in the shoe trade, the rubber business and the hat racket as one of Des Moines oldest addresses. 

4. Sunset over West River Front Park.

5. Sunset through a maple leaf at West River Front Park.

6. Flowers in bloom near the State Capitol Building.

7. Bicycle Art on Grand Avenue.

8. Court Avenue Parking Garage – at night!

9. Downtown at dusk at 4th and Court.

10. Iowa’s stunning State Capitol Building.

11. Polk County Courthose and car trails at dusk.

Chicago, The Windy City.

Truth be told, I didn’t find the wind as much of a problem as the rain. The wind I can handle. The rain… makes it tough to get anything done. Initially we planned on visiting Chi-city for three nights; we extended that to five after being rained out two of the first three days.

Rain or shine, Chicago is an amazing city and a place I can’t wait to get back to. Heck, I’d consider moving there in a heartbeat if the weather was a little better; the people are laid back and welcoming, the beer is sensational, the sports are exciting and the food… well, the food is enormous. It’s going to take me a little while to get used to Midwestern portions. But I digress.

Megan and I had the chance to catch up with our pal Aaron Brown who is making a name for himself in the wedding photography business. If you have a moment you need to check him out. If you live in Chicago or the Northwestern Indiana area and you’re thinking about tying the knot you should give Aaron a ring. He’ll do right by you.

www.aaronbrownphotos.com

I still need to get through what’s left of Canada, Cleveland and Indy before I really get a chance to focus on Chicago, but until then, here’s a sneak peak at some of the work we did in The Windy City.

 

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Top to Bottom:

1. Tracks at the Wood Dale Metra station.

2. Cubs fan on the Metra.

3. Exterior columns at the famed Union Station.

4. Chicago-style deep dish pizza at Giordano’s.

5. Al Capone doppelganger on a downtown corner.

6. Chicago skyscrapers.

7. The Bean at Millennium Park.

8. Oriental Theatre bokeh madness.

9. Skyscraper vanishing in the fog.

10. Evening taxi run through The Loop.

11. Metra passengers, evening commute.

12. Chicago skyline from Navy Pier.