The Idaho State University Visual Communication trip to Yellowstone National Park was great. We got to stay at the Research and Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, which made a great base camp. The group was mostly made up of Dr. Terry Ownby’s photography students, and Dr. Judy Morris’ video students. The combination of these two groups was great for me since I participated in both programs while working on my undergraduate degree. We set out for the park each morning and shot the geothermal features as well as any wildlife that we encountered. I got a ton of photos and some video. We saw several bison, deer, elk, and a black bear. We also witnessed a raven unzip and steal items from the saddle bags on a BMW motorcycle in the parking lot at the Yellowstone Lodge.
I made a return trip to get some night shots, and I have to say it is a completely different experience. The geysers make horrific hissing and growling sounds when there are no tourists around to drown them out, and you can feel the ground rumble under your feet when you have the boardwalk to yourself. I would recommend you try some night hiking in the park if you dare!
Here are my favorite shots from the trip. They are in random order, so browse through them full screen by clicking on one. I will post a random video or two later on after I finish editing the clips.
Light painted a geyser with my LED flashlight in Yellowstone National Park
Sheepeater Falls in Yellowstone National Park. There was a bear sighting across the river from here
Shot this panorama at Grand Prismatic while wishing I could fly my quadcopter up and get a look at the actual pool. It is pretty much illegal to get a higher vantage point, sorry
One of the prismatic pools at geyser basin in Yellowstone National Park. I wanted to take a soak since it was a cold day and this seems like a nice hot tub. Too bad it is illegal and would kill you
Had to capture this very meta moment of our video professor Judy Morris capturing the photography group
Found this cool spot to shoot the stars, rocks, and peaks in Yellostone National Park
Playing with my lazer
Here is Geyser Basin from a half a mile away. I love the way the steam was interacting with the storm clouds
This is why its called Yellowstone
These evening primrose bloomed just in time to capture the light of the full moon and stars
The water here is so clear that you can see the bottom of the pond and the reflection of the trees at the same time. Teaming with leeches and salamanders, this is one of the only bodies of water that can empty into both the Atlantic and the Pacific
This is where hats go to die. Just down wind from the Grand Prismatic Pool boardwalk
This is my professor Dr. Ownby spotting the next vantage point on the Grand Prismatic boardwalk.
Here is the continental divide. You can pee into both oceans from here if you gyrate a little bit
Excelsior on a stormy day
Shadow selfy with a geyer at night in Yellowstone National Park
Light painted this rock with my led array and an amber gel while waiting for dusk to turn to night
Green light by Jason Churba, Blue Lazer by Kyler Michaelson
This raven was a bad ass. Just chillin in a tree waiting to steal from everybody. We caught him later unzipping and stealing from a motorcycle saddle bag
Shining my blue lazer at the mountain top as a car drives through the scene in Yellowstone National Park
The view from the trail downstream from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park
This was a feature on the trail to Morning Glory. I am not sure what it is called, but I felt it needed its picture taken
Another angle of the spring above Mammoth Springs glistening in the sunset. I am digging the crepuscular rays in the sky
Heard of bison grazing in Yellowstone National Park
Excelsior feeding her steam to a thunder storm. It was epic to witness this interaction
One of the vistas at Norris Basin in Yellowstone National Park
Black bear walking around a hill in Yellowstone National Park
Saw this from the road and had to take a shot.
Trees that grew too near to the geothermal features of Geyser Basin back lit by the full moon and light painted with my LED flashlight
The Grand Prismatic Pool in Yellowstone National Park. I wish it was legal to fly my quadcopter here
This meadow was a ways off the main road. We hoped to catch a heard of elk moseying through, but instead got this awe inspiring vista
The wind chopped up my mirror, but this beaver dam below the Grand Tetons was awesome
This crow knows how to open a zipper and steal your sh!t
Light painted this paint pot with my LED flashlight in Yellowstone National Park. This thing freaked me out. It was hissing with demonic howls and the earth was rumbling under my feet. I didn’t notice it during the day with tourists everywhere, but at night being there with just me and Jason Churba was a chilling experience. I truly felt the power of this place
Could not drive past these dead trees above Mammoth Springs with out taking a shot. I wish there were more clouds, but I like the way it turned out
The view from the second story balcony in Yellowstone Lodge near Old Faithful
This awesome feature was glistening in the sunset above Mammoth Springs
This is our group at the very spot where Ansel Adams photographed the Tetons and the Snake River
Full moon reflecting off a prismatic pool at Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park
The trees have grown too tall to see much of the river, but here is my version of the epic and historic Ansel Adams shot
View of the falls from down along the designated path.
Geyser backlit by the full moon
The steam from a geyser backlit by the full moon and milkyway framed by dead trees that grew too close to this geothermal hot spot.
One of the geysers at Norris Basin in Yellowstone National Park
The mighty Tetons and the majestic Snake River
I had to shoot the mountains and stars reflecting off the waters of Grand Prismatic Pool. You can see Mars and just barely make out the Milkyway.
Bison chilling in the grass enjoying a nice breeze in Yellowstone National Park
This project was a lot of fun. I wanted to simulate painting, and to give the work itself some say in the way things would go. After a lot of experimenting with various techniques, I decided to work with boid particles, and dynamic paint using particle systems to generate brush strokes.
The boids needed some motivation in order to achieve the sort of aesthetic that I was going for. I generated to groups of particles, assigned each one a color, and made them mortal enemies. Boids operate on a set of very basic rules, and by manipulating the variables for each particle system and sculpting the terrain on which the face off in battle, I could control the outcome of work to a degree without interfering in the actual composition.
These images were printed to duratrans and backlit for display at the 2016 Idaho State University College of Arts and Letters New Years Gala.
This project was a lot of fun. I set out with the idea to reveal a secret history in the landscape. The hidden world only existed as a series of personal connections and memories associated with the land. With the help of modern technology I was able to uncover these places and create a visual representation to share. I hope you enjoy the body of work that is the result of 2 months of focus.
Truth be told I came up with this idea to make beautiful landscape photos, and then to augment them with unique CG assets. I generated these assets using hard edge modelling and photogrammetry. I textured the assets by taking photos on location and extracting diffuse, specular, normal, displacement, ambient occlusion, grunge, and crack maps from them. I also made procedural textures when there was no reference available in the field.