Winter in Yellowstone: Light and Life

Yellowstone is a world beyond our own, emerging from the mists of time as a remnant of days long past. Here, the engines of creation still churn, steaming with all the fury of the gods of old. Once away from the safety of those portions of the park that have been “tamed,” it becomes a primal world, a kill-or-be-killed world, a world of startling howls and silent predators stalking the night, that do not respect the boundaries set by the so-called civilized world of Man. It is a place of deadly inspiration, and a window into the primitive soul of Earth.   

Every winter, I spend several weeks in Yellowstone, searching for a way to capture the hidden essence of this wondrous place, at a time when it is at its most desolate and desperate, its truth laid bare to the world. This, my forth winter in the park, revealed new insights, but yielded few good new photographs. Yellowstone in winter can be extremely difficult to photograph, and a mix of poor weather, extreme cold, heavy snows, limited access, and bad luck have all contributed to the slow growth of my Yellowstone winter portfolio. Yet each time I visit, I discover some new aspect of the park that I had missed before, some obscured facet that, when successfully captured by my camera’s sensor, emerges to tell a new story about Yellowstone, and helps slowly but surely shape my picture of the whole.

Coyote in Yellowstone
A coyote uses snow to clean its face after scavenging an elk carcass.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting on my daily photoblog a series of Yellowstone winter images, complete with field notes regarding conditions, light, equipment, and composition choices. More important than the technical and artistic details, however, are the stories that the photographs themselves tell. With any luck—and perhaps with a few more visits—my photos will begin to tell the story of this remarkable place, and evoke the day-to-day struggle for light and life in the harshness of Yellowstone in winter.

So please feel free to stop by and take a look at my Yellowstone winter portfolio as I post individual images over the next few weeks, and let me know what you think. I’m already planning next winter’s adventure to Yellowstone—I can’t wait to get back!

Creative Vision eStore by Ian Plant 


    And to this, I say why? What is the purpose of photographing the beauties of a National Park? Does it stem from some type of self-fulfillment? Perhaps it is grounded in promoting conservation/environmentalism? I sense the former is stronger than the latter.

    I for one am glad that photographers like Ian do photograph the beauties of our National Parks. I may not have an opportunity to travel to Yellowstone. I doubt that I would do so in the winter so I very much appreciate that Ian shares his photography with us. Even if I were able to go to Yellowstone in the winter I might miss a particular instance where the light was just so incredibly perfect as to produced photographs such as those Ian has posted. Photography for me captures a moment in time that is now and then is gone. That exact moment…..

    I think the photos are great. Like Rebecca I have no plans to visit Yellowstone in winter even though I have visited it twice during kinder months. Seeing Ian’s photos is inspiring. Please keep showing us more.

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