Vanishing Images Photography

Vanishing Images Stories

White Wolf of Yellowstone --- click image to see gallery ~ 10 images

The White Wolf --- RIP. In May 2017, the San Diego Union-Tribune carried the story of a white wolf that had been killed in Yellowstone Park. It was an older female from the Canyon pack. I went to my office and stared at the framed photo of that same wolf that we had taken in February. In the photo, she is caught in a moment, looking directly at me, surrounded by snow, and framed by pine trees. It was a special once-in-a-lifetime encounter. Our encounter happened on a misty February morning when we sighted her as we traveled on the packed snow road along the Firehole River. We saw her on the road with an adult size grey wolf. Our guide later confirmed that the young wolf was about a year and a half old and probably from her last litter. The pair stopped briefly on the road, about 30 yards from our van. The young grey wolf ran off the road and up a hill into trees and out of sight. The white wolf stood her ground assessing the yellow van with the large snow tires needed on the snow-packed road. This was probably not her first encounter with winter tourists. She trotted toward the van, along the side of the road, and continued south stopping about 50 yards away. At this point, we grabbed cameras and got out of the van desperately photographing what we thought would be fainting images of a wolf moving down the road. Instead of fleeing, she turned east into the heavy snow proceeding up the hill then back to the north paralleling the road. She was heading back to the young male. We watched as she moved thru the trees and heavy snow, collected her youth, turned around, and retraced her path back to the road with the young wolf in tow. Reaching the road, they headed south. We had not expected to see wolves, especially not so close and for such a long period. The newspaper account said that by Yellowstone wolf standards, she had a long life and was believed to have mothered 14 offspring who survived to adulthood. Why would anyone shoot a wolf in a National Park is beyond me, they are as important to Yellowstone as the geysers. How long would she have lived? Another year, another winter, who knows? What I know is that our brief encounter was priceless. That gunman not only ended a life prematurely but robbed many other visitors, perhaps my son and grandkids of their chance for a special encounter and a memory of a lifetime. At last check, in 2020 no one had come forward to claim the reward and finger her killer.

New York Times Story 2017 

Color at Alpine Meadows

Color Catches My Eye

While skiing at Alpine Meadows near Lake Tahoe on an overcast rather monochrome and sometimes snowy day at I found a thicket of pine trees with just the right light. I can’t ever recall seeing such a massive build-up of the green moss (of course, just like they taught us in Boy Scouts, it’s on the Northside of the trees). I used my Sony a6000 with a 75 mm lens 1/200 F 5.6, ISO100. I took a number of shots both vertical and horizontal in this grove of trees. I cropped this to a vertical panorama about 1:3. I am trying to simplify the setting and draw attention to the green moss which contrasts nicely with the snow on the branches in the background. I framed the 2 subject trees with trees on both sides. I tried this in B&W and it worked but it was the vivid green color that caught my eye so I will stick with that. Still working on some other images in this set. Stopping to take photos has always added to my memories and enjoyment of skiing and it allows my legs to take a rest.

Death Valley Days

Mesquite Dunes

Mesquite Dunes from the East.

At mid-morning we drove to an elevated lookout where I set up a tripod with a Tamron zoom at 260 mm / 390 mm, ISO 100 f 16, 1/200 sec. To capture both dunes and mountains I use 11 vertical images. I stitched these to create a panorama in LR then adjusted the dehazing and texture. The Stovepipe Wells hotel and campground area is behind the highest dune with the massive alluvial slope flowing from left to right. I also did multiple images with the camera in a horizontal position that showed even more of the valley. I like the vertical camera position because it gives more information if I were to do a print. It would be good to try this in early light but we were photographing the dunes both early and late.   Click for a larger image. 

Some Special Birds: Blue Gray Gnatcatchers

Blue Gray Gnatcatchers are from Mission Trails Regional Park, San Diego.  We followed chick development on two nests from afar with our 600mm lens.  Caught one adult on the fly.  They are shy flitty critters and the one on the right has what looks like a mosquito.  They prefer the Coastal Scrub Sage habitat and are more common that their cousins the California Gray Gnatcatcher.  Both are indicator species and they find their habitat dwindling as our population and development continues.  Thank goodness for our large park.    

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