In Ansel’s Footsteps – Twelve Significant Photographs in any One Year (2012)

Ansel Adams once said, “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” This doesn’t sound like very many but at that time Ansel was shooting with an 8×10 large format camera, a very heavy and bulky piece of equipment. Photography has evolved drastically since then with the advent of digital cameras, which are lighter and much more compact than the old field cameras Adams hauled around. With high capacity memory cards and bigger hard drives one can take hundreds of photographs without even thinking twice about it.

While it seems that taking photographs has gotten a lot easier, actually making significant photographs that stand out above the rest is a skill that still requires hard work and dedication, lots of patience, and sometimes even a little luck!

Due to an extensive amount of traveling this year I just couldn’t narrow it down to just twelve, so below are thirteen images from 2012 which are significant to me. Clicking on the image will open a larger, high quality version. Happy New Year everyone, Enjoy!

Emerald-Fairy-Tale

“Emerald Fairy Tale” – Adirondack State Park, New York

"Paradise Meadows" - Paradise Valley, Emigrant, Montana

“Paradise Meadows” – Paradise Valley, Emigrant, Montana

 

"Another Day at the Office" - Adirondack State Park, New York

“Another Day at the Office” – Adirondack State Park, New York

"Perfect Harmony" - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

“Perfect Harmony” – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

 

"Nature's Architecture" - Glacier National Park, Montana

“Nature’s Architecture” – Glacier National Park, Montana

 

"Ghost Ship" - Adirondack State Park, New York

“Ghost Ship” – Adirondack State Park, New York

 

"The Height Of Summer" - Crazy Mountains, Montana

“The Height Of Summer” – Crazy Mountains, Montana

 

"Frozen Wonders" - Adirondack State Park, New York

“Frozen Wonders” – Adirondack State Park, New York

 

"Glacial Chamber" - Glacier National Park, Montana

“Glacial Chamber” – Glacier National Park, Montana

 

"An Early Spring" - Adirondack State Park, New York

“An Early Spring” – Adirondack State Park, New York

 

"Beyond The Falls" - Hyalite Canyon, near Bozeman, Montana

“Beyond The Falls” – Hyalite Canyon, near Bozeman, Montana

 

"Mountain Paradise" - Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Montana

“Mountain Paradise” – Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Montana

 

"Grand Finale" - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

“Grand Finale” – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crazy Ambitions

OF ALL THE climbs I did while photographing out in Montana the past 4 months 11,214ft Crazy Peak was probably the most memorable and challenging. While it’s not the highest peak in the state, it is the highest in the Crazy Mountain Range and also the highest peak in Montana north of the Beartooth Mountains. It is also the most topographically prominent peak in Montana.
Since the peak is trailess I scouted out some possible routes using my map. The route I chose to reach the summit was, like the name, Crazy. After much climbing and some hair-raising scrambling I finally reached the ridgeline that would eventually lead to the summit. Most of the ridgeline was a knife’s edge, barely a foot wide in places with a mix of scree and loose talus slopes and a 3,000ft+ drop on either side:eek: I ended up having to drop my pack halfway over the ridge (I carried way to much photo gear) because it was throwing my balance off, and I really didn’t want to fall here :biggrin:

This view from the top was my reward. A pika joined me on the summit and I managed to catch him peeking out from the rocks in the foreground. Legend says that Chief Plenty Coups, the last great leader of the mighty Crow tribe, had a vision on the summit that led him throughout his life. The only vision I got was the magnificent and rugged landscape that was laid out before me. The jagged, serrated peaks of the Crazy Mountains surrounded me while far off in the distance the central Montana plains lead to more distant mountain ranges. I wondered how far the human eye would actually be able to see if the world was indeed flat.

On the way back from the summit clouds began to fill the sky and it got darker and darker, much different than the bluebird skies I had earlier that day. I knew I had to get off this exposed ridge before it started to rain. I had some trouble locating my pack on the way back because all of the rocks looked the same. I started to get a bit worried since my pack held lots of valuable photo equipment inside, not to mention it was the only way I had to transport my gear out. I wondered if it was possible that I had somehow missed it or that a mountain goat or other animal kicked it off the side. At last I found it and breathed a deep sigh of relief.

As soon as I made it off the ridgeline it started to rain, talk about getting lucky. I rushed down as fast as I could to find some shelter from the weather, since I had forgotten to grab my rain gear in the tent that morning and fires were not allowed in that area so I would not be able to dry out my clothes back at camp. Finding a good shelter proved to be a difficult task since I was still above treeline. I finally found a small patch of stunted trees and huddled up inside to wait out the rain.

When the rain subsided a few minutes later I crawled out of my shelter and headed back down only to be caught again in the rain, only this time it was worse. With the rain also came some fierce winds and the sounds of thunder crashing overhead. Flashes of lightning filled the sky and sent me straight to the next nearest shelter I could find, a patch of small trees overhanging a small ledge. Inside there was a fairly large den of something, but this being my only option I stuck with it. The temperature dropped considerably and being wet I started to get a bit chilled. I rubbed my hands together to keep warm while waiting. Being in this “survival mode” I felt like I was in an episode of Man vs. Wild.

I’m not sure how long the storm lasted as I drifted off to sleep while waiting. When I woke the storm had passed and the skies were beginning to clear. It was quite late now and I wanted to get back before nightfall. The rest of the hike down was pretty straightforward and I made it back to my campsite before sunset and cooked a nice hot meal and finished drying out before going to work on the sunset.

Whack-A-Mole!

Whack-A-Mole!
This Yellow-Bellied Marmot had taken up residence in a pothole on a Montana highway just outside Cooke City. I noticed the marmot while photographing a landscape off the highway, it appeared to be just lounging in the road, which they do quite often. I didn’t think much of it and continued to photograph the scenery. A car approached and I thought for sure he was roadkill, but as the car drove over him he vanished, much like the famous disappearing act of Harry Houdini. I could not see the pothole in the road from my vantage point so I was indeed very confused by what I had just witnessed out of the corner of my eye. I moved closer and realized there was a small hole in the road and knew that is where he must have retreated to. I quickly changed lenses and tried to stay out of sight so I would not startle the animal if he decided to come back out. Sure enough as another car approached he popped back up.

I observed the little fellow for quite some time, amused by this game of “chicken” he seemed to be playing with motorists. When a car approached he would poke his head up out of the hole and look around, but just at the last second when the car slammed the brakes or tried swerving to avoid hitting him he would quickly duck back out of sight, leaving people scratching their heads or laughing hysterically as they drove by me. Eventually he stopped popping up and I went over to investigate more, the hole appeared to tunnel underneath the road and I also found another hole just off the edge of the road, probably a second entrance to his pothole “den”.

Montana Speed Bump

Peek-A-Boo!