John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway is located in northwestern Wyoming leading to Grand Teton National Park. The parkway drives through a valley of large, rugged, vertical mountains known as the Teton Range. The mountain range is a backdrop to many stunning lakes, diverse wildlife and unique landscapes. To reach John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, most visitors come through the small town of Jackson Hole by way of Salt Lake City International Airport. Endless opportunities present themselves along the parkway no matter what type of nature photographer you are. There are many untouched sections of the parkway to explore that offer new perspectives of the area. There’s something for everyone in terms of activities. Nevertheless, the real magic of the parkway lies in getting away from the crowds and exploring the place on your own.
The winter months along the parkway are long and last from the beginning of November to the end of March. Snow is present for most of these months, as well as subzero temperatures. Check before coming in the winter, as many of the roads are inaccessible due to snow. Four-wheel drive is recommended during these months. When spring arrives, many of the valley roads still are met with snow occasionally, as well as long-lasting periods of rain. As the warmer days of summer arrive and wildflowers make their presence, the afternoons are known for thundershowers and spectacular skies. This always is a good formula for capturing dramatic images.
The type of lens you use here shows your viewer the kind of story you’d like to tell. The landscape around the parkway is so open and vast that I like to use wide-angle almost all the time to convey this in my images. Whenever I’m scouting for new places along the parkway, I like to carry a wide-angle lens and one telephoto, depending on the type of story I’m trying to tell. It’s also essential to take along a variety of filters to bring out the most in each scene. As a landscape photographer, the combination of a polarizer with neutral split grads helps to control the exposure and bring out the best details in the image. Due to the heavy contrast found in the late afternoons during turbulent weather, split grad filters let me balance exposure throughout the scene without sacrificing any part of it.
I find the best time to shoot along the parkway is in the late afternoon of the summer months when transitions in weather are most likely to occur. Changes in warmer temperatures along the mountain range cause a mixture of pressures to occur. The Teton Range is a great subject to shoot against dramatic skies, and the change in temperature provides all the elements needed to capture a striking scene. Additionally, this is when most visitors are likely to leave the park for indoors, allowing you to photograph without crowds.
Contact: Grand Teton National Park and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, (307) 739-3300, www.nps.gov/jodr.
Particularly ideal for landscapes, grad neutral-density (ND) filters are a great way to gain control over exposure when you have uneven levels of light in a scene. Grad NDs like the Galen Rowell Graduated Neutral Density filters from Singh-Ray provide a dark to light transition from one edge to the other, blending the effect so it appears more natural throughout the image than it does with a standard ND filter. Skies that are too bright in comparison to a dark foreground, for instance, can be controlled so brights are restrained while shadows still maintain detail. Grad NDs are available in a variety of strengths, and transitions can be hard or soft, depending on your needs. Contact: Singh-Ray, (800) 486-5501, www.singh-ray.com.